Friday, May 22, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Jerry B. Jenkins-Whatever God Calls Me to Do

Today we welcome author:
Jerry B. Jenkins

One commenter will win 
a copy of Jerry's new release: 
Empire's End

Mary here. My son and I read all of the adult Left Behind series. My daughter and I read all the Left Behind Kid series. These books gave me an opportunity to discuss Bible topics with my children. I've respected Jerry's writings for a long time and even took the apprentice writing course with Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild. The course jumpstarted my writing and taught me a wealth of information about the craft. When I heard Jerry was releasing a new book, I took a chance and asked him to join us here on Let's Talk. This busy man quickly made a space in his schedule for us! I asked him to share how God has led him in his writing journey. This is what he said.

Being the Best I Can Be
at Whatever God Calls Me to Do

When I was a kid, baseball was my life. The sport dominated my heart, soul, and mind, even to the exclusion of my childhood faith. I wasn’t a bad kid, but all I wanted was to become a big league ballplayer someday, and I didn’t realize how the game had taken over my life until I was injured as a freshman in high school and that dream ended.

I turned to sports writing to stay close to the athletic scene and realized immediately I had found my niche. I wasn’t any good at it yet, of course, but I had a knack for writing because I had been reading the sports pages religiously since I was a child.

I had to get a quarter million clich├ęs out of my system and learn a lot about the craft, but I was an eager student and somehow realized perfecting this skill would be a lifelong pursuit. My mother became a convicting model in this because she was both a piano teacher and a piano student well into her 80s.

Looking older than my age was an advantage at 14 (not so much now), and I was able to talk my way into a part time job covering high school sports for the local daily newspaper. Still two years shy of qualifying for a driver’s license, I had to have my parents drive me to the ball games and to the newspaper office.  Yet I was paid a dollar per inch for whatever of my copy made it into print each day, so I can say I’ve been a professional writer for more than 50 years.

Forced to free myself from my baseball obsession–at least as a player–I was able to get serious again about my faith and put Christ back on the throne of my life. This led to a summer camp experience where I felt a distinct and definite call to full time Christian work. I assumed that meant I would eventually have to give up my writing and prepare to become a missionary or a pastor.

However, a wise counselor advised me that God often equips a person before He calls him and that He might have given me my writing gift as the vehicle with which to obey His call.

Recognizing the beauty of that truth set the course for a life I would never have dreamt possible. And my own father wisely counseled me that I should never strive for success as defined by society–book sales, royalty checks, bestseller lists, etc.–but rather by being the best I could be at whatever I was called to do: in my case, following the call to full-time Christian work.

So, while my writing career has resulted in what many would call phenomenal success, even in the world’s eyes, I can honestly say that has never been my focus. Obedience has been the point.

I urge writers to:

  *Never compare yourself to anyone else, but be the best writer you can be

  *Never sacrifice your family on the altar of worldly success, because you’ll write
         better without guilt when you put them ahead of your writing

  *Make obedience to God, not success, your aim

You can control only the quality of the work you do. The vagaries of the marketplace determine all the rest. Obedience is success.

Jerry and his wife Dianna

Jerry Jenkins has been steeped in the craft of writing for more than 40 years. With 21 New York Times bestsellers (seven debuting at #1), 186 books, and over 70 million copies sold, he has become one of the most commercially successful writers of our time.

Lucky guy? An overnight success? Hardly.

Jerry's from-the-trenches perspective on how to achieve success is quite the opposite of a conventional approach. He espouses working fiercely and with discipline and leaving the results to the marketplace.

"Left Behind was my 125th book — but not a lot of people realize that."
Jerry wrote that 16-title culture-shifting series for Dr. Tim LaHaye, and the publishing world now refers to it as "the Left Behind phenomenon." Several books in the series hit the New York Times bestseller list, selling over 62 million copies.

Jerry has seen unprecedented success in both fiction and nonfiction. His insatiable pursuit of great stories has led him to achievement as a biographer to icons such as Hank Aaron, Orel Hershiser, Walter Payton, Meadowlark Lemon, Nolan Ryan, Mike Singletary, B.J. Thomas, and many other men and women. The Hershiser and Ryan books reached the New York Times bestseller list, as did his most recent work, The Matheny Manifesto, with baseball's most successful young manager Mike Matheny.

Jerry also assisted Dr. Billy Graham with his memoirs, Just As I Am (also a New York Times bestseller), which he considers the privilege of a lifetime.

For the full list of Jerry's published books, click here.

Here is how you can connect with Jerry:

A Novel of the Apostle Paul

Jerry B. Jenkins’s new novel is filled with adventure, drama, historic people and places, and even romance. Empire’s End tells the story of a man who single- handedly turned the Roman Empire on-end. Only a few snapshots of Paul’s life are revealed in the Bible. In this fictional account, Jenkins tells of a devout Jewish scholar, who after only three years in the Arabian wilderness, emerges as the greatest Christian theologian in history. This novel explains how, after supervising the death of Jesus’s disciples, Paul would be moved to effectively conquer the Roman Empire with a message about a Jewish man named Jesus. You’ll be captured by the shocking “thorn in the flesh” that burdened Paul’s heart. Empire’s End will cause you to rethink whether Paul ever experienced the love of a woman or the embrace of a child.

To enter the contest for a copy of 
Jerry's new release:
Empire's End
(the book will be released June 9)
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

Sorry, US only

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Jerry, 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, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kudos Party Time!!

Fireworks above the stadium during the graduation
Photo by Mary Vee

Like many of you, we are celebrating a graduation. Hubby and I went to Tucson to attend our daughter's graduation from University of Arizona. 

Photo by Mary Vee

My daughter, Katy received her Masters. 
Her focus was Choral Conducting. 

University of Arizona stadium
2015 Graduation
Photo by Mary Vee

There are many kinds of graduation. No matter what the party pooper says, they are all important and worthy of acknowledging.

Here is a short list of graduations:

High School
Finishing a first ...(quilt, story, song on an instrument, vocal performance, hair cut, walking, lost tooth, first tooth, cooked meal, reaping from a garden, learning a foreign language..etc)
Fundraiser ___K walk
First Job
Having a baby
First house
First move
First gray hair (okay--this isn't such a great one)
For our men-beard/mustache/voice change
Made it through a Bible reading Genesis-Revelation

Are we thinking outside the box? 

Over 5,000 students graduated this night
Photo by Mary Vee

We won't necessarily throw a party or gather the entire family together to celebrate some graduations but we sure can be happy and thrilled that God gave us this moment. 

I am convinced that all of us have graduated from something this year. I know I have. Let's see: 

I was a finalist in a writing contest. 
I have read twenty-five books this year so far
I planted wildflowers in a garden I've sorely neglected in the past
I gave my teen daughter's room a make-over and lived to tell the tale

Yippee! That's four things so far. If I sat here long enough, I hope I would think of more. 

The evening hours-packed stadium
Graduation of University of Arizona students
2015. Photo by Mary Vee

Before you raise the red flag and say God wants us to be humble and not consider these things--think of this: you feel it is good and right to honor those who have graduated, had birthdays, etc...right? Is it not also true that God loves us and gave us whatever to achieve the graduation? Yep He has. 

So go ahead. Have a kudos party honoring God for helping you to graduate. Make a cake. Sing a praise to God. Have chocolate. Get ready for more of your graduations this year.

Your turn: share something you've graduated from this year. Don't be shy. Give us the chance to praise God with you.

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: Kudos-to-God's-Kids

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Renee Ryan

Today we welcome author:
Renee Ryan

One commenter will win a copy 
of Renee's new release: 
Wagon Train Proposal

Great news! 
International readers are invited to enter. 
Renee will send a paperback copy to the winner,
 even International

Mary here. Renee is one of the super authors I met at ACFW. I only had a chance to eat a meal at the same table, but in that short time I felt an immediate connection. Her fun spirit. Her friendliness. Well, I simply had to share with you. I asked Renee to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:

A Dangerous Indifference

I started writing fiction an entire decade before Kindle, Nook and other modern e-book devices existed. I consider this a huge, unexpected blessing. I wasn’t ready to publish when I began this journey. I had a lot to learn about writing a book. But the pain of rejection (especially in those early years) was difficult. 

I know myself well enough to know that had there been the option of bypassing editors and agents I would have done so. I would have been tempted to take the easy way out and publish my work on my own. That route would have been a disaster. I needed time to learn the craft, to hone my skills and, most importantly, to find my niche. 

I’ve heard it said that back in those days (circa 1996-2006) a writer targeting New York publishers had a 1 in 6,000 chance of landing a book deal. Thankfully, I heard that horrifying statistic after I started submitting manuscripts to editors and agents. 

Again, this was yet another unforeseen blessing. Had I known the odds, I might not have had the courage to send out my initial attempts. Those early rejection letters were both helpful and spot on. Stubborn by nature, once I’d already set my mind on the goal of publication I wasn’t backing down.

In 2001, I found success--five years and five manuscripts later. I hit with a splash by winning the inaugural Dorchester/Romantic Times New Historical Voice Contest. The magazine did a feature on me and my book, a western historical romance. They put a good amount of promotion behind the book. But the sales weren’t great and western historical romances were dead in the secular (ABA) market. I became a one-book wonder within months of EXTREME MEASURES hitting the shelves.

I despaired. I cried, cried some more. I started and finished new projects and continued submitting. But no one was interested. And so began a very looooooong dry spell between book sales. I became so frustrated that I quit writing altogether and cancelled my membership in all of my writers’ groups. I knew I was heading down a dark road. I couldn’t keep chasing the sale and maintain my sanity. I was too obsessed. In fact, the pursuit of publication became my sole mission in life. Something had to change.

I purposely took a step back and started working on my own faith walk, something I had let lag to dangerous indifference. I also started reading books that were not romances, namely thrillers written by men for men. I very quickly realized these books, though well-written and fascinating, lacked the depth of character, emotion and romance I preferred. 

And then it occurred to me. If I was going to collect rejections, I might as well stop playing it safe. I took what I knew about romance writing and what I’d learned from all those male-targeted thrillers and melded the two. I added the Inspirational thread for me, and my Daddy, too, a WWII vet who says, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

I had no real plans of selling the manuscript, and actually didn’t sell it until many years later, but the writing of it brought me to the Inspirational market. I’d found my niche and went on to sell the next manuscript I wrote, a western historical romance with a strong Inspirational thread. I’ve written and sold eighteen more books since. 

Moral of the story: Swing for the fences, never play it safe and continually work on your relationship with the Lord. The rest will come, in His time and His way. 

My 91 year-old father (the WWII vet)
Renee Ryan is a multi-published, award-winning author best known for her fast-paced, character-driven romances. She sold her first book by winning the inaugural Romantic Times New Historical Voice Contest. She currently writes contemporary and historical Inspirational Romances for Harlequin Love Inspired and Amazon’s Waterfall Press. An empty-nester, Renee lives in Nebraska with her husband and a large, fluffy cat many have mistaken for a small bear. 

Find out more about Renee at

CLICK HERE to see or buy
 Wagon Train Proposal
For the Sake of His Children 

A marriage of convenience? Rachel Hewitt couldn't possibly accept. Not even for the sake of three adorable little girls who desperately want a new mother. Sheriff Tristan McCullough offers Rachel a home and family, but not the one thing she truly seeks—someone to love her for herself. 

Tristan McCullough hoped to find a wife on the wagon train, not a nanny. The hardworking widower wants a marriage without emotional risks. But independent Rachel intrigues him. One minute she's winning over his shy little girls, and the next she's tackling danger head-on. She might just be Tristan's unexpected second chance at happiness…if he'll risk his wary heart again. 

Journey West: Romance and adventure await three siblings on the Oregon Trail


CLICK HERE to see or buy
The Marriage Agreement

Promoted to Wife? 

Always the dutiful daughter, Fanny Mitchell surprised everyone when she broke her engagement. Now she's working at the fancy Hotel Dupree—and falling for the mysterious, handsome owner, Jonathon Hawkins. But when she and her boss are caught in an unexpected kiss at a ball, will her reputation be tarnished forever? 

The son of a woman of ill repute, Jonathon knows that gossip can destroy lives in an instant. And he won't allow sweet, lovely Fanny to suffer the consequences. When he proposes a marriage of convenience, Jonathon believes he can keep his heart to himself. But the more time he spends with Fanny, the more he realizes he may just be in love—with his wife… 

Charity House: Offering an oasis of hope, faith and love on the rugged Colorado frontier
To enter the contest for a copy of 
Renee's upcoming new release:
Wagon Train Proposal:
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
(see right column to sign up)

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Renee, 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, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

When the Grumpies Knock Your Feet Out From Under You...

I usually wait for some striking idea before writing these posts. Sometimes that means I'm writing the ideas the night before, other times I am inundated with thoughts and can write weeks ahead.

I do this because I don't want to just jot down anything. This is a golden time I get to spend with you. A time we can chat about issues that stir our hearts and bring us close to God.

These ideas frequently come at the strangest time. This one is no different. 

Here I was, wallowing in a grumpy, nobody loves me mode most of day. It didn't start that way.

God woke me with a beautify sunny sky (my favorite). The birds sang and scurried about the yard. Ducks swam in the lake. He helped me think of Him as I got up and started my day. I thought of several prayer requests posted here on this blog, and ones from Facebook. I prayed for my friends and their concerns.

Then the grumpies came, knocking my feet out from under me. I prayed. Said Bible verses. Sang Scripture songs. Sigh. The grumpies didn't go away.

All day long.

One of the chores I really dislike doing is gardening. My problem is I can't always tell the difference between the flowers and the weeds. But I'd promised hubby I would weed the raspberries patch and plant the new raspberry bushes we'd bought. 

7:30 pm. I had to get the job done. The sun would go down soon, and I had to keep my word.

I knelt by the plants and felt so sorry for the young bush. How had all these nasty weeds tangle around them already? I raked the leaves away and pulled the weeds while talking to those poor plants. I ran my fingers through the soil until all the strangling roots were gone.

I bet you know where this is going. Yeah. I kept talking to those poor plants, and told them I knew exactly how they felt. We'd both been tangled up in weeds that strangled the good life from us today. I dug deep into the dirt one more time to make sure the weeds were gone then set wood chips on top of the soil to protect them a little longer.

I should have done the work earlier in the day. Working those grumpies out of my muscles felt good. Seeing how nice the raspberry bushes look made me happy.

So, now, I sit at my keyboard with dirt under my fingernails and share how good God is to us. 

True, He has to work the dirt and pull the weeds out of our lives. Sometimes He has to yank pretty hard to get the deep roots to pull free. 

But He loves us enough to do this whenever we need.

Thank you, God. 

This post was brought to you by the one word: Godcares

How are you doing, today? 
Do you have a praise to share?
How about a prayer request?

Or how about a howdie do? ;)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Gabrielle Meyer-A Love Affair with the Written Word

Today we welcome author:
Gabrielle Meyer

One commenter will win a copy of Gabrielle's new release: 
The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection

Mary here. I met Gabrielle a couple of years ago at ACFW. I also knew her from My Book Therapy, two great organizations. Gabrielle has such a sweet personality. You can tell from her smile, am I right? Sure. I asked Gabrielle to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:

In Fourth Grade I failed Spelling and started a Love Affair with the Written Word

In fourth grade I failed spelling. It was the one and only “F” I’ve ever received—but that “F” spurred by love affair with the written word. My teacher told me I would become a better speller if I read more, so I went to the elementary school library and pulled out the first books that looked appealing: The Babysitter’s Club, by Ann M. Martin.

I became such a ferocious reader, my mom had to tell me to put down my books to eat, do my chores, or even go outside and play. When my aunt gave me Love Comes Softly, by Janette Oke, it was my introduction into historical romance—and, again, I fell in love. I read anything I could get my hands on. I was fascinated by books, and loved how they transported me to other times and places.

Early on, I wanted to be a writer, but I also wanted God’s will in my life. When I was a teenager, I asked Him to place desires in my heart that He wanted me to pursue. Thankfully, my love for reading and writing didn’t diminish, but continued to grow.

I dabbled in writing in high school and college, and began working for the Minnesota Historical Society as a tour guide at the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site. I gained amazing experience learning how to interpret history in an engaging manner, and how to communicate that history for a whole new generation to discover.

I can look back now and see the hand of God directing every step I took. I couldn’t see around the bend, or over the next hill, but He was guiding me toward publication. Even my work at the historic site would be part of my writing journey.

At the age of twenty-one, I was married, and a few years later we started a family. Though I wasn’t writing like I wanted to, I was still gaining life experiences. When my daughters were seven and five, and my twin boys were not quite two, I read a book that would change my life. It was The Colonel’s Lady, by Laura Frantz. The story so captivated me, I asked myself why I wasn’t writing historical fiction—and I had no good answer.

After reading that novel, I began to pursue publication with gusto. I delved into the writing community and was welcomed with open arms. I gained friendships and knowledge at a speed that still astounds me—and through it all, God was there.

I found writing craft books, attended retreats, went to conferences, pitched to editors, and continued to write during every spare moment I could find. I can’t credit my determination or drive to anything, or anyone, other than God. When rejections and critiques come, He is my only source of strength and endurance. When I have a decision to make, or an obstacle to overcome, He never fails to give me the grace and fortitude I need to press forward.

As I celebrate the release of my debut published story, Four Brides and a Bachelor, and as I look forward to more stories in the future, I can see God’s guiding hand—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He placed this desire in my heart, and He continues to amaze me with the plans He has in store.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four young children. 

As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people and events. Gabrielle has two novellas releasing with Barbour Publishers in 2015. She writes about her passion for history, Minnesota, and her faith.  can be found at 

Here is how you can connect with Gabrielle:

Gabrielle's website 

You can also find Gabrielle on:
Amazon, and 
The Convenient Bride Collection:

Join nine brides of convenience on their adventures in a variety of times and settings gone by—from a ranch in California…to the rugged mountains of Colorado…to a steamship on the Mississippi…to the dangerous excitement of the Oregon Trail…into high society of New York City. No matter the time or place, the convenient brides proceed with what must be done, taking nuptials out of necessity. . .and never dreaming that God might take their feeble attempts to secure their futures and turn them into true love stories for His glory.

Gabrielle's  A Groom for Josette
In 1855, Josette LeBlanc has a shipping empire to inherit, but only if she can find a husband before her half-brother turns twenty-one in three weeks. With no real prospects in St. Louis, Josette answers an ad from Little Falls, Minnesota, promising a hundred eligible bachelors for every single lady. Josette never imagines her marriage of convenience will turn to love, but when it does, it causes a whole new set of problems…


The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection
Meet nine men from bygone days who have all the qualities of a true hero and who all the single ladies wish to court—though some are unassuming and overlooked until their worth is revealed. The socialite, the architect, the doctor, the masked vigilante, the missionary, the postmaster, archaeologist, the wealthy widower, and the heir can have their pick of brides, but which one will they choose?

Gabrielle's:  Four Brides and a Bachelor
In 1852, missionary Luke Longley travels a hundred and fifty miles downriver to convince a stranger to marry him, but when he arrives at the Belle Prairie Mission, he discovers there isn’t one single female missionary, there are four, and all are eager to become his bride. He only has one week to choose, but can he pick the right one before time runs out?~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To enter the contest for a copy of 
Gabrielle's new release:
The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection:
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

Sorry, US only

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Gabrielle, 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, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!