Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The War Against Skeeters

Mary Vee: Skeeter Garb

Did you know there have been studies to research which blood type mosquitos prefer? Seriously! 

Apparently my blood type is the kind all mosquitos love. I have the cream of the crop, the finest, the purest grade of what they prefer. 

This is not to say mosquitos wouldn't force themselves to feast on my hubby's blood type. They just don't. He must need sweetening. Or ...who knows. 

Hubby can sit out on the dock fishing. The minute I go there to chat with him, a swarm of mosquitos materialize. Really? 

I waged war on these wretched, high-pitched, annoying creatures. I bought a mosquito hat. But this was not enough to stop them. They went after my arms and legs. So I took one of hubby's old long-sleeved shirts, my jean pants, socks, and shoes. HAH!  Take that you mangy skeeter. 

Dressed in my full garb I went out in the field to a raspberry patch and picked a bunch. Came back to the house with 0--yes--0 mosquito bites!  

The war is on, skeeters. I'll harvest my raspberries, and tomatoes, and garden without your help, high-pitched advice, or your stinging prodding, thank you very much.

While this may sort of come off as a silly worded post, as with all my other Tuesday posts, I do have a method to this madness.

See, God knows Satan loves to pick on His kids.

There are times I just get so angry with Satan I say out loud, "God please make Satan stop bugging me." I really do!

God has given us the equivalent of my anti mosquito clothing. In Ephesians 6:11-18 God tells us:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
So you see, God has provided a way to keep the Devil from bugging us. The Bible also says, Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Thats where I take the idea that I can ask God to make Satan stop bugging me.

Fight the fight. Use the armor of God. If Satan buzzes by your ear, resist him, run to Jesus. Then you will be a winner.

May God envelope you with his loving arms, protect, guide and keep your heart at peace.

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fabulous Feature-Diana Sharples

Today we welcome author:
Diana Sharples

A commenter will win a copy of
Diana's book:

Running Lean

Scroll down to see how.

Mary here. Have you ever met someone for the firs time and immediately felt like best friends? I have, now....for the...let's see, fourth time.

Diana and I sat at a round table at the Mt. Hermon Conference. The more we spoke, the more we realized we were two different people who were living pretty much similar lives. THEN, I realized we also wrote the same style of stories for the same audience. AND she is a crazy adventurous person...check out her bike! Is she a twin sister I never knew before this year? I'm beyond happy to welcome Diana Sharpless today. I asked her, How has God led you on your writing journey? Here is what he said: 

Riding the Storm Out

In a few weeks, my husband and I will take the first real vacation we’ve had in three years. We are planning to load camping gear onto our two Harleys and head up the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive into Virginia, and then head down to the coast to ride along North Carolina’s Barrier Islands. It is a ride my husband has wanted to make since we purchased our motorcycles several years ago. In preparation, I have been looking at forecasts and making lists of the things we will have to pack for all possible weather scenarios. Afternoon thunder boomers that pop up in the summer in the south are something we should expect to face. Rain happens. 

We’re preparing for storms. We may don rain gear and ride through a few. We may have to wait out a tempest or two. It’s part of the journey, part of the adventure. Yet unrelenting storms could also turn us away from our planned path and destination. We’ll have to accept that possibility too.

Psalm 107:23-28
Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.

As I strolled the aisles at our local Walmart, looking for gear that would help keep us dry and safe, an old rock song infused itself into my thoughts: “Riding the Storm Out” by REO Speedwagon. Since another task for the day was writing this blog post, it occurred to me that over the years since I embarked upon my writing journey, I’ve gone through many storms. My chosen genre (young adult fiction) has gone through some doozies. Knowing in my heart that God had called me to write for teens, I put on my boots, huddled under my umbrella, lowered my shoulder against the wind, and kept going. 

I remember the tough critiques and the how-to books and the classes promising to make my writing stronger … if I was willing to put in the time and not let the dark clouds turn my eyes toward easier tasks.

I remember attending conferences and approaching agents and editors, armed with carefully prepared one-sheets and proposals, so hopeful that these people would welcome my submissions upon hearing my enthusiastic pitch … only to be told that young adult fiction wasn’t selling and no one was looking for it. 

I remember watching my writer friends succeed—getting published and winning awards—while I still slogged through muddy water burdened with politely worded rejections. Not yet. Not yet.

Psalm 107:28-29
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.  NIV

So many storms. Years and years of them. Yet I knew I couldn’t turn away. My love for teens and the stories I wanted to give them was too deep. And I knew I wasn’t alone. In the moments when my courage flagged, something always happened to remind me that the Lord put me on this path for a reason. Whether it was finally receiving awards for my work or something as simple as meeting a young man in a book store who, waving his hands at the shelves so devoid of fiction, cried, “There’s nothing here for me to read!” … the Lord was faithful and present and gentle in His reminder that my time and effort would not be wasted. I might not perceive the journey’s end ahead, but the storm was His to command.

Luke 8:22-24
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.”
So they got into a boat and set out.
As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake,
so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters;
the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another,
“Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” NIV

I thought I had reached the destination when the first publishing contract came in, and when at last a book with my name on it sat on the book store shelves. I thought I was reaping my reward for years of dedicated hard work, and it would get easier from that point on. I was wrong. The market changed again. Another rejection came. A few bad reviews on Goodreads seemed to shout louder than all the good ones. Agents came and went. And then a storm I could not have anticipated came: a cancer diagnosis. 

So many times I wondered if that one published book was all I would see, and if maybe the Lord was directing my path somewhere else. Or if I had failed Him somehow and He was taking it all away. I knew I would survive the cancer. We had caught it early and dealt with it in a no-nonsense way. I didn’t know, though, if my writing career would survive. Days came where my brain was in a fog from the life-saving chemicals and I was too tired or sick to even think about putting my fingers on my computer keyboard. But I remembered the Lord’s faithfulness all the other times He brought me through a storm. I kept working. It took over a year, but I wrote and edited the sequel to Running Lean. I held to the promise, even when it looked bleak. When my chemo treatments were finished, I put on a wig and attended a conference, where I pitched the book and received not one, but six invitations from editors and agents.

As I write this, I’m still waiting to hear back from the publisher of Running Lean as to whether they want the sequel, but I’ve signed with a new agent, and I’m researching and writing a new novel. I’m moving on, knowing that the journey isn’t over yet. And I am strong enough now to ride my motorcycle up into the mountains … because of God’s faithfulness. I fully anticipate there will be more storms ahead. I know I won’t be facing them alone. And each one will make me stronger.

Isaiah 54:10
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you. NIV


Diana Sharples lives in north Georgia with her husband and daughter, and a house full of rescued pets. She wrote her first teen novel at the age of thirteen. Although she holds a degree in communication design/illustration from the Atlanta College of Art and won awards for her work in science fiction and fantasy illustration, she never lost her love for storytelling. In addition to infusing her artwork with narrative, she wrote several epic-length fantasy novels. As her daughter was entering her teen years, Diana refocused her writing efforts on contemporary young adult fiction, and, in time, she won pre-publication awards in that genre as well. Her debut novel, Running Lean, was released from Zondervan Books (a division of Harper Collins) in 2013, and she is currently working on the sequel and another series of stories with elements of mystery. Diana is also a motorcycle enthusiast and can often be found riding her Harley around the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Diana wants to hear from you! Contact her at:    


Running Lean

Equilibrium. That’s what Stacey and Calvin found in each other. He is as solid as his beloved vintage motorcycle and helps quiet the constant clamor in Stacey’s mind. She is a passionate, creative spirit—and a lifeline after Calvin’s soldier brother dies.

But lately the balance is off. Calvin’s grief is taking new forms. Voices of self-loathing are dominating Stacey’s life. When struggles with body image threaten her health, Calvin can’t bear to lose another person that he loves. Taking action may destroy their relationship, but the alternative could be much more costly.


Enter the contest to win a copy of Diana Sharples book:
Running Lean
US readers invited to enter!!

Here is how:

1. Leave a comment (and email address)

2. AND sign up to receive my newsletter -in the right column

    (subscribers to Mary Vee's newsletter will receive a special gift)

    AND/OR sign up to receive posts by email if you aren't already

Thank you, Diana, for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you, Reader, and look 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, July 19, 2016

The True North Star

Photo Courtesy

The North Star, (Polaris), has great importance. 

Ships rely on it for navigation. Small ships tossed in a storm rely on this all important star to find their way. 

Instrumentation can malfunction. But the North Star is always there.

Hunters. Hikers. Pilots. 

If lost at night, they first search for the North Star.

So many lives have been saved because God put a star on the tip of the little dipper.

There are many stars in the sky. These stars have their significance as well. Constellations are group of stars that have been given names. Stories have been written about these constellations. Men and women have devoted their whole lives to studying the stars, watching their movements, discovering new stars, and searching for information based on the stars.

There is another North Star.

It's true!

Like Polaris shining bright against the night sky, this North Star brilliantly shines, saving countless lives.

The star I am talking about is John 3:16. This North Star of the Bible has led lost men and women, boys and girls, to the One who can save them. Jesus Christ, God's Son.

Like the North Star shining brightly in the sky for all to see, so also does John 3:16-proclaiming the good news. This is the way Home for all who are lost.

But like the North Star in the sky, if we don't look at John 3:16, we will never see the way. Sometimes the lost are not able to see where the North Star is. A friend points the way, helping the lost one to see.

Not everyone is able to see the John 3:16 North Star. God sends us to point the way. When a lost person sees the star, they are able to see the way. Then the other stars (verses) of the Bible can be studied, discovering new truths.

John 3:16. Do you know this star?  The North Star of the Bible?  The one that will show you the way?

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.NKJV

This is the True North Star.

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

Talk to me, friend. Are you a stargazer? What is your favorite constellation?

The idea for this post came from Jerry McMaster

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fabulous Feature-J.T. Still: Big Decisions/Rare Certainty

Today we welcome author:
J.T. Still

A commenter will win a copy of
J.T's book:

The Rift

Scroll down to see how.

US Readers Invited to Enter!

Mary here. I'm so happy to welcome J.T. to Let's Talk. Earlier this year I met him at Mt. Hermon's Writing Conference. We both arrived for a chapel service early. He turned and offered friendship and a prayer for my writing. What a godly example of Christ. I was thrilled to invite him to share with us. I asked J.T. how has God led you on your writing journey? Here is what he said: 

With Big Decisions Absolute Certainty Rarely Comes

When the burning leading of God hits you, sometimes you just can’t rationalize it, deny it, or run from it.

I grew up in a Christian family, loved Jesus from my youth, and have always loved to write. I had countless story ideas as a kid which never really went anywhere—I didn’t have the discipline. But as I studied computers in college, I managed to squeak out a novella and a novel—terrible writing that should never see the light of day—but at least I finished something.

About three years ago, I was up a little late one night spending some time in the Word and prayer. My life was going well. I was part of an amazing church, living with roommates I enjoyed, and making a six-figure salary as a software developer for Amazon. In fact, I was thinking of buying a house.

It was that thought which triggered everything. It filled me with a deep unease. Because once you buy a house, that’s it. You’re locked in. That night, I felt a conviction in my heart. Before buying a house, I needed to take this last opportunity to pursue writing full time.

A difficult choice
When you churn software for The Big A, you don’t just up and walk off. I mean, there’s all those stock options and free company lunches. And how was I supposed to maintain my wardrobe without that stipend of free company shirts?

I immediately started fasting and praying. God gave me unusual grace, and I barely felt hungry. After a full day, I woke up in the dark hours of the morning and saw a white light in my room which looked like a small bird and vanished after an instant. It immediately took my mind to Luke 12: “Fear not, for you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Throughout the decision making process, Luke 12 became a theme chapter. Look at everything packed in that brief space:
·      Don’t worry (vs. 22-31)
·      The parable of the rich fool (vs. 16-21)
·      Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions (vs. 15)
·      Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (vs. 32-34)

I can’t explain seeing a light in my room, but I do know that it led me to Scripture and was one more clue God left for me on the path.

It took about six months from that first night to reach the goodbye cake and the “It was nice working with you.” The closer my last day came, the more I doubted.  I find that with big decisions, absolute certainty rarely comes. But one direction or the other, we have to move. Look around, pray, fast, then plug our noses and take the plunge.

One Who is Greater
I write for the secular market. Consider for a moment the Hunger Games trilogy. It was spectacular, brilliant writing, and millions read it, but the ultimate message and tone were really negative. Meanwhile, “Christian” novels mostly reach other Christians. Those outside the church often don’t want to read “Christian” stories, because they fear they’re going to be preached at, which of course ruins the fun of a good story.

I think of the call of Jesus to be a city on a hill. I believe that means writing in such a way that attracts the world’s notice and even admiration. We often worry about worldly books and movies seducing Christian kids. I'm busy writing in order to seduce the world - to One who is greater.

Since then
I’ve now finished two books in my series, The Rift. I still consider myself a rookie author, and I’m definitely not making a liveable income from writing. About a year ago, I took up part-time employment back in the software industry.

I mention this simply to say how our expectations don’t always intersect God’s plans. Don’t worry when you take a step of faith only to find that everything goes wrong. You’re in the company of childless Abram, fugitive David, and lowered-in-a-basket Paul.

Well, that’s my story. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’m a work in progress, but I serve a Savior who accepts no other kind.

J.T. Stoll (called Joey by his friends. And his enemies. And pretty much everyone) wrote his first fantasy story when he was five. The prose was… brilliant. The accompanying stick figure illustrations… breathtaking. The lack of complex vocabulary underlies the deeper human condition.

It was terrible. His mother refuses to destroy the only copy because it has “sentimental value.” He has always loved fantastical stories of all kinds: fantasy novels, 16-bit RPGs, superhero movies, whatever. If reading helps to escape the real world, why not go somewhere fun?

J.T. lives in San Luis Obispo County, California in a classy bachelor pad. He splits his time between rock climbing, writing eCommerce software, penning out imagined worlds, and going to crazy Jesus parties.

J.T. wants to hear from you! Contact him at:    


The Rift

A bitter civil war from a world of magic has spilled over into the small California town of San Luis Obispo. In a desperate act, a warrior from the world of Ruach gives soul armors—the ultimate weapons of his world—to four high school students. 

This sounds like the exact opposite of how Vero would like to spend her senior year. Poor and new to the area, she finds surviving in her new surroundings hard enough without stepping into a war of wizards.

Unfortunately, two soldiers from the other world know what she looks like and want her dead. In the small town of San Luis Obispo, it’s only a matter of time before they find her. She might have to fight, whether she wants to or not.

Enter the contest to win a copy of J.T. Stoll's book:
The Rift
US readers invited to enter!!

Here is how:

1. Leave a comment (and email address)

2. AND sign up to receive my newsletter -in the right column

    (subscribers to Mary Vee's newsletter will receive a special gift)

    AND/OR sign up to receive posts by email if you aren't already

Thank you, J.T, (Joey), for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you, Reader, and look forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!