Friday, July 31, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Amber Schamel


Today we welcome author:
Amber Schamel

One commenter will win a copy of
Amber's book: 
The Healer's Touch
Book 1
Days of Messiah Series

including International readers!


Mary here. One of my favorite genres to read is Biblical fiction. In my own experiences I have seen the immense amount of research behind these stories. The authors make these stories pop and touch our hearts! I asked Amber to share how God has led her on her writing journey You're gonna love reading her God story. Here is what she said:



The Life Changing Breakthrough

Good morning readers! I am so honored and excited to be with ya'll today.

Mary asked me to stop by and share a little bit about how God has led me through my writing journey. To be honest, I'm a little bit nervous about sharing this, because it's very personal, and honestly, I have only shared what I'm about to say with my closest friends.  But I'm going to share it with ya'll in hope that it will help or encourage someone.

When I first started writing, I had no idea what it really meant to be an author. There have been a lot of things that I didn't expect, some of them good, and some of them not so good. But one of the greatest surprises has been how much God has used writing to help me grow.

Of course, as an author you grow in character as you learn discipline and responsibility to meet deadlines. You learn how to interact with other people, even when everything isn't exactly the way you want it. You learn to trust God for the outcome of things beyond your control and lean on Him for the strength and ability to do what He has called you to do. But what amazed me most is how much I learn about other people, and even about myself.

As an author, my job is to create characters that are as real to the reader as the people living in their house. To do this, I've done a lot of study on people and how to develop my characters. Through this study, I've learned a lot about the people around me and why they are the way they are. I've learned that people operate based upon their different gifts or personalities. And I've also learned that each person has baggage from their past, and God's story in their life is how they overcome it.

Several months ago, I was going through an online class about characters, and how to develop their past and struggles. In this class, the instructor explained that each person has a defining moment in their past that created a negative emotion. Due to the trauma caused by that moment, they began to believe a lie about themselves, which developed into a fear. That fear then drives them for the rest of their lives. It determines how they react to situations, how the interact with others, and whether or not they trust the people around them.

During this class, I came to realize that I believed a lie. Sometime during my childhood, I had come to believe that I was not good enough, and that created a fear of failure. That fear of failure either caused me to fight against it and try to be 'good enough', or just give up and quit.

DING! Lightbulb moment, folks. "Hi Amber, this is yourself. Self, this is Amber. Nice to meet you." Ever had a moment like that?

I now understood why I did so many of the things I did, and why I reacted so strongly to certain situations.

Once I had identified the lie, God set to work combating it. He told me, "You're not enough by yourself, you're not worthy by yourself, but in ME you are worthy. I chose you and love you for whom you are. You don't have to be 'good enough' for Me, because I make you worthy."

God began to show me verses in the Bible like 2 Corinthians 3:5
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.

And 2 Corinthians 12:9:
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I never expected that through this work of writing God would give me one of the greatest breakthroughs of my life. But He did. Isn't He just awesome that way?

Have you ever had a breakthrough like this?

Have you fallen victim to the "Not Good Enough" lie?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Amber and her sister with Mark Twain
in Steamboat Springs, CO
Multi-published author Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest". A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft and is now the author of over half a dozen books. Between ministry, family and working in their family-owned businesses,  Amber is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society.

Amber loves to connect with readers.
You can learn more about Amber by going to:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Messiah's Sign-Volume Two

Dreams…they shouldn’t bother him, but when Tyrus’ worst nightmare is vindicated, he has no choice but to face reality. His wife has been unfaithful, and God has punished her with the most feared disease in the land: leprosy. Banishing her to the leper colony, Tyrus struggles to raise and protect their son. But when Malon begins following the teacher from Nazareth, what remains of their business and reputation is at stake. Can Tyrus save his son from the beguiling lies of a false Messiah before he loses the only thing he has left?


The Healer's Touch Volume One
Aaliyah's last chance at winning her husband's love is destroyed when she is banished from her home as an 'unclean' sinner.  Her husband has branded her as an adulteress and threatens to kill her if she comes near the town. Struggling to survive amidst the fear, grief and bitterness of living in a leper colony, she would give anything just to see her son again. Is God really punishing her with this disease? When rumors of a Healer from Nazareth reach the colony, Aaliyah wonders if this man could really heal her, or if He would despise her like the rest of her people. It is now that Aaliyah must make the most difficult decision of her life: risk her life to appear in public, or die a leper.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Enter the contest to win a copy of 
Amber's book:
The Healer's Touch:
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 winner will receive paperback/International eBook

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Amber, 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, July 28, 2015

Why She Had Only One Red Medal



Photo Courtesy

I'm all for contests. I think I've won maybe one out of a billion. LOL. It's true! And in those one billion minus one experiences, I think I learned much more than in the one contest I won. Still, I want to share with you something about one red medal.







All band members were expected to go to the solo and ensemble competition. These were the expectations of being in the "A" band at my 3000 student high school. In my senior year, I managed to earn my way up to fifth chair out of twenty-two. Nancy, who was my age, and in my opinion a better player, was in first chair. 

Yeah know, I wasn't jealous of her--because she really was better. 

But, I wanted to be worthy of my chair in the A band. So, when the big solo and ensemble competition came in February, I chose a slow, melodic peace. I'd always struggled with plowing through a bucket load of notes and making them sound like butterflies twittering, but I could transform the sound of my flute into colors of louds and softs filled with rich, thoughtful tones. Think of angels floating on clouds sailing long distances with a single breath of breeze.

I listened to the first chair girl practice her piece. Wow. She was magnificent. The judges would really be wowed by her. 

The day of the competition came. Nancy and I were assigned performance rooms on opposite sides of the building and both scheduled about the same time. 

The judges called my name. 

I had chosen to memorize my piece, that way I could close my eyes and not see the judges. I nodded to my accompanist to start the piece. She played a chord. My first note rang like crystal. God had given me a really nice flute. The piece had such a low level of difficulty regarding notes, but a high level for telling the story. This probably was the only piece I wished would never end, because it was so lovely.

After my performance, I stepped out in the hall and waited for my score. The moderator opened the door with clipboard in hand. She marked a number by my name and went back in the room.

I hurried down to my friend's room to see the score I knew she would get. One was the highest possible, five was the lowest. I ran my finger down the list of names searching for hers, noting with excitement that I had received a one.  If I had managed one, she surely had too. The monitor had recorded a two by my friend's name. She would receive a red medal. 

I didn't know what to say. She must have been nervous during the performance. If I hugged her and said something like, "You deserved a one," would she look at my blue medal and be mad at me? At the time I thought so.

Nancy walked away sad. 

Anyone could have said to her, "A two is a great score. You did your best. We're proud of you." In truth, it wouldn't have given her any happiness back. All she heard were the errors over and over and over in her mind.

Sigh.

Years later, I remember and still have no idea what would have been best to say. I have a great respect for her. Even though she was sad, and maybe even upset with me, she never bad mouthed the judges. Never said they were unfair. Never said if only, if only. 

What brought this to mind today? I watched a Master Chef show. Love it. Tonight, though, one of the stellar home cooks mouthed off to the judges, big time. 

Her dish wasn't the worst one. The judges made that clear when they tasted her food. She made mistakes, it tasted nasty, but had done so well with previous creations she could have been forgiven. There was another competitor whose food tasted even worse. 

The judges conferenced, then said, "The home cook who we feel is the most teachable, the one we think we can work with to improve--" I knew right then, the mouthy one would be sent home. And I was right. 


There was a reason my friend Nancy had a ton of blue medals and only one red one. There was a reason she kept first chair no matter who challenged her. Her blue metal character really showed.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Jessica Keller





Today we welcome author:
Jessica Keller

One commenter will win a copy of
Jessica's new release: 
The Single Dad Next Door





Mary here. Not even two years have passed since Jessica leaped into the exciting world of author of published novels. I am so amazed. I went to her Amazon page and saw seven different titles representing more than one genre. She is amazing. Even when asked to send me the information from this post, she was trying to meet a deadline...yet when you read below you'll see she took time to write an inspiring and well crafted post for us. Amazing! I asked Jessica to share how God has led her on her writing journey You're gonna love reading her God story. Here is what she said:



When Honesty Inspires



Remember that scene in Anne of Green Gables when Gilbert gives Anne his honest opinion about her story?

“Well, if you want my opinion, Miss Shirley, I'd write about places I knew something of and people that spoke everyday English instead of these silly schoolgirl romances.”

Anne answers Gil by promptly decking him with her basket. We laugh because she’s so stubborn, but mostly because we feel like doing the same thing when receive harsh feedback about our own writing. In the end Anne follows Gil’s advice and sells her manuscript
My personal writing journey isn’t very different.

Four years ago, I walked into my first writer’s conference. By an hour into day one, I was terrified. People were handing out their business cards and showing each other one-sheets. I didn’t have either. I’d never heard of an elevator pitch. Trembling, I sat down for my first ever agent appointment. She asked to see my first chapter and she maybe read the first three sentences before looking back at me and saying, “You have good ideas, but if this is your best writing, I don’t see publishing in your future.”

Ouch!

I thanked her and scuttled away to lick my wounds. There were more classes to attend that day and needed to put my brave-face on, but tears were spilled later. Then doubts crept in.

I’ll never be a real author. Stupid pipedream.

I allowed myself one crummy night. Then I marched back into classes for the rest of conference and soaked up every bit of information I could.

See, I had two options. I could allow that agent’s feedback to kill my dream, or I could use that feedback as a challenge. But I knew that God had called me to writing, so I chose the latter.

After I came back home I stuck the old manuscript in a drawer. Then I pulled out four recently published CBA books that I considered well written. I gave myself one month to read them all, mapping out their plots as I went. When did hero and heroine meet? During which chapter was the big problem introduced? When did subplots start popping in? How often did the author toss us for a loop or throw out red herrings? What sparked tension? What made me cheer for the characters? I took what I’d learned and mapped out a whole new story. I gave myself five weeks to write and polish it.

Then came the scary moment … I took a leap of faith and entered the new manuscript into contests. Not with the aim to win. No, after that agent’s feedback I didn’t consider that even remotely realistic. I entered to receive professional feedback. I mean, critiques from friends and fellow unpublished writers are great—but only the professional will know if it’ll sell in the industry. I didn’t want to waste any more time in my journey pouring over another manuscript that wasn’t right, so I gritted my teeth and pressed send.

Know what? Learning from criticism paid off.

I won first in every contest I entered. I received requests for the full manuscript from every editor who judged my submission (and sold to one of them). Within that month, I sent queries to agents. I had offers of representation from all three agents I sent proposals to and at the ACFW Conference I received requests from every editor I pitched to.

All in less than four months since the day an agent told me she didn’t see a future for me.

The best news? That manuscript that I wrote…it became my debut novel, Home for Good.


I ended up writing a thank you letter to the agent who gave me the challenging feedback. I thanked her for being honest during our meeting. I’ve gone back over that first manuscript and now—with better trained eyes—I can see she was 100% right. If she had done the easy thing—tell me to send her a proposal and then sent the rejection later—I wouldn’t be as far in my journey as I am today. Her tough words spurred me on and forced me to grow. I’ll be forever grateful for her very firm push. God used her in my life and continues to use hard feedback to shape my writing journey for the good.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Jessica Keller is a multi-published author of Inspirational Romance and Young Adult Fiction (writing as Jess Evander) and has more than 100+ magazine and newspaper articles to her name. She holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. Making her home in the Midwest, Jessica believes there’s never a wrong time to eat cake.

You can connect with Jessica at the following places:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



CLICK HERE to buy or see
The Single Dad Next Door
The Single Dad Next Door

Love Comes Home 


All Maggie West has ever wanted is a family to call her own. But her new neighbor, single dad Kellen Ashby, is definitely not the man to make that dream come true. His daughters are sweet and silly, the kind of kids Maggie used to imagine having herself. But Kellen has just inherited the inn Maggie manages—her former family home—and the two butt heads at almost every turn. He's handsome, and clearly a devoted father, but with all the changes taking place, Maggie worries she may soon be jobless, homeless or both. At war with her emotions, Maggie will have to decide what truly matters—heart or home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Enter the contest to win a copy of 
Jessica's new release:
The Single Dad Next Door:
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, Jessica, 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, July 21, 2015

It's Not Easy Being The Good Friend



Photo Courtesy
I love reading good news from friends. I especially love seeing the pictures because sometimes the friend lives a distance away from me. I can watch their family grow and laugh with them.

I also appreciate reading the sad news from friends. And some of the pics...I have a weak stomach and a vivid imagination. But what I appreciate most is the opportunity to pray for the person.

Of late I've decided to not simply key in "Praying" for someone's post or email. There usually is a long list of very caring friends and relatives who have already done that. The person knows. These treasured friends are praying.

Recently a dear friend said his mother passed. His words demonstrated his love for her, how her life meant so much to him, and how he would deeply miss her. Even more so, he chose to include a special photo. One that showed his mom wearing a lovely dress and smiling. Her eyes twinkled and she looked like such a godly, happy woman.

The long list of "Praying" was already there so that was covered. I figured he needed to see something else. So I wrote what I saw. "She looks like such a godly and happy lady." and a few other words I can't remember.

He replied to my comment and so did a few others who seemed to be family related. 

My friend needed to see the "praying" comments, but he also just needed a kind word. Someone else who saw what he knew.

I have a walk through the Bible blo, and am currently telling the story of Job. This has given me the opportunity to dig into this heart wrenching event. I had heard about Job's three friends and their "advice" (yeah, right) but what I hadn't seen was the good they did at first. 

Job's three friends met after hearing the news. They talked with each other and decided to go to Job and simply sit with him. When they saw him from a distance, their hearts were broken. They hadn't realized the depth of Job's struggles. So moved, they tore their robes, put ashes on their heads then--and this is key--sat with him. They didn't say a word. They simply sat with him for seven days and seven nights. Ready to listen. Ready to be quiet.

This is the A+friendship. (of course, they blew it after that...but...)

Sometimes it's not so easy being a good friend. I've been on both sides of the fence, the sufferer and the one trying to be a good friend. You probably have, too. What I have learned is:

1. Giving advice to the suffering one is not appreciated.
2. Talking--often is not appreciated by the suffering one.
3. Warm hugs are SO appreciated.
4. Food sometimes is--many times not--because twenty other people already brought the same dish. Also, if food is given, try to remember not everyone likes food the same way. Call and ask, "I don't know what else to do. I love you so much and want to show you my love by bringing you a meal. Do you like...?" Keep the questions to no more than two. The person is overwhelmed.
5. Call to listen if you don't live close. Do not call to chat. If there is silence for ten minutes, then that's okay. Don't try to fill it. When you need to go do something else, simply tell the person. "I'll call back and listen again tomorrow. I'm here for you. Love you."
6. This may sound odd, but do not write Bible verses in cards, letters, emails, etc. for the person, it comes off as preachy. God is helping the individual in many ways and He is bringing the perfect verse to their mind. Best here is to pray that God will bring the best verse to the person's thoughts. Pray this daily, hourly, moment by moment for the person in need. And yes, this goes for the unsaved as well.
7. Last, and most important, help the suffering one to not feel like they have to help you help them. Go ahead and take charge by crying, hugging, etc. Visit them but bring something with you, like a book, a craft. SOMETHING TO SHOW you don't need to be entertained, comforted, helped to help the suffering one.  

I highly recommend not being on a cell phone during the visit. Turn it off and put it away. Once I was the suffering one, the visitor pulled out their cell and -- I don't know know-- did stuff for almost the whole visit. He/she was so engaged with their phone, I didn't dare say a word to them even when I wanted to.

Yeah, it's not so easy being the good friend. Sometimes, we just have to sit and listen. Not talk. Not ask. Just be there.


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

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Danica Favorite





Today we welcome author:
Danica Favorite

One commenter will win a copy of
 Danica's new release: 
The Lawman's Redemption





Mary here. Like you, I love meeting new authors, and Danica is no exception. I asked Danica to share how God has led her on her writing journey You're gonna love reading her God story. Here is what she said:



Sometimes We Have to Get out of God's Way and Let Him Work


When Mary asked me to blog on this topic, I thought for sure it would be easy. After all, God has played such an important role in my life. But then came time to actually WRITE about it. And I thought, hmmm… not so easy. You see, it’s hard to encapsulate in one blog post what the entire journey has looked like. I have many stories where God has shown up, and yet, each one is so different. The lessons learned seemingly unrelated. But the common theme, and the one I will talk about here is that God has shown up.

Whoa. I want you to sit in that idea for a minute or two and really soak it in. God has shown up. I think sometimes, we Christians take the idea of God always being there for granted. We say things like, “of course I know God is always there,” but do we really? Do we act and live as though we expect that God will, in fact, be there? Because here is the crazy thing that should really blow us away: the Creator of the Universe is there for you. To me, the hugeness of God and the smallness of me is breathtaking.

What does this have to do with my writing journey? I did not have an easy path to publication. It took me over 12 years to sell my first book. I have a fantastic collection of rejection letters. I have prayed, I have followed God, and I have done some crazy things because I believed it was where God wanted me to go. At times, it’s easy to say, “Well, where is God? Why haven’t my prayers been answered? I did everything God told me to do, and look at where I’m at!”

And that’s where I learned to find perspective. Isn’t it wonderful that we serve a God who actually would listen and care about our dreams of becoming an author? He cares. And that is something that’s easy to lose sight of in the middle of circumstances that seem difficult, or even impossible. In the middle of the questions, and the waiting, the thing that got me through was the realization that God doesn’t have to care. He doesn’t have to be there. But He is.

In my current release, The Lawman’s Redemption, my heroine, Mary Stone, thinks that she trusts God and believes that He’s there. But through her journey, she learns a deeper way of trusting Him and seeking His guidance. One of my favorite quotes from Mary is, “If God wouldn’t open a door, well, didn’t they say you were supposed to go in the window? She’d asked the Lord for guidance, and this had been the answer to her prayers.”

I don’t believe God literally acts that way all the time, but I’ve had it happen enough in my own life, that I know our perception of what who we think God is, and what God can do, is infinitely smaller than anything God is capable of. Sometimes we have to get out of God’s way and let Him work. Even when we don’t see it, He is there, guiding us. We just have to trust that He is there.

God shows up. Not on our timeline, or in the way that we think He should, but in a way that makes His plan complete. So my encouragement to you is that no matter where you are on your journey, trust that God is there, even if you can’t see it, don’t understand it, or it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. Don’t lose sight of the awe of knowing that the God of the Universe takes a personal interest in you. That is the strength that I carry no matter where this journey takes me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


A self-professed crazy chicken lady, Danica Favorite loves the adventure of living a creative life. She and her family recently moved in to their dream home in the mountains above Denver, Colorado.  Danica loves to explore the depths of human nature and follow people on the journey to happily ever after. Though the journey is often bumpy, those bumps are what refine imperfect characters as they live the life God created them for. Oops, that just spoiled the ending of all of Danica’s stories. Then again, getting there is all the fun.


You can connect with Danica at the following places:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanicaFavoriteAuthor


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CLICK HERE to buy or see
The Lawman's Redemption

Lawman on a Mission 

Former deputy Will Lawson is fighting to regain his reputation—and Mary Stone is his only lead to the bandit who framed him. Now that he's tracked Mary to Leadville, Colorado, Will needs the proud beauty to reveal her past. Instead, his efforts spark a mighty inconvenient attraction… 


Mary's only real crime is that she once believed an outlaw's lies. Still, she fears disclosing the truth to Will may land her in jail—and leave her young siblings without protection. Now she must choose between honesty and safeguarding her family. And if Will does clear his own name, can he convince the woman he loves to share it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Enter the contest to win a copy of 
Danica's new release:
The Lawman's Redemption:
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, Danica, 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!