Happy New Year!My One Word
As some of you know, I choose a word for each year. I try to do this prayerfully, but I believe God will use whatever I choose to teach me what He wants me to learn, so long as I listen. I’m trying! In fact, one year my word was Listen. If you search this blog for “My One Word,” you’ll find most of my previous words (although not last year’s. I apparently didn’t blog about that one.)
This Year’s Word
My word for 2020 is Grace. Like the years I chose Love, and Peace, this one was easy to hear spoken at church and to discover in the Bible. Grace is an essential element of Christianity, so of course it’s important and I need to study it. So I will.
The Sunday after Christmas, I heard this in church:
And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.~Luke 2:40 NIV
The grace of God was on Jesus, so of course, I want that too!
Usually I go into the year with a preconceived notion of what that word is going to teach me. My word for 2019 was Discover. I imagined all the wonderful things I’d learn and the great adventures I’d take in 2019. I thought it would be fun and thrilling. Discover in 2019 for me ended up going way beyond that. I discovered what life is without my mother, who passed away in June. I discovered a close family member (thanks, Ancestry.com) who I hadn’t known about and who I got to meet in person and still keep in touch with. I discovered secrets kept from me as a result of that discovery. I discovered that I do have enough energy to watch three little grandkids, two of whom were born in 2019! I picked the right word. There was much to discover and thus much to learn about myself.
So, I’m thinking Grace will teach me that even though I might fail, even though I might not get things done I think I should, God spreads His Grace over me. But what will Grace really mean to me in 2020? We shall see!
A New Start
Isn’t that how most people see the new year? A chance to start all over again if we didn’t meet our goals for 2019. Is that how you look at it? Rather than beating ourselves up for what did not achieve, try again.
Even though I’ve read James Joyce’s Ulysses (ugh! I’ll never get those hours back again!) I didn’t remember this quote from one of the characters in the book until I came across it in some rabbit trail Googling I was doing while writing my current novel. Yep, this ended up in said novel.
A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.
Ah, grace and discover both covered there! I will try to use my mistakes, accept the grace offered when I fail, and discover something worthwhile along the way. How about you?
Did you choose a word for 2020? Please comment.
It’s my pleasure to host Jennifer Allen (JPC Allen) on my blog today. I’ve watch her grow as a writer in my local ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) group and I can tell you she’s one to watch!
A lot has happened to me in the last fourteen months as a writer. I’ve had two short stories published. Since I’m getting paid for those stories, I am officially an author. But becoming an author of Christian fiction has meant so much more than getting a paycheck.
I’ve been writing stories since second grade. As I entered my college years, I began a novel and had always thought of myself as a novelist. After my kids entered school, I wrote a YA Christian crime novel and spent years improving it because it was the kind of story I like to read. But I got nowhere seeking an agent for it. I’ve had many agents ask to see sample chapters and my business plan only to have them to turn it down for various reasons, usually because the YA Christian fiction market is so tough to publish in.
Then I had the opportunity to write a short story for Mt. Zion Ridge Press. The only constraint was that it had to be set in Ohio. Although I am a huge fan of mystery short stories and have read hundreds of them, I’d never thought about writing one. My first crime short story, “Debt to Pay”, appeared in the anthology From the Lake to the River, last September. I was now an author. But that word took on a whole new meaning three months later.
Last December, Mt. Zion Ridge Press was accepting submissions for Christmas short stories. I had two weeks to come up with 5,000-word story that actually made sense. Since it had taken me years to get my novel in shape, 5,000 words in two weeks seemed as unconquerable as climbing a 5,000-foot peak in my bare feet. But I decided to go for it.
As I worked on my YA mystery, “A Rose from the Ashes”, I became more concerned with writing the story the way God wanted me to rather than taking it over and writing it to please myself. I didn’t think of it as my story. For some reason, God wanted to filter this story through me. I was very aware that it was finely balanced, and I didn’t want to wreck it.
And something funny happened. As I wrote and revised and sweated, the story became exactly the kind of story I’ve always wanted to write. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and some of my favorite mysteries are set at Christmas. Here I had the chance to write one. I’m a country girl at heart, and the story is set in a rural county in Ohio. The mystery hinges on mercy and forgiveness, two qualities I focus on as I grow as a Christian.
Getting paid for my art and having the owners of Mr. Zion Ridge Press accept my stories was a wonderful validation of my hard work. But I think I truly became an author when I collaborated with my heavenly Father as a junior partner and began thinking of the stories as His. I can’t wait to see what other projects He has in mind.
I’m holding a book giveaway on my site! Click here for details.
Christmas fiction off the beaten path
Not your Granny’s Christmas stories …
Step off the beaten path and enjoy six stories that look beyond the expected, the traditional, the tried-and-true.
Inspired by the song, “Mary Did You Know?” – a mother’s memories of events leading up to and following that one holy night. MARY DID YOU KNOW? By Patricia Meredith
A young woman seeking her own identity searches for the man who tried to kill her and her mother on Christmas Eve twenty years before. A ROSE FROM THE ASHES. By JPC Allen
Princess, tower, sorceress, dragon, brave knight, clever peasant – combine these ingredients into a Christmas-time story that isn’t quite what you’d expect. RETURN TO CALLIDORA. By Laurie Lucking
Anticipating tough financial times, the decision not to buy or exchanged presents leads to some painful and surprising revelations for a hardworking man and his family. NOT THIS YEAR. By Sandra Merville Hart
Years ago, a gunman and a store full of hostages learned some important lessons about faith and pain and what really matters in life – and the echoes from that day continued to the present. THOSE WHO STAYED. By Ronnell Kay Gibson
A community of refugees, a brutal winter, a doorway to another world – a touch of magic creating holiday joy for others leads to a Christmas wish fulfilled. CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS. By Michelle L. Levigne
JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. She’s been tracking down mysteries ever since. A former children’s librarian, she is a member of ACFW and has written mystery short stories for Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Online, she offers writing tips and prompts to beginning writers. She also leads writing workshops for tweens, teens, and adults, encouraging them to discover the adventure of writing. A lifelong Buckeye, she has deep roots in the Mountain State. Join the adventure on her blog, Facebook,Instagram, or Goodreads.
The Hard Part
As I hinted in my newsletter this month (July 2019), life has been challenging lately. I know I’m not alone in this. We all experience the valley from time to time, right?
I’m inspired by the title of a book. Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins has several biographies or autobiographies published. One of them, the one that I read, is titled, “The Game is Easy, Life is Hard.” It’s common knowledge that getting into the professional level of baseball is quite difficult. Continuing to play at that level is hard as well. Excelling at the Big League level long enough to be elected into the Hall of Fame happens only for a select few. But for Jenkins, all that was easy compared to the challenges and heartache he experienced in his life.
Similarly, getting published, selling enough to continue to get published…very difficult in this day and age. But easy compared to some life situations. I do not mean to make light of anyone’s challenges. Compared to a lot of people’s, mine pale. Yes, my mother passed away recently, June 25, just three days after her 90th birthday.
I had my mother longer than many people have theirs. I have wonderful memories. She shared a lot of love. However, late in her life we experienced a long road of health and memory issues, about ten years when I think back on it. Combined with some family strife (extended family, not my immediate family) it has been quite challenging. My writing and my publishing success were undoubtedly adversely affected. I shared the care of my mom with my sister Sharon (in the photograph when we were growing up) and I’m grateful for the late nights she spent with my mom, her continual checking up on her care, and so much more.
Why I Bring it Up
Like I said, many people struggle with life issues. As I mentioned, Fergie Jenkins dealt with losing many people in his life, some to suicide. Life is short. Take nothing for granted. That was his advice. He admitted to me in person (I interviewed him when I was working on the book Three Finger) that he never felt strong enough to endure what life hurled at him. He just had to press on.
We are not guaranteed happiness, But joy? Look for it in all situations.
I have been receiving a lot of cards and they have blessed me. In one, I found the following comforting words: “Those we love who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith, have not been separated from us. They are really much closer to us because they now live in the fullness of God’s love…”
The Great Circle of Life
So, yes, life can be challenging. But we do not grieve as those without faith. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
While my mother was declining, a miracle came forth. Emree Jayne was not due until this month, but was delivered early and healthy. Just 12 days before my mother passed.
What we do for an occupation may be difficult and challenging, whether playing professional ball, writing a novel, fighting fires, serving in the military, pastoring a church, or just working long hours to provide an adequate living. But what matters is who we are to the people around us. My youngest son said this in a Facebook post after his grandmother (my mom) passed away.
“I wanted my kids to know my grandmas. I am thankful that Maelee was able to experience the same joy you had every day that I experienced when I was a kid. …You set the standard for what it meant to love your family. Thank you for all the memories. You will be missed by the many lives you’ve touched.”
That. That is a legacy. Hard to achieve? Yeah, probably so. But so worth trying!
I took this photo during a time author Shelly Miller calls “Forced Sabbath.” That’s a time when we take a rest we hadn’t planned. The worse example of this is when we are sick. We are forced to rest, and can sometimes use that time for reflection and a time to seek God.
But on this day, it wasn’t anything like that. It was a snow day! That means I was not babysitting my granddaughter. I miss her, of course, but this was a bonus kind of day where I was up early anyway. So I sat in my office, prayed, reflected, and enjoyed the morning light coming through the window.
Everyone Needs Time to Rest
For most people, it’s hard to find time for this. Some people even avoid taking time to pause. They like to stay busy. I’m not talking about sleep, but intentional times to chill, goof off, read, relax.
We all need to rest, if only for a few moments. It’s amazing how slowing down improves your mood and your ability to focus. Jesus offered us rest when he said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT) And he followed his own advice many times: “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” (Mark 1:35 NLT)
If you’d like to read more about Jesus and rest, I found this article.
Practice the Pause
In Shelly’s book, she doesn’t play the blame game. Start off giving yourself permission for just a few minutes if you can’t find time. You can expand as you get used to the idea. Like any spiritual discipline, pausing takes practice. If you forget or get distracted, or if something you must do comes up, just begin again later.
If you’re interested in Shelly’s book, you can find it here.
Do You Practice Pausing? Let me know in the comments. Share your own inspirational photo here or on my Readers Facebook Group.
I have had a little trouble posting to my web site. That is why you’ll see the author of this post as Tom, rather than me. I needed to use his login. It’s always something, right?
So when this review came in, I wasn’t able to share it right away. But I wanted to make sure I did share it with you. It was an honor for Enya’s Son to be recognized. Have you read it? If so, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads and on other sites you might use such as Barnes & Noble. Thanks in advance. These reviews help readers who are making buying decisions.
This book can be read as a stand alone.
To view the map from the book, click here.
The International Review of Books 5 Star badge of achievement.
Character Development: 5 out of 5
Plot Development: 5 out of 5
Flow of Plot: 4 out of 5
Overall rating: 5 out of 5
A line in the book that stood out to the reviewer:
“I am a woman who is deeply troubled. –1 Samuel 1:15 NIV”
This was a wonderful book! It’s a story of good versus evil and kept me thinking about the characters long after I put it down. When an evil man threatens the safety of their son, Enya goes behind her husband’s back despite the dangers of traveling alone. It is a story of faith and forgiveness and love and compassion in a land filled with ancient rituals and superstition. The suspense and danger kept me up late and the rich history of ancient Ireland and the early days of the church make it a very interesting read!
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
~From To A Mouse by Robert Burns, 1785
Robert Burns wrote that poem after ploughing up a mouse nest, accidentally. If I’ve learned anything this summer-of-trying-to-get-Enya’s-Son-to-readers, it’s that despite my best efforts, my plans may fail. Well, this didn’t fail, just didn’t unfold the way I had pictured.
Here are some highlights:
My editor, God love her, had some unexpected things to deal with and so she was a few months later than we expected in getting my manuscript back to me.
Then once we finished that process, the formatter I’ve used many times before was unavailable. I discovered templates and folks saying it’s easy to format your own. Easy is a relative term…something I will always remind myself of from here on out. It took MUCH longer for me to do this than I anticipated. Page numbers kept disappearing, among other things. Husband helped. He enjoyed this. I…well, did not.
Once I had the files, and the files from my cover designer (one for print, one for ebook) I uploaded them. Error to one of the cover files. Fixed, but that put me back a day. Then error to my content file (print). I had to learn about something I had to do to the file in Adobe Pro, which I had to upload, a free trial. All set, good.
Rush order one copy because the summer festivals are fast approaching. Paid a ton for that one copy, got it…uh, nope. Learned that you can’t use just any font in a book. Teeny words! Free Adobe trial ended so purchased it for one month, reworked the file. Cover designer had to resize his file because now there are a ton more pages, thus changed the spine size. Ok, all set. Maybe I can still make the festival order. After review I was told the cover image wasn’t the right size. This took much back and forth but finally the acceptable file was had and we were ready. But with weekends and the time taken for review, I could only get the books in time for the festivals if it cost me to sell them, in other words if I took a big loss. That did not make sense. So some folks pre-ordered copies from me.
A week later I get my sample copy. The story itself is readable now, yeah! But…there was a printing error on a couple of the front matter pages. My fault? The printer’s fault? Back to live chat. Sent copies of the bad pages. Waiting…
In addition, it appears the map will be difficult to read in the book, no matter what I do. So I’ve put it online where readers can enlarge it if needed. You can find it here.
The book will be published! Hang in there, everybody! The ebook is available and the print should (I repeat, should!) be available Sept. 4. Do me a favor if you like it. Tell everyone. I can use some help. Thanks! 🙂
Great Savings on Ebooks!
What better way to start 2017 than with a great deal on some ebooks? My publisher has Grace’s Pictures on sale all month, along with some other great reads. Only 99 cents in January! Click here for the deal.
Grace’s Pictures is the first book of the Ellis Island series, so if you haven’t gotten started, now’s a great time.
But Wait, There’s More!
There is also a sale on Sofia’s Tune (book 3 in the Ellis Island series.) But you have to hurry with this one. The price is 99 cents for a couple of days, then goes up to 1.99 for a few days, and then back to its regular price of 2.99, which seriously is still a good deal.
Sofia’s Tune (Ellis Island Book 3) <<<Click this link for the deal.
That’s Not All!
Did you know there is a sequel to the series? It’s short, but helps to explain how Mrs. Hawkins came to open Hawkins House, the setting of all three novels. And it’s FREE! You can’t do better than free. All you need to do is sign up for newsletter. You probably saw a pop-up, but if not, click here.
I recently posted this on my Facebook page:
NEW: Enter to win your choice of one of my #books. Leave a review (of any one of my books) on Amazon.com between now and May 31 and send me the link. Must send link to be entered. Facebook is not afflilated with this giveaway. Drawing will be held June 1 and winner must respond to message by June 8, 2016. US RESIDENTS ONLY. Please share. TY!
Why I’m Asking Pretty Please
Reviews help readers find books, and mine are off the radar and could use some attention, especially my newest books. If you could help by posting a review on Amazon I would appreciate it so very much. And, you can do more by just copying your review and pasting it on other retail sites such as Barnes and Noble. Goodreads is another excellent site for readers where you can post a review.
I’m Making it Easy to Post Reviews!
And to make it super easy for you, here are some links:
My Books on Fiction Finder (an excellence service by ACFW that helps readers find books where my books have almost no reviews at all!)
Shout It Out!
And finally, let others know about my giveaway. If you are on Twitter, click below. If you are on Facebook, share this post.Post a review for a chance to win your choice of these books! http://bit.ly/1NTnMaN Click To Tweet
The Roots of Irish Wisdom: Learning From Ancient Voices
The updated, revised edition of Celtic Wisdom: Treasures From Ireland is ready!
This is a paperback edition. What’s new is a bit more added information and my own black & white photographs from my trips to Ireland. Much of the book is the same as Celtic Wisdom, just updated.
How to Buy the Book
The ebook edition is on Kindle. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can get it for free. The regular price is 4.99. Very soon the print edition will be available for 8.99. If you’d like a signed copy, contact me and we’ll make arrangements.
What’s So Special About This Book?
I’m biased, of course, but I think readers interested in Irish history and Celtic Christianity will enjoy this wee introduction to the men and women who brought the faith to Ireland, along with some thoughts on Celtic learning, prayer, and art.
What Are Others Saying
On Celtic Wisdom:
“Among the shelves of books available on the subject, Celtic Wisdom by Cindy Thomson is a wonderful distillation of the important truths and legacy of Celtic Christianity.”~John Doan, Emmy-nominated composer and premier harp guitarist, storyteller, and historian.
It’s a perfect sampler for anyone interested in learning more about the Christian faith of the Celts and how it has influenced generations.~Christina on Amazon
Make Celtic Wisdom a part of your library, but leave it on the coffee table for others to pick up and enjoy as well. Only 95 pages–small, but that actually makes it more accessible for those of us who are always too hurried to sit down to a longer scholarly work. Well researched and enlightening, Celtic Wisdom is a real treasure.~Cathi on Amazon
This book is an excellent survey but hopefully it will whet your appetite to recapture the whit, wisdom and understanding of an age long forgotten by today’s urban worries. By the time you finish reading it, you will feel the mist on your skin and the peat under your feet and see a light emanating all around you! Yet, it’s a quick read, well worth your time and energy if you are seeking a new old way of approaching God.~Martin on Amazon