Right Stuff Wednesday – Very Bad Days

Have I told you that I love quotes? I do. I love movie quotes, quotes famous people, and quotes from books. But some of my favorite quotes come from children’s books. The ability to wrap up an adult sized truth in a package that children can understand and relate to is amazing. The fact that the words are as meaningful to adults as they are to the books’ youthful audience makes them nothing short of beautiful.

“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that.” – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

It’s a simple end to a story chronicling the misadventures of a young boy. Nothing seems to go right for the story’s main character. At the end, there is no redemption. He simply states what a horrible day it has been, and his mother doesn’t attempt to talk him out of it. She doesn’t point out all that’s gone right. She simply agrees. Yes, some days are like that.

I’ve had days like that. I’m sure you have too. No matter what you try nothing seems to work the way you planned. Those days leave me wondering why I didn’t stay nestled in my comfy bed. Too bad hibernation is not a valid method of dealing with things.

Then, there are those events and issues in our lives that encompass more than a single day. They are those heartbreaking, spirit shaking pains that are light years away from the troubles of a bad day in childhood. No matter how they’re handled, it cannot be escaped. These trials change us.

In recent years it has become popular for believers to adopt an attitude that faith in God will protect us from the pains of life. If we believe enough and pray enough, God will bless us with only good things. Jesus tells us differently. He warns we will suffer for our faith. Men like Paul gave us God’s word on how to deal with hard times when they come. He wouldn’t need to if we wouldn’t face difficulties. Paul, himself, asked for a specific trial to be taken from him but God refused.

Life gets messy. Life can hurt. “Yes, some days are like that.” And some weeks, months, and years. But it doesn’t leave us without hope.

I have experienced pains I thought would break me. I have old wounds that cause me pain years after they were inflicted. Events beyond my control forever erased the way I thought life was going for me. I won’t get into specifics. I don’t need to. My trials may be different than yours, but I’m guessing yours probably left you feeling much the same way. The events causing our pains are different but it doesn’t make one more or less important. When someone experiences life changing situations, the initial results are the same. Confusion, hurt, and anger vie for our attention and energy.

But, and I don’t say this lightly, I don’t wish these experiences away. I learned more about God and myself during those times than I did on hundred bright, happy days. I was more focused and spiritually minded during these trials, and I realized how much I had taken my faith for granted. It sounds trite to someone who’s currently in the flames, but seeing where I am now, I appreciate the refining fire I found myself in.

Does this mean I want to go there again? Absolutely not. Does it make the pain of the old wounds disappear? No. But God might even take care of those one day. Do I find myself skipping through the heartaches with a smile? No. And I wouldn’t be even if I did regularly find myself skipping through my days. I cry. I get angry. I complain.

Then, I turn to the one place I know I can find strength and peace for the fight. I realize my limitations and my God’s limitlessness. I wish I could share with you an easy to follow five step plan for peace and contentment in the midst of devastation, but I can’t. I have lessons I’ve taken to heart from scripture. You might try Philippians 4 and Psalm 121. I often find direction and peace when I reflect on and put these into practice. But God is using these things to change each of us in a very personal way. Maybe your focus needs to be on God’s love where mine needs to be on His provision. Whatever it is we’re looking for, we can find it through God’s word, prayer, and the godly support of Christian friends.

This attitude adjustment isn’t easy. It’s not a quick fix. You’re still going to feel like some things are terrible and horrible. You may experience more days that seem no good and very bad. But you’ll notice the shift in perspective and be able to say, “Some days are like that.” And one day, if you let God work in you through the circumstances you may even realize that while you hated going through it, you’re grateful for the person they’ve grown you into. A person who is more Christ-like than the one that existed before the trial’s refining fire.

From Year to Year

path1February 13th was the anniversary of the release day for Faith’s Journey. One year. One year since I held my first published book for the first time. One year since I sold the first copy. One year since I celebrated with friends and family at the release party.

A year before that I was busy finishing that same book. I’d gotten my contract with Mantle Rock Publishing, and I was working hard to make Faith’s Journey the best story it could be. I had a summer of editing deadlines to look forward to. I had twelve months to start letting people get to know Heather Greer, author.

The year before that I was faithfully attending writer’s group and getting feedback from that trusted set of writing friends. I was gathering the nerve to send queries out to agents and publishers. I was researching those agents and publishers to determine the best options for me and Faith’s Journey.

This year I am busy making plans for the release of Grasping Hope, the sequel to my first book. It comes out in a month. The edits are done. The cover is beautiful. It’s available for pre-order. I’ve got invitations sent out for the launch party. I’ve got decorations lining the walls in my office. I’ve even ordered a new dress for the occasion. And if you know me, you know that’s a big deal. I don’t do dresses.

The point is that a lot has changed over the last few years. I’ve always felt like God wanted me to use my love of writing to minister to others. And though I never stopped writing completely, I have to admit there were times I wondered if I would see this dream become reality. But it’s a journey. Each step, each year has brought me closer to where I am today.

It’s also reminded me that the journey is not over. Where I am today is not where I will be next year. Each day is giving me an opportunity to learn and grow as a writer. It’s allowing me to implement ideas for marketing that I hadn’t previously known or considered.

The dream, the ministry, is not complete. What has happened is simply a milestone on the road to where God is taking me. Seeing my first book published was a big milestone. There will be many more in the years to come. This isn’t the end of the writing trail. It’s only the beginning.

I could choose to operate under a different perspective, and it would drastically change the path of my writing journey. The same is true in our faith. So many times people see salvation as the finish line. It is the goal to reach for and once grasped, we have everything we need. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We need to adjust our focus and realize the act of coming to God for forgiveness of sin through Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection is a beginning. It is the beginning of being reconciled to God. It is the point where we find our relationship with God restored.

The key word is relationship. A relationship is on-going. It grows and changes over time. We learn more about our God. We learn more about how He sees us. Our love for Him develops changing the way we relate to Him and to other people. From the inside out, the truths we learn about Him transform us into the people He wants us to be.

When I look at last year, I want to see how much I’ve changed in my relationship with God. I want to see areas where I’ve learned and grown. And I don’t want it to stop there. Every year in my future I want to be able to look back and see a little more of Jesus and a little less of me.

 

What I’m Reading – The Wedding Dress

About a year ago, I had my first introduction to Rachel Hauck with the book The Writing Desk. I loved it. It’s one of those books I’ll keep and re-read in years to come. And that is why I didn’t hesitate to snatch The Wedding Dress off the shelf as I perused the shelf at a used bookstore just two days ago.

I began reading it that night, though I admit I didn’t get very far into it before I needed to put it down. Last night was a different story. After spending a lazy day with my husband, spending a lazy evening reading sounded just about perfect. At one a.m. when I finished the last page, I knew I had made the right choice. Even this morning, tired as I am from my late night, I’m not sorry I didn’t put the book down in favor of a good night’s sleep. Sometimes, you simply need to stay up late reading a good book.

That’s what The Wedding Dress is, a good book. Though the gown has been worn by four different brides over the span of around a hundred years, the book fleshes out the stories of the first and current owners of the dress, Emily and Charlotte.

Charlotte’s life is about wedding dresses. She pairs each bride who enters her shop with the perfect dress for them. Not content to make cookie cutter brides, she finds the unique dress to match the spirit of each bride. She considers this a gift God has given her to help each woman’s special day be as wonderful as it can be.

Her own life is a little messy though. Charlotte and her fiance seem a little off. Plans are not being made in a timely way for their wedding. Charlotte, the lover of wedding dresses, hasn’t even found her own. In what she believes is a desire to seek out answers, Charlotte goes to a special place from her childhood for solitude. What she finds is an auction, a mysterious man, and a battered trunk that she pays more money than she believes it’s worth to win.

As her engagement and relationship with her fiance fizzle, Charlotte opens the trunk to a beautiful, antique wedding dress that seems shrouded in mystery. In her current state she doesn’t believe the dress is for her, but she is driven to find out what she can about the history of the dress.

One hundred years earlier Emily is also engaged. In a time when racial tensions were high and women were pushing for the right to vote, Emily faces her own doubts about marriage to Phillip. On paper, he is her best choice. He’s from a good family that will raise her own family’s social standing. Everyone is in favor of the marriage. But something feels off.

When her first love comes back into her life, matters are complicated. Truth tries to come into the light, but Emily feels trapped. She’s made her choice, and she will honor it. She longs for freedom, but she can’t seem to find it even in something as simple as obtaining her wedding dress.

Emily’s mother and her fiance’s family have chosen the best wedding dress maker to create a gown suitable for a wedding of the highest social caliber. Emily finds the woman rude and conceited. Her design leaves Emily feeling constricted and weighted down, trapped.

Against social norms and possibly even laws she seeks out a woman of color to design her dress. Gifted in much the same way Charlotte feels gifted in the future, Taffy designs and sews the wedding dress Charlotte finds years later in the trunk. The dress is a perfect fit and style for Emily, but her mother insists it cannot be worn for her wedding to Phillip.

Emily and Charlotte, along with the other two owners, struggle to fully embrace what the dress means for their lives. For different reasons courage and faith are needed by these women to accept the dress as theirs and live with the events it brings into their lives.

Rachel Hauck does a wonderful job telling the story of Emily and Charlotte, but she doesn’t stop there. The gown is a character in it’s own right, and it’s story is rich with history and meaning as it weaves together the lives of these four women. The Wedding Dress is a beautiful story of love, betrayal, brokenness, and redemption that will be as timeless as the gown it’s named for.

Write Stuff Wednesday with Gail Sattler

Today’s guest is Gail Sattler who shares a quote that I doubt would be heard on television these days. But there’s a lot of truth in it, and I thank her for sharing it with us today.

I have a quote today from one my favorite comedians from my childhood, Red Skelton (1913-1977). He ended every show with the same words – “Good night, and may God bless.”

If you are not old enough or don’t know who he is, here is a link – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0804026/

My favorite quote is one from Red Skelton.

“If you have a talent, that’s God’s gift to you. If you use that talent, that’s your gift to God.”

We all have different talents, and I like to think mine is writing. Red’s words imply that we all have talents, but many do not use them, as he says “if” you use that talent.

How sad it would be to have a talent and not use it. However, as we all know, life gets in the way of doing what we like, versus what we need, and in order to live, and to live with others, what we need must come first.

I have a friend who is the most talented singer I have ever heard in my life. How big? Think big, like Susan Boyle (famous from Britain’s Got Talent). She was overweight, not pretty, frumpy, and older. She walked out on that stage for the first time at 47 years old, and showed the world her talent. At first all the judges rolled their eyes, but were stunned by what they saw  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D5DgQi2oqA

Believe it or not, Susan Boyle did not win Britain’s Got Talent that year. But by her using her talent and trusting her faith, her life and career were launched.

Is my talent going to launch me into stardom like Susan Boyle? Well, I think not. But that’s okay. God has given me a talent, and wherever it takes me, even if it’s nowhere, I want to give my gift back to God.

Here’s a little more about Gail.

Tim and Gail Sattler - fun photoGail Sattler lives in Vancouver BC Canada, where you don’t have to shovel rain. When she’s not madly writing (Gail Sattler has over 40 published novels and novellas, plus a few works of non-fiction) she plays bass for an Elton John tribute band as well as a community jazz band, plus she plays piano for a smaller private jazz band. When she’s not writing or making music (or at her day job) Gail likes to sit back and read a book written by someone else, along with a good cup of hot coffee.

Visit Gail Sattler’s website at http://www.gailsattler.com

Gail Sattler’s blog – What Goes On In The Mind Of A Writer – http://www.gailsattler.com/category/new/

Facebook  – https://www.facebook.com/gail.sattler.3

Gail Sattler’s Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/Gail-Sattler-author-568988573496833/?modal=admin_todo_tour

More about Gail’s Books:

The Other Neighbor coverThe Other Neighbor – Cheryl Richardson doesn’t know that her landlord who owns the other half of the duplex where she lives is plotting to build a bomb—but the FBI does. In order to discover what her landlord is planning to blow up, agent Steve Gableman moves next door to get closer to Cheryl to learn what she knows, namely the target and motive, so they can stop it. But when Steve involves himself in every area of her life, including her dog, will Cheryl be the one to explode?

Mercury Rising CoverMercury Rising – Michael wants to save his daughter, but first he’s got to save the world.

Michael and Charlotte meet when Michael is trying to find Ashley, his missing daughter who has fallen into drug abuse, and Charlotte is searching for her son Jon, a brilliant and aspiring young scientist who has also gone missing.
Ashley and Jon should have nothing in common, but after the murder of Jon’s favorite professor, they become ensnared in a tangled web that becomes worse with every new discovery.
When Michael and Charlotte join together to figure what their children have become involved with, they, too, are sucked into a sinkhole for which there are no answers, only more questions.
When all seems lost, will they all recognize the source of strength offered to them, and… will they take it?

What I’m Reading – Carolina Grace

book signingLast weekend I had the pleasure of attending a book signing celebrating the release of Regina Rudd Merrick’s newest book, Carolina Grace. Carolina Grace is the third, and sort-of final, installment in her Southern Breeze Series. It also happens to be what I’m reading, or more specifically what I read, this week.

If you’ve followed her series from book one, you will be delighted to find all the familiar characters return in this new book. If you haven’t, you’ll want to start with Carolina Dream and Carolina Mercy. It will make understanding what’s going on in Carolina Grace much easier and the story becomes richer when you can see all the loose ends coming together.

Set a few years in the future from the events of her second book, readers get to see how “happily ever after” is playing out for the previous main characters. And due to the added years, Carolina Grace is able to focus on a secondary character who was too young to be more than a supporting player in the previous stories.

Charly Livingston is all grown up in Carolina Grace. While the previous books’ events would have given her an up close view of faith and love lived out through the lives of her brother and family friends, this book is about her own journey.

Raised to embrace faith, Charly struggles to reconcile what she’s always believed about God with difficult circumstances in her life. Her family’s faith isn’t enough to keep her from growing resentful and her resentment puts distance between her and God.

Though she still believes, it’s when Charly is in this place of doubt that she meets Rance. He’s a man that’s got it all together. The only thing missing for him is faith, but does he really need it? When family secrets come out into the open, it challenges everything he’s believed.

God’s grace is the answer for both Charly and Rance. Charly has to learn to embrace grace as her strength for the hard times and move forward in a faith that is her own. Rance needs to experience God’s saving grace and allow God to work in his life.

As someone raised in a believing family, I could relate to Charly’s experience. I believe at some point, God brings every believer who embraced faith at an early age to a point where their faith must become their own. A lot of times that means a trial of the faith they have.

Like Charly, they may never completely walk away from their faith. Instead, they may feel like they’re going through the motions or like God is no longer close to them. They let the circumstances or sinful choices put space between them and God and then wonder why they don’t hear Him as they once did.

Carolina Grace serves as a great reminder that those who are struggling to keep the faith or find it for the first time are not alone. There is hope. There is an answer. And it is found in God’s grace.

carolina grace

 

Saying Goodbye

I love quotes. I guess that’s why I came up with Write Stuff Wednesday. Usually, I share a writing related quote, but really I’m a fan of any type of quote. I especially love quotes from children’s books. Today’s quote falls into this category.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – Winnie the Pooh

I’ve had friends come and go in my life. Some have been incredibly hard to say goodbye to and even now, years later, I still find myself thinking about them. Their friendship was that special kind of relationship that shapes who you are. They are beside you in the bad times and laughing with you in the good times. You grow together and support each other. You can trust them just as they can trust you. Their absence doesn’t go unnoticed.

Some books are like that too. Some end and you go about life as usual. You enjoyed them while reading them, but as you turn that last page you’re satisfied with the end. Their story is over, and you are ready to move on.

Other books are harder to place back on that shelf. Whether it’s the characters or the message or both, you connect with the book in a deeper way. You empathize with the characters’ pains and relate to their struggles. Maybe they’re dealing with the same doubts you face. Maybe you’ve experienced a similar loss. Whatever the reason, reading these books is like holding up a mirror and seeing yourself. You connect with people dreamed up in the imagination of someone else. Reaching the end of these books isn’t as easy. The resolution of their problems may be satisfying, but their story has not left you unchanged. You’ve been encouraged or challenged as you’ve read each page. These are hard books to leave behind. These are the books you visit again and again.

These are the books I want to write. I would love nothing more than for people to come away from my stories changed for the better. I would count myself successful to know that others have connected with the characters I created and come away encouraged or challenged in their faith. As I strive to learn and grow as a writer, it is my hope that those who read my books will find “something that makes saying goodbye so hard”.

 

What Can You Do?

Saturday I drove two hours to a book signing. It wasn’t my book signing. Fellow Mantle Rock Publishing author Regina Rudd Merrick was celebrating the release of the third book in her Carolina series. We’d only met once prior to this event, but we’ve “spoken” several times via email. Besides, I wanted to support her.

I held my first book launch event last year. Faith’s Journey was my first book, and I wanted to celebrate with friends, family, and anyone else who might be interested. I planned the party for months. I wanted it to be special. And the night before I was scared to death. What if I put all this time, energy, and money into the party and no one showed up? I was, after all, a first time author, a nobody in the publishing world.

I worried over nothing. It was a great day, and I will always remember those who came out to support me. I’d like to tell you I’ve learned my lesson, but as I’m preparing for Grasping Hope’s launch party I still fight those feelings. I know those of us who do show up will have a great time. I plan on celebrating even if no one but my husband and kids show up! But I’d like to share that day with as many of our friends and family as I can and maybe make some new friends too.

I share these stories with you because I don’t think I’m that different from other authors. We write because we have stories to tell. We hope readers enjoy what we’ve created. We hope they come away from our work encouraged or challenged or maybe even both. We hope they connect to the characters and find a little of themselves in the pages.

We hope, but often we don’t know. God gave us a passion for writing and the ability to do it. We are blessed to find God’s plan for us includes this thing we love so much. In our hearts this is enough. But like anyone who creates, whether it’s a novel, a painting, or even a beautiful dessert, there is a desire to know what we do means something to someone.

This is where you, the reader, comes in.

When I was a teenager, I wrote letters to my favorite authors. I told them how much I enjoyed their stories. I was thrilled when they wrote me back. I still have their letters tucked away somewhere. Back then, contacting an author meant hand writing your thoughts, finding an envelope and a stamp, and addressing it to the publisher in hopes that it didn’t end up in a garbage can before reaching the author. Today, there are much simpler ways to encourage an author who has encouraged you.

  1. Review their books. Amazon reviews are like gold to authors. They not only let them hear from readers, reviews help them from a sales standpoint. You can also review on sites like Goodreads. In addition to being an encouragement, your reviews help others find the same books you enjoyed. It doesn’t have to be complex. Just tell everyone what you liked about the book.
  2. Follow the author. Not literally, of course. That’s stalking and it’s illegal. But most authors have social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon author pages, and Goodreads author pages each allow readers to stay connected with what authors are doing. They allow interaction with the author.
  3. Go to events. Launch parties and book signings not only give you the chance to speak face to face with your favorite authors, they are also a great encouragement to the authors. Even the introverts enjoy hearing from those who enjoy their work.
  4. Sign up for their newsletters. Authors tend to get a little more personal in these email newsletters. Readers get to know them better and have sneak peeks into what’s coming for the author. Giveaways and behind the scenes looks into favorite books are a couple of other perks subscribers may receive.

Readers: What are your favorite ways to encourage and connect with the authors you enjoy?

Authors: What are your favorite ways to hear from readers?

Here are some photos from the Faith’s Journey book launch last year. Stay tuned for new ones after the Grasping Hope Launch Party in March!

Write Stuff Wednesday – Cynthia Roemer

Newspaper photo Book 2 - Copy (2)Cynthia Roemer, today’s guest on Write Stuff Wednesday, shares a quote from one of my favorite children’s book series. Of course, I really don’t think this series is only for children! Thank you for sharing Cynthia.

It comes from C. S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew.
“For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
~ Why I like this: As a writer, perspective is everything. I hope to make readers experience what my characters are experiencing, hopefully in an intriguing sort of way. As a person, it’s my prayer that I will look for the good and not the bad in situations and others.
Here’s a little more about Cynthia:

Book cover - finalBook Cover _ Under Prairie Skies (Final)

 

AUTHOR BIO: 

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Book One: Under This Same Sky and Book Two: Under Prairie Skies. She is currently writing Book Three in the series, Under Moonlit Skies due to release in September, 2019.

 Contact Info:

Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16785237.Cynthia_Roemer

Author Newsletter Sign-up: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cynthia+roemer

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-prairie-skies-cynthia-roemer/1128471176?ean=9781945094446

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-roemer

 

It’s Coming!

In just one month, Grasping Hope will be released. Currently, I’m working hard to finish the final read-through for the publisher. It’s slow going, since it has to be read out loud. But the end is in sight, and the practice will leave me with a book that’s as error free as possible.

I’ve also received the first cover mock-ups. There are a few finishing touches, but I hope in the next week to have the cover to reveal to everyone! I can’t wait for you to see it! What I’ve seen is beautiful.

I’m also working hard planning my book launch party. With a quirky fifties vibe, it should be a lot of fun. Plus, I’m going to serve mini root beer floats. How could it be anything less than fun with root beer floats and cupcakes made to look like soda fountain milkshakes?

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a guest Write Stuff Wednesday blog. Until then, it’s back to work doing the last read through of my manuscript.