Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky

Please welcome my friend and mother of five, Marlo Schalesky.

SHADES OF MORNING from Waterbrook-Multnomah is Marlo’s third “Love Story with a Twist” (think a Nicolas Sparks type love story with an M. Night Shyamalan type twist!)

A BIT ABOUT THE BOOK: Marnie Wittier has life just where she wants it. Quiet. Peaceful. No drama. A long way away from her past. In the privacy of her home, she fills a box with slips of paper, scribbled with her regrets, sins, and sorrows. But that’s nobody else’s business.

Her bookstore/coffee shop patrons, her employees, her friends from church - they all think she’s the very model of compassion and kindness. Then Marnie’s past creeps into her present when her estranged sister dies and makes Marnie guardian of her fifteen-year-old son—a boy Marnie never knew existed. And when Emmit arrives, she discovers he has Down syndrome - and that she’s woefully unprepared to care for him. What’s worse, she has to deal with her sister’s attorney, a man Marnie once loved—and abandoned.

As Emmit—and Taylor—work their way into her heart, Marnie begins to heal. But when pieces of her dismal past surface again, she must at last face the scripts of paper in her box, all the regrets and sorrows. Can she do it? Or will she run again?

FROM ROMANTIC TIMES: Top Pick! 4 ½ Stars! “Schalesky has a knack for weaving a surprising spiritual twist into her tales. The touching plot will make readers examine how they deal with past regrets, and how God moves them through it. A not-to-be-missed, stunning novel!”

A BIT ABOUT MARLO: Marlo Schalesky is the award winning author of numerous books, including her latest novel Shades of Morning, with a surprise ending twist. Marlo’s other books include the Christy Award winning Beyond the Night, and its sequel Tomorrow Never Comes. Marlo is also the author of nearly 700 articles, the mother of 5 young children, and holds her Masters in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

When she’s not changing diapers, doing laundry, or writing books, Marlo loves sipping Starbucks white mochas, reading the New Testament and talking about finding the deep places of God in everyday life.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer Break! See you in September

Over the past week, I began to feel a stirring in my spirit to "hush up."

Since '02, I've been a blogger, beginning with Diaryland. Blast from the past, no? Then I moved to a Blogger driven web site and dutifully blogged.

I was on MySpace in '05, and was one of the first authors to consider cyber sites to promote books and gain readers.

Joined Facebook the moment I heard it opened to non students. Seeing the importance of social media, I've tried to balance my life with cyber social life, but lately, I've felt myself begin to "shout."

My perspective was becoming skewed, my identity becoming about building a vocal, but unseen audience.

The Lord's just confirmed to me it's time to take a cyber break. Even as I write, I feel excited in my spirit!

I love y'all! I've made some amazing friends on Twitter and Facebook and I'm going to miss everyone, but the days will fly by!

We don't have Dish or cable so hubby and I are talking about reading books together and discussing them. I'm reading one now on praying in tongues and it's stirring me to go deeper in God, to become the woman He's called me to be! We forget how FOR us He is!

I'm a part of a writer's group that posts book releases for each other, so I'll continue to post those, but otherwise, I'll see you in September!

Have an amazing, God kissed summer!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's All Ministry

Great words from my hubby, Mr. Fabulous:

Friday is the last day of school, and I made it. I survived a year of teaching high school math. It’s also time to decide whether or not I’m going to teach another year. It’s definitely a challenge balancing my pastoral responsibilities with teaching, and I really enjoy aspects of both, but it may surprise you how Rachel and I are approaching the decision.

First, it’s not just a financial decision, though that’s certainly a factor, and the primary one that initially sent me looking for a second job. And I haven’t assumed that my “calling” as a pastor takes priority over my “job” as a teacher.

In fact, it would be fine with me if God said to quit being a pastor and teach full time. (Don’t worry, I don’t think that’s what He’s saying – I’m just making a point.)

My point is that if it’s from God, every job is a calling, and none is more spiritual than another. I’m not just spiritualizing here; we need to learn to think biblically about this.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:23-24)

Whatever your job, you work for God, and you’re called to bring the influence of His kingdom there.

And that simplifies the decision process. I just need to know I’m where God wants me for as long as He wants me there. The rest is just details and those always seem to work out when I get the main focus right.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Becoming a Writer

I've always wanted to be a writer. In first grade, I had a red diary with a lock. I actually wrote in it.

Think... what makes a six year old want to write down her daily activity and thoughts. It's a bit funny to me some forty years later, but it was the beginning of my destiny. A revelation of what was just "in" me.

For a long time I remembered the diary as a gift, but now that I think about it, I believe I purchased it on my own.

Don't panic if your story is not like mine. I know plenty of authors who didn't start writing until they were older. Several had reading disorders growing up, but overcame as they matured. Some still deal with dyslexia but have become successful novelist.

How you came to write a novel is your own complete journey. But now that you're here... what do you want to write? How do you know what to write about?

We've heard the saying over and over, "Write what you know." If that were the case, I'd be done after book one, my knowledge exhausted.

When I read "Write who you are," then I understood my stories are an extension of my heart, passions and life experiences. What I don't know, I can learn. AngelaHunt was never an embalmer's apprentice, but she wrote the Fairlawn series about one, about a woman who ran a funeral home. Research gave her the knowledge she needed.

Angie wrote a story that interested her and she was able to parlay that into a story that interested readers. She wrote about a character who embodied pieces of her passions.

I've never been a country songwriter, but I wrote a book about one. I'm a horrible songwriter. Everything rhymes with King, Thing and Ring. Or Love, Dove and Above. But after a lot of research, I learned how to become a Nashville songwriter.

Book after book, I ask myself, "What do I want to write?" I counsel with the Lord, my husband, editor and agent. And of course the spunky Susan May Warren.

Then I look at myself. What do I like. Who am I? What kind of movies, books, people am I drawn to the most?

I love romantic comedies. I love romance and family saga stories. I'm drawn to people who have a positive passion about life. I love justice and truth. When I speak with other people, I want to encourage them in God, encourage them to find the hope of His calling on their lives, to walk in their destiny. I love animals. I love cowboys and athletes. I love my country. I grew up with three brothers and a sister.

I've lived in the south most of my life, but I've also lived in the Midwest. I've traveled nationally and internationally.

I love happily ever after.

So my stories have to be a composite of two or more of those elements. Romance, community, humor, strong characters, and a unique spiritual angle showing how the weak human heart can encounter the omniscient God.

What about you? What do you want to write? Or read? Make a list of what you like. Wrote down who you are. If you're not sure, ask those who know you best.

Then start developing your story and characters. Let the writing begin.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How much stuff is enough?

Listened to a really great message online today from New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

The pastor asked, "How much stuff is enough?" He challenged his congregation to really look at their lives and figure out how to live "below their means" and to give away what they don't need or use.

"If you haven't used it in a year, you don't need it."

It's not easy to give away stuff. More for some than others. I have a friend and her love language from her husband is not giving her a gift but telling her he tossed something out!

But really, how much do we need? And if we need something materialistic, think we absolutely can't live without it, are we filling a need that God alone wants to meet?

"Godliness with contentment is great gain," Paul wrote to Timothy in 1st Timothy 6:6.

If we are content with God, we have GREAT gain. I'm for that. How about you?
Maybe you are satisfied with your lifestyle and you don't need any material thing, but your "stuff" is more emotional and soulish.

Do you need people to approve of you? Affirm you all the time? Do you have to be the center of attention? Emotional affection is part of needing "stuff." Even our heart needs we submit to Godliness.

I'm not very materialistic. My 9-year-old car and my husband's 10 year-old-truck is fine with me. We are happy and content with our house. I'm even at deep peace with being childless.

But lately, I've been restless in other areas of my life. Saturday night hubby and I sat out on the front swing, talking and praying, and God tapped my heart. "You're not content."

What I felt Him whisper to me is that I have to be content with all aspects of my life: things, money, relationships, career, spiritual and emotional life.

All of those things are His provision. I'm 95% content with my life. I have the best husband. A fabulous church. My dream career. But honestly, some things have not materialized like I thought. I'm disappointed thus discontent at my progress.

As I listened to this message today, I understood all aspects of my life and career are from God. What I have. AND what I don't have. Okay, I can roll with that truth. I can lean back and trust God to comfort me.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Almost Forever by Deborah Raney

Almost Forever
by Deborah Raney
Howard/Simon and Schuster

Please welcome my good friend, the lovely and gracious, Deborah Raney and her new release.

Unearthing a lost memory may cause her to lose everything she holds dear. But could it also set her free? Volunteer Bryn Hennesey was there at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter the night five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Among them was her husband, Adam.

Now a terrifying absence of memory has her wondering if she might, in some way, be responsible. Garrett Edmonds' wife, Molly, was the only to perish in the blaze. He was supposed to protect the woman he she's the one who's died a hero. How can he go on in the face of such unbearable loss? And what started the fire that destroyed the dreams and futures of so many? Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer...

Deborah Raney books always captivate me! Almost Forever is a beautifully written and enthralling read. It made my heart sing, dance, cry, and turn more than a few flips! -- New York Times best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall

As a fan of the very talented Deborah Raney, I expected a great read and I got it in the richly emotional Almost Forever, a story of faith, forgiveness and redemption. It began with a gripping scene and proceeded to hold me enthralled to the end. Don't miss this one! -- Karen Young, author of Missing Max and Blood Bayou

DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her 20th novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title.

Almost Forever, first in her new Hanover Falls Novels series, will release in May from Howard/Simon and Schuster. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas empty nesters with four grown children and two precious grandsons, all of whom live much too far away.

Order her books

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Learning from the Queen of Sheba

You know the classic, sarcastic saying, "I wasn't born yesterday." Most of us have said it at least once in our life.

But the truth is we live like we were born yesterday. I've been in conversations with twenty and thirty-somethings who espouse values and "wisdom" based on observations and lessons learned in their short life span.

Cold war? To a twenty-something? Never heard of it. Never lived with the idea of the USSR pushing the big button to blow us up.

Herb Meyer of American Thinker wrote this:

History had three turning point. During the Crusades, there was a battle between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The Christians and Jews lost and experienced the Dark Ages when their societies did not thrive. Muslim society grew and thrived. Things were discovered there, and not in Europe. The key was learning how to reconcile their faith in the modern world.

A huge battle happened outside Vienna on SEPTEMBER 11, 1683 where Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. The Muslims lost, and then they stopped developing and adapting. The Jews and Christians went on from there and developed their civilizations and we had the Renaissance and a growing society. Since our 9/11 we are now in a new phases of an old war.

One of the greatest sorrows of the world is the inventions and creativity that was not allowed to occur in the Muslim world for centuries.Their society does not encourage creative, free thought and so…they were stuck in the past. The problem now is that we are playing defense in the world. And when you play defense you have to win 100% of the time. We can’t do that.

The good news is that the moderate people of every country are the majority. The bad news is that the minority is louder.

History didn't begin the day we were born. We may think the world began with our first newborn cry, but it didn't. We must learn from history. We must live free to discover the past to determine our future.

This weekend my pastor taught on prayer and used the Queen of Sheba as a reference point. As I looked into the scripture myself, I learned something from the past. In 1 Kings 10, the Queen travels to visit Israel's King Solomon, the wisest man in the world. She wanted to see with her own ears his wisdom, see his riches.

"So she came to Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and very much gold and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from the king which he did not explain to her."

The Queen of Sheba came to Solomon with an open, teachable heart. She brought gifts and richest with her. She came to worship and to gaze on his beauty.

Like the queen, we are to come to Jesus with an open, teachable heart bringing all that we have in adoration and worship. To gaze upon His beauty and splendor.

If Solomon, being a mere man, revealed himself and his splendor to the queen, how will Jesus, being God and man, hold back from us, His Beloved? The ones He died for? He won't. He can't. He longs to reveal Himself to us.

'King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire which she requested, besides what he gave her according to his royal bounty. Then she turned and went to her own land together with her servants."

Solomon gave to the queen ALL HER DESIRE WHICH SHE REQUESTED besides WHAT HE GAVE HER ACCORDING TO HIS ROYAL BOUNTY! That's incredible. Solomon already had a royal bounty set up for her. I'm sure it was unimaginable knowing Solomon. But on top of that gift, he GAVE her all she requested of him.

Jesus has already given us an amazing gift: life abundantly, life forever more. But on top of that He gives us what we request. Like the queen with Solomon, we must first sit at His feet and learn, see His splendor and majesty and marvel at Him.

Can we be bold like the queen and go to our King and ask our heart's desire? Yes, we can and we should. But first we must be found in Him. We must learn to adore Him and worship, be taught and instructed by Him.

As we learn, we run. As we mature, we learn to ask. I'm not talking name-it-claim-it gospel. I'm not talking ungrounded faith. But as we move into Jesus, as we make Him our aim, our obsession, He reveals to us His heart.

In John 4, Jesus runs into the Samaritan woman at the well. First, He talks to a Samaritan. Second, He talks to a woman. He willingly broke societal traditions. Look what He does when she asks Him about the Messiah and worship.

"The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us. Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

Jesus clearly reveals Himself as the Messiah. Until now, when asked if He was "the One" He merely answered, "What do you think?"

Jesus longs to reveal Himself to true worshippers. Are you one? Can you learn from your past, from those who've gone before us?

In our natural history, we must learn about the past and mistakes to ensure our future. Our spiritual history is the same. What and who has gone before you? What image of God and Christ do they mold on your heart?

If you don't have Christian family members, can you look to history to fine flaming examples of love? Start with Jesus. His love for you nailed Him to the Cross. And when they taunted Him, jeering for Him to come down and save Himself, He refused. "No, I'm purchasing the one I love."

You. Me.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Five Ways to Help An Author!

I love interacting with readers and bookworms. Most writers I know are extremely blessed by their fans and readers, and love hanging out with them in person or cyber space.

With social media on the boom and online book clubs, reviews and blog sites growing, I thought I'd chime in with my two cents on five ways readers and fans can help their favorite authors.

1. Word of mouth and general enthusiasm is the best form of publicity. Tell people about the books and authors you like. Don't be shy. Ask your library or book seller to order your authors' books.

2. Write a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD and other book seller sites. The review should be helpful, honest and clear. If you pan a book or rave, give a reason as to why you've formed your opinion. Remember, writing is an art. It may not be done in the way you prefer, but was it done well? Did the book impact you in some way? Let others know how.

3. Follow your favorite writers on Facebook or Twitter. Post to their Wall. Retweet their Twitter conversations about writing. More than likely, they'll tweet back to you!

4. Tough one here. Buy their books whenever possible. Sales numbers are critical to the success of the publisher and the author. A really great author with low sales figures can quickly find himself without a publisher. Writing is art. Publishing is a business.

5. Pray. I don't know a single writer who doesn't need a boat load of prayer. Ask the Lord to be with your favorite writer.

Above all, know how much writers appreciate you!