Posts Tagged ‘guest post’




Ah, family. You live with them, and you know them so well. You know their talents, their weaknesses, their tendencies. You know their smiles and frowns and laughs. You know their struggles and faults and foibles.

Take my eldest son, for example. Nicholas was the talker in the family. When he was a little boy, I used to offer him money to stop talking. A thousand dollars in exchange for five minutes of quiet so I could make a grocery list or read a recipe or just think. He never earned that money.

Nicholas has turned out to be an amazing adult. He’s 20 years old and a missionary who loves street evangelism and preaching to a crowd (no surprise with all that talking). He is perfectly capable of taking care of himself, cooking his own meals, doing his own laundry. But somehow, he’s never mastered the art of carrying a cup from his bedroom to the kitchen. When he’s home, part of my daily routine is to sweep into his room and grab the plastic cups from his dresser.

And there’s my husband, Eddie. Immensely talented, he understands money and investments as if he were born with the gene. He can spot the most obscure penalties in a football game in real time, things I can’t see on the replay in slo-mo. And he is so funny, he can make me laugh until I cry. But with all those great talents, he’s never managed to get his socks all the way into the hamper, and he seems to need to have the TV on at all times, even if he’s mowing the lawn, so that when he’s home, I’m constantly fighting the desire to shout, “Can you please turn that down so I can work?”

Nicholas and Eddie. Two of my favorite men in the world can drive me nuts sometimes.

In September, Nicholas moved to Hawaii. He’s made a two-year commitment to serve with Youth with a Mission. This spring, he’ll lead a team of students to southeast Asia to share Christ with the Muslims and Buddhists who live there. I find myself longing to hear his voice, telling myself I should have enjoyed it more when he was four years old and wouldn’t stop talking. I’d give anything to find a half-full cup of lemonade on his dresser today.

In January, my husband started a new job and moved temporarily to Pennsylvania, where he’ll stay until we all relocate to Charlotte this spring. The separation has been difficult. Difficult for him because he’s accustomed to being surrounded by family. He’s never lived alone, and being in a faraway state with only the one person he works as a friend has been a challenge like none he’s ever faced.

Meanwhile, back in Oklahoma, my younger two children and I have had to figure out how to live without him. With both Eddie and Nick gone, with the TV off and Nicholas’s chatter only entertaining me during Sunday afternoon phone calls, the house is too quiet.

I’ve always respected and admired the men and women in our military, people who often have to leave home for months, years at a time. I’ve always known it’s hard on the families they leave behind. But until now, I never really understood it. And our few months apart are nothing compared to what they have to deal with.

Thank you to all the military families out there who make such sacrifices to protect us. And if you’re separated from your family members for any reason, my heart goes out to you. If you’re raising teenagers alone, wow, this is a hard job, and I’ve only been doing it for a few months, and my hubby is just a phone call away. God bless you.

If you’re at home right now, picking up your husband’s socks and straightening your kids’ bedrooms, if your house is filled with laughter and bickering and music, if there are too many dirty dishes to fit in the dishwasher and there’s too much laundry to complete in a single Saturday, count yourself blessed to be surrounded by the most important people in your world.

I’m going to go turn on the TV in the other room so I don’t feel so alone.


A GIFT FOR ALL MY READERS: Robin (Patchen) is giving away Convenient Lies, a free e-book, to all my readers. Convenient Lies is book one in the Hidden Truth series. It has over 100 5-star reviews on Amazon. Click here to download the book. (Link is https://dl.bookfunnel.com/t97c9vf8cn.)



Robin (Patchen) is also giving away a paperback copy of the second book in the Hidden truth series, Twisted Lies. * Open to all commenters, runs through 26 February.

Robin’s newest release, Innocent Lies, is available now.

“Kelsey huddled in the corner, tried to make herself invisible. Outside, she heard a muffled voice, a shout, and the pounding of footsteps across the porch. Then, the unmistakable jingle of keys. The lock turned. The door opened. And her last chance for escape melted like snow.”


–Robin Patchen, award winning author of Finding Amanda and Convenient Lies.


About Innocent Lies:


A lost little boy steals his heart.


When Eric finds eight-year-old Daniel alone in the woods, he has no idea where the boy came from or how he’s survived the wintery New Hampshire weather. He figures once he hands the boy off to child services, his part in Daniel’s drama will be over. He couldn’t be more wrong.


She’ll do anything to keep her son safe. 


Kelsey sneaks into Nutfield with a goal and a secret, but when she’s arrested and sees Eric, her first and only love, all her plans to expose her enemy fall apart.


The past catches up with them.


Together, Eric and Kelsey fight to protect Daniel, an innocent child caught in a dangerous game. Can Eric help Kelsey bring down her enemies without risking his heart…again? Will Kelsey have to walk away from the only man she’s ever loved…again?







Aside from her family and her Savior, Robin Patchen has two loves—writing and traveling. If she could combine them, she’d spend a lot of time sitting in front of her laptop at sidewalk cafes and ski lodges and beachside burger joints. She’d visit every place in the entire world—twice, if possible—and craft stories and tell people about her Savior. Alas, time is too short and money is too scarce for Patchen to traipse all over the globe, even if her husband and kids wanted to go with her. So she stays in Oklahoma, shares the Good News when she can, and writes to illustrate the unending grace of God through the power and magic of story.


Find Robin on the web:









#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Robin Patchen, Family


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The volunteer nurses of the Civil War.


Thousands of women set aside their daily lives to care for the sick and wounded during the Civil War. Women from both sides pinned on aprons and set to work washing, feeding, and bandaging the scores of men who would swarm into makeshift hospitals in their hometowns.

At the onset of war, there were fewer than 150 actual hospitals in the country, and no formal nursing schools. The profession was dominated by men, as women were thought to be too fragile to cope with the challenges of caring for the sick and wounded.

But as the fighting began, the sheer volume of wounded soldiers from both North and South soon overburdened facilities and resulted in a break-down of traditional gender roles in nursing.

One of these volunteers, famous novelist Lousia May Alcott records her first days of service in Hospital Sketches. She paints a vivid picture of endless, exhausting work, and gives a glimpse into the nature of the Victorian society with her account of how scandalized both the women and soldiers were when these new volunteers were asked to remove the men’s shirts and bathe them.

It wouldn’t be until later when women like Dorethea Dix set up standards and training that things would get a little more organized. But even then, many of the soldiers had to rely on the kindness of local volunteers to help keep them healthy.

While some nurses under the direction of Dorethea Dix were paid 40 cents a day plus rations, many were volunteers using shredded sheets from their own homes.

In the backdrop of my Liberator Series, Rosswood Plantation is taken over to serve as a hospital, leaving young Annabelle Ross to learn to tend the men who fill her home. Her duties would have included washing, feeding, changing bandages, writing letters, and trying to keep men’s spirits up. As a Southern lady with Yankee inclinations, Annabelle tries to care for all of the men to the best of her ability, regardless of the color of their uniform.


While Annabelle and her time nursing is, of course, fictional, Rosswood Plantation did indeed serve as a hospital for Confederate soldiers during the war.

In many cases, mansions like Rosswood were taken over by the armies because of their size and ability to house the officers or create makeshift hospitals, run by army surgeons.

The women that lived in these homes often faced a harsh reality as rooms that were once used for parties and balls were now filled with bleeding and suffering men.

In a tumultuous time of destruction with a nation pitted against itself, these women found strength and courage to bind the wounds. If not for their valiant efforts and the relentless determination of women like Dorethea Dix and Clara Barton (founder of the Red Cross) nursing wouldn’t be what it is today.


If you are interested in reading more about Annabelle and Rosswood, you can get the first novel in the Liberator Series FREE when you sign up for my newsletter. Get yours instantly here.




* Historical images from the Burns Archive, public domain, Rosswood and Annabelle pictures property of By The Vine Press


Brief excerpt from Leveraging Lincoln:

Let the dead bury the dead, Annabelle thought as the spade sank another few inches into the ground. She paused a moment to wipe the sweat from her brow with a dirty sleeve. Dead, indeed. Her arms were numb from digging, and her back and legs were starting to cramp. A heart hardened against the gristly task beat rapidly with exertion underneath what had once been the gown of a privileged heiress. But, that was before the war, her father’s death and…. Well, it didn’t matter now anyway.

She hadn’t had time for anything other than the soldiers from both North and South who at one time or another had filled her home to overflowing. Annabelle slammed the spade into the earth, her fingers so numb from the cold she hardly noticed the forming blisters. She gave these men the best she could—a too-shallow grave and a few parting words. She recorded every name, should their families ever come to look for them. Until then, Annabelle had no choice but to share her land with the dead.

“Miss Belle, you’s done enough diggin’ today.”

Annabelle looked up from the hard ground and into a face that looked as tired as she felt. The waning light of another long day cast shadows on Peggy’s dusky skin and made her look older than she should have. Peggy lowered the rear legs of the makeshift cart to the ground, giving a soft grunt as she finally released the weight. Annabelle mustered a smile she hoped would soothe away some of the worry lines creasing Peggy’s brow.

“I know. But I didn’t think we could stand to leave him out another day.”

Peggy pressed her lips together but said nothing. She was less fond of leaving dead men in the house than she was of Annabelle digging. Annabelle reached down and grabbed one of the worn boots, and gave the body a tug. He felt twice as heavy as when they’d loaded him in the cart. “Help me get him in.”

Peggy hesitated, and Annabelle wondered if this would be the time she refused, but, as usual, Peggy clamped her jaw tight and grabbed the other boot. They heaved and struggled until the body fell from the cart, scraped over the rough earth, and finally landed in the hole with an unceremonious thud just as the sun began to dip below the trees. Annabelle resisted the urge to place her dirty fingers under her nose in a futile effort to hold off the stench.

Peggy sighed. “It’s a right shame we ain’t got no preacher for them. You sure buryin’ them here is a good idea?”

Annabelle pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a weary sigh. “Peggy, you’ve asked me that question a dozen times, and a dozen times I’ve given you the same answer.”

“Still don’t like it.”

Annabelle nearly agreed, but she knew that would only give Peggy more footing to try to wear down her resolve. “Come on. It’s getting dark. We need to get him covered. Lord willing, he will be the last soldier we lay to rest at Rosswood.”


Stephenia H. McGee writes stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. After earning a degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences, she discovered her heart truly lies with the art of story. She put pen to page and never looked back. Visit her at http://www.StepheniaMcGee.com for books and updates.







#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Stephenia McGee

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The Inactions of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points in Tyrol

Imagine driving south, over the Austrian border into northern Italy. You start to run through your rudimentary Italian, and as you cross the Reschen Pass—still a German name—you encounter the first pizzeria on the side of the road and think, “Yeah, baby! We’re in Italy!”


And then you come upon a Speck stand, and a sign for Äpfel and because you’ve been in Austria for at least a day, you already know that these are the signs for that incredible smoked bacon and those delicious apples used in the last guesthouse’s Strudel.


At first, you might consider that some Tyroleans migrated into northern Italy, maintained their “brand” and wrote their signs in German. Except, that’s not it. The first town you encounter, Reschen also has another name: Rescia. Graun is also called Curon Venosta. And then you see it:  Where once there was a fertile valley, you will find a 4-mile-long reservoir nestled in the Alpine peaks. On one side of the lake, about 200 yards from the shore, and rising out of the water, is a medieval church tower, fully intact. This haunting scene stopped me in my tracks and I had to ask, “What the hell happened?”

Step into the time machine, dear reader. Let’s go back to just before the outbreak of World War 1 and illustrate what was happening: the Austro-Hungarian Empire had its reach into a good part of today’s northern Italy, all the way to the Po Valley and Trentino. A good majority of that land also belonged to the autonomous province of Tyrol, who had earned its freedom during the Napoleonic Wars. However, there was quite a group of disgruntled Italian nationalists who held to the belief that the lands to the Brenner Frontier (if you Google this, look just south of Innsbruck) were traditionally Italian. Of course they were: that line of mountains was a wonderful natural barrier against potential enemies to the north.


The thing is, Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had little conflict with one another. And in the Tyrolean province, Italian migrants were generally welcomed with open arms. They worked there, lived there, filled in the jobs that needed filling, especially in agricultural labor. All in all, these two cultures worked pretty well together, as well as with the Slavs to the east among a handful of other “regulars”.


So what happened? It’s called the Treaty of London. Signed in 1915, the Triple Entente promised huge swaths of land to these Italian nationalists if Italy took up arms against its neighbors and Germany. And there you go. Now imagine Giuseppe and his family work on your Tyrolean farm. He’s called to service. He has to cross the line to the south, pick up his weapon, turn around and face his employer in a war where not one single Italian ever got across into Tyrol. Not one. The battles were all fought south of the line.


Enter the good ol’ U-S-of-A. And the end of the war, President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points:


“IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable line of nationality.

X. The people of Austria-Hungary whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.

XI. Romania, Servia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.”


All very well and good, right? Noble. Righteous. Principally sound, especially if you’re an American. Point 9—especially—was a contentious matter.


Imagine you’re Wilson and the French, the Russians and the British come up to you and say, “Emmm…Sir? With all due respect, we’re going to have to ignore those points in the case of Tyrol, south of the Brenner Frontier” as well as a few other places…like Trieste, for example, because there was…well…a secret treaty.


Wilson was not prepared to budge on this, so Vittorio Orlando arrived with his delegation and debated about how the Brenner Frontier was absolutely Italian. Naturally! The rivers, look! They flowed from the south to the north.


Nobody checked to see if this was true. And it wasn’t. The Italians had fudged the maps.


Very simply put, Wilson was in a pickle. Italy was granted the new frontier and the Tyroleans were faced with a cultural pogrom not unlike Stalin’s over Ukraine: the German language and culture were systematically eradicated between 1918 and into the World War 2, with Hitler and Mussolini even creating a pact and demanding the Tyroleans choose either to be Italian or German citizens. Those who voted German, were relocated to new territories. Those who chose Italian, were threatened with relocation to the Italian colonies in Abyssinia.


“Wilson himself would later admit that he conceded the territory based on ‘insufficient study’ and that he came to regret this ‘ignorant’ decision.” (Scott A. Berg, Wilson).


If World War 2 had not broken out, who knows how things would have turned out. But when Hitler marched into Poland, the whole program was halted.


But what of this church? What happened at this lake on the Reschen Pass?


The Austro-Hungarian Empire had laws in place that dictated that no man made structure could be built if it affected over a certain percentage of the locals’ livelihoods. Those laws protected the Oberer Vinschgau Valley—the valley where the lake is located—from a plan to raise the lakes of Reschen and Graun by five meters and create a reservoir for the purposes of producing electricity. The plan was reneged. Dead in the water, so to speak, before it could find its legs, because it would have affected too much of the fertile farmland in the valley.


But Italy suffered in World War I. They had barely managed to hang onto their britches and one of the first things that occurred was a very strong force that swore that would never happen again. Enter stage left: Benito Mussolini. Italy was in chaos, and after wresting control from the monarchy, he lay out a plan to make Italy the strongest industrial nation in Europe. The race with America began.


In order to build machines and technology, you need power. You need electricity. And the new territory of the Alto Adige / Südtirol, or South Tyrol, had a treasure trove of areas for reservoirs and dams. But how do you get around those old laws?


Very simply. You write new ones.


The Reschensee / Lago di Rescia is just one of perhaps a thousand stories about the misdeeds enacted against the German-speaking Tyroleans but the way this particular reservoir was built reads like a thriller. Corruption, greed, and prejudice were the key cornerstones in making this beautiful reservoir happen. Beneath the surface, lie seven villages, wholly and completely destroyed. What arose of this, however, is a story that few know. And really should.


My history lessons in school, in Minneapolis, taught me about how important Wilson’s Fourteen Points were, how noble, how righteous, how justified they were. They made me proud to be an American. Isn’t it interesting how, when you travel, you begin to uncover the reality of what we consider to be truth? Isn’t it interesting how, when you look beneath the surface, you can begin to calculate the differences between intentions and actions?

CHRYSTYNA LUCYK-BERGER is a historical fiction author living in western Austria. She grew up in “Nordeast” Minneapolis, first generation to a Ukrainian immigrant family. Her series, RESCHEN VALLEY, uses the building of the Reschen Lake reservoir as the background for her five-part saga. NO MAN’S LAND, part 1, was released in January 2018 and is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats (ASIN: B078WDPDSJ).




#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

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Fictional Careers

I must confess that I have ventured away from “write what I know.” My first novels were from a church secretary’s viewpoint—that which I knew and was—and have since featured characters of wide and varying strengths and weaknesses based in large part on what they did. My people are teachers, engineers, inventors, various medical professionals, priests, pastors, shop owners, foreign politicians, and attorneys. One of my favorite characters is a religious Brother hospice chaplain in Requiem for the Innocents. I try to find someone who is actively practicing a profession I can get a handle on to recreate for a character.

Ever since my second novel, Healing Grace, was published, I have been fascinated by medical issues. Having nursing and other medical professionals of all levels among my close friends and family members, I have been able to draw on their rich knowledge base to help me round out characters and situations. That comes with a cautionary tale I’ll share later. I feel drawn to use medical scenarios in my stories either as a plot or pivot point, or a theme because so often the human condition drives story.

Miracles are endlessly amazing. Healing Grace was supposed to the first of a series of novels featuring the gifts of the Holy Spirit—that is, what those gifts might look like when practiced today. Faith healing can be obvious or subtle, if it exists. I unfortunately discovered there is a great divide among believers about how the Holy Spirit operates, and I have yet to work on other books in the series. The main character, Grace, has the gift of healing with a touch. However, she covers her bases with a medical degree as a nurse practitioner. If her patients tend to get well more quickly and easily than other medical experts experience, who’s going to complain? Knowledge of the human body and treatment does not dilute the miracle of healing in any circumstance. Two special friends in the medical field consented to interviews and responded to my requests for factual help, as well as checking my work afterward to make sure I didn’t leave any gaping holes.

When researching your fictional character’s career, always make sure you use both primary and secondary sources for information. Primary sources are personal experience or talking directly with someone who currently practices a particular career. Secondary sources include reading books or articles about a career or reading biographies or manuals.

You, the author, will not be able to satisfy everyone who reads your story. No matter how carefully you research, new regulations and laws, treatment options, recommendations, and discoveries will change the way any career is practiced. Methods and interpretations will vary even between hospitals and clinics, offices, police departments, school districts, or farms. When I was working on my novel Requiem for the Innocents, I wanted to show the female protagonist making a token attempt to deal with her cancer. She agreed to enroll in a medical treatment trial. Now I used an impeccable source for how this study should look and how my character would react. My primary source was a director of an internationally-renown university medical trial department. However, one reader who had worked with cancer patients going through drug trials refused to accept my scenario. Note, this was only a sidelight of my entire story arc, but because I didn’t specify that my character was enrolled in was a Phase I study, and the reader knew what Phase II and III trials were like, she simply couldn’t connect and the story was ruined for her. That experience taught me to be more aware of how my readers may respond to a fictional setting with which they are familiar in the real world. It also shows you how much readers will invest in your attempts to entertain with fiction.

Readers want to invest in your story and your people. Your fictional people should be relatable no matter the era, setting, or genre. They may be sagacious reptilians living on a swampy planet, or telephone switchboard operators in 1900 Milwaukee—it doesn’t matter. Their careers define who they are and predict how they will most likely react to the peril in which we plunge them. The special skillsets we give them drive the story and should contain at least a kernel of truth. Spending hours interviewing or researching for the one perfect little fact, such as what frostbite looks like after a couple of days, will go far to create trust with readers and give them a memorable experience they’ll want to share. Resisting the urge to share every detail we’ve worked hard to uncover will leave room for your readers to fill in the gaps with their own interpretations of what should or could happen allows them to participate in the story and make it a well-loved journey.


Random commenter can choose choice of e-book Healing Grace or Requiem for the Innocents.


Healing Grace: Grace could heal anyone with a touch until her husband got cancer. Nearly destroyed by his death she runs—straight into the lives of another man desperate for her healing touch.







Requiem for the Innocents: When Libby’s cancer resurfaces, she unwittingly becomes involved in an unethical stem cell treatment. The time has come for chaplain Brother Able to continue to stand by or break the bondage of secrets and lies.










Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. A multi-published, award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and occasional contest judge. She is part of Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc., mentoring writers from across the US, and a member of Chicago Writers Association.












#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Lisa Lickel, Fictional Careers

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Dear God. I hate work. Amen.


But I noticed when reading through the Bible that God gave us work before we ate of the tree of good and evil. I was sure work was part of the fall.


Drat. rem: LOL


Watching me at work as a part time property manager looks like this—He flies from desk to desk, three screens of work buzzing while he’s talking to the entire line of customers. The look of panic on his face is only less entertaining than the twitch in one eye.


Watching me write—He’s sits reclined, unmoving. He hasn’t blinked for ten minutes now. Look, his chest moved, so he’s still breathing. Is that an IV? Is that COFFEE dripping into his arteries? Goodness, he looks so happy. So peaceful.


The first is my job. I’m a property manager to get my wife and kids through university.


The second is my vocation. My calling. It makes money. But not enough to support a growing family.


I like to think writing is my glorified task—the one given to me before our fall from God. Of course, property management, then, is simply of the devil.


Characters in books are no different. Every person hunts for money or manages money, from the beggar on the street to the middleclass mom to the Queen of Egypt. If they don’t work, they don’t eat. Even a lazy person has to work someone over to get what they need to survive. Like Huckleberry Finn, getting out of work can be more work than work.


But must a character in a book have a job and a vocation? Using the two, we can create tension in a novel.


We have characters like Hercule Poirot who is the world’s leading detective (a title up for grabs with the likes of Sherlock Holmes, no doubt), who is able to focus solely on detective work without needing a part time job. Frankly, if Poirot needed to work in clothing retail, we’d be concerned about his little grey cells (although his attention to details would be either genius or maddening).


 Animal Farm is a plotline divided by careers—menial tasks by the animals against the management by the pigs, and while all the animals in the story were equal, some were more equal than others. But reading, you get the sense each character wanted something just a bit more than the task they were doing—as if made for more than just their job. They wanted a calling, a vocation.


The idle rich manage money and support staff. Boredom takes them on wild adventures, like Phileas Fogg and his most adorable servant, Passepartout, in Around the World in Eighty Days. It’s not enough for them to simply enjoy their money. They’ve a vocation. Prove something. Prove themselves.


The rich dowager in every historical mystery and drama ever written can’t just manage and enjoy the money. No. Their vocation is to make sure every person who comes in contact with her is miserable and controlled. Her vocation gives her no end of pleasure.


Sometimes a character like Fyodor Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov is drinking his life away, he’s avoiding his vocation. In this case, to be a good father.


Someone like June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver is locked in domestic bliss. Mmhmm. Her job is to make sure her boys (including her husband) survive and have a good time. Does she want to continue her role as wife and mother in an oppressive society? Does she have a vocation calling her? Or is raising her children the height of all that is good in the world? What will she do when they leave? The tension is palpable.


Very few men and women chose war as a vocation. War, however, is a job taking many from what they really want. Families. Hometowns. Life. War and other struggles offer stunning character arcs, a dynamic only understood if readers know what the character is giving up, what the character’s vocation really is. If they don’t have a calling, then war will seem their calling, which I must admit is kind of unsettling.


War isn’t the only horror that draws people from their vocation. It could be a repressive father, or self-doubt, perhaps a cult controls a person. Abused children or adults. Lack of knowledge that there’s anything better can be frustrating, such as saying yes to his proposal because there’s no reason to turn him down.


The vocation of Dr. David Hunter in my latest middle grade reader, Dino Hunters, is a biologist, but his true calling is archeology. He’s pulled into the world of hunting dinosaur bones with his niece and nephew.

Keep in mind as you write the differences between job and vocation, and you will find yourself with added tension. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll help others understand their calling. Isn’t that your calling?


Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips.








#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Peter Leavell

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I have put off writing this post until the last possible minute. Why? Because I haven’t yet figured out what to write. I haven’t been in the work force for over two decades. I can write about occupations – my imagination is wonderful, and the internet is a boon for finding out the information I need. Friends help too. And sometimes, I ask strangers in whatever field I’m researching.

In one of my current works-in-progress (WIP) — I have several stories going at once at the moment — my hero is a construction company owner. I’ve always loved watching fixer upper type shows, so the research for this one wasn’t too difficult. However, I didn’t know the order in which a house was constructed. When do windows and doors get installed? Is that before or after drywall? Some things are common sense (of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean what I think of as common sense is actually the procedure). I mean it makes sense to paint the walls before putting in the flooring. But shouldn’t the flooring go in before the cabinets? And obviously the plumbing and electrical are done before drywall. But when does the exterior – siding, brickwork, etc – get done?

I turned to YouTube and friends. There are number of videos available that showed me the process of installing a wall and about how long it would take with a group of men working. I also watched videos on installing rafters (the boards that support the roof). But did you know the roof doesn’t go on until after the windows and doors are installed? Yeah, me neither.

Here’s the list I found. I’m sure it varies according to the company, but I imagine it is similar. First, grading and site preparation – no brainer. Next are foundation construction, and I imagine if is a slab foundation that the plumbing (and maybe electrical) have to be installed here too, though it’s not on my list. The next few are expected – framing (walls and roof), window/door installation, roofing, siding, rough electrical/plumbing (the stuff behind the walls), HVAC, insulation, drywall, underlayment (for floors), trim, painting, finish electrical. Then comes cabinets and counters.

Did you notice the flooring hasn’t been put in yet? I don’t know about your house, but it seems like the flooring goes under the cabinets and my house. It did in my kitchen anyway. When we replaced the tile for wood, one section of our cabinets dropped (next to the dishwasher) which also made our counters sag.

After the cabinets and counters, the plumbing gets completed. And now is when carpet and flooring is installed. Afterward the HVAC is completed, water is hooked up or the well is drilled, as is the sewer or septic system. Finally is the punch list.


I had to look this one up. According to Wikipedia it is “a document prepared near the end of a construction project listing work not conforming to contract specifications that the contractor must complete prior to final payment. The work may include incomplete or incorrect installations or incidental damage to existing finishes, material, and structures.”

In other words, all the stuff that isn’t correct or messed up. Dents in the walls, paint spills, doors hung wrong, leaking plumbing, and the list could go on.


My contractor (the hero in my story) has to deal with surly clients, late and incorrect deliveries, vandalism, rain, bookkeeping, and injuries. In addition to running multiple construction sites, he has to deal with the heroine – who is pregnant with his brother’s baby.

Of course, this story is still a WIP, but I’m hoping to release it before the end of 2018. It’s been through several titles, but I finally settled on Love Under Construction. I hope you’ll look for it. In the meantime, you can check out my other titles on my website, www.gingersolomon.com.





Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). She writes or reads inspirational romance of any genre, and if she’s busy homeschooling, doing laundry, or fixing dinner, books are on her mind. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and blogs regularly for InspyRomance.com and at gingersolomon.com.












#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Ginger Solomon

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The Day I Gave Up Writing

by Murray Pura

When my first novel was published it received some decent critical attention and was short-listed for a couple of notable awards. Over the next ten years I also published several dozen short stories. It looked to me as if everything was beginning to come together for my life as a Christian who wrote books.

Then everything dried up. The novel went out of print. Publishers who said they would put out a second edition reneged on their promises. I had a second novel that was looking for a home, but no one was opening the door for the book or me. The pressure of trying to find time to write books and stories no one seemed to want got to be too much. One morning I hatched a plan – be done with it! Be done with writing and submitting manuscripts and bearing editors’ rejections and broken promises! End the suffering quickly and effortlessly! Crumple all plot notes, delete all links, trash all computer files, get rid of anything and everything that had to do with creative writing.


So I did. I erased a number of links to publishers and editors, moved files to the virtual wastebasket, deleted emails that had to do with my “dried up as a wine skin in the smoke” writing career, and placed everything that was on paper – and this was more than ten years ago so there was more paper correspondence then –straight into the fireplace. It took several hours but soon I was happy to see my bridges back into a life of writing had all been burned – except for setting a match to the mounds of paper in the fireplace and permanently removing the contents of my computer trash can (I rubbed my hands with glee at the header in the trash menu that read: DELETE FOREVER).


I can honestly say I felt like a new man. No more worries about badgering editors regarding the manuscripts I’d sent them. No more hours spent pounding away at the keyboard when I was already dead tired from my day job. No more looking in the mail for an acceptance letter or scanning emails for names like Zondervan, Baker, Barbour, or Harvest House. No more longing for royalty checks that had at least four or five figures instead of two. I felt like dancing. Imagine all the extra time I’d have again just to live and pray and play and – read! It was a good feeling. The cross of trying to be a Christian author no longer had to be borne.


But there was a glitch. I went to the mailbox in the afternoon sun. I opened it, tugged out the envelopes, and headed home, dreaming of matches, and combustible paper, and the removal of a 16 ton weight from my back and mind. All remained well until I sorted through the mail. One letter jumped out at me.


You may think it was a publishing offer from Alfred A. Knopf & Sons, or Harper & Row, or an announcement from the Pulitzer Prize Committee. But my story did not take that twist. Instead, what jumped out at me was a letter with the massive eagle seal of the US government on it – the seal practically covered the face of the envelope –and an address that included words like US Consulate, Istanbul, Turkey. And I thought: Oh, great! Now what have I done?


I opened it. It was a letter from a person on the consulate staff, a US citizen. He told me what a difference a story I had written had meant to him. It was a long ago story in a long ago magazine but somehow he had gotten his hands on it, read it through several times, and realized that God was, somehow, speaking to him through it. He’d thought about it, prayed about it, and realized an embassy career was not for him. He was going to be a pastor, the best pastor he could be, and love God, love people, and love the human race with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.


Then came the curve ball. It seemed to come from this young man but I knew, by its sheer power and velocity, who it had really come from, who had really pitched it. Thank you for what God has done through you, the young man wrote. I pray he will continue to use your writing to bless, challenge, encourage, and refresh. The Lord be with you and in all the stories you put on paper.


I sat stunned in my chair, one part of my mind trying to calculate when the letter had been written and posted, how long it had been in transit across the Atlantic, how it could have arrived at our mailbox on this very day above all other days. But it didn’t matter, in the end. There it was. I had no arguments left. I pulled the sheaves of paper out of the fireplace and tidied them. Brought my files out of the virtual wastebasket and never clicked on DELETE FOREVER.


Published or unpublished, famous or infamous, for richer or poorer, I was a writer, a Christian who told stories, a man selected by God to be an author whether I liked it or not, through thick and thin, dark or light, good times and bad times. Whatever else I might do in my lifetime, I was a writer, a God writer, and that was now settled, period, end of sentence, world without end, amen.


So what happened next? Well, I kept writing. A couple of years later, my first novel was republished. Then, because the short stories were somewhat popular, a volume of them was put together and launched. Followed by a second volume. Then a man who liked the stories told Harper One San Francisco I would be a good candidate to write commentary in a study Bible they were putting out. Then the man who republished my first novel and my two books of short stories told a man in the USA about me and he soon became my literary agent. And because of him, and my work with Harper One, and a zealous editor at Zondervan, two inspirational books called Rooted and Streams were published. And because an editor at another publishing house liked Rooted I was invited to submit a proposal for a book in the same vein and in a few months a contract was offered with Baker for Majestic & Wild.


Then a challenge by my agent to write a piece of Amish fiction set in America – something I said I’d never write because so many were already doing it –  really put the wheels in motion. A contract from Barbour came my way for that book a year after I’d finished it. Then another editor, from another firm, who was too late to pick up on what Barbour had picked up on, waited for my next manuscript, pounced on it, and I had an offer from Harvest House in Oregon six weeks later. Then another offer. And another offer. And another offer.


My head spun on its axis. I committed myself to doing more writing. A trickle of contracts became a flood. In one year, four books were published. The following year, it was six. When people ask what I do now, I tell them the truth: I’m a writer. I couldn’t do what publishers and editors are asking me to do without being anything less.


God, after pitching me out at home plate with a letter from Istanbul, set me up with bases loaded a little over a decade later and gave me a Grand Slam. I’m still astonished at the turnaround in my fortunes. It did not happen overnight. But happen it did.


So this is my roundabout way of telling you that if you feel it in you to be a writer, and you really can’t get away from wanting to create and publish what you create, if it’s in your heart and mind and soul and you know God is in it somehow or other, then go ahead and make the time and write. Write and never give up. Never. Never. Never. Never.


This is my story of restoration



I’m born Canadian, live in the blue Canadian Rockies, sound Canadian when I talk (sort of) … but I’m kind of American too … as well as being an international guy who has traveled the world by train and boat and plane and thumb … I’ve lived in Scotland, the Middle East, Italy, Ireland, California and, most recently, New Mexico. I write in every fiction genre imaginable because I’m brimming over with stories and I want to get them out there to share with others … romance, Amish, western, fantasy, action-adventure, historical, suspense … I write non-fiction too, normally history, biography and spirituality. I’ve won awards for my novels ZO and THE WHITE BIRDS OF MORNING and have celebrated penning bestselling releases like THE WINGS OF MORNING, THE ROSE OF LANCASTER COUNTY, A ROAD CALLED LOVE and ASHTON PARK. My latest publications include BEAUTIFUL SKIN, PETALS and ALL MY BEAUTIFUL TOMORROWS. MY HEART BELONGS IN GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA will be released by Barbour in 2018 and Book One in my Montana Amish Romance series will be published by MillerWords this spring.









#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Murray Pura

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