Chirp and Chatter Pages

Friday, July 28, 2017

Guest Author: Linda Shenton Matchett


When You're at Odds with God


Have you ever found yourself at odds with God? Let’s face it, in any real relationship there are disagreements, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit we occasionally have a falling out with God. Times when we’re disappointed about an answer He’s given us or angry about something we think He’s allowed and we can’t fathom why.

God understands when we get upset with him, and I think He welcomes our sincere questioning, not flippant or disrespectful, but genuine inquiries that come from our hearts. Ruth Brown, the protagonist in my upcoming novel Under Fire, is furious with God for allowing Pearl Harbor and personal tragedies in her life. Throughout the story, she questions Him about incidents that occur. Because she seeks answers, He provides them. Some of the answers are not ones she wants, but He gives her peace to deal with those.

My protagonist, Ruth, is no different than the biblical characters who also struggled with hurt, loss, and injustice. Consider Job who loses everything and asks God what He did to deserve such treatment. How about Gideon? In Judges 6:13, he asks God if He’s with them: “How could this have befallen us?” Both the prophet Jeremiah and Habakkuk questioned God about how He could let things happen to His people. And we can’t forget Moses who quizzed God constantly about what He was thinking. In each of these cases, God responded in love and gave the individual peace about the situation.

Authors are encouraged to write what they know. In order to craft Ruth’s journey from anger to acceptance, I examined my own relationship with God and realized I had unresolved issues about times I felt He had let me down and answers I was upset about. It took a lot of prayer, prayer that involved listening to God’s side. That was the difficult part. I realized that a lot of my conversations with God were actually monologues—me doing most of the talking and very little listening. I came out on the other side with some bumps and bruises (remember Joseph’s wrestling match with the angel of God?). But as a result I have a deeper relationship with God and a fuller understanding of His work in my life.

Are you upset with God? Are you hanging on to past hurts? Are you struggling to understand how He could let something happen that caused you or your loved ones grief? I pray you’ll approach Him with honesty and an open heart, so He can give you the peace he wants you to have.

“O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you healed me.” Psalm 30:2


About Under Fire:


Ruth Brown is a small-town journalist whose sister Jane, is pronounced dead after a boating accident in April 1942. Because Jane’s body is missing, Ruth is convinced her sister is still alive. A series of events and discoveries raise Ruth’s suspicions about Jane’s work at the local manufacturing plant. Eventually Ruth follows clues to war-torn London. By the time she manages to uncover the truth about Jane’s disappearance, Ruth has stumbled on black marketers, resistance fighters and the IRA—all of whom may want her dead for what she has uncovered.

About the Author:


Linda Shenton Matchett is a journalist, blogger, and author. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life-from Edison, New Jersey (named for the famed inventor of the lightbulb) and Washington, DC to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire (reputed to be the oldest summer resort in America). A freelance writer for over ten years, her articles and devotionals have appeared in numerous print and online publications. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and as a Trustee for the Wolfeboro Public Library. Active in her church Linda serves as treasurer, usher, choir member, and Bible study leader.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Guest Author: LoRee Peery


Interrupted Plans


In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps
. Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
Years ago in the New American Standard Bible that rests on my desk, I jotted “writing” next to that verse. In the NASB it reads: The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.
In other words, life doesn’t go according to my plans. I can make annual, monthly, weekly, and project goals. I can fill up my calendar with appointments and to-dos and daily tasks. It’s good that I keep busy. However, family, especially my husband, override those plans.
Has your life, or your plans, ever been put on hold? As Christians, we’re called to recognize God’s course for our lives at the forefront. We’re also told to put others first.
In a marriage, the commitment is for better or worse, in sickness and in health. My hubs has always been my strong protective rock. However, he injured his back in early June. I turned caregiver. We endured two hospital stays, sought and accepted help from family and Christian brothers and sisters. I can honestly say I haven’t been angry that my own health care appointments were put off for the time.
At the end of the day, I managed to write in my journal, and always had an errand list. My June writing goals consisted of two guest blogs for posting in July; add a date scene to a specific chapter in my time travel sequel; and dig back into my work-in-progress. The Lord did provide a window of writing moments for me to get to the blogs and added scene.
I found it quite interesting that each time I had a few moments to go upstairs to my study for email or check social media, internet service was down. That unexplained intervention affirmed that I was meant to stay near my husband’s side.
In the midst of any unplanned event, I can find rest in Jesus. I can wait for the right writing time to open up. I don’t have to turn all “woe-is-me” anxious and wring my hands. Those responses come from the dark one who rules the meanness in the world. I believe God’s promise that my Lord has overcome the world. I have victory in Him.
For those who love our heavenly Father, He holds us in the palm of His hand. His way is the best way, even during those times I view my life in a holding pattern. I can truly claim I Peter 5:7—Casting all my anxiety upon Him, because He cares for me.
He loves all you readers just as much. He has a path laid out for you that may interrupt well-intentioned plans, so rest in Him.

Mini-Interview:


Your book and you:


What inspired you to write the Frivolities Series?

I didn’t set out to write a series. The heroine, Moselle, is a name that resonated with me because my maiden name is Mosel and no one in the family had used it to name a baby girl.  I’ve always been drawn to reunion stories because there’s often something that remains unresolved over the years. Since Moselle’s mother Geneva and aunt Lanae were established characters, the series kind of evolved. I didn’t have to come up with a new setting and I enjoyed writing about older heroines. At the time Moselle’s Insurance was in progress, one of my critique partners really liked the hero’s ex, so she became the fourth heroine.

About you:


What book are you currently reading?

Just Write by James Scott Bell, and Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

God and you:


Please share your conversion experience, if you’re comfortable doing so.

I grew up attending church, we prayed at meals and bedtime, and I went through Catechism classes so I was familiar with the Bible. The church was denominational and stress was never put on knowing Jesus in a personal relationship. To me, God had always been the creator of the world and I had no trouble believing He sent Jesus to die for my sins. For some reason I figured all I had to do was ask to be forgiven and I’d go to heaven.

The year 1975 was pivotal in my life. We bought an acreage, my father was murdered, our son born, and we built our country home with our own hands. My husband fell off the roof and crushed both heels, which drove me to read the Bible while waiting for his surgery and through recovery.

I was invited to attend a luncheon April 20, 1976, where the Lord used that speaker, whose name I never remembered, to hit me right in the heart. After all the blessings that overrode tragedy of the previous year, it was clear to me that Jesus was missing from my life. I expressed my belief, acknowledged my sin, and asked Him to take over because I couldn’t do it myself. From that day forward, I have strived to seek Him, thus discovering His will for my life. To me Isaiah 12:2 says it all. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and Song, and He has become my salvation. (NASB)

About LoRee:

Christian romance author LoRee Peery attempts to see God’s presence every day. Often that gift comes from nature, when the call of a cardinal draws her to look for the distinctive flash of crimson. A meadowlark’s melody always transports her to the farm where she grew up. A rainbow holds special significance, since one appeared over her father’s grave the day of his funeral, assuring her of the Lord’s presence. She clings to 1 John 5:4 and prays her blended family and dozen grandchildren see that faith.

Links:

Pelican Book Group


Frivolities Series:





Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Guest Author: Bethany Kaczmarek



How Can I Get Up From Here?


I imagine there are many people who feel like Kasia Bernolak has—caught somewhere between pretending to be doing well and sitting in a corner crying. Alone.

The heroine of my book, Strains of Silence, says it’s the worst at church, when she ought to be an encouragement to others, but she’s running on empty. Add to that the pressure to be strong, to be a pastor’s daughter, or a missionary—it becomes hard to say “I’m not okay.”

And even if her mouth would willingly form the words, people don’t hear what she means. Her “I’m struggling today” gets a response like she’d just said she has the sniffles.

“Yeah, that’s going around.”

Once, she said she felt depressed, and a woman told her to focus on what was true and noble and right. [That’s not always wrong advice, but sometimes, things are happening to a person’s mind and body that make it impossible for them to think of anything except surviving. Or dying.]

The thing is, since believers are supposed to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have, we get uncomfortable when one of us says they feel hopeless.

Hear me.

First, if someone shows up and speaks honestly about struggles and pain and suffering, let’s not blow it off the table like so much dust. Let’s listen. Let’s take it in quietly, even take a moment to pray before we respond. And let’s let our first words be something along the lines of weeping with those who weep. And let’s be deeply thankful that they’ve managed to get themselves motivated enough to be around others, to speak the words that are so hard to say.

It’s so much easier to hide.

Now, for you hurting people.

Find one quiet listener. (I am one, if you live near me.)

And speak.

The.

Words.

Whisper them if you have to. Share the burden your soul carries. Share it with Jesus, and share it with someone who can be His arms and hands and feet in this world. Who can stand beside you and hug you. But break the silence. The church is full of imperfect, hurting people. And it’s okay to be real about that.

“Bear one another’s burdens…” Galatians 6:2.


About Bethany's Book:
He can’t save her from her past, but he can wait to be her future.
Music was her driving passion and the truest expression of her faith, but three months before her wedding, twenty-year-old Kasia Bernolak can’t even pick up her guitar. Feeling like a fraud who will ruin her dad’s pastoral reputation, she can barely meet his eyes. When Kasia finds the strength to break off her engagement, she still doesn’t realize the dangerous truth: Blake Hamilton isn’t ready to say goodbye. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.
Alexander “Zan” Maddox has seen what a domineering man can do to an unsuspecting woman, and Zan is sick of injustice. He gave up a college baseball scholarship so he could protect his sister from her abusive husband. When he rescues Kasia from her ex-fiancĂ©, he instinctively appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Now, all he has to do is keep from falling for her himself.
Kasia and Zan become fast friends, but true healing and justice might cost more than either of them is willing to pay.
To pre-order your copy, click here.

About Bethany:


Bethany Kaczmarek loves to share her own journey of healing and redemption with anyone who needs it. Back from the Polish mission field where she and her husband worked with college students for six years, their home is often filled with twenty-somethings who come over for a listening ear (though she’s willing to admit it could also be for the board games and food). Other job titles: Wielder of Red Pens, Grammar Ninja, Wiper of Tears and Milk, Indie Music Connoisseur, and Friend. Bethany writes about places where grit meets Grace. Find out more about her at www.bethanykaczmarek.com 
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Friday, July 14, 2017

Guest Author: Karin Beery


Identifying Your Theme 

(When You Don’t Think You Have One)



Several months ago I agreed to write this blog post, then I tucked the information away and forgot about it until a reminder popped up in my calendar. Then I looked back at my notes: something related to my manuscript’s theme.
What?
Why did I agree to this? I write romance novels. There’s no theme, they’re just romance stories.
Having already committed to the post, however, I re-evaluated my current manuscript (as well as others I’ve already completed) to see if I could find a theme. At first, I didn’t see any connections. A couple of my books have an obvious Christian theme. The rest, however, are clean reads: girl meets boy, they fall for each other, circumstances keep them apart, it works out, happily ever after. That’s not a theme, though – that’s the standard romance formula.
Are my stories theme-less?
Then I looked at the pitches I’ve written for each story, and I looked at the goals-motivations-conflicts for my heroines. That’s when I started to see the correlation. The conflicts! My leads all have something in common: the woman struggling to recover after being manipulated; the woman trying to deal with a sudden death and revelation of dishonesty; the woman who’s personal and professional lives are steeped in disappointments.
Regardless of whether or not the stories contain strong spiritual elements, they share a common theme: trust.
It’s more than simply faith in God or mankind – it’s easy to believe in a higher power or the greater good. Trust, however, requires a conscious decision to act on that faith. I hadn’t noticed it until I agreed to write this post, but trust has made its way into all of my stories.
That shouldn’t surprise me. Proverbs 3:5-6 have been guiding verses in my life for years:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take. (New Living Translation)
I never thought my novels would be thematic, but it looks like they are. I didn’t want to admit to it at first, but now I’m proud of it. Trust is a foundational principle in Scripture. It’s how we’re called to act, and it’s not an easy thing to do (if it were, everyone would do it). Still, I’ve managed to incorporate it into my stories, adding a layer of complexity and relatability to my leading ladies, even if I did do it subconsciously.

About Karin:

Karin Beery – Writer. Editor. Novelist. Karin writes contemporary and speculative fiction with a healthy dose of romance. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s editing or writing business copy through her business
Write Now Editing & Copywriting Services. And when she’s not doing either of those, she teaches – she’s currently teaching Substantive Editing for Fiction through the PEN Institute. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website, www.karinbeery.com.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Guest Author: Toni Shiloh


Trust

Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)—“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”
Trust. It’s something that many of us deal with in our faith journey. In my novel, Finding Love, Delaney Jones is no different. Her husband died serving his country as an Army solider. Then Delaney meets one of his comrades and a spark is lit. But Luke is in the Army, doing the same job that cost her husband his life.
How can she trust that all will work out for good?
That’s probably one of the most difficult aspects in our faith journey. Often, we want a guarantee from the Lord that our life will be one of smooth sailings and sunshine. That we’ll wake up each morning with joy and ready to sing praises. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world and sunshine isn’t a daily guarantee.
That’s where trust comes in. We have to trust that God is who He says He is. We have to trust that He’s never broken a promise. That He has our best interest in heart.
And man, oh man, is that hard to do. For every promise we’ve heard, we can come up with a situation where it appeared that God broke it. Yet our ways are not His ways, including our understanding. It’s why Proverbs cautions us not to look at life through our own lens. We cannot comprehend the good God wants to do in our life, especially when all we see is bad. But it takes a leap of faith.
We have to take a deep breath and make the decision to trust God. To remember all the times He came through, answered a prayer, provided for us, and loved us through our journey. If we forget those times, it’s very easy for distrust to build. Sit down daily and thank Him for the blessings He has showered upon you. Make a memory jar or list so that when times get tough—because eventually a season of trials will come—you’ll remember why He’s trustworthy.

About Finding Love:


Delaney Jones has finally started to pick up the pieces of her shattered life after the death of her husband, Parker. Just as she adjusts to a new normal, in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. When she finally makes the decision to trust him, the world deals her a heavy blow.
Sergeant First Class Luke Robinson can’t get over his part in the death of Delaney’s husband. Hoping to assuage his guilt, he offers to lend a hand. He never counted on the feelings she evokes with just a smile. Will his secrets widen the gulf, or will he finally find absolution?

Buy link: http://amzn.to/2r2NmFZ

About Toni:


Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.
She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.
You can find her on her website at http://tonishiloh.weebly.com

Social media links:

Facebook            Google+
Pinterest             Instagram
Goodreads          Bookbub

Blogs Toni participates in: 


Friday, June 30, 2017

Guest post: Leeann Betts -- Creating a Pseudonym


Creating a Pseudonym


Several people have asked me “Why a pseudonym?”, so I thought perhaps more readers and authors might want to know the answer, as well. Within the Christian community, I’ve had folks who said, “Isn’t that like lying?”
The answer to the first question is perhaps easier than to the second. So I’ll start with the second.
In the Bible, we see many instances of folks being given new names. Abram became Abraham and Sarai became Sarah because God changed who they were. Jacob became Israel, which loosely translated means “one who struggles with God” because of his night-long battle with the angel of the Lord. Joseph of the Old Testament was given a new name by the Pharaoh because of his new position, and in Isaiah 62:4 we read: Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride.
In Biblical times, names had a meaning, so it only makes sense that if God changes who we are in Him, it’s not lying.
How does that apply to my pen name? Well, that brings us to the answer to the first question.
I (Leeann) was created to fulfill a specific purpose, including:
  1. Donna writes historical and contemporary, and she didn’t want readers confused when they picked up one of her books as to which genre to expect.
  2. Schlachter is pretty far down the alphabet, and most people who look for books in stores or libraries tend to start at A and work their way to Z. Betts is much closer to the beginning of the alphabet.
  3. Donna wanted to experiment with voice and story-telling style, and felt that might be better accomplished through a pen name.
  4. Donna wanted to honor her mother and mother-in-law, so here’s how she did it: Lee is her husband Patrick’s middle name; Ann is her mother-in-law’s name; and Betts was her mother’s nickname in nursing school.
You will have your own reasons for creating a pseudonym. The most common reasons I’ve read about are: the desire for anonymity, the multi-genre issue, the new creation in Christ issue (if you wrote erotica, for example, in your ‘before’ life); and a desire to be somebody you just aren’t.
Please leave a comment about your thoughts on pseudonyms. As a reader, do you feel cheated if you find out your favorite author is really a pen name?

About Hidden Assets:


Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, responds to a call from her friend, Anne, who is in the middle of a nasty divorce, and travels to Wyoming to help find assets Anne thinks her husband has stolen. But the mystery begins before Carly even arrives when she sees a man thrown off a train. Except there’s no body. Husband Mike uncovers an illegal scam in a computer program he has been asked to upgrade, and then Anne is arrested for her ex’s murder. Can Carly figure out what’s going on, and why a strange couple is digging in Anne’s basement? Or will she disappear along with the artwork, coins, and money?


About the Author:
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released five titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Hidden Assets releasing the end of June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at www.LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital format.