The MacGregor Legacy - From Scotland to the Carolinas

(Book 1 - For Love or Loyalty) (Book 2 - For Love or Country) (Book 3 - For Love or Liberty)

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Awakened Redemption (Inspirational Regency)

1815 England - A story that pierces the heart and captures the Regency era.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Good Still Prevails in this World

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Many of you know the battles we've fought with my daughter's seizures at birth and through her toddler years. What you might not know is that she was healed and remained seizure-free and med-free for almost ten years. Then in April 2012, we received a call from the school. Celina was running track and had fallen from a convulsion. She was unconscious and an ambulance raced her to a nearby hospital. 

I can't begin to describe the myriad of emotions when my husband called me. Denial, panic, doubt, worry, then prayer. Prayer was the natural instinct that took over as I stepped onto the elevator. The Holy Spirit hit me and I prayed in the spirit, allowing the Lord to calm me until I could get to my car. From there I had a 40 minute drive. I needed to hear someone's voice. I called my mom. No answer. I called my sister. No answer. I called Angela Breidenbach. I needed a voice of reason. Angie answered and she talked me through positive thoughts and reassurances that I needed to hear.

When I arrived at the hospital, my husband was already there and my daughter had awakened. She was dazed and a little confused. She couldn't remember what happened, the ambulance ride, or her arrival to the hospital. The next three days proved to be similar with short term memory losses that annoyed her. Extreme fatigue took over body and she suffered from severe sore muscles, scrapes and bruises where she had fallen on the asphalt. 

Before her CT scan, my 14-year-old asked for prayer. I had prayed on the way there, but why hadn't I considered praying WITH her to help calm her fears and ease her pain? She had to ask for it and I'm glad she did. 

Over the next month, life changed for us. We bought a video monitor so we would know if she needed us at night. After an episode where my husband and I nearly killed each other trying to get upstairs to her, we bought her a new bed and set it in the dining room so she would be closer--on the same floor as us. Her neurologist took her out of gym and her school monitored her  carefully. She couldn't get stressed or overheated. She had an MRI and an EEG. Her doctors are still trying to determine the best treatment plan for Celina. 

In spite of all we've been through, God has blessed us with many prayers and support. People from all over--some we have never met in person--are praying for my daughter. I am humbled by God's grace and love through his prayer warriors. 

Celina was excited to receive a plaque from a group of prayer warriors. They had hand painted the flower in the first image and signed their name on the back as a commitment to keep praying for her. This meant a lot to her. She placed it on our mantle and it reminds her on those tough nights when she's pacing and needing a good night sleep that people are praying for her--that people care. Good still prevails in this world, because God's people are still carrying on. We thank you for your prayers. 

She was healed from her infancy seizures. What she is experiencing now is different. She will be undergoing a different treatment plan than before. I thank God for modern technology and medicine. I thank God for her doctors and the medical personnel working for her. I thank God for people who are surrounding her in prayer. And I thank God for a child who is open to the guidance of the Lord.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Word of Inspiration: It's All About God's Kingdom

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;” Romans 12:10 

It isn't about you or me, or any of us. Life is about furthering God's kingdom and living to represent Him in a way that brings His glory to others who are lost in a dark world. If someone snaps at you today, respond in love. If someone cuts you off while driving, pray for them. Offer a kind word or compliment to someone who looks as if they need cheering and who needs to know they are beautiful in God's eyes. Take the time to be a friend to an acquaintance you don't know well. Be the light!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Goodreads Book Giveaway - "Quakers of New Garden" (giving away 2 books)

In honor of Memorial Day, I'll be giving away 2 copies of Quakers of New Garden. Four Quaker women face challenges of the heart. Ruth hesitates to give her bridegroom a third chance at love. Underground Railroad worker Deborah meets a bounty hunter. Leah tries to turn a marriage of convenience into a marriage of love. Christian Jaidon falls for Quaker Catherine. Will love endure in their hearts and lives?

This is a novella of four stories in one volume that follow the Wall family from 1808 through the generations to present day. 
 


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Quakers of New Garden by Claire Sanders

The Quakers of New Garden

by Claire Sanders

Giveaway ends May 28, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Word of Inspiration: Embrace Your Blessings

"Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well." (Proverbs 5:15)

Enjoy the blessings you have been given and avoid coveting what belongs to someone else. It will only stir up jealousy and envy as it begins to make you think less of what you have. Count your blessings. Look at the good times, the blessings you received, but never expected. Drink in joyous moments and cherish them for the journey of life will keep moving forward and these moments will soon be gone. Embrace your blessings!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Guestpost: "Should You Enter Writing Contests?" by Naomi Musch



While popping around the web and perusing writers' magazines, it doesn't take long to discover a myriad of writing contests out there. If you're like most authors, you may have mulled these contests over and wondered if they're worth your while to enter. Winning would be fantastic! But what do you have to gain for all your effort if you lose?  

Contests are a great way to stretch your writing wings. Of course, not every contest is for every author. To randomly select contests to enter would be as bad as submitting an article to just any-old-market without first studying its style and content requirements. If you haven't studied the writing craft for long, or if you haven't been through the experience of having your work critiqued, then entering a national contest would probably not be the best use of your time.

However, if you're looking at a smaller contest with a topic or style that really suits you, then entering a writing contest can have value in a several ways.  

First, you just might win. You might not, of course. Your odds are always 1 in however-many-entrants-you're-up-against. And you may be competing against some real whizz-bang writers. But even if you don't win or don't make an honorable mention, you will doubtless learn something through trial and error that will improve your skill. If the contest is small enough, you may get individual feedback from the judges. This is a HUGE deal. As long as you can handle helpful criticism, you stand to gain insight that most unpublished authors have to pay for. 

But even if you don't get feedback, you may learn to streamline a story, set parameters, follow guidelines, train your mind around a theme, work on a deadline, and so on. And then there is always the possibility of residual rewards.

Case in point: A couple years ago I entered a large contest with a national publisher for a contemporary romance novella. In this case, the contest word limit was 25,000 words. My story came in just under that. 

I'd never written a novella before. I'd also only written in the historical genre, never contemporary. But as I was working on a separate, much longer project involving tons of research, stepping back to enter the contest gave me a refreshing break. It taught me a different style. In writing a novella that didn't really require research, I knew I'd see closure on a story much sooner than in my long fiction. The contest also gave me very clear guidelines for writing this contemporary story. You could say those guidelines walked me through the process. I really didn't know how it would go, but when I finished, I felt I'd written a very sound piece. I also discovered that I actually enjoyed writing contemporary stuff -- much more than I ever thought I would.

So did I win? No. I don't even know if I came close. But...

I was so pleased with that story that I decided to modify it for a different publisher (so it wouldn't be seen as the same storyline as for that contest) and I submitted it elsewhere. Within weeks, I had a contract for publication of my novella, Heart Not Taken.

I am really glad I entered that contest!

Not every story you write might come to such a fine conclusion. But you will never know unless you try.

BIO
Naomi and husband Jeff enjoy the splendor of Wisconsin's northwoods along with their five young adults who live nearby or at home. She writes both historical and contemporary fiction in which her aim is to surprise and entertain readers by telling stories of imperfect people who are finding faith and hope to overcome their struggles. The Red Fury is book two in her Empire in Pine historical series from Desert Breeze Publishing. Book three, The Black Rose will release in July 2012. Naomi is also a staff writer for the Christian e-newspaper LivingStonesNews.com and has published numerous magazine articles for the encouragement of the homeschool community. She invites you to connect with her and investigate her series and other works at:  http://www.naomimusch.com  on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Naomi-Musch-Author/165673476805357 or follow her on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/NMusch

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Word of Inspiration: God's Path is Like the Shining Sun

"But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day." (Proverbs 4:18)

Isn't this inspiring? If we walk the path of God's righteousness, we will be walking witnesses to those mired in the shadows of darkness. God's light will shine through us and it will grow brighter until the perfect day of His return. We will be BLESSED and happy--joyful in the Lord--the happiness that is beyond what the world can give us. Shine bright!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Guestpost: "Conference Appointments Made Simple" by Patti Sheene


Please welcome Patti Sheene.
 
Patti’s passion is to mentor young writers. As Vice President of Written World Communications, she supervises the company’s YA division. She serves as Executive Editor to Starsongs Magazine, a general market publication for kids by kids ages 9-19.  A retired RN and “over 50 writer” herself, she also encourages and admires writers whose careers have commenced or blossomed later in life. Patti is published in Gary Chapman and James Stuart Bell’s Love is a Verb Devotional. She has had work accepted for their soon to be published anthology Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters: Real-Life Stories of Supernatural Events.

Conference Appointments Made Simple
The airline ticket has been purchased and the weight goal that makes you look smashing in that new outfit reached. Emails brimming with anticipation arrive from writer friends you haven’t seen for months. Conference season is in full swing and you’re caught up in the excitement and anticipation of realizing unfulfilled dreams.

Yet, your stomach churns and your hands tremble at the thought of those fifteen minutes with the one editor you’ve wanted to meet for months, maybe even years. Let me share a few tips to help calm the queasiness, put you in control, and simplify what can appear to be a daunting experience. 

Smile! Don’t approach your appointment as though you are headed to the dentist’s chair! Editors are human too. A smile exudes confidence and puts both of you at ease.
Introduce yourself. Even though a list is available to the editor, appointments are sometimes shifted. Be sure the editor knows who he is speaking with from the start of the meeting.
Make your intentions known. Explain why you chose to speak to that particular editor. Have questions prepared and easily accessible. Are you pitching a manuscript for a specific book imprint or simply seeking general information about the publishing house?
 Provide paper. Present the editor with something visual, such as a one-sheet that contains the maximum information attractively arranged in a minimum amount of space. Don’t expect her to keep it. Paper adds weight to luggage and can be cumbersome to manage. Email is more convenient.
Listen! Pay attention to what the editor tells you. Has he expressed an interest in your work or referred you to someone else who can better meet your needs? Have you been asked to provide further information? Make notes to ensure follow through. File business cards where they can be easily found after the conference.
Express your appreciation Thank the editor for her time, even if she is unable to use the work you presented. Recognition of her efforts builds a positive relationship for future contact.

These simple tips can serve to fix your name in your dream editor’s brain long after the meeting concludes.

Happy conferencing!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Word of Inspiration: Friendships are Blessed Through Private Discretion

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” (Matthew 18:15) 

This verse is referring to a brother or sister in Christ, not necessarily a sibling by blood, although it can be for both. By the time we're in grade school, we've probably already experienced a betrayal of a friend. For my daughter, it was in third grade when a friend asked to borrow her ring, but then refused to give it back. Half a year later we had to get the teacher involved and it was finally returned. As adults, we expect people to have achieved a certain level of maturity. When they lie, deceive, steal, or betray us, and we thought they were trustworthy, especially long-time friends, the pain can be even deeper and harder to overcome. It makes us question our own discernment and sometimes prohibits us from trusting others. 


The worst thing we can do is to complain about that person to other friends and people who know them and forage into the realm of gossiping and judging them behind their backs. Stewing on it and becoming angry and bitter isn't going to help matters. Confronting them in front of others and embarrassing them will cause further strife. If we subscribe to this verse and approach them about the problem in private, both of you will have a better chance at breaking down the walls of miscommunication and opening the channels of forgiveness. Don't accuse them and have an attitude of confrontation, but chose your words wisely in how you phrase them and be open-minded to hear your friend--and willing to forgive. Good friendships are worth keeping, especially when they have been there for you through the tough times and have forgiven you. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. Forgive and move on. 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Guestpost - This Isn't Time to Gloat, But to Pray by Dwayne Taylor

As Christians, this is not a time to gloat over the Amendment One that just passed in North Carolina. It is time to pray!

We need to understand that many of the people who voted against the amendment are Christians who are just deceived. They have loved ones--homosexual friends, family and co-workers who have played a major influence on their thoughts and decisions.

"For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." (Mark 13:22 NKJV)


While these individuals do not intend to operate like false prophets and deceivers, they do based on their sphere of influence on those who love them. This is why we must pray. Many of the people who voted against the amendment are deceived because their love for their homosexual loved ones have blinded and deceived them. But our love for God MUST to be greater.

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matthew 10:34-37 NKJV) 

Inadvertently, through blind love, these people are creating a path of separation from God for their loved ones, and in some cases, themselves. We need to pray that their hearts will be turned to the righteousness of God. That the voice and love of God will over take the deception that now resides within them. Pray that the lost will be saved and that the blind will see. Pray that tough love will win over fleshly love and pray that the heart of the deceived and of the sinner will be transformed by the Holy Spirit to receive and accept the true word of God.

"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. " (James 5:19, 20 NKJV)

"As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live." (Ezekiel 33:11 NKJV)

So many opponents to Amendment One have used the term haters against the ones who are for the Amendment. This, for the most part, is a bullying manipulation tactic used by children to get their way. But there are cases where Christians have failed miserably in showing the love of God and are just as guilty, using bullying tactics to make their points. 

Additionally, those against Amendment One call people who are in favor of it uneducated, backward, and unable to adapt to today's changing standards. Here is the truth, God Himself and His Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV)

God isn't interested in changing with the times. He is the Father of time. God isn't interested in changing to make people happy. He's interested in changing people to save them.  

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." (I Corinthians 6:9 NKJV).  

Does this mean that people who do any of these things are going to hell? Not if these people repent and ask for God's forgiveness. True repentance doesn't mean to repent, do it again, and keep repenting. That is taking advantage of God's goodness. True repentance means to turn away from it and do one's best not to keep repeating it. That is why a homosexual lifestyle is so hard. These people have to make a lifestyle change. True repentance means loving God and wanting to please God over the sin itself.

We are called to stand for God's word but this battle shouldn't be fought with anger but with love and prayer. Not with acceptance of the sin, but for repentance of the sinner. Not with pride and arrogance, and defamation of people's characters, but with prayer, prayer, prayer!




Monday, May 07, 2012

Guestpost: "Contests--We Love to Hate Them" by Sandra Orchard


Please welcome Author Sandra Orchard. She writes for Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense and recently signed a three-book deal with Revell Publishing for a romantic suspense/mystery series that will debut in June 2013. Passionate about encouraging aspiring fiction writers, Sandra judges manuscripts for several writing contests, coordinates the historical category for the Touched By Love contest, and will be doing critiques for both the Write!Canada conference in June and the ACFW conference in September. 
_________________________

Every year the writing contest season climaxes with a flurry of complaints on writers’ loops about conflicting judges’ comments and incongruent scores.

Been there. Done that. Totally empathize.

But...from my experience, entering contests is a worthwhile investment.

Let’s face facts. First manuscripts are rarely contracted, especially if the writer hasn’t invited editorial feedback from people other than friends and family. Entering contests is an economical way to get much needed feedback.

Not to say you’ll be happy with what you’re told. Everyone’s tastes are different. What one reader loves another will hate. It’s the nature of the business and you might as well get used to it.  

Although I already had an agent and three completed manuscripts, my first contest’s scores were merely average. Once I got over my surprise—after all, average was not in my vocabulary! Not only had I always gotten A's in school, I’d eradicated all those flowery adverbs from the entry, and there wasn’t a POV glitch to be found—I grew to deeply appreciate the advice I received.

The needed fixes were not huge, but they were hugely important. They were the difference between a “send me the full” and a “thanks, but no thanks.”

I made the suggested changes. I took a gazillion workshops. I found critique partners. And the following year I entered the revised manuscript in the Genesis. It finaled. I was over the moon!

Of course, the feedback from first round judges is pretty thin when your scores are great. But I didn’t mind, an agent and an editor would read my story. I was so excited my chest felt as if it might burst.

A few months later when I received the final round scores, reality hit. High 90s from the agent. Low 60s from the editor. Talk about divergent opinions. It’s not the bane of first round judges. It’s reality.

Undeterred, I revised yet again, transforming the romance into a romantic suspense. The following year I entered the revised manuscript in the Daphne DuMaurier contest, and it won. It won the inspirational category, and best in show! And scored me a new agent.

But here’s the irony of contests. That winning—and much revised—story still hasn’t sold. However, thanks to the win, Tina James, agreed to read the full even though a previous editor had rejected my proposal for the earlier version. Afterward Tina took the time to explain exactly why the story didn’t fit Love Iinspire’s line.

I immediately applied what I learned to a manuscript I’d been holding off submitting. And that’s the story that sold.

Now...entering contests may not score you an agent or a contract or even useful feedback, but if nothing else, it will help toughen your skin for editor revisions and readers’ criticisms. At least that’s what I kept telling myself…



Thursday, May 03, 2012

Word of Inspiration: You Need Courage to Seek Answers to Life

"Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; for I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law." (Proverbs 4:1-2) 

Think about your children, or nieces and nephews, or your friends' children. Have you ever had the desire to pick up a small child and hug them with delight or take them aside and give them a gift or the gift of advice--some wisdom that helped you? Throughout the Bible the Lord refers to Himself as our Father and we as His children--His "adopted" children. He didn't go through the trouble of having so many people write the Bible, sacrifice their lives to preserve it--for Himself. He already has this wisdom and knowledge. He did it for us. It's our instruction manual--our lifeline. It isn't a book of rules to make your life miserable. If you have the courage to seek it, the Bible, is the answer to many secrets in life. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Word of Inspiration: You Have an Inheritance of Glory Waiting

"The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools." (Proverbs 3:35) 

Notice that this verse says the wise will inherit glory not earn it. This means that glory will be given to us as a gift, and it isn't something we have to work for in order to obtain it. Too many people squander their inheritance and take it for granted. They don't cherish or invest it. Spend your inheritance wisely. Pray for God's wisdom and the ability to not only have wisdom, but to apply it in your life and share it with others--to invest it in future generations. 

Many people want to leave a legacy, but I'm sure it isn't a legacy of shame they have in mind. Rather, they want to leave a legacy of accomplishment, something for others to aspire to. We can only do this if we live for God. This is living wisely. The foolish man or woman departs from God's Word, paving a path of his or her own. Any path that isn't on God's path, leads to self-destruction and a legacy of shame. 

Remember, pray for wisdom and the ability to apply it in your life.