CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Jenny LM who won Susanne Dietze's My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho Prize pack!


Congratulations to Elise Jehan who won a copy of The Secret Admirer Romance Collection!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Empathy

By Lisa Karon Richardson

One of the most difficult emotions to sustain is empathy. Particularly when the recipients are ungrateful and maybe even, in our mind, undeserving. 


Matthew 5:42-47 gives us an idea of what empathy means. "And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that." (The Message)

Because the real truth is that we're all unlovable at times. We can all be nasty. We can all be hateful and mean-spirited when we are hurting and fighting for our prerogatives, our rights, our way. 

Empathy is the art of seeing. Seeing the people behind the masks of social convention. I hope you'll watch the video below. It is aimed at people in the healthcare industry, which is how I came across it, (and if ever there is a field that requires unending reserves of empathy it is healthcare!) but it is an especially poignant reminder to everyone that we all have a story.






Do you have any ideas for how to exercise your empathy muscles? 


Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, LISA KARON RICHARDSON’S early stories were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now, even though she’s (mostly) grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her latest novel Diamond in the Roughco-authored with the brilliant Jennifer AlLee released May 1, 2013, and is the first in the Charm and Deceit, series from Whitaker House. The second in the series, Vanishing Act, is coming in September as is a novella coming entitled “Midnight Clear,” part of the Mistletoe Memories collection.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

YA Fiction Finds

by Dina Sleiman

This spring has been all about the world of Young Adult fiction for me. It started when I had the idea for a YA historical series, and I have loved my foray into this genre. Why? Admittedly, some of the heroines seem a little immature to me, but much about these books resonates in a universal sort of way. On the secular side, they are clean, action-packed, and not afraid to ask the hard questions about life. On the Christian side, they are actually edgier and more real than many of their adult counterparts. Put bluntly, teens won't tolerate any b.s., and since I won't either, YA fiction is a great fit for me.

I'm going to quickly take you through some of the books I have read, not only this spring, but in the last year in the YA genre.

In the Christian world Melanie Dickerson, Lisa Bergren, and Anne Elisabeth Stengl are some of the big stars. I've been enjoying Melanie's great fairy tale retellings for years, so I didn't actually read any this time around. You can find them in our Inky archives, though. I read Lisa Bergren's Glamorous Illusions last year and liked it, but didn't really connect with her River of Time series, although many of my adult friends loved it. As for Anne Elizabeth Stengl, I had a hard time getting into Heartless, but her vivid imagination and beautiful voice kept me reading. And I'm so glad I did. I was completely impressed by the gorgeous allegory in this story.

Perhaps my biggest surprise was to learn that a book I stumbled on last year and looooved, Prophet by R. J. Larsen, is considered Y.A. I gobbled up this book in just a few days and enjoyed every word. I was mesmerized by her strong, courageous, spiritual heroine. I've been looking for an excuse to buy books two and three, and never even realized they were Y.A. until my agent mentioned it to me. (By the way, my agent knew this because she also represents R. J.) These books are called speculative, but I would describe them more as fantasy set in the Biblical era. Whatever they are, they're awesome, and I highly recommend them.

In secular fiction, I found I have a real penchant for YA dystopian fiction. Of course I started with The Hunger Games series. Read them straight through. I could easily do a whole post about how they inspired me to find my inner strength and stand against injustice. I have to admit, though, that I wasn't crazy about the existential ending to the whole series. It was kind of a downer. Although the ending was realistic, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who wanted something more triumphant. I'm working my way through the Matched series, which I've really enjoyed so far, and I also want to check out some other books which begin series including The Selection, Divergent, and Delirium. I've read samples of each, and they all look promising.

I also gave Twilight a try, something I probably wouldn't have done if it wasn't for research purposes. This book did have a special sort of magic. I couldn't put it down. And yes, it is romantic on an epic scale. While the vampire element seemed completely fantasy-like and didn't bother me, I cannot in good conscience recommend it, especially not for teens.

I felt the message of the book was that love conquers all, even if your boyfriend is inherently evil. Therefore, I felt girls could use this as a justification to get involved with destructive individuals like abusers and addicts. In fact, Edward's craving for Bella's blood is flat-out described as an addiction. There's a very real possibility he might kill her. The impression is given that playing with fire is somehow romantic. Here are just a few dangerous quotes I collected. But don't worry, I'm essentially a selfish creature. I crave your company too much to do what I should. ~ Edward. I refused to be convinced to fear him, no matter how real the danger might be. It doesn't matter, I repeated in my head. ~ Bella. I'm here, which roughly translated, means I would rather die than stay away from you. I'm an idiot. ~ Bella. While I don't think the author had bad intentions, I also do not think she fully thought through her responsibility to her young, impressionable readers. 

And I can't finish without mentioning that I've been reading an in-progress YA dystopian by our own Gina Welborn. Whoop! Whoop! It's so great, I can't wait for her to finish and find a publisher so you all can read it. I'll also keep you posted on the status of my own YA novel, the first in a series of action-packed medievals featuring strong female characters in traditional male roles.

What YA novels have you found and loved? Any you wouldn't recommend?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an honorable mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Her latest novel, Love in Three-Quarter Time, is the launch title for the new Zondervan First imprint. Dina is a contributing author at Inkwell InspirationsColonial Quillsiflourishonline.com, a part-time acquistions editor for WhiteFire Publishing, and she is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Strong Women in History – Women’s Service in WWII

by Suzie Johnson
As long as there have been skirmishes, there have been soldiers; primarily male. But throughout history there were women who also served in battle. Some of them outright, like Joan of Arc, and some disguised as males like the approximately 400 women who fought in the civil war.

These many women, as well as volunteer nurses, cooks, and the occasional doctor on the battlefields, helped pave the way for women’s continuing and advancing roles in service to their countries.

In the United States, in 1901, the Army Nurse Corps was established, followed in 1908 by the Navy Nurse Corps.

During WWII there were 60,000 army nurses and 14,000 navy nurses in the US military. But the British had women who served in nursing as well as other roles, and it caught the notice of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, an advocate for women's rights. It took a lot of work, but eventually the military branches had a place for women in service.

WAACWomen’s Army Auxiliary Corps

In May of 1942, a year after it was introduced by Edith Nourse Rogers, a congresswoman from Massachusetts, congress approved a bill creating a branch of women other than nurses to serve in the army. The bill was signed by President Roosevelt and the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was established, with Oveta Culp Hobby as the first director. And although the women considered themselves army soldiers, they were civilians serving under the army umbrella. 

All of that changed in 1943, when a new bill in congress gave them military status. As such, the WAAC became the WAC – dropping the word “auxiliary”. An estimated 150,000 women were enlisted into the WAC.

WAVESWomen Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services

These were the women of the United States Navy who were recruited into service during WWII after a lengthy battle to get congress to pass legislation. As the Naval History and Heritage Command website puts it, “creative intrigue had to be used to get an authorization through The Congress.” July 30, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the legislation into law and the women’s branch of the navy began its recruiting efforts. 

Mildred McAfee became the first female commissioned officer in the United States Navy. She was sworn in as a Lieutenant Commander and was the first Director of the WAVES. An estimated 80,000 women served in the WAVES.

SPARSemper Paratus, Always Ready

In 1830, the coast guard’s Lighthouse Service was established and employed women. The first women to wear a coast guard uniform were Genevieve and Lucille Baker, nineteen year old twins who served as bookkeepers in 1918. 

Finally, in 1942, President Roosevelt signed an amendment that created the women’s coast guard reserve program known as SPAR. Dorothy Stratton, a senior lieutenant in the WAVES, was transferred into the newly formed program. As the director, she was promoted to lieutenant commander. She came up with the SPAR acronym, derived from the coast guard motto Sepmer Paratus, which is translated as Always Ready. 11,000 women served in SPAR during WWII.

WAFS, WFTD, and WASPWomen’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, Women’s Flying Training Detachment, and Women Air Force Service Pilots

Women pilots were recruited into the WAFS in 1942, to deliver newly built planes to military bases. The forty women who served in the WAFS had to buy their own uniforms.

A young pilot named Jacqueline Cochran** convinced the General of the Army Air Corp that the WAFS wouldn’t be able to supply enough women pilots. Because they didn’t want to recruit pilots into the WAC, the WFTD was created. The WFTD and the WAFS were merged into the WASP in 1943. In their sixteen month existence, they saw 25,000 women apply but only 1879 candidates were accepted. 1074 female pilots completed their training.

Marine Corps Women’s Reserve
In WWI, approximately 300 women known as Marinettes served in desk jobs to free men for battle. In spite of that, resistance to women as Marines was strong. Even in 1942 when President Roosevelt suggested women be recruited as marines, resistance was strong. The same law that established the WAVES, established a Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. It took a lot of pressure from the Secretary of the Navy, congress, and the public before the marines conceded. 20,000 women served in the MCWR during WWII.

It is estimated that 350,000 women served in the US Military during WWII, with approximately 400 casualties. The Marine Corps Women Reserve poster stated it so well: "So Proudly We Serve."

This post was written on Memorial Day and I'd like to thank all of the women and men who have served, and are currently serving, in the military - among them: my grandfather, father, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and son. 


True North is Suzie Johnson’s second novel. Her first novel, No Substitute, a contemporary inspirational novel, is out now from White Rose Press of The Pelican Book Group. She is a regular contributor to the Inkwell Inspirations blog, a member of ACFW, RWA, and is the cancer registrar at her local hospital. Suzie and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest with their naughty little cat on an island that is definitely not tropical. Together, they are the parents of a wonderful grown son who makes them proud every day – even though he lives way too far away. You can visit Suzie at the following places:

**Barring unforeseen circumstances, Jacqueline Cochran’s story will be continued here on June 18th, 2013.

Sources used:
  ~Women Army Corps; United States Army
  ~Naval History and Heritage Command; United States Navy
  ~United States Coast Guard
  ~United States Coast Guard
  ~Women Pilots of WWII, United States Army
  ~Marine Corps Women’s Reserve; United States Marines
  ~Women Marines Association
  ~Women in Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc
  ~American Women in WWII
  ~National WWII Museum, New Orleans

Monday, May 27, 2013

Welcome to Mother/Daughter Team Sherrie Ashcraft & Christina Berry Tarabochia

 
Today, Jen is excited to welcome  fabulous authors (and her friends)
Sherrie Ashcraft and Christina Berry Tarabochia to the Inkwell!

After fourteen years of hard work, Sherrie Ashcraft and Christina Berry Tarabochia are thrilled to announce the release of their novel, On the Threshold. Interested in how a mother and daughter can write a book together? Want a chance at winning a Kindle and a business card design from a top-notch company? Keep reading!

Why did you ladies begin writing this book?
Both of us had always talked about writing a book, but fourteen years ago Sherrie said if we were ever going to write, maybe we should work on a book together. It would hold us accountable. We lived on different sides of the state of Oregon at the time, so we did a lot of it via e-mail, and once a month Sherrie would make the 250-mile drive to Christina's house and we'd work on it in person. We wanted to share a real look at depression and trying to be good enough to please God--what that might look like in a family's life.

Fourteen years? Really?
That's from the first word penned. The very first contest we entered, we actually talked about how we needed to decide how to fight off all the editors who'd be making offers. Instead, we found out we had a lot to learn! Attending writing conferences and reading craft books brought our writing to a higher level.

Tell us about On the Threshold.
We loved having the chance to tell this story! In fact, we have a few more stories to tell about these characters  if readers love this one. Here's what the book is about:

Suzanne—a mother with a long-held secret. Tony—a police officer with something to prove. Beth—a daughter with a storybook future. When all they love is lost, what's worth living for?
Suzanne Corbin and her daughter, Beth Harris, live a seemingly easy life. Suzanne has distanced herself from her past, replacing pain with fulfillment as a wife and mother, while Beth savors her husband’s love and anticipates the birth of their child. But all that is about to change.
Like a sandcastle buffeted by ocean waves, Suzanne’s façade crumbles when her perfect life is swept away. Tragedy strikes and police officer Tony Barnett intersects with the lives of both women as he tries to discover the truth. Left adrift and drowning in guilt long ignored, Suzanne spirals downward into paralyzing depression. Beth, dealing with her own grief, must face the challenge of forgiveness. Can these two women learn to trust each other again? Will they find the power of God’s grace in their lives?

And a little about you?
Mother/daughter writing team Sherrie Ashcraft and Christina Berry Tarabochia bring a voice of authenticity to this novel as they have experienced some of the same issues faced by these characters. They like to say they were separated at birth but share one brain, which allows them to write in a seamless stream. Both live in NW Oregon and love spending time together. Many years ago, they were both on a winning Family Feud team!

Sherrie is the Women's Ministry Director at her church, and loves being the grandma of eight and great-grandma of one. Christina is also the author of The Familiar Stranger, a Christy finalist and Carol Award winner, and runs a thriving editing business.

Please sign up for their Infrequent, Humorous Newsletter at Ashberry Lane for a chance to win cool prizes.

What about this contest?
If you help get the word out, you can earn different points for each thing you do, and every point represents an entry in the contest.
Say, for example, you name your next child “Threshold” in honor of our book. You would earn 100 points (entries), which would greatly increase your likelihood of winning.

Fine print to be read as quickly as those medical side effects are glossed over on TV: A certified copy of the birth certificate must be sent to Ashberry Lane proving the child was born between now and when the contest ends on June 30rd at 10 PM, PDT. Some restrictions apply, such as you must also promise not to change the child’s name to anything else for at least the next fifteen years. You are, however, allowed to use “Thresh” as his or her first name, and “Hold” as the middle.
If that seems like we’re asking a little too much, there are other ways for you to enter the contest.

~ Post about On the Threshold on Twitter or LinkedIn, or share the cover on Instagram or Pinterest, and you’ve doubled your points to TWO.
~ Refer someone to sign up for the newsletter. If he or she notes you as referrer, guess what? You just earned THREE points.
~ Blog about it and reap FOUR points. (We’re available for more blog interviews.)
~ And for those who buy the book (e-book or print copy), you will gain FIVE points.
~ Leave a review—positive or negative—on a retailing site after reading the book, and TEN points to you!

All you have to do to enter is drop us an email to Christina [at] ashberrylane [dot] net with a description of what you did. We trust you.

Here is a sample email:

Dear Sherrie and Christina,
Fortunately, my last name is Hold, so when my triplets were born yesterday, all I had to do was name them "On," "The," and "Thresh." (Yes, that makes a double "h," but without it, the name just looks silly and I don't want a kid with a funny name.) I also got the cover of On the Threshold tattooed on my arm, took a picture of it, and posted it on every possible social media site, including Facebook, though I understand I don't get points for anything done on there. Next, I forwarded the Infrequent, Humorous Newsletter to a few of my friends and ALL of my enemies. After reading the book in two hours, I posted an honest review on three different retail sites. Please enter my name 349 times.
Love,
Your #1 Fan

Or something like that. :)

Where else can we find you gals online?
Buy the book on Amazon or B&N or iTunes or in any other version on Smashwords. The print book will be available shortly--sign up for the newsletter and you'll be among the first to know when it appears on all the big retailing sites OR email us about buying a paperback directly from us. (Christina [at] ashberrylane [dot] net)
www.twitter.com/authorchristina
www.facebook.com/sherrie.ashcraft
www.facebook.com/authorchristina
www.christinaberry.net/
www.authorchristinaberry.blogspot.com

Thanks for hosting us!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness

by C.J. Chase



Despite its humble beginnings as a campy, low-budget, short-run TV series, Star Trek has grown to be a multi-billion dollar industry and nearly unparalleled cultural phenomenon. I asked around to see if anyone in my circle could think of a similar pop culture success, and the only comparable suggestion was Sherlock Holmes, the legendary detective of book, stage, radio, and screen.

The original Star Trek series lasted only three seasons (76 episodes) before NBC dropped it from the lineup in 1969. Compare the production quality of the series to that of the original Star Wars movie made less than 10 years later (1977), and you can see how unsophisticated the Star Trek set really was.

And yet, in syndication, it gained a cult following such that Hollywood funded a full-length feature film starring the original cast. And then another. And another. And five more Star Trek series for television – for a total of 722 television episodes and 12 full-length movies, of which Into Darkness (released last week) is the most recent.

The Chase family went to the theater to see Paramount’s latest offering in the franchise. (Have I ever mentioned that as the only female in my household, I usually see “guy” movies?) The new movie merges characters from the original series (played by a younger cast) with the high-tech special effects of a Hollywood blockbuster. No, the effects were beyond special. They were incredible.



Perhaps part of the original Star Trek’s enduring appeal is that, for all its campiness (i.e., Kirk throwing punches and meeting a different attractive alien each week), the series offered up not-so-subtle commentary on social issues of the day. Consider, for instance, the presence of a black, female officer on the bridge (during the height of the Civil Rights movement) or the cooperation between the American and Russian officers (practically unimaginable so soon after the Cuban Missile Crisis and as the Vietnam War was heating up). 

The television series began with basic plots focused around exploration. Remarkably human-looking aliens served as foils to the real humans, often making a point about the foibles of the human condition. 
 
The Star Trek movies and later Star Trek series moved toward a more high stakes save-the-world (or even the universe) theme. 



I asked my oldest son his impression of Into Darkness. He liked it better than I did. Perhaps he’s just easier to please than I or perhaps as a lover of SciFi and Fantasy fiction, he understood it more than I.

The plot is very complex, with multiple villains each having his own motives. Now I love a plot with lots of twists and surprises. However, I felt it deviated too far from my expectations of a typical Star Trek plot for me to truly enjoy the story. The conflict was internal to Starfleet. No exploration. No hostile life form threatening to exterminate humanity . Perhaps the plot just seemed weak when held against the dazzling special effects.

So what did I like (besides the special effects)? Benedict Cumberbatch (best known for his role on the BBC’s Sherlock) makes a great sympathetic villain. And the snappy dialogue had the trademark Star Trek wry humor, even in the tensest of situations. Having just recently read an excerpt of a book with NO humor or laughter by the characters, I noticed right away how the writers were able to incorporate sarcasm and wit into all but the darkest moments. 
For example, here is a particularly memorable line, spoken by Doctor McCoy while he
and a beautiful science officer were trying to deactivate a weapon. “You know, when I dreamt about being stranded on a deserted planet with a gorgeous woman, there was no torpedo!”

And then there was gem when Kirk accused Spock of using a technicality: “I am Vulcan. I embrace technicality.”

Overall, I enjoyed Into Darkness. If you are a long-time fan, you’ll want to put this on your to-see list. If you are a diehard Trekkie, well, you’ve probably already seen it – but if not, you’ll want to see it on a big screen with surround sound. However, if you are basically unfamiliar with the characters from the original series, you’ll probably find it beneficial to preview the 2009 Star Trek to get familiar with the characters first.

Oh, and the 82-year-old Leonard Nimoy (Spock from the original series) makes a cameo appearance, so I’ll leave you with this Spock vs. Spock commercial. Cultural phenomenon, I tell you.




UPDATE: For everyone who enjoyed the Audi commercial, here's the inside joke about the song Nimoy is singing while he drives (about 1:10 mark). Um, you needn't watch/listen to the entire thing to get in on the joke...




After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her current release, The Reluctant Earl, is now available  in online bookstores. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at www.cjchasebooks.com  


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Are Your Words Delicious?

 

by Jennifer AlLee
 
My son and I were talking with friends yesterday, and somehow, the subject of complaining came up. The conversation went something like this:


Son: "We love to complain at my house."
Friend: "I don't think I've heard your mom complain."
Son: "Believe me, she does."

Enlightening, don't you think? Overall, I really do try to be an upbeat, positive person. But my immediate family gets to experience all my raw honesty. Yes, they have the honor of hearing me complain. Why? Because I love them, of course. And because I trust them enough to let them know exactly how I feel.

My son's joke today made me think about my attitude. It could definitely use some adjusting.

Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.
Psalm 13:3, NLT
I admit, I sometimes have a hard time controlling my tongue. One of my coping mechanisms is humor and sarcasm, so I tend to make a lot of jokes. Sometimes, they are well-placed. Other times... not so much. I've asked the Lord to help me think before I speak. This is still a work in progress.

Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction.
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
Psalm 18:20-21, NLT
Don't you just love verse 20? Wise words satisfy like a good meal. Yummy! That's what I want to do... deliver delicious, life-giving words. Won't you join me? Let's dish up feasts for the ears and souls of those around us!

(This post was originally published in June 2011)


JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's thrilled to be working on her first historical series with the amazing Lisa Karon Richardson. Diamond in the Rough (Whitaker House) is the first book in the Charm and Deceit series, available now. And... as if that's not enough, her novella Comfort and Joy will appear in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories (Barbour, 9/13) She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
Visit Jennifer's website at www.jenniferallee.com/

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Guest Blogger: Author and Editor Fay Lamb


The Inkwell is pleased to welcome author and editor Fay Lamb.  Fay's newest release is Stalking Willow, an inspirational romantic suspense novel. 

The cover alone makes me want to read this book.
Patience
by Fay Lamb

Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to the life of an author. Yes, there are some overnight successes in the business, people who seemingly decide to take up writing and receive a contract, but that is not the norm. In truth, what often looks like an overnight success to someone on the outside, has been a long journey for the author.

You’ve heard it before. “I write, therefore, I am a writer.” I began to take writing seriously at a very early age, therefore, I have been a writer for thirty-seven years.

Looking back with that 20/20 hindsight, I realize that God had a plan, and if I’d been published when I was so much younger, I wouldn’t have learned a variety of lessons, which I’d like to share with you:

Humility: God has always been faithful to chasten me for my pride. To get my attention once, God took my writing away from me for three painful years until I learned a valuable lesson: when God gives a talent, He expects it to be used to the utmost. Talents aren’t often handed to an individual ready to be displayed. To present the very best to God from what He provides, authors need to practice their skills. Pride says I have nothing to learn. Humility bows before the Master and asks what is to be done with the gift so that it is returned ten-fold to Him.

Family: Yes, immediate family is important, but Christian fiction is a unique industry. It allows writers the opportunity to meet, to befriend, and to work with their brothers and sisters in Christ. A writer may not know every one of his peers, but they are still spiritual kin. For that reason, I have learned to take time to come alongside members of my writing family not only to encourage and to direct but to be encouraged and to receive direction.

Happiness: When an author rushes to publication, there is a tendency to forget the joy of doing what God has called him to do. I revel in my fantasy worlds. Bringing them to life for a reader and infusing them with a message that can draw someone closer to Christ is one of my greatest joys in the world. Time is a gift from God. Rushing to publication before I am ready wastes the time God has given to me to enjoy what He has asked me to do.

Reality: Sometimes authors feel that their story just needs to be read. The message is ripe for the world, and the author has to make sure it gets out there. The reality is that God is in control. He knows how, when, where, and even if He wants the message delivered. Remembering Who is the director of my path, keeps me from tripping and falling on my face every time I am tempted to run ahead of God.

Continuity: Authors often focus on their first book to the extent that they do not see the overall picture. Like the king who was told by the prophet to shoot his arrows, and he shoots so few that he doesn’t realize the full blessing God meant for him, a writer losses the opportunity to place several more stories in his quiver because he gets too busy pressing that one fantastic book and never writing any others. In my thirty-seven years, I have written a number of books. I have twenty other books started and in various forms of completion. I didn’t just write one book to rush to publication. I actually used one book to practice all of the elements of storytelling, and I’ve applied it to everyone I’ve completed, and I continue to grow and to apply what I have learned to the unfinished work as well. When God opened the doors wide for me, I had several books and many ideas to offer my publisher. All of my ideas or stories may never get published, but I have a quiver to draw from, and I plan to keep shooting those arrows until God calls me home.

Patience is a great virtue for a writer. Our time is best spent waiting for God to show us the paths to our writing career. That time isn’t wasted when, while we’re waiting, we’re studying the craft of storytelling, building our library of books to offer to publishers, taking the time to enjoy the gifts God has bestowed, and fellowshipping with other authors to encourage and be encouraged.

Fay Lamb is an acquisition editor for Pelican Book Group. She also provides freelance fiction edits.

Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has recently contracted with Write Integrity Press for two four-book series. Stalking Willow, the first in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series is currently available for purchase, and Charisse, the first release in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series will be available in July, 2013. The second story in the Amazing Grace series, Better than Revenge, is set for release in September 2013.

Fay is a past-secretary for American Christian Fiction Writers. She served for four years as the moderator for ACFW’s critique group, Scribes. For her volunteer efforts for ACFW, she received the Service Members Award in 2010. She was also a semi-finalist that year in the ACFW Genesis Contest.

Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and five grandchildren (with the sixth on the way).

Links for the book:
Amazon for print book: http://amzn.to/ZIzpFo

Links for Fay:
www.faylamb.com (Fay’s website and blog: On the Ledge)
www.facebook.com/fay.lamb (personal FB page)
www.facebook.com/AuthorFay (Fay’s fan page)
www.facebook.com/TacticalEd (Fay is the Tactical Editor, sharing self-editing tips)
www.twitter.com/FayLamb (Fay’s Twitter address) 



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pirate Queen


By Lisa Karon Richardson

One of the most successful and feared pirate lords of all time wasn’t a lord at all, but a lady. Ching Shih, has been known by many different names, including, Zhèng Shì; Jihng Sih, and Cheng I Sao and believe me, compared to her, Blackbeard, Bluebeard, and all the other beards were small potatoes.

Little is known about her early life, but it is believed that Ching Shih was born around 1775. We also know she spent much of her early life as a prostitute in a small brothel in Canton until she was captured by pirates. Her lifestyle changed dramatically in 1801 when she married Zheng Yi, a famous pirate captain with a pirate pedigree that went back well over a century.

By 1804 Zheng Yi, with Ching Shih at his side, managed a fantastic coup. Through cunning, force, and diplomacy he managed to form a coalition among the competing Chinese pirates. This new armada was called the Red Flag Fleet.

Near the end of 1807, Zheng Yi died in Vietnam and Ching Shih demonstrated that she had learned much from her husband. With consummate cunning and foresight she moved quickly to consolidate power and preserve the fleet. In an effort to instill unity she instituted a pirate code.

The first provision of the pirate code provided that anyone giving orders that did not come from Ching Shih, or disobeying the orders of a superior, was beheaded on the spot. The second rule was that no one was to steal from the public fund (This was the big, collective pot that their loot went into) or any villagers that supplied the pirates. All booty had to be presented for group inspection. The loot was registered by a purser and then distributed by the fleet leader. The penalty for holding back treasure was death.

Ching Shih’s code also had special rules for female captives. She directed that such women should be released. But in practice the pirates made their most beautiful captives into concubines or wives. If a pirate took a wife he had to be faithful to her. Pirates that raped female captives were put to death.

Other violations of the code also carried punishments as severe as any in the Royal Navy; flogging, clapping in irons, or quartering. Deserters’ ears were chopped off, and then they were paraded around their squadron.

At the height of her powers it is estimated that she commanded more than 1800 ships and 80,000 pirates. This amount of muscle allowed her to direct raids of every town and ship between Macao and Canton. They grew to such strength that they actually levied taxes on some coastal towns.

She became a serious threat to some of the great imperial powers of the day, but despite concerted effort, neither the British, Portuguese, or Chinese were able to put a halt to her reign.

In 1810, Qing dynasty officials made an incredibly smart move. Rather than trying to break the pirates they offered them amnesty if they gave up their piratey ways. Ching Shih took them up on the offer, negotiating a pardon for herself and the majority of her fleet, that allowed her to retain her wealth. I did say she was cunning, didn’t I?

With her ill-gotten gain she opened a gambling house, which she operated right up to her death in 1844. Since then she has continued to color the popular imagination. Most recently, the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean featured a powerful female pirate lord named Mistress Ching. I think we all know where that particular inspiration came from.

Not that I admire her methods, but I do find Ching Shih’s story to be fascinating and surprising. I wonder how she managed to navigate such violent waters and come out the other side unscathed. I mean, we’re talking about a society that purposely crippled their daughters as a sign of their “high” status. Where there’s a will there’s a way, I guess. But it had to be a remarkably formidable will, and a brilliant tactician’s mind to go with it in order to both overcome prejudice and gain the allegiance of her men.

Maybe next Talk Like a Pirate Day (that’d be September 19th to the uninitiated) you’ll consider a Chinese accent in her honor?

What is your favorite surprising story of unprecedented success?


Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, LISA KARON RICHARDSON’S early stories were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now, even though she’s (mostly) grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her published works include “Impressed by Love,” in the Colonial Courtships anthology. The Magistrate’s Folly was published by Heartsong Presents in February of 2013. Diamond in the Rough, (May, 2013) was co-authored with Jennifer AlLee, and is the first in the Charm and Deceit, series from Whitaker House. Finally she has another novella coming out September, 2013 from Barbour entitled “Midnight Clear,” part of the Mistletoe Memories collection.