Thursday, May 30, 2013


I think my husband decided to pursue me for his bride because he needed a cook.
 Although I was only age 15 and he 20 and already working for the railroad, probably what did it was the apple pie I made and took to a church supper. Guess he didn’t know I couldn’t cook much else.
We married after I reached 16, which my Dad thought sounded better than 15, and God tried to teach me patience through cooking. I think what I really learned was creativity and ingenuity.
Take for instance the first chocolate cake. I used the recipe on the back of the cocoa box and I didn’t notice high altitude instructions. My creation looked like the top of a volcano. Not to worry. I just turned a saucer up-side-down on the cake plate and put on the caved-in layers. After the chocolate frosting, my husband thought I had a masterpiece—at least until he cut it.
There was no remedy for the first fried chicken that ended up raw in the middle and burned on the outside. But I’m tenacious and kept right on cooking, reading my little Pillsbury leaflets, asking questions and watching other ladies efficient in the kitchen. I discovered after I bought a recipe book I could make nearly anything—except meringue.
The first time the lightly browned froth melted over my banana cream pie, oozing water on top and around the edges, I thought I messed up the recipe. I love meringue! My husband loves cream pies. So I divided egg whites from yolks, whipped them, and added all sorts of different ingredients cooks told me worked to make the sweet fluff perfect.
Over and over and over I tried, and every time my pie was covered with tears. Some were mine; the remainder— egg whites that decided to revert to their original state.
Maybe it was the chickens. Eggs are potential chickens, and chickens and I never had a good relationship, even when as a kid I gathered eggs. Roosters never liked me. I was flogged so many times I once jumped a fence taller than my head to get away from an angry Papa Chicken. Could somehow chickens put hatred into their DNA and allow me to reap it?
Naw.  I’d read in the Bible, “Tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.”[1] For years I kept trying to master meringue. “Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Add 8 tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, continue to beat until sugar is dissolved and meringue looks glossy with stiff peaks. Blend in vanilla.”
 I tried substituting powdered sugar, as one cook suggested, and it didn’t help.
I’ve learned many of my goals aren’t important enough to pursue time and time again. On the other hand, some are of such great significance I need to keep going after them.  I’ve always wanted to be a Proverbs 31 woman, providing for the needs of my household, and to do it well. Yet, it seems I don’t have what it takes in some areas, such as mixing up a pie that would win a State Fair ribbon.
I could blame my tenacious spirit to keep trying on the Apostle Paul. He wrote, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, (the goal).” (Philippians 3:13-15).
“Never give up!” Paul tells me.
Well, I admit Paul probably never heard of cream pie topped with meringue. But God often uses ordinary things to teach us greater things, and He put within me a desire to keep trusting, keep repenting, keep accepting his grace and love, and perhaps my life will be the perfectly browned delicacy that will be sweet to Him.
 I hate to tell you, but the expected perfect meringue, all tucked closely to the crust, towering four inches toward my fork has never been created in my kitchen.
But I have a little more wisdom and patience now—and use whipped topping.
--Ada Brownell’s writing appears in numerous publications, including the book, “What I Learned From God While Cooking” (Barbour, 2006). She attends Central Assembly in Springfield, MO.

[1] Romans 5:3,4

Monday, May 27, 2013


Perfection is Overrated
As a child in summer camp, I worked on a woven craft with the help of my teacher. The craft was rainbow in color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple), but the last row of my teacher’s example was not in the correct color order. When I asked my teacher about the mistake, he told me he had done that on purpose as a reminder that only God is perfect. This lesson about imperfection can also be applied to the craft of writing. While I don’t think writers need to make purposeful mistakes in their writing, I do think that writers need permission to be imperfect. Permission to make mistakes allows writers to
·         avoid writer’s block,
·         accept rejection,
·         and grow as a professional.
Writers need permission to make mistakes while writing. I’ve heard that writer’s block is when a writer gets caught up in editing mode and can’t switch back to writing mode. By allowing himself to make a mistake, a writer can work on a story and allow the words to flow freely without being concerned with revisions. The editing stage will come later. Good planning does cut down on revisions; however, in order to edit a manuscript, a writer must first complete a manuscript.
Writers need permission to accept rejection. Almost every writer has been rejected at some point. I consider Frank Peretti to be a good writer, and I was amazed to learn that This Present Darkness had been rejected several times. My own debut novel was rejected before I later revamped it and then signed a contract with a publisher. I almost gave up on writing altogether at one point because I thought being called by God to be a writer meant that I had to be perfect, and if writing didn’t come naturally, then I wasn’t meant to write. But that wasn’t the case. Even pastors and missionaries train for their fields. Writers are no different. They, too, must continue to learn.
Writers need permission to grow as a professional. Sometimes writers receive criticism from others. It is okay for a writer to realize his writing may not be perfect. In fact, a huge turning point in my writing career was accepting criticism and learning from it. Later on, I was better able to separate good criticism from bad, but before I could do that, I had to be open to the possibility that my writing was not perfect.
The bottom line is that only Jesus is perfect. And that’s okay. If He wasn’t, then the rest of us wouldn’t need a Savior. Remember this, and every now and then, give yourself permission to be less than perfect.

About Heidi's book:
Dog Tags is a suspense novel that is set to be released on June 7, 2013, from Pelican Book Group, Harbourlight Book Division.
In Dog Tags, a former Marine determines to protect the woman he loves at all costs, and yet his own secrets might turn her against him forever.
Excerpt: The Knight’s mind clouded over, like fog settling over the local San Diego metro area. One thing was clear as he sat in his white, sparsely furnished living room: his goal. He must continue his quest to help damsels in distress, ones like Juanita. He hoped she’d listen to him, that she’d understand he only tried to protect her, that she’d appreciate his chivalry. But as he’d learned from experience, the women he chose to rescue might not always be cooperative. Being a knight in shining armor did not always prove an easy task. 

The finger in the jar atop the entertainment center served as a reminder: death was far kinder than the fate Juanita could have suffered at the hands of that other man. No matter what society thought, the Knight had done the right thing.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Character interview from Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult

Recently I did this character interview for editor Ralene Burke’s blog Where the Light Pierces the Darkness....
Ralene asked the questions, and Joe, from my book JOE THE DREAMER: THE CASTLE AND THE CATAPULT answers. If you’d like to see the questions, too,  you can see the interview on Ralene’s blog.  
Heeeere’s Joe!

1. My name is Joe Baker. I’m age 14, going on 15, tall for my age, but if things continue as they have the last few weeks I’ll pass for an old man any day now.
I’m the son of Darin and Rose Baker, and they disappeared. My little sis, Penny, and I waited and waited that night, but they didn’t come home. Pop, a computer software designer, and Mom, a buyer and fashion consultant at Vanby’s, a prestigious teen clothing store, left work to visit a friend at the hospital and no one has seen them since.
2. My life is full of challenges. First, I need to find out how to believe in miracles so God will bring my parents home. In the meantime, I should learn how to live with Uncle Faulkner and Aunt Anna. But Faulkner, a powerful newspaper editor, is so full of himself I don’t know who will explode first—him or me, and Anna is tied to that little glass of alcohol and one little match could set her ablaze.
3. I thought my biggest fear was that my parents would be found dead. But now Pop has been accused of stealing priceless computer software to help control epilepsy I think he designed at home in his spare time. Then every time I read the Bible I dream I’m some great biblical hero and wake up shouting and screaming out, making Faulkner and his psychiatrist friend think I’m mentally ill, need medication and hospitalized.
4. I always wanted to be like Pop and someday marry someone with beauty and character like my mom, but they aren’t here now. So, I let Gertrude, a wonderful old crippled lady, love on me and pray for me, but I also re-connected with my old neighborhood and joined a gang. Not just any gang, dude. The East Side Gallant Guardians. Christian teens who solve and prevent crime without guns or blades, using things like a pet skunk, sand, rope, noise, marbles. Centipede—he’s the leader--and his group of homies aren’t afraid of anybody or anything because they believe God is with them. Patrick—that’s Faulkner’s son—says we’re going to get ourselves killed, but so far amazing things are happening and we have found evidence that prisoners are being held at Sir Henry’s Castle in the mountains. I think that might be where Mom and Pop are, and we are taking a catapult and invading the castle.
5. Would you believe we’re even allowing Pete’s twin sister to go with us? I’ve known Petra for a long time and hadn’t noticed how pretty and talented she is until just a few weeks ago. I’m not spreading it around that I like her, you see, so don’t you go texting everyone you know. I hope when everything comes down she’ll hang tough with her karate moves and cut the timber out from under some of those guards. Almost would make me grab her and plant a kiss on her gorgeous face!
 If you want to know how all of this turns out, check out this link and the review where a teen said the book is “A tale of intrigue and faith; captures the reader from the opening page” JOE THE DREAMER: THE CASTLE AND THE CATAPULT

A more recent review said "This book is good for any age."

Ralene Burke
Speculative Fiction Novelist

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How Dr. Joyce Brothers impacted my life

            God sometimes uses people we wouldn’t expect Him to use, and catches our attention in unusual ways.
            That’s the way it was when I interviewed Dr. Joyce Brothers. Brothers, who died May 13 at age 85, was keynote speaker at a women’s conference in our city a long time ago and I spoke to her on the phone prior to the event.
            What caught my attention was what the psychologist said during the interview about treating your spouse with respect and being thankful.
 “Marriage partners take one another for granted and expect them to do whatever needs to be done,” Brothers said. “Many couples fight about helping with chores, and if their mate empties the trash or cleans out the dishwasher, they barely notice. Instead, even when it’s a job we expect him or her to do, we should say, “Thank you for doing that. Nice job. That really helps.”
            Brothers said when marriage partners respectfully show how much they appreciate one another, they’ll get more help and there will be less friction in the home. Saying “thanks” gets much better results than nagging, she added.
            Coming from a family of workaholics, her words jabbed me right in the conscience. I expected my husband to jump on a job like my siblings would do, and if he didn’t, I’d get into a snit and do it myself—or give him an ear full.
            I knew that’s not the way a Christian should act, but Satan deceives us into thinking if we’re doing our part it’s OK to attack the person we don’t think is doing his.
            I tried Brothers’  “Thank you,” approach and discovered it made the home atmosphere better and it made me actually feel thankful.  It wasn’t long before my husband also was saying “Thank you.”
            I don’t remember watching Brothers on television or reading more than one or two of her advice columns, but that one personal interview is enough for me to have respect for her, despite what I’ve read about some of her other advice.
            What she did for me was show me a concrete way I could develop fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life—by showing patience, gentleness, goodness and self control. Acts of kindness are something we decide to do, and so are attitudes of the heart. Becoming thankful definitely gave me a spiritual growth spurt.
You can find a number of quotes from Brothers on the internet such as:
 “Anger repressed can poison a relationship as surely as the cruelest words.”
“Those who have easy, cheerful attitudes tend to be happier than those with less pleasant temperaments, regardless of money, ‘making it’, or success.”
“Being taken for granted can be a compliment. It means that you’ve become a comfortable, trusted element in another person’s life.”
Good advice, and may these words long outlive her.

Monday, May 20, 2013

TITLE: Book Blast: Every Hill and Mountain by Deborah Heal 5/21/13 -$50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Title:Every Hill and Mountain (Time and Again) (Volume 3) By Deborah Heal

About the Book:

Every Hill and Mountain Visiting another century…not the summer vacation she had planned. Those who have read Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy know that Abby Thomas is a college student on a summer service project with 11-year-old Merri. And they know that the summer is not going the way Abby had expected—but in a good way. For one thing, she meets a very nice guy named John Roberts. And for another, she discovers a strange computer program called Beautiful House that lets her fast-forward and rewind life. Not her own, of course, but those of the people who lived in Merri’s old house. And the Old Dears’ old house, and…well, any old house. And since the program worked so well for the Old Dears’ family tree project, Abby’s college roommate Kate hopes it will help her find out more about her ancestor Ned Greenfield. And Kate’s fiancĂ© Ryan thinks the program has lucrative commercial potential. Abby and John reluctantly agree to help Kate, but only on the condition that she and Ryan promise to keep the program a secret, because if it fell into the wrong hands…well, no one wants Big Brother invading their privacy. The two couples take a trip to the tiny town of Equality, set in the hills of southern Illinois and the breath-taking Shawnee National Forest. According to Kate’s research, Ned Greenfield was born there at a place called Hickory Hill. The mayor, police chief, and townspeople are hospitable and helpful—until the topic of Hickory Hill comes up. They seem determined to keep them away, telling them, “There’s nothing there for you to see.” Eventually they find Hickory Hill on their own—both the mansion and the lonely hill it sits upon. Built in 1834, Hickory Hill stands sentinel over Half Moon Salt Mine where the original owner John Granger accumulated his blood-tainted fortune. Abby and her friends meet Miss Granger, Hickory Hill’s current eccentric owner, and they eventually get the chance to time-surf there. Their shocking discovery on the third floor concerning Kate’s ancestor Ned Greenfield is almost too much to bear. What they learn sends them racing to the opposite end of the state to find the missing link in Kate’s family tree. And there they are reminded that God is in the business of redemption—that one day he’ll make all things new. Deborah Heal sticker picture Deborah Heal, the author of the Time and Again time travel mystery series, was born not far from the setting of her book Every Hill and Mountain and grew up “just down the road” from the setting of Time and Again. Today she lives with her husband in Waterloo, Illinois, where she enjoys reading, gardening, and learning about regional history. She has three grown children, three grandchildren, and two canine buddies Digger and Scout (a.k.a. Dr. Bob). She loves to interact with her readers, who may learn more about the history behind the books at her website and her Facebook author page
Follow Deborah Heal Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Author Lillian Duncan tells how she trusts God in difficult times and an unreasonable world

Only One Sane Choice!
Joshua 1: 9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
It’s been a rough year for me. Last May I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors called schwannomas. They are benign but still require treatment, which will last for at least another year. Between the tumors and the treatment, I haven’t felt well for the past six months, have partial facial paralysis on both sides as well as hearing loss.
The reality is we’re still going through the crises and we don’t know what the future holds. Things are getting better and God is working in our lives, but we still don’t know and won’t know the outcome of all my health “issues” for quite some time.
But guess what?
You don’t know what the future holds either. You may think you do. You may have all sorts of activities, goals, plans and strategies in place for the next year or even five years.
The truth is none of us know what will happen in the next minute, hour, day, week, or ……well, you get the idea.
When faced with that truth, there really is only one sane choice.
Trusting God is the only reasonable choice in an unreasonable world.
God will bring a supernatural peace and joy that confuses the world. We don’t have to understand everything. We don’t have to know the future. All we really need to know is that God loves us and will be with us wherever we go.
Trusting God really is the only sane choice!

Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.
Lillian is a multi-published author. Her most recent releases include, The Christmas Stalking, Deception, and Pursued. Her next release, Betrayed, will be released in 2013. She writes the types of books she likes to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch of romance.
To learn more about Lillian and her books, you may visit her at or connect with her on a variety of social media sites. Her blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes can be viewed at She also has a devotional blog at

Twins are supposed to have an unbreakable bond, but Patti and Jamie have serious relationship issues. They haven’t spoken since Jamie ruined Patti’s upcoming nuptials years ago.
When a niece she knows nothing about telephones, Patti must unravel the yarn of Jamie’s life and her mysterious disappearance.
Detective Carter Caldwell takes his job seriously, and it's his job to keep Patti and her niece safe. But Patti is determined to help find her sister.
As the investigation grows more dangerous, Carter begrudgingly admits the safest place for Patti is at his side. Each step in their journey leads them closer to the truth but pulls them further down a road filled with danger and deception, where each will battle for survival and the lives of countless Americans.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


From Ada Brownell: I was one of the first to read and review Masquerade Marriage by Anne Greene shortly after it was released. Of course I gave it five stars, because it's a great book. I hope my interview with Anne here reveals some of why she's a great writer. I certainly enjoyed the answers to my questions. Thanks, Anne, for being my guest and sharing how all of those wonderful things flow from your mind to the page for us to enjoy.

1. When Anne Greene sits down to create a new novel, what does she do? She has a fresh idea with an interesting setting, sits down and starts typing. She is a total seat-of-the-pants writer. As she dives deeper into the story, she discovers her heroine and hero and hopefully the theme. But sometimes the theme doesn’t emerge until the first draft is finished.

2. How do your previous novels affect the process? I learn so much from each previous novel, not only through research, but through continuing to study the writing craft. I want to write the best possible books I can for my Savior. I love the very deep point of view that is now popular with writers and readers. I love the details in each book that help make the book authentic. I love the entire process of writing. I think each book seasons me more as a writer. 
3. How long did it take to do the research on warriors in your book, Masquerade Marriage? The warrior part came easily. I live with a warrior, my Special Forces Colonel husband. When I visited the site of the last great Scottish battle, the Battle of Culloden, and gazed over the battlefield, I was inspired to write Masquerade Marriage. When I discovered that one decisive battle contributed greatly to the destruction of the Highland Clan way of life, I knew I had to write that story. I hope the readers’ discovering that everything changed in the Highlands after that battle makes it impossible for them to resist reading Masquerade Marriage, and when the sequel, Marriage By Arrangement, releases soon, that they will desire to read that as well.
4. Did it take a certain mindset to enter or create such a society? I have Scottish heritage and have delved deeply into the Scottish history. I visited all over Scotland and loved every minute. Scotland is a beautiful land, and its people are welcoming and friendly. I even enjoy Haggis. So, I found it quite natural to enter into the pages of Scotland’s history and make that time come alive for the reader. My process of writing is much like watching a movie and translating that into the written page for readers. So, for me to go back in time is quite an easy project.
5. You created such in-depth characters, who they are makes them real. Did you work on character traits by themselves, or did they grow out of the story? Thank you for the great compliment. Once I get my subject and my setting in place, somehow my characters spring to life by themselves. Of course, as I get to know them better, as they talk to me, and show me what makes them tick, I refine them. But I’ve never completed a character interview sheet until much later, perhaps during the second draft of a book. I don’t really know where these characters come from, but they are so rewarding to get to know. I think they are formed from the history of the event. For instance, surviving a battle would call for a warrior. Rebelling against a father’s dictates would necessitate a spunky heroine. Becoming the woman your father expects of you calls for an obedient, loyal, loving person. And so the characters emerge, mostly whole, including their descriptions.

6 . Does genuine love eventually blossom in this latest book? Yes, Marriage By Arrangement calls for a totally different kind of love. Because of the circumstances of their lives, each of my heroines and each hero must make the greatest sacrifice for the loved one before they can live happily ever after. And I believe a person can only truly love if they know the author of love, so each must come to a loving relationship with God’s Son, Jesus.
7. What do you enjoy most about writing a book, besides having it completed and published? I love the whole process. However, while writing the first draft there is always the shadow of doubt that maybe I’ll write myself into a corner with the difficulties my protagonists suffer, and they won’t emerge with that happy ending. During the second draft, I have no such problem. So, I really love the rewrite. All the rewrites. I love working with words until they sing and drawing pictures until the book is visual and deepening the characters. I just love the whole process. I’m always a little sad when the book is finished. It’s like saying goodbye to old friends and to places I love to visit.
8. Do your characters have spiritual lessons to share? Yes, my characters are human, so they are flawed. They have lessons to learn along life’s journey. They share what they’ve discovered. Sometimes they gain a new life in Christ. Sometimes they return to the Lord after a time of bitterness. Sometimes their spiritual life deepens as they watch another character struggle with his spiritual issues. I don’t plan the spiritual message. It comes from whatever issues a character faces. And like the theme, sometimes the spiritual message only rises to the surface during the final draft.

ANNE GREENE delights in writing about wounded heroes and gutsy heroines. Her second novel, a Scottish historical, Masquerade Marriage, won the New England Reader Choice award, the Laurel Wreath Award, and the Heart of Excellence Award. The sequel Marriage By Arrangement releases soon.  A Texas Christmas Mystery also won  several awards. In 2014, her World War II novel, Angel With Steel Wings, about WASPs, women test pilots will release. She makes her home in McKinney, Texas. In 1990, Anne graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Texas. Tim LaHaye led her to the Lord when she was twenty-one and Chuck Swindoll is her Pastor. View Anne’s other books, her blog, travel pictures, and art work at Anne loves to speak to book clubs, libraries, and conferences. Her  love of sailing, horseback riding, history, and art, as well as her Citizens Plano Policy Academy training, and military life sometime figure in her books. She judges the Rita, Golden Heart, Book of the Year, and many other contests. A Critique and Writing Craft group meets at her home on Monday nights.
Her highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. Buy Anne’s books at Or at

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Romantic Suspense Novella free May 14-15

Download on Kindle (
Free Tuesday May 14th and Wednesday May 15th
Persistent Love:
Christian Romantic Suspense Novella set in 1685, England.

Fear has been Tara's constant companion since age nine when she witnessed her mother's murder. Tara's father moves his family to the ancient castle of Raven's Cliff, far from the ships that could carry her back to India and the answers she believes lie there. Andrew offers her friendship and guides her gently to the One who will give her peace. Will she find hope for something other than revenge?

A Brief Q&A with the Author.
Q: Tell us about your book. Is it part of a series? 

A: Persistent Love begins with Tara, who as a child witnesses her mother’s death which causes fear and anger. As a young woman, she tries to move beyond that fear. The story is worked out in the vibrant scenery of a castle in 17th century England. The book is about the love God has for all of us, persistent in its intensity and steadfastness, even in the face of anger, hurt, or disillusionment. It is a stand-alone novella. I am, however, writing a book about her sister, Kate, when she is all grown up. She is such a free spirit, I couldn’t resist.

Laura J. Marshall is the full-time mother of five sons and part-time writer and blogger. She operates a popular blog called The Old Stone Wall. Laura is the best-selling author of the Battle Cry Devotional Series. Visit to find out more about Laura’s books.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Guest author Joi Copeland talks about how the past shows us hope for the future

Hope from the Past

            We all need hope, don't we? Life is too difficult to face unless we have hope sprinkled throughout this journey of life. That's why I write about hope.
            I have a series all about Hope. Hope for Tomorrow, Hope for the Journey, and Hope from the Past. As we walk down this road, we face many obstacles. Sickness, death, destruction, fear, failure. The list goes on and on. Throw in our past, and sometimes, the guilt, the shame, and regret is just too much to bare.
            But then, God shines His light on us and we receive hope. Hope to deal with the sickness or death we or our loved ones face. Hope that, though death may claim someone dear to our hearts, we will see them again, and they are finally pain free. Hope for the destruction we see in our troubled world because we know this isn't all there is. One day, our world will be made new. Hope that God's perfect love casts out our fear. Hope from the burden of guilt and shame and yes, freedom from regret.
            Hope from the Past introduces us to Arthur Hendrickson, a man running from his past, barely lives in the present, and wishes for his future to be over. Arthur meets his neighbors, Luke and Brittany, and they embrace the older man. Through their love and friendship, and that of Brittany's family, Arthur faces his past and finds hope from the things he lived through.
            What about you? How have you experienced hope?


Hope from the Past

Three men. Three different circumstances. Three choices.

Steven Sorenson is dating the beautiful Josephine Johnson. She is the perfect match for him. Wanting to take their relationship slowly, they agreed not to talk about marriage. However, circumstances beyond his control force him to reevaluate his plans with Josephine. Will he take the next step or shatter his mother’s dream of seeing him married?

Jake Sorenson has been married to the love of his life for over thirty-five glorious years, and then she is diagnosed with cancer. Now, he struggles with how to say goodbye to the only love he’s ever known. How will he respond when the time comes?

Arthur Hendrickson is running from his past and barely living in the present when the past catches up with him. Will he face his past and finally find freedom, or will the chains of his memories drag him down?


Joi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She is living the dream in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom! She enjoys spending time with her sister Steffanne, and loves to sit and have a cup of coffee or tea with friends! She's been a Christian for over twenty years. Following Jesus has been the best decision she has ever made. Joi's other books are Hope for Tomorrow, Hope for the Journey, Christmas Rayne, and Sheriff Bride Rob's Story.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


My latest short story Sarah's Sin is due for release Thursday, May 9th.
Not everyone has an easy time selecting the perfect Mother's Day card. Some mothers are hard to honor, and even harder to love. But Sarah McWhorter is really trying. As time runs out to repair the rift between her and her mother, she struggles to break down the barriers separating them and understand the secret her mother buried years ago.

Just in time for Mother’s Day—a very unconventional Mother’s Day story
M is for the many things she gave me.
O means only that she’s growing old
T is for the tears she shed...
Okay, so not every mother inspires songs, poems, or roses named after her. Some mothers are hard to honor, and even harder to love.
All Sarah McWhorter ever wanted was her mother’s love and respect. She learned early in life her mother wasn’t the classic June-Cleaver type who baked cookies and bandaged scraped knees and kissed away bad dreams. She also suspected the fault lay with a sin Sarah didn’t understand—a sin that kept her mother from loving her.
The story of Sarah’s birth is a family scandal everyone knows but no one talks about. Now Mom is dying, and Sarah hopes to repair their relationship before it’s too late. Regardless of the cost, Sarah must know if it’s too late to earn her mother’s love. Unfortunately the truth might be too painful to bear. Or worse, Mom truly despises her for the sin she represents, and Mother and Daughter, so much alike, are too broken to be fixed.

Check out insightful short interview with Teresa Slack. 

1. Why are mother-daughter relationships so important? We learn so much from our mothers, even when we aren’t trying. Mom is the first person (usually) who has influence over us. She shapes so many things about us. If the relationship with our mother isn’t warm and nurturing from the beginning, children are confused and frustrated. I’m not suggesting Mom needs to be perfect. None of us are. But kids learn so much from Mom, especially daughters. It’s how we learn about beauty, kindness, gentleness, friendship. The list goes on. In mybook, Sarah’s Sin, Sarah did not get this from Rose. All she learned was judgment and condemnation.
2. How can a daughter understand Mom better? I didn’t really understand much about my mother until I became a mom myself. Then everything clicked. Until then I thought she just wanted to put limits on me. When I became a mom, I realized the fear, worry, and feelings of inadequacy that comes with being in charge of this tiny little life entrusted to me. As in any relationship, each needs to put themselves in the other’s shoes. Chiefly, daughters need to give their moms a break. Stop expecting perfection. Stop examining every motive behind every action. Realize Mom is a person too, with faults, fears, and emotions that aren’t always logical or reasonable. 
3. What can a mother do to draw her daughter closer? Treat her like a person, instead of a mini-version of themselves. Don’t expect perfection. Stop examining every motive behind every action. Wait a minute—this sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, it was my advice to daughters concerning their mothers. I guess the road goes both ways.  

Thank you so much, Ada, for inviting me to your blog this week. I have enjoyed getting to know your readers and you. I wrote Sarah’s Sin for the daughters who did not have the June Cleaver-type upbringing. For many of us, Mother’s Day brings a sense of dread and obligation rather than joy and love. We know we are supposed to love our mothers, but we aren’t sure how. My title character, Sarah McWhorter, is an amazing woman considering how her mother treated her while growing up. But still Sarah struggled with honoring her mom the way God intended. I pray readers might learn from Sarah, even if their mother/daughter relationship is close and loving.

Check out Teresa's short stories and other titles on her Amazon author page (author page link: and wherever books are sold. Learn more about Teresa and her writing on her FaceBook page and at Everyone who leaves a comment here will be entered for a chance to win one of 5 e-copies of Sarah's Sin. Happy reading. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

HAVE YOU DISCOVERED BLESSINGS OVERLOOKED IN YOUR YOUTH? Award winning Author Teresa Slack Giving away five books this week--here!

Since this is Mother's Day week--and mothers love to read--I thought it would be nice for Ink From An Earthen Vessel to feature Teresa Slack and her books all week.

Teresa Slack spent most of her writing career focused on novels. Her first, Streams of Mercy, won the 2005 Bay Area Independent Publishers Award for Best First Fiction. Her latest novel, Runaway Heart, was published in February and is available for purchase as an e-book by Helping Hands Press. (novel link:
Teresa Slack spent most of her writing career focused on novels. Her first, Streams of Mercy, won the 2005 Bay Area Independent Publishers Award for Best First Fiction. Her latest novel, Runaway Heart, was published in February and is available for purchase as an e-book by Helping Hands Press. (book link: But she’s recently discovered writing short stories is a whole lot of fun.

Carla Comes Around

Happiness for Carla Fischer was Cartersburg, Tennessee in her rearview mirror. She couldn’t wait to ditch the tiny town where she spent a rotten childhood as soon as the ink was dry on her diploma. When she receives an invitation to her thirtieth year class reunion, she doesn’t waste a moment thinking about going. There’s not a soul in town she wants to see. Well, okay, maybe one soul, but Tim Shelton barely knew she was alive thirty years ago. She doesn’t expect him to remember her now.

When Carla’s sister Patty announces she’s sinking her life’s savings into a local gift shop, Carla leaves her hectic life in Atlanta and heads to the one place she said she’d never go. Cartersburg hasn’t changed in thirty years, but Carla has. Hiding behind a hard veneer to protect her fragile heart, she has no interest in reconnecting with old friends. But everyone wants to see Carla, the small town daughter who never came around after fleeing to the big city.

As time for her thirtieth-year reunion draws nearer, Carla is reluctantly drawn into her sister’s excitement over her plans for the gift shop. Carla wants to be part of her sister’s life, but she loves her life in Atlanta. Can she forsake her career for something that has alluded her most of her life? Peace, contentment, family. When Tim awakens a long dormant love in her heart, Carla begins to wonder if Cartersburg is the only place for her that’s truly home.

Check out her short stories and other titles on her Amazon author page (author page link: and wherever else books are sold. Learn more about Teresa and her writing on her FaceBook page and at Everyone who leaves a comment here will be entered for a chance to win one of 5 e-copies of Carla Comes Around. Happy reading. 

Like Carla, have you discovered blessings later in life overlooked in your youth? Be sure to leave a comment to win! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Something big is going on spiritually in the United States. But we have to open our eyes to see it.
I caught it yesterday. I’ve had glimpses of it before, but didn’t recognize what it is. I guess I’ve been too depressed over all the wickedness rising and entangling itself around our government, our families, our schools, military, our lives, that the obvious hid among it all.

Last evening, the light of God’s Word beamed across the sin around us, and something special and precious glimmered.

First, I’ll tell you how depressed I was about the state of America. I received this disturbing email dated 4/29/13 from Family Research Council:
 “Last week, anti-Christian and left-wing activists met at the Pentagon with military officials to discuss pressing issues in the military…According to these far-left consultants, religion is one of the chief problems plaguing our troops. As the Washington Post reported, some are saying that "religious proselytizing" is at the top of the list of problems in the armed forces -- even on par with sexual assault. As a result of such complaints from the left, the Air Force has -- according to the Post --published, but not yet distributed a new document with the directive that leaders of all levels (including chaplains) may not "promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion."

The penalty these secularists are seeking for those who don't comply with their view of religious speech is court-martial. If this policy goes forward, Christians within the military who speak of their faith could now be prosecuted as enemies of the state. This has the potential to destroy military recruiting across the services as Americans realize that their faith will be suppressed by joining the military.

Here’s another email from FRC’s Tony Perkins dated 4/29/13: The Obama Pentagon may not have been responsible for blocking the Southern Baptist Convention website, but there's no mistaking their involvement in the military's latest anti-Christian offensive. (Emphasis on the word "offensive!") In an absolute stunner, the Pentagon is meeting with Mikey Weinstein--a man who compared Christian evangelism to "rape"--to vet its new instructional guide on religious tolerance in the military.

Weinstein, who heads up the cross-crushing, prayer-prosecuting Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), is the same man who just published a blistering rant calling evangelicals "fundamentalist Christian monsters." (And that's the nice part!) "We must," he writes, "vigorously support the continuing efforts to expose pathologically anti-gay, Islamophobic, and rabidly intolerant agitators for what they are: die-hard enemies of the United States Constitution. Monsters, one and all. To do any less would be to roll out a red carpet to those who would usher in a blood-drenched, draconian era of persecutions, nationalistic militarism, and superstitious theocracy."

I wonder if Weinstein missed the “free exercise of religion” in the Bill of Rights.

Tuesday it also was announced the morning-after pill will be available without prescriptions to 15 year olds.
Horrified? I was. But then I remember what Jesus said before He went away and sent the Holy Spirit—the Counselor. Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit who will convict of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:5-11).

Suddenly I know why sinners scream for acceptance, and try to spread sinful lifestyles on others. It’s because they want to justify their sin—do something to ease the conscience and the deep-down knowledge they are sinners and the wages of sin is death. Many ignore the rest of the verse: "But the gift of God is eternal life."

I'm reminded of David who wrote in Psalm 139: "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there."

The Holy Spirit continues to work in our day. No matter what the wicked achieve, how many people agree with and follow them, how many pure lives are destroyed, the Holy Spirit keeps convicting, calling to righteousness, asking them to see the Light—and remember the truth never changes
God hates sin because evil either hurts us or someone else. Yet, the Lord is compassionate. He keeps calling people to repentance, righteousness and holy living. God gave His Son who bled out for every sinner on earth on the cross. No matter how we deny it, we’re told in Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Jesus said in John 14:6,  "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The Lord still seeks to save the lost and give them the gift of eternal life. That's the reason the conscience won't quit, no matter how we try to feel righteous on our own. The Savior has much more to give than our filthy rags of self-righteousness. His redemption is our only hope.

©Ada Brownell May 2, 2013