Friday, April 29, 2016

HOW I WROTE A NOVEL. From Conception to Birth: My Story’s Journey

 By Dawn V. Cahill

Picture this: Author wannabe just received professional feedback on her first novel. Not good! Wannabe feels downcast, and thinks, Maybe I just need to take a class. So she signs up for an online Fiction Writing course from Fiction Master himself, Jerry Jenkins.

In Assignment 1 she’s told, list a half-dozen ideas for novels you hope to write some day.

That author wannabe was me, and here’s one of the ideas I came up with.

“Twin sisters own a dance studio. One of them becomes a Christian and suddenly she feels differently about so much.  She wants to start using Christian music in their lessons.  She no longer feels right about some of the ‘shortcuts’ she and her sister took to reduce costs and hide income on their taxes. Her boyfriend doesn’t understand her new convictions, and they break up. All this creates a huge conflict between her and her twin.  How will she handle it?”

And thus, Sapphire Secrets was conceived.

Next assignment: Character biographies. And somehow, a bit of myself creeps into the supporting character of Scott. Like me, he loves Christian hip-hop. Yet he comes across as strait-laced - a serious-minded engineer who can’t stand his teenage neighbor’s subwoofer. This little quirk led to an entire subplot between Scott and his neighbor that I never saw coming!

Then came the lesson on dialog. I was to think up dialog between two completely different characters. Not as easy as it sounds, especially when you challenge yourself, as I did, to think up as odd a character as possible. That’s how Vienna came to be. She’s an opera-loving wild child, the foil to Scott.

Again, a whole new situation that just seemed to write itself.

As the book grew and developed, eventually it grew legs – a plot. And arms – an inciting incident. And a heartbeat – emotion and conflict. A brain – plot twist. By the time it was born, it had taken on a life of its own, and turned into something I didn’t know I was capable of.

The book almost wrote itself.

Funny how that happens, isn’t it? It’s as though Sapphire Secrets’ story was already there, dying to be told, and just happened to use me as the instrument.

            And I’m so glad it did.

Book Summary

Twins Livy and DeeDee McCreary open a dance studio in honor of their late mother, whom they lost when they were six. Problem is, Livy remembers nothing of the day her mother died. The more she questions her family about that awful day, the more she suspects she’s been lied to all her life. While she’s seeking answers to what really happened, she keeps crossing paths with handsome engineer Scott Lorenzo, who compels her to question the New Age philosophy she was raised on. What if there is a personal God out there who cares about her?
Before Livy can discover answers, a brutal accident interrupts her search. Her life flips upside down as she faces a future she is not prepared for. Yet the unanswered questions continue to haunt her. Can she find the strength to keep on with her quest, even if it means losing the two people most dear to her—her twin, and the man she loves? 
2015 Finalist, ACFW First Impressions Contest 


Author Dawn V. Cahill writes “Stories of Victorious Faith
for the 21st Century,” stories of ordinary Christians following hard after Christ in a world of terror and violence, of upside-down morality, of hostility to Judeo-Christian values.
She also blogs about puppies, substance abuse, and single parenting. She has written several newspaper articles, two Christian contemporary novels, and more limericks than she can count. Email her at, or find her on Amazon. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Website:

Monday, April 18, 2016


By Ada Brownell

Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
Deuteronomy 32:32-34

          In the early 1920s, Rita Shpeherd took an axe and discreetly followed her husband to the bootlegger’s still, hidden in the trees near a lake.
When he and his boss left, Rita, 21 years old, stuffed most of the bottles in gunny sacks and whacked them with the axe. She stuffed several full bottles into the shed’s chimney and then she dragged one sack of unbroken ones into the water. Those would be evidence for the Revenuers, who policed and prosecuted bootleggers during Prohibition, when liquor sales were illegal.
That afternoon, the bootlegger knocked on Rita’s door.
“I’ve been expecting you,” she said and pointed to an empty chair. “You should be ashamed of what you’ve been doing—taking food out of children’s mouths, clothes off their backs, and the sense out of their father’s heads.”
The redhead when on about the evils of strong drink. “The Bible says, ‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and those who are deceived thereby are not wise.’”
The next day, Rita and her husband, Joe, had to run for their lives, carrying and protecting their baby, Virgil.
          Rita was my mother. But it wasn’t spunk or her abilities with an axe that gave me a healthy desire to stay away from intoxicating beverages.
          As with anyone who grows up, my mother’s principles weren’t enough for me. I needed my own convictions about the matter.
          When we lived in a tiny town where most of the 100 residents lived for the weekend to drink and party, one of our friends discovered I’d never tasted beer. He grabbed a can, snapped it open, grabbed me and tried to pry my mouth open so he could pour the stuff in. Redhead that I am, the wildcat personality came forth and I didn’t taste a drop.
           In the 1960s as a young newspaper reporter I attended a company picnic. A photographer, already tipsy, noticed I had no beer. When I told him I didn’t drink, he emptied his beer on my clothes—“so I’d smell like I had a good time when I went home to my husband.”
          I wasn’t even tempted to drink. At one staff meeting in the managing editor’s home where they had a “dutch lunch,” I asked for a soft drink in advance. While I walked around with a Coke, I noticed some brilliant co-workers who drank one beer after another begin to act as if they were mentally challenged. I thought, What’s the fun in that?
          A time came, however, after I quit work and stayed home 15 years with my children that I worried I could be tempted to drink socially. I’d been back to work a short while and we attended a church where I discovered the deacons drank wine and a youth worker had beer in his refrigerator. I heard someone took beer on a youth outing.
          I thought, Who am I to condemn them? They appeared to love the Lord. Yet, I still had four children at home, and in the news business for me I knew temptation to drink would be more of a problem after I discovered people in my church imbibed.
          After praying and worrying about it, I resigned the youth class I taught, and we changed churches.  My problem wasn’t to try to change brothers and sisters in Christ, but do for our family what I thought was best. I did not want my children to grow up thinking intoxicating beverages were all right, and I didn’t want to break down my own resistance to them.
          A special person to me found the barrier breached between being a teetotaler and partaking at a church picnic where beer was offered along with soft drinks. That was about 40 years before she died, her liver severely affected and her esophagus eaten by Vodka.
          My reasons for not drinking intoxicating beverages go way beyond my experiences, however. It’s rooted in my commitment to Jesus Christ. Two other factors: so I won’t be a stumbling block to others and so that I will not become a slave to sin.
Here’s a verse I think of: For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—(Romans 6:6).
          The quickest way to become a slave to sin is to practice something that is habit forming and destructive.
          There is no sense to partake in anything that affects the way I think and what I do. Sure, it’s legal. as is marijuana in Colorado and perhaps soon other states and then dangerous habit-forming drugs. But so is rat poison and lye. That doesn't mean I should consume it.

©Copyright Ada Brownell

Thursday, April 7, 2016


By Ada Brownell

How about joy unspeakable and rivers of living water

When my siblings began giving their hearts to the Lord the year I was born, it scared Mama. My sister, Marjorie, went to the Holy Roller church!

Mom went with her the second time and was so afraid she sat on the step outside and listened. Finally, got up nerve to go inside.

Actually the people weren’t swinging from the chandeliers (there weren’t any, but when Marjorie committed her life to Jesus she was so changed my parents noticed. Other siblings, invited by their friends, joined her.

I grew up attending that Pentecostal church and I’ve been Pentecostal all my life. Although I’ve witnessed many miracles and changed lives, I never saw anyone roll in my church.

But I experienced the joy in our house, which was filled with singing and music. My siblings had a purpose to their lives and went on to establish businesses, and to higher education and productive careers—all the time filled with contentment and joy.

I can’t figure out why the people who coined the phrase “Holy Rollers” didn’t come to figure out about why people were joyful. Our singing in the church used to get pretty loud and sometimes people shouted when they knew their sins were wiped away, or their deaf ears were opened or another healing occurred, or a loved one came to the Lord.

People used to peek in the windows of our church to see what was going on. Some came inside weeping and gave their lives to Christ.

I tell the story of my family’s conversion, how I came to a commitment, miracles, signs and wonders, and what it was like being Pentecostal in my book, Confessions of a Pentecostal, first published in 1978 by the Assemblies of God’s Gospel Publishing House and released in April as an e-book. An epilogue reveals some of what has happened since 1978.

Confessions of a Pentecostal is available at
Joy is a byproduct of knowing God. Here are a few scriptures that speak of joy.

Continue to the next post for a list of scriptures about joy.

Copyright Ada Brownell



Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart” John 7:38).

Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (Psalm 5:10-12).

You will show me the path of life;In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:10-11).

For His anger is but for a moment,His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Sing to Him a new song;Play skillfully with a shout of joy (Psalm 33:3).

Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God (Psalm 43:4).

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit (Psalm 51:12).

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! (Psalm 66:2).

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing (Proverbs 10:28).

Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3).

But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead (Isaiah 26:19).

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Isaiah 35:10).

 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word” Matthew 28:8).

He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth” (Luke 1:13-15).

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people (Luke 2:10).

To here

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:9-11

And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
Luke 24:51-53

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:10-12

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
John 16:21-23

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
John 16:21-23

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."
Acts 14:16-18

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 20:23-25

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:10-12

whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
1 Peter 1:7-9

We write this to make our joy complete.
1 John 1:3-5

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.
2 John 1:3-5

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy
Jude 1:23-25

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?
1 Thessalonians 2:18-20

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Problems with a stepmother?

                                             By Ada Brownell
“I hate her! My dad does all sorts of nice things for her he never did for Mom.”
I’d spiritually mentored Sue[1] since she was age 15 and her mother died. I knew she needed her new stepmother, a fine Christian woman.
 I took a deep breath and prayed for wisdom. Words seemed to pop out of me spontaneously. “Remember, your dad does nice things for her because he wishes he’d done them for your mother.”
 Sue ended up having a wonderful relationship with her stepmom and after more than 40 years, they’re still close.
I’ve had numerous times in my life where God sent me words to say in situations where I couldn’t have come up with a good answer on the spot. I told those words to Sue when I was only age 20 myself. The words came quickly and were so different from what I would say ordinarily, I believe it was the Holy Spirit.
I’ve had occasions when I failed to speak what I heard in my spirit, and the words vanished. Paul admonished Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership (1 Timothy 4:13-15).
I need God’s Gifts at work in my life. I pray for the Holy Spirit to work through me because often when a critical need arises, I’m a wimp.
According to scripture, supernatural Gifts are for the edification of the church.[2] I thought that meant they were only vocally used in an assembled congregation. But I’ve learned the church sometimes is believers in the marketplace, building the church, like Peter and John when they took the hand of the lame beggar at the temple gate. The beggar, leaped, walked and praised God and attracted such a large crowd Peter began preaching and prophesying.
 I’m an ordinary person, so I realize why the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit is called a Gift. What better present can I receive from my Heavenly Father than the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the accompanying miraculous works of His Spirit in me?
I know the words I gave a  friend about her stepmother were just what she needed.
God is still speaks through His people today. If you want to know more about the work of the Holy Spirit  read the New Testament, especially the Book of Acts, and the epistles.
Take your problems to Lord and ask for wisdom. Then expect the amazing.
Copyright Ada Brownell

[1] Not her real name
[2] 1 Corinthians 14
[3] Acts 3,4

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sunday school prepares us for school and life

                                                      By Ada Brownell

      Twelve preschoolers sit quietly in a circle on the floor with a middle-aged woman telling a story. They watch, eyes twinking with excitement, as Mrs. McPherson shows pictures. Then she drops baking soda into a bowl of vinegar. The liquid foams up and boils over and the lady explains how anger affects us, creating a mess between us, our friends or family.
      “Say this after me,” she says, “Love your neighbors as yourself, Luke Ten Twenty-Seven.”
      The children repeat the verse several times and then she asks, “Who can say it by yourself?”
      Volunteers wave their hands and several of them say the verse, sometimes confusing the numbers a little. Then they begin to sing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”
      The class now begins art work, coloring a provided picture of hearts coming down out of the clouds toward an open space, where they draw a sketch of themselves and talk about God’s love for them.
      Before there were preschools or Head Start, children were equipped with school readiness because scenes like this were common everywhere in America. In my day, schools didn’t even have kindergarten. Church showed me long before I entered school how to sit still and behave in a classroom without my parents, introduced me to art, music, memorization, the pleasures that come with reading, and how to interact with an adult we don’t know and other children.
      Hence I was ready for school.
      Yet, being in church and Sunday school affected me positively in other ways. Scripture gave me a good self image (God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life) and taught me how to live: Love God and others; Honor your father and mother; Don’t steal, lie, kill, commit sex outside of marriage, or covet. I learned the tongue is a fire and I should watch what I say. I was taught to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, although I sometimes messed up on that.
      I also learned what I do has eternal consequences—reward or judgment.
      Considering the advantages, why have parents ceased to take children to Sunday school and many churches eliminated Christian education?
      Sunday school connected me with friends and recreation without charge. Ice skating parties (we skated on ponds and canals). Picnics. Game get-togethers. Home prayer meetings where I learned doctrine and we often had refreshments and fellowship as well.
      Congregations still do that. Many churches have gyms. Sometimes recreation costs a small amount, usually because classes go where there is a fee.  We used to rent swimming pools (women at one and men at another) and pay 50 cents each.
      The church offers counseling, often without charge.             I didn’t need that because I grew up in a great home, even with seven siblings. My role models were people in the church, musicians, teachers and my relatives.
       Church connected me with great people. We’ve moved more than 30 times in our marriage and everywhere we’ve lived we became friends with wonderful folks. Because Christian education gives more opportunities for connections, Sunday school was at the heart of it all, even for our children, and still is a vital part of our lives.    
Ada Brownell is a retired reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain.
Her website: