Thursday, December 6, 2018

A Tall Christmas Doll


By Ada Brownell

The Great Depression left tracks all over my family, so in the early 1940s with eight of us children and I the youngest, many Christmases we had no gifts. But one year, probably while I was 4 or 5, I received a doll almost as tall as I was. She obviously was used because she had little cracks all over her hard "skin," even up into her molded hair. Her clothing, however, clean and new, showed someone made it for her, probably Mama.

 I hated that doll. I wanted a soft baby doll like I saw another girl have, with a bottle that you could fill with water, and when you stuck the nipple into the hole in the doll's mouth, the bottle emptied and the baby doll wet its pants. That big doll I had did nothing but stand up.

 Just a little growing up, and every time I looked at that doll, I was ashamed of myself--a selfish, unthankful kid who hated a gift given in love. I didn't like the doll any more than I ever did, but I loved my parents more. I saw myself, probably as God saw me, and that did something in me.

I learned whether or not there are gifts under a tree, or who we share the holiday with, it's possible to have a merry Christmas. Jesus came, and I knew He loved me because I learned to sing Jesus Loves Me in Sunday school. He brought the gift of hope to anyone who will receive it, and that not only made the angels sing, humankind has been singing year 'round since that day.

©Ada Brownell

Friday, November 23, 2018

History, Mystery and Faith: MAGIC IN A BLOSSOM

By Ada Brownell

Ever thought about the DNA in a flower? Or the wonder of love?

In my new book, Love’s Delicate Blossom, being edited now after I was sidelined by the shingles—not those on my roof, but a disease that feels like you’ve had something nailed to your body—I discovered fruit blossoms are much more than pretty flowers. Maybe that’s why bouquets are part of weddings. Here’s what the leading man in the book has to say about blossoms and love.  Joe Nichols, explains it to the beautiful redhead, Ritah O’Casey, who has another fellow after her.

They were almost to Aunt Charlotte’s house, and Joe slowed the team to a crawl. He turned his dark-haired head toward Ritah. “The way I figger it…” He paused, looked away and then back to her. “Love is sort of like growing peaches in an orchard. Doesn’t your uncle have a peach ranch?”

She adjusted her pretty hat trimmed with white roses and moved the hat pin a little to hold it atop her head. “Yes. In Colorado. Uncle John inherited it.” Ritah wondered where Joe was going with his thought. “John grows wonderful tree-ripened peaches, and it’s the best fruit I’ve ever eaten. It’s so sweet, juicy and wonderful.”

Joe smiled at her, his white even teeth reflecting the evening sun. “That’s what I think love is like. Some of the girls I know are like a sour pie cherry. Others are like a plum, sweet but still a little sour. I’ve gone out with one or two who never laughed, smiled, and I felt after I got home like I’d been eating green apples. Yet peaches aren’t as easy to raise as many other fruits. The blossoms are so delicate it doesn’t take much cool weather to kill them. I think real love is like that, something special that must be cared for, like a peach.”

Ritah jerked her head up and blinked at him. “That’s awesome. I’ll have to think on that, and sometime maybe I can tell you why Edmund is in love.”


“That’s his name.”

He grinned. “Interesting.”

Then she realized she’d never said she was in love. Her smile flashed back at him and the connection they made with their eyes sent sparks through her.


Toward the end of the book Ritah discovers lots more about love and peach blossoms, and it has to do with the pesky seed.

Hopefully Love’s Delicate Blossom will be published by Dec. 1. The e-book should be out sooner.There have been many delays..

Here’s the summary for Love's Delicate Blossom and the link to Ada Brownell Amazon page, which has links to the other two books in the series, The Lady Fugitive and Peach Blossom Rancher.

Love’s Delicate Blossom, an historical suspense
By Ada Brownell
Sequel to The Lady Fugitive and Peach Blossom Rancher
Edmund Pritchett III wants to marry Ritah Irene O’Casey, but she says wait. The beautiful redhead is trying to rescue Tulip, a 14-year-old orphan kidnapped by Henry Hunter to work in his brothel, and Ritah doesn’t have much time. She has a train ticket to go to college and fulfill her dreams.
Ritah hopes to become a teacher who can help widows keep their children when tragedy strikes. She also wants to teach mothers how to prevent dangerous diseases and treat health problems, in an era when few have access to a doctor. Instead Ritah ends up fighting for the lives of injured soldiers in a World War I Army health clinic, and finds her own life threatened by illness as well as sorrow.
But Ritah finds a teaching job in Penokee, Kansas, and there Joe Nichols, a handsome farmer, edges his way into her heart. But Edmund Pritchett III isn’t giving up, and neither is Henry Hunter, who is about to open his brothel.
Will Rita be able to continue to fight for women and families, understand enduring love, decide on the man she loves, and defend herself and her students when Henry Hunter bursts into the school shooting a pistol?
COMMENT FROM A READER: Your book set a tone and world from your grandmother’s time, the historical elements are what readers read the genre for.
Amazon Ada Brownell author page:

Sunday, November 4, 2018


By Ada Brownell

Busyness filled my days when our five children came into the world and although I thought about how cute and wonderful each are, I didn’t grasp the whole picture about the wonder of a child.

My husband and I walk in the mall frequently. Lately I’m struck by the amazing little people everywhere. The mall has a play area and yesterday a little fellow, probably about 18 months old, climbed up and considered going down the slide head first.

A sister, about age 3 or 4, went around him and showed him how to go down on his bottom. He watched, sat his back side on the slide and slid down, delight all over him. He figured it out himself by watching.

One of our grandchildren had baby lingo no one could understand, but when our son told with a laugh about some of the child’s ornery antics, the child grinned. He understood every word.  That ended sharing the boy’s mischief, even if it was cute, when he was present.

What struck me recently is how wonderful God’s creation and design is, and it shows up most amazingly in children.

How they got here in the first place is more than our minds can fathom.

I’ve watched our grandchildren look their mommies and daddies over shortly after birth, and they’re not very old when they can recognize them across the room.

New brains are like a blank sheet of paper, although fantastic stored data governing our neurological systems and instincts operate even while we’re still in the womb. What God “programmed” into us commanded our arms, legs, fingers, toes to move even before birth. Instincts God installed in our DNA prompted us to suck, swallow, cry, and feel hunger, as well as caused the various inner parts of our body to function.

 Babies arrive with a brain download to literally cry for love, care, and being held, and they won’t thrive without these things.

When we were a few months of age, we learned to coordinate movements so we could reach for things because our muscles and brains developed that capacity. Nevertheless, we needed outside stimuli to use the potential from the brain. Children given no attention often don’t learn to sit, walk, or talk.

We learned language skills by imitating. If Mom kept saying “Mama” over and over to us, soon we worked our mouths and tongues around, using our vocal cords so we could come up with a fairly good imitation. Sometimes the child says “Dada” first, and “no” comes soon after.

If the parents speak Chinese, the child obviously learns Chinese instead of English, and children of Spanish-speaking parents communicate in Spanish or whatever language is spoken in the home.

All through childhood, children imitate what they see and hear. We imitate others all our lives. For instance, we imitate experts on everything from sports to dancing, to gardening, to playing or singing music, to doing tricks on a bicycle or skateboard.

But imitation isn’t all there is. At some point we think for ourselves. Nevertheless, the decisions we make are based on input we receive around us.

As a parent I exposed our children to godly teaching, wonderful Christian people, and challenges of learning things that matter.

Too bad I wasn’t a perfect parent, but none of us are. Yet God gives wisdom if we ask, and ask I did. I’m so thankful all of our five children love God with all their hearts and live for Him. But the other wonderful people who invested their time and energy in our children deserve much of the credit and to God the glory.

©Copyright Ada Brownell

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Halloween: What scares you?


By Ada Brownell

How often were you paralyzed by fear in your youth?

The first time I remember a snake of worry wiggling into my brain I was about age 4 and my sister told me Indians used to live on the same ground where my family lived.

But that wasn’t nearly as scary as the realities I lived with growing up during World War II.  I remember one summer night when the town’s sirens interrupted our evening, screaming the warning.  We didn’t know whether enemy planes approached in the night sky, or if it was a blackout drill.

Our large family scurried to turn out lights. We felt our way to the back porch where moonlight illuminated things around us and gave us a view of the sky.

My heart pounded as we waited quietly, listening. Sometimes I did hear airplanes. Perhaps they checked to see whether people obeyed the warning, but I was sure they must be bombers.

We had numerous blackouts after that.

Then came the years when the Soviet Union threatened with atomic bombs. Many new homes came with bomb shelters. We read about how difficult it would be to survive a nuclear blast.

Fear came, too, to many who expected our nation to be taken by communists, and preachers asked, “Are you willing to die for your faith?”

I had moments of paralyzing fear. My family of ten, however, beginning with my oldest sister, Marjorie, began to dedicate their lives to God shortly after I was born. Each of the older siblings and mom and dad quickly followed. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at age 5 and grew up knowing God loved me and had a plan for my life. There is a peace that comes with that beyond understanding (Philippians 4:7) and that made a difference for me, even during the most frightening times.

I discovered as an adult that no matter what you go through, God can speak, “Peace. Be still,” just as he did to calm a storm when his disciples were in danger of shipwreck (Mark 4:39). Jesus gave peace when I lost my parents and our daughter became a cancer victim. I’ve found supernatural comfort in crises with my own health, in times of financial worries, and when facing a tremendous challenges as a parent and in my years as a newspaper reporter.   

In my book for teens, Joe the Dreamer: the Castle and the Catapult, when Joe’s parents disappear he has moments of paralyzing fear. A huge man breaks into his house while Joe and his sister hide in the crawl space. They have to live with an unbelieving uncle who thinks Joe is mentally ill because he slips into the skin of Bible characters during his dreams and shouts out in the night.

 Yet, Joe has experienced supernatural peace, and tries to stay in God’s Word so somehow he’ll have faith for his parents’ safe return. He hooks up with a gang dedicated to solving and preventing crime. The teens use harmless things like a pet skunk, water, noise, sand, rope, and they are determined to find Joe’s parents despite knowing the enemy uses real bullets and won’t hesitate to kill.

But Joe has become the target of a radical group that hopes to erase Christianity from America.

Joe’s uncle sends him to a psychiatrist. It delights the doctor to put Joe in the juvenile unit of a mental hospital because the man leads the radical organization uses threats again Joe and his sister trying to persuade Joe’s father to give them a software program that could stop difficult-to-control seizures. He wants to change it so it will cause seizures in influential Christians.

 The group snatched Joe’s parents and keeps them imprisoned at a nearby castle, building a wall.

As with any Christian, Joe’s faith is tested. The book is available at


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Mosquitoes and a Show Dog


By Ada Brownell

No matter how old I get, I still make new discoveries.

A few days ago our son’s dog, Latte, died. He was 15.

He was one of those dogs with their hair hanging down around them like a stage curtain. Latte was so beautiful people often wondered if he was real. He looked like a stuffed dog you’d put on your bed for decoration.

Latte was a gift to our son and his wife. They had tried and tried to have a child. She had two or three tubal pregnancies, and one miscarriage. Our son, who has allergies, studied breeds to see which were best for people with allergies and I forget the breed Latte was, but he was special. He filled the empty arms of two people who needed love—and Latte filled their hearts with affection and joy.

Our son trained him with hand commands and showed him in dog shows for a while. Then they adopted two amazing children at birth, three years apart. Our children’s arms were filled, but they still had room for Latte. Latte was special to their children as well.

When we came to visit, he’d bark and make a pest himself until we stopped and said, “Hello Latte,” and gave him a few affectionate rubs.

After I heard the dog died, I shed the first tears I’ve shed for an animal and emailed our grandson. I told him some of the things I’ve learned lately.

 “We know you’ll hurt and you’ll miss Latte, but he gave you many wonderful memories. We still talk about our Macho once in a while. It’s amazing how God put the capacity to love into dogs, as well as cuteness. The Lord must have had lots of fun creating them and all the different breeds.”

I went on to say, “God’s creation is so amazing. I hate mosquitoes and the other day I was trying to kill one and it made me chase him down. If he hadn’t been in the house he’d have gotten away. But I thought about how tiny mosquito brains are and how they can see, know how to fly, buzz, eat, multiply, know they need blood in order to have healthy eggs, so they bite people. I don’t know why God made them except perhaps to be food for frogs.

“We think computers are amazing, but I wonder how they would compare to a tiny mosquito brain. Flies are even trickier than mosquitoes. They seem to know when I get the swatter out and they hide!

“For my next book I wrote about how amazing a peach blossom is. That little flower has life in it that not only will create a peach, if fertilized by bees, that peach will have a seed, and that seed could create a tree with several bushels of peaches—all with enough seed to plant a small orchard.

“The same God who made all those amazing things loves you and made you so you need Him. Jesus will help take the sorrow you have for Latte, and fill you with peace and joy once again. I don’t know if there are dogs in heaven, but animals are, because He’s coming back on a white horse. The Lord is amazing!”

Love you,


Thursday, October 11, 2018


B Ada Brownell

Christian writers wary of preachiness often avoid a gospel message in their writing. Many, however, don’t know what “preachy” is. When I first noticed editors’ guidelines advising against it, I feared they didn’t even want to publish anything with a scripture in it.

Then a secular writer, Frank Luntz, author of Words that Work, explained how to avoid being preachy: “Tell the truth,” he said, “but don’t do it in a condescending manner.”[i]

How important is truth? Should we “spin” it so it will be accepted? “Spin,” used so often these days by politicians and others is actually “twisting the truth” or walking around it, “avoiding the bullseye.”

 Sometimes telling the truth is difficult, in our writing and in life. We need to be dedicated to truth, even in the family.

I can’t imagine how Mary felt when she had to tell Joseph she was pregnant with the Messiah. She excitedly told her aunt Elizabeth, and rejoiced so much her words became the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). But Joseph considered breaking their engagement privately. Nice the angel also visited Joseph with the news of the Messiah, so he believed his virgin and quickly married her (Matthew 1:18-25).

The Apostle Paul usually offset hard truths with an opposite revelation: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

John, the disciple, who spoke continuously about love and penned John 3:16, didn’t hesitate to write hard truths: “If we say we have fellowship with him (Jesus), and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1John 1:6). But he adds, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:41). But went on to add the contrast of hope, “And these shall go away to everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (Matthew 25:46).

It might sound preachy, but it’s really not condescending. Truth is a light that can save a sinner from falling into the dark chasm of sin and eternal death.

Truth is water to the soul wandering in a dry desert of wickedness and unbelief.

The belt of truth is part of the armor God provides if we ask (Ephesians 6).

What is truth? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

The scriptures were “God breathed” and are the only effective pattern for living. The Word also is an example for our witness.

Yet for me, as an objective reporter (just the facts, ma'am), instead of the subjective journalist of today who puts the story through his mind and tells the reader or viewer what the news means, Truth is "just the facts, Ma'am," a quote from an old police show, and that's the way to objectively report..

 So for me, I’ll write the truth and hope I don’t do it in a condescending manner.

--©Ada Brownell

[i] Hyperion, New York, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Little Boy Inside: Creating a Hero--Guest post from Regina Rudd Merrick

By Regina Rudd Merrick

Respectful ~ Sensitive ~ Loyal ~ Confident ~ Tenacious

Tender ~ Handsome ~ Strong ~ Human ~ Focused on Jesus ~ Honesty.

These are a few traits that you think of when creating a hero, no matter what genre of Christian Fiction you’re reading or writing.

I agree with all of them. I can usually come up with an example of them.

But I’d like to add one more.

What is it about a literary hero that makes me turn to mush inside, that makes me want throw myself in his arms, and ultimately makes me laugh out loud with joy?


When a big, strong man starts to act like a little boy, it tickles me. I don’t mean when he is behaving in an immature fashion, but rather when those things above—respect, sensitivity, loyalty, confidence, tenacity, tenderness, good-looks, humanity, focus on Jesus, and honesty—all come together in an irresistible package that includes a dash of humility, a smidgen of insecurity, and just a little bit of selfishness.

These are the characters that are strong, but there is a chink in their armor. There is some area that hurts to talk about, and those they don’t want to be faced with, so they avoid it too long, and it turns into a bigger problem than it should have.

When we write about them, their eyes might dim with pain, or a crease appears between their brows that they didn’t realize was there. The women in their lives who love them are aware of this, and while they may momentarily regret bringing up the topic, sometimes they use it to jolt their hero into submission or admission.

This man is going to be loyal to their friend or to their lover come heck or high water. They have this little boy inside of them who not only rails at the unfairness of it all but also rails at any suggestion that they might not succeed. They will go above and beyond what is expected to ensure success in almost any area—including love.

So yes, I love a man who can be all the things listed above, and mix in a healthy dose of boyish good humor and unrealistic expectations that somehow turn into reality, and you’ve got a fan in me.

When I created Tom Livingston, the “best friend” character in Carolina Dream, I knew he had his own story, so in Carolina Mercy, Tom is the hero of the story.

He’s a law enforcement officer, a good son, an amazing friend, and takes care of everyone around him. But he’s not perfect. A little cowed, a little out of his element. The confident sheriff’s deputy is suddenly a little boy who doesn’t know what to do.

Here’s an example from Chapter 1 of Carolina Mercy:

“How’s Lucy?” Tom didn’t want to revisit the previous line of discussion if he didn’t have to.

“Wondering when you’re going to address the issue of not calling her since she’s been home. Eight months, I believe?” Sarah straightened and put her hands on her hips as she gave him a pointed look.
Jared arched a brow toward his friend. “Straight for the jugular. You can get away with a lot, but not if you’re messing with a girl’s best friend. Fair warning.” He reached for Sarah’s hand and kissed it. “I think I’m going to see if there’s any more of your mom’s potato salad.”

“Do you have to?” Tom blanched a little at the idea of being left alone with Sarah.
“You’re a big boy. She doesn’t bite too hard.” Jared’s wink through the screen didn’t make Tom feel any better. The slap of the wooden door was like a nail on his coffin. Which was a very bad analogy, considering the circumstances.

“Tom, I don’t want to butt in, but…”

He held his hands up. “Let me start over. Sarah, I didn’t want to lead her on.”

“What do you mean? She liked you, Tom. She really did. Probably still ds.”

“I liked her, too. Still do. But you know about my family. They need me. Mom . . .”

“Your mother, who I love dearly, would be furious at you for even thinking that her needs would keep you from finding the one God has for you. Isn’t that a little short-sighted?”

“But look at this place. I can’t compete with this.”

“Who’s asking you to?”

His thumb pointed to the doorway. “All those people in there.”
*Parts of this post originally appeared on

Book Blurb:

She’s always gotten everything she’s wanted. He thinks he has to give up everything.

Her best friend’s wedding is foremost on Lucy Dixon’s radar. Her biggest concern is once again meeting Tom Livingston, who has ignored her since an idyllic date on the boardwalk of Myrtle Beach the previous summer.

At least, it is her biggest concern until tragedy strikes. Where is her loving, merciful God, now?

When Tom Livingston meets Lucy, the attraction is instant. Soon after, his mother is diagnosed with an untreatable illness and his personal life is pushed aside. His work with the sheriff’s department, his family – they are more important. He knows about the love of God, but circumstances make him feel as if God’s mercy is for everyone else, not him.

Can a wedding and a hurricane – blessing and tragedy – bring them together?



Regina Rudd Merrick is a writer, church musician, wife, mother, former librarian, and grateful follower of Jesus Christ. Having lived most of her life in Western Kentucky, she dreams of the sound of crashing waves and sandy beaches. Married to her husband of 35 years, she is the mother of two grown daughters, and the keeper of a 100-year-old house where she lives in the small town of Marion, KY. She is the author of three books. Carolina Dream (Apr. 2017), Carolina Mercy (July 2018), and Carolina Grace (2019), in the Southern Breeze Series, and Carolina Grace.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Encouragement for Your Heart

By June Foster

Sometimes my life seems filled with chaos and confusion. Doubts gnaw at me telling me I'm spinning my wheels. But then I come across a scripture like Isaiah 26:3 and realize my Source of Truth lies in the Word and not my fleshly, worldly mind.

"You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you." Really? Do I always trust in God? Ultimately, yes. The part of my mind that says "things aren't going well today. This day will end in disaster" wants to blare and bully its way, demanding I listen. But I don't have to. I only need to "listen" to what God says and that is I have access to perfect peace.

Then I went on to read verse 7. "You clear a straight path for the righteous."
Whoa. Sometimes it doesn't seem straight, but Whom shall I believe? The God who created the universe!

I can't help but think of the time our two granddaughters came for a visit from Texas, and we went hiking at Hurricane Park in Cullman county. It's a park that encompasses a canyon about ten miles north of where we live. At the bottom is a stream that runs part of the year. We hiked down and back up again. Though the hike down is only about two hundred yards, it took what seemed like forever to make it. The trail is steep, rocky, and plagued with shifting soil, exposed roots, and sharp rocks.

Sometime life seems like I'm going up and down that trail, but it doesn't have to. God says my mind is filled with perfect peace because I trust in Him, and I believe it.

After the death of her husband, Nadia Maguire never expects to meet handsome Jared Abrams in the cemetery where she visits her dead spouse's grave. Though she falls for the handsome bank president, his daughter hurls a wedge between them. Will her life be a harvest of blessings or a season of drought?

When bank president Jared Abrams falls in love with one of his tellers, Jared's daughter does everything in her power to keep them apart. Will he reap a harvest of blessings or a season of drought? 


June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her contemporary romances. June's characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. Find June at

Friday, September 14, 2018


How Writing from the Trenches was Born

By MaryLu Tyndall

Who in their right mind would attempt to create a writing instruction book with nine other authors? It’s hard enough to co-write anything with two different personalities. But nine? Especially because most authors—well, how do I put this gently?—we are an eccentric bunch. It goes with the creative territory, I suppose. We all tend to hear voices in our heads, and most of the time we aren’t even present in this world, but drifting in another time and place, constantly creating worlds and characters in our minds. Try to corral ten people like that and get them to focus on a single task!  Honestly, I don’t know what came over me.

The truth is, I’ve read many writing instruction books over the years from many different authors, and I’ve learned a great deal. But I noticed that everyone’s advice, style, and instruction was different. Sometimes they even contradicted each other. So, I thought, why not get a bunch of fabulous authors together to give their own advice on a variety of writing topics and put it in one book? A one-stop shop for the best advice out there on writing! 

Hence, Writing From the Trenches was born. Then, to gather the authors, which ended up being much like gathering and leading cats, I might add. I wanted to get a variety of authors—some successfully published in the traditional market, some who’d made a success as Independent authors, some who did both, some with name-recognition, some without a whole lot, but ALL great writers who had won awards or been on best-selling lists. Those were my criteria, so I went about sending out recruitment emails!  Surprisingly nearly everyone I contacted was excited to be a part of this book.

Working with nine other people is never easy, but I was fairly surprised at how great this group got along, how quickly we came up with the topics we wanted to cover and who wanted to write which ones. We divided up the tasks we needed to accomplish—writing, editing, formatting, printing, cover design, marketing, etc—and then set a timeline. I have to say, everyone has been wonderful to work with, everyone got their chapters done on time, and everyone is contributing to the final product. Truly a miracle has occurred!

Since I was the one pulling all the chapters together and creating the book, I had the privilege of seeing how it was all coming together through the entire process, and the more I saw, the more excited I became. This book is like no other writing book out there. Nowhere can you get ten different authors’ advice on how to write a best-selling novel. No other book provides you with ten different perspectives on the best way to plot or what marketing techniques work the best. We start the book with plotting your novel and end up with marketing, including a section on whether to traditionally publish or go Indie. Each chapter is written by an author who is an expert in that particular area. This is a rare jewel in the writing instruction treasure chest, and not one to be missed by any writer serious about taking their writing to the next level!


TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle subjects such as the following:

Plotting Techniques
Villains We Love to Hate
Dynamic Dialogue
Sigh-Worthy Heroes
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Deep POV
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing

At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Instruments to Praise God -- Corrected format


By Ada Nicholson Brownell

“’Four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments I made,’ said David, ‘to praise, therewith’” (1 Chronicles 23:5 KJ).

I had no idea how one would go about making a musical instrument until my brother, Dr. Joe Nicholson, who headed the Evangel University music department for many years, showed me and a crowd.

He demonstrated how to make a trumpet. He took 4 ½ feet of tubing, actually garden hose, and a funnel for one end and put a brass mouthpiece in the other. Then he blew. It sounded almost exactly as the brass instrument as he played a short tune. Then he used 9 feet of hose for a trombone or baritone. The sound deepened. For a tuba it took 18 feet and the notes he played were way down there.

People have been known to make music with reeds picked along a river. The ancients made sounds with leaves and blew on ram’s horns. Rhythm instruments can be made of most anything, including gourds to shake and jugs to blow. Kids often play tunes on a comb and paper.

David’s instruments probably were more sophisticated. He could engage metalsmiths to make brass instruments, and use various talented folks to create stringed instruments out of wood or other materials.

But musical instruments go back as far as Genesis and Adam and Eve. Where the couple’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are listed we’re told, “And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ” (Genesis 4:21).

I wonder if the word “Jubilant” was penned after him. Jubilant means “showing great joy, satisfaction, or triumph; rejoicing; exultant.”

The next verse names Zillah, one of Adam and Eve’s great-granddaughters. She bare Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he made trumpets as well as tools.

Quite a lot of difference between what the Bible says and what the textbook claimed about the beginning of music when I was in college. “A monkey came down out of tree and made an instrument,” the book said and I laughed.

Music is used in worship to the only true God who created the heavens and the earth in the beginning.

When David was chosen to take his rightful place as God’s anointed king, David not only went after the ark but worked diligently to re-establish the form of worship among the people that David knew was true worship. That included joyful music and singing.

 But before they could properly play, sing, and combine their voices they needed to be organized. The Levites needed to dust off their talents and divided into groups according to their ministries because during Saul’s reign they had brought in idols and neglected worshiping God as they should.

David wrote, “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet; praise him with the psaltery and harp, praise him with timbrel and dance; praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:3-6).

So they praised the Lord all the way as they carried the Ark home.

PRAYER: Lord, I praise you for breath, for music, and for who you are, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, my Savior, and my soon Coming King. 

Monday, September 3, 2018


Viewing Ourselves Through the Lens of the Creator By Tessa Emily Hall

When you look in the mirror, do you see a perfect reflection? You might not believe so. After all, our society has brainwashed us into believing that the definition of perfect is equivalent to having white teeth, a dark tan, and an unblemished face. Because of this, we may always find something “wrong” with us. Something we need to fix.

God’s definition of perfect, however, is different than that of the world’s. All of creation reflects His beauty, perfection, and order. Scripture says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (see Psalm 139:14). But as long as we’re viewing our reflection through the lens of the world, we’re never going to feel “fearfully and wonderfully made”. And as long as we attempt to jump through the hoops that the world has given us, we’re always going to fall short. It’s an impossible standard and a never-ending, exhausting cycle.

This yearn for approval can only be fulfilled when we receive God's love. Our desire for human acceptance will diminish as we see ourselves through the eyes of Christ. When we recognize that our every trait was designed by the Master Artist with a purpose. Rather than highlighting our flaws and convincing us we need to be "fixed", He sees them and still says we were perfectly created. And guess what?

It’s this love--the perfect love of Christ--that gives us the power to love ourselves as well.

So the next time you’re tempted to point out your flaws, ask yourself, “Am I viewing myself through the lens of the world or the lens of the Word?” Here’s how you can tell the difference: When you view yourself through the lens of the world, the result will be a distorted, imperfect reflection.

Yet when you view yourself through the lens of the Word? That’s when you’ll see the same result your Father sees when He looks at you: A beautiful creation of the Creator. A reflection of His image. A piece of artwork that He’s proud to claim as His own.

These are the only lens that can be trusted to produce the perfect reflection that we long for.

Back Cover Copy

There's something special about spending time at a coffee shop with a friend--engaging in a meaningful conversation, then leaving refueled and ready to tackle the rest of the day. What if your quiet times with God energized you the same way?

Coffee Shop Devos offers a warm atmosphere that will inspire you to discover your God-given purpose and live to your greatest potential. Choose your devo flavor in the Menu of Contents based on your current need. Then lean into deeper intimacy with Christ through reflection and prayer. Along the way, you'll pick up tips and recipes for making your own coffee-shop beverage--regular or decaf--to enjoy while you read. And don't forget to share your journey with your friends! #CoffeeShopDevos

Each of the 180 challenging and motivational devotions will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated--almost as though you've shared a steaming pot of brew at a coffee shop with your Creator.


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Author Bio:

Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books to show teens they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, will release with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa's passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PURSUE Magazine. She's guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating art journals, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: