Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Show Me A Sign ~ Terrific book by Susan Miura

A realistically written Young Adult Novel ~



So many influences melded to formulate Show Me a Sign, that I hardly know where to begin. I’ve been surrounded by teens for many years, starting with my nieces and nephews, then my own children who are five years apart. I love their energy, their humor, even their drama. And I really enjoy teen novels. Perhaps this speaks to my level of maturity? Centering my stories on a crime is a comfortable fit for me as well. I’ve been married to a cop for 27 years, so it’s great to have his insight on my crime scenes. And yet another influencer--my passion for the issue of human trafficking and those caught in its grip. Show Me a Sign is not about human trafficking, but when Haylie is kidnapped, she worries that she will fall victim to this horrific crime.
Half my royalties will be donated to an organization helping to rescue and rehabilitate young people who’ve been trafficked.

My original thought behind writing Show Me a Sign was to create an action-packed, Christian novel for boys, since most of the YA Christian fiction is for girls. (In the end, Show Me a Sign was written almost half-and-half from Nathan and Haylie’s points of view, so it’s truly a book for either gender.) I wanted something that would grab and keep their attention, without the crude language and sex common in many YA books. Additionally, I wanted to honor God by weaving in a Christian message, but knew it had to be light or teens wouldn’t read it.

My inspiration for Haylie emerged from an elementary school near my house. It is attended by hearing kids as well as many of the deaf children in our town, and all of the students learn to sign. In my book, Beethoven High school is modeled after the school in my neighborhood.

Additionally, I wanted my characters to reflect our nation’s (and my family’s) melting pot, so my male main character, Nathan, is Peruvian. His best friend hails from England, and another character is Japanese. The other main character, Haylie, is deaf, which is reflected in the play-on-words title.

Our world is comprised of people with all kinds of strengths and weaknesses, abilities and disabilities. God created us all, loves us all, and blesses each of us with unique gifts, emotions, and passions. I hope this is represented in my book.


Seventeen-year-old Nathan Boliva is under investigation by the FBI for a kidnapping he didn’t commit.

Deaf and beautiful Haylie Summers agreed to go out with him, then disappeared before their first date.

When the Feds discover a text was sent from Nathan’s cell phone, asking Haylie to meet him behind her garage, Nathan becomes a prime suspect.
Tied and blindfolded, Haylie struggles to grasp Nathan’s role in her captivity. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would kidnap her. Then again, if he didn’t, who is holding her hostage, and why?
Desperate to solve the crime and rescue Haylie, Nathan and his best friend, Alec, set out at midnight to gather intel…and end up with far more than they bargained for.


Thank you, Susan, for sharing this book with us. May God bless you as you continue to share your ministry in reaching today's youth as well as giving to a work that keeps our children safe from predators.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Ane Mulligan ~ One Author's Writing Journey

It's a privilege to host ANE MULLIGAN at Journeys To Joy this week!  ~  ~Welcome, Ane ~

While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

I'm not one of those authors who knew they wanted to write from the moment they discovered blank paper and Crayons. I was ADHD long before they knew what it was, and they called me disruptive. Who knew the stories I told (back then they called it lying) and played out for weeks with my dolls, would someday become books about women and their friendships?

In 1996, as Creative Arts director for my church, I wrote my first script, and after we performed it, I sent it to a publisher. They bought that one and everything I sent them afterwards.

I was still working full time, but in 2002, I started looking for a new job. For some reason, I was always in the last three to be considered, but never hired. I was a forever-bridesmaid in the job market. I should have realized God was at whispering to me.

Finally, in December, the hubs told me to quit looking for a job and write a book.

Who me?

I quickly realized that was God's call though, because as soon as Hubs said those words, it was as if God turned on a light bulb, and an idea for a story dropped into my otherwise empty mind.

January 1st, 2003, I sat down and started my first novel. I quickly learned being a novelist is a far cry from being a playwright. Plays are all dialogue, after all. After writing most of that first manuscript, I found an online Christian critique group and a few mentors, who became close friends, ones who told me plainly I had a lot to learn.

What an understatement. POV? Never heard the term. Omniscient? That's what God was. Show don't tell? How do I tell a story without telling? Yikes! Yet, with each critique, I absorbed a new concept. I bought all the books on the craft of fiction writing they recommended. I read them and absorbed more.

Then, I met another new writer, Jessica Dotta, whose story I fell in love with. We became close friends and critique partners.

When I attended my first writer's conference in 2003, I met a writer who would become my other critique partner and dear friend, Gina Holmes. That first year, though, she thought I was ... well frankly, a freak. You'll have to ask her about that.  

Gina, Jessica, and I talked constantly. We believe God brought the three of us together. The next year, we went to a writers conference—the wonderful Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) and joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

In 2005, Gina started to blog her first novel journey. She quickly discovered she had three readers ... and she and I were two of them. We spent a lot of time online looking for author interviews. She asked Deb Raney, whom we'd met and taken classes from at the Blue Ridge. Deb accepted and became the first author interviewed on Novel Journey, now Novel Rocket.

After a few months, Gina brought Jessica and me onboard to help. Over the past eight years, we've featured new interviews and teaching articles every single day, 365 days a year. Today, Novel Rocket has thirty terrific contributors.

In 2005, two more critique partners entered my life, Lisa Ludwig and Michelle Griep.

We formed our own online group, the Penwrights, and being serious about publishing, we were tough on one another. So tough, we all earned nicknames: Attila the Holmes, Hannibal Dotta, Genghis Griep, and Ludwig von Frankenpen. Me? Oh, I'm Ane of Mean Gables. And so the legend was born.

Through my Penwrights, I learn more every day, and through conferences, I've always gleaned a golden nugget from each one—something that takes my writing to a new level. And each time, I see God's hand directing me this way and that.

In 2006, an editor took my manuscript to committee. While I waited for the result, expecting a contract of course, I got an agent. However ... sigh ...the editorial committee said no. Then, God called my agent into ministry, and we parted friends.

But I was discouraged. I cried out to God, asking ... okay, whining ... why wasn't I getting anywhere? I had been so sure God called me to write. From the moment Hubs first said those words, stories bubbled in my mind all the time. I needed a sign.

And God gave me the one. An editor, (now an agent) gave me the encouragement to keep on keeping on. After reading a manuscript, she affirmed that I'd learned the craft. That carried me for months.

At the next conference I attended, I connected with my second agent. She put my work in front of numerous publishers, and more committees, and finally, in 2010, she called to say my manuscript had passed editorial committee and was going to pub board!

This was it! Whoopee! Pub board loved it, but their slate was filled, so the editor was going to hold it for their next quarter. Only she retired before the next quarter, and her computer hard drive was wiped clean. I was lost in cyber oblivion.

Then my agent retired. Do you see a pattern here? I did and it looked like a tilt-a-whirl. Once again, I whined, "Lord, what is going on?"

And He said, "Wait. Trust me." He didn't offer me another choice, so I chose to trust.

The ACFW conference was approaching, so I contacted some agents I'd love to work with. We set up meetings. Then I got all my prayer partners, my critique partners, my church, and family praying.

I had a very specific prayer request. This would be my third agent. I wanted the one God wanted for me. So I asked everyone to pray that the Lord would seal the lips of those not planned for me, and loose the lips of only the agent He had chosen for me.

And He did. Boy, did He. One never saw me. One missed our appointment. The third had a blood sugar drop and didn't recognize me. And the one God planned for me, Sandra Bishop, offered representation.

I have to admit, I didn't know whether to cheer or feel sorry for her, given my track record. While at the conference, we received an offer for a 2-book contract. But once again, God said no and we turned it down.

By this time, I began to wonder if I'd ever publish. Yes, that was my goal, but if God had something different for me, I was fine with that. I just felt bad for Sandra. She worked so hard for me.

Then, in August of 2013, nearly eleven years after I began this journey, Sandra called me to tell me we had an offer from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

And my heart quickened. All right, God! This was it. This time, He said, "Yes."

I'm so glad I didn't push but listened to my agent's advice. If there's one thing I've learned during this journey, it's this: God must be part of the equation.

I believe people let down their guard when they think they're being entertained. Through fiction, we can entertain readers. Through fiction, we can present seeds of God's truth. Then when they least expect it, a story can reach out, touch their hearts, and change them. And isn't that why we write?


Chapel Springs Revival

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

With their marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

Leave a comment for Ane ~
                                            She'll be here to respond all week long.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Jennifer Slattery and Beyond I Do

It is my pleasure to welcome ~
~ to Journeys To Joy

 Jennifer Slattery writes Missional Romance for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=Jennifer+Slattery&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCG&nav_search=1&cms=1

Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

I have a phrase I repeat often: Dead men don’t bleed. They don’t argue, complain, or get offended. They don’t need the spotlight, accolades, to have the last word, or to win every verbal battle.
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me” (John 12:24-26 NLT).
This passage has been repeated in many sermons and memorized by countless Bible study students, but it’s the living it out that becomes hard.
If you’re like me, you struggle with those little day-to-day stuff, all those moments when your inner Me-Monster raises its ugly head. But when Christ made this statement, He wasn’t talking about percentage-based tithing or holding babies in the nursery. He was speaking of His future death and letting His disciples know, there were rough, very rough times ahead, and they needed to be ready to face it all for the sake of the gospel.
Soon, they would be thrown in prisons, beaten and flogged, and even executed for their faith. And yet, they were ready to give everything up–because they believed Jesus was their everything. As a result, they set their world on fire, sharing the gospel with everyone they encountered.
So, what did they do when their listeners weren’t listening, or worse, when people grew angry, confrontational, and derisive–or downright violent?
“Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” Acts 13:50-52 NLT).
In the face of injustice, when a mob went on the attack, what did Paul and Barnabas do? They shook the dust from their feet, but this isn’t what stuck out to me most. Nope. It was their attitude–how they handled what, to the onlooker, appeared a failure. “The believers were filled with joy…”
When I read that, I couldn’t help but think how I respond when others don’t receive my message. I have a tendency to get upset. I can even get defensive. I suspect this is because somewhere during the conversation, it’s become less about sharing the love and truth of Christ and has become more personal.
In other words, about me.
I’m not sure why or how this happens, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with my sin nature, or more specifically, the universal character flaw known as pride.
But if I would just die to myself… and stay dead, I believe I, too, could say, “I am filled with joy,” no matter what–or who–I encounter.
Sound crazy? How can dying to oneself, or, to put it more simply, putting others first, bring someone joy? Jesus Christ told us to die to ourselves, and He also said He came so we could experience abundant life. Therefore, I believe (and have found to be true) we find our greatest joy when we surrender everything–all we have and all we are–to Christ. And I believe the opposite is true. We find our greatest misery when we turn that focus back on ourselves. Don’t believe me? Try it.
What about you? Is it hard for you to die to yourself? And if so, what are some truths that have helped or might help you do so? And when you have set aside your needs, feelings, or rights, what has been the result?
Beyond I Do:

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-
absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancĂ©. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Leave a comment for Jennifer about her devotional or her book ~ Encourage her heart today.