Review of Isaiah’s Daughter

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It is rare to find a thoughtful, well-researched piece of fiction based in scripture. It is even more unusual to find a book that not only entertains but inspires. Isaiah’s Daughter is just such a book.

This is a tale that is epic in scope. It covers years of war, poverty, success, and wealth. Most of all, though, are the themes of faithfulness and trust in God.

Andrews has written a book that expands on the original story but doesn’t stray beyond it. Isaiah’s Daughter would be appropriate for any adult reader who is interested in historical fiction. It is highly recommended.


Don’t miss out on the pre-order special currently offered by Waterbrook & Multnomah. This is a wonderful book! You won’t want to miss out on these exclusives!

Review of Storytelling for Pantsters

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always dreamed of writing the next Great American Novel. Certainly cliche for a blogger, I know.

We all have dreams, right?

But the thought of actually writing a long work of fiction that is coherent and meaningful hits me between the eyes with fear and leaves me with writer’s block. It’s almost easier to keep it as a dream rather than begin the actual work of crafting my first novel. Blogging is much easier, simpler in so many ways.

Having read all of the “greats” in college–Hemingway, Steinbeck, Woolf, etc–I am intimidated by even attempting to take on a novel as my next project. How do I top that?

If you feel similarly, then definitely check out Annalisa Parent’s new book, Storytelling for Pantsters. In Parent’s book, she not only addresses these common fears of first time authors but also lays out tips to master the craft of writing in a simple and engaging manner. Whether you have an MFA or are new to the field of writing, you will find something of interest in Parent’s book.

For writers like me who tend to “fly by the seat of their pants” when it comes to writing, Storytelling for Pantsters is valuable in that Parent not only accepts that some of us might not outline all of our writing, but she also teaches us how to use this as part of the whole writing process. In the book, she illustrates how writing doesn’t have to be a linear process, but can instead be circular in fashion, beginning with a free write and later drafts further refining the work.

Even with a degree in English, I have often been unclear on the elements of a work of fiction, such as plot pacing and the balance of action vs. character development. Parent provides aspiring authors with clear direction on these points as well as other tips on making a manuscript worthy of publishing. Her long-time experience with both teaching and publishing lends itself to a focus on the information that new authors need, along with the ability to clearly explain these elements of the craft.

Too, she also gives the reader encouragement to get past their fears. This is such a big part of being unable to write, and yet it is often ignored by those who teach writing.

Easy to read and yet full of important information, Annalisa Parent’s new book, Storytelling for Pantsters, is highly recommended for any author who would like to improve and work on their writing process.

 

Purchase Storytelling for Pantsters

Storytelling for Pantsers

Annalisa Parent

Laurel Elite Books

ISBN Number: 1947482017

Waiting and Darkness

waiting-and-darknessI don’t do well with waiting, y’all. Seriously.

I like to plan and have a purpose. Good days have always been those that are productive, filled with work and chores, the completion of tasks that always seem to pile up around us. Busy-ness has been my specialty, and I love the feeling of accomplishment.

But what do you do when your plans are smashed and purpose is well…unknown? When all of the things that you’ve worked so hard to accomplish disappear, leaving you with simply waiting?

If you’re me, you probably get depressed, angry even. As Julie Manning describes the feeling in her upcoming book, My Heart: Every Beat Surrendered to Our Unchanging God,

“The fear and darkness would consume me, sometimes just for a few hours in a given day and other times for multiple days at a time.”

These past couple of weeks have been such a time for me. I’ve hidden myself in novels, passing the days in stories of fictional characters, fantasizing about things that can never be.

I quit doing everything I should. My Bible lay unopened and prayers were simply angry cries. And of course, there have been many pity parties, attended only by me and my cats. As Manning goes on to say,

“The soul longs to trust Jesus with every fiber of its being, and yet the human heart is fragile and untrusting.”

When all you have is the waiting, do you still trust God? When the future is unknown and there is nothing left to do, what then? When we are truly faced with our own mortality, when it becomes more than an abstraction, how do we live each day?

I wish I could provide some easy answers, something akin to those positive memes that fill my Facebook stream. But unfortunately life and the human heart aren’t always that simple. Sometimes life is a gray unknown with no exit in sight.

At this point in my cancer treatment, I’m just tired. This isn’t even close to the life I imagined for myself. But some part of me is still grateful.

Today’s a new day. God is still God. And perhaps there will be more than the waiting.

Turning on the Light

turning-on-the-lightFor the past several weeks, my reading has tended toward fiction, generally lighter fare selected from Kindle’s seemingly endless supply. Truly I love my Kindle for that reason. What bookworm wouldn’t?

Although an occasional escape into fiction-land can be a positive thing, when it is continual it is probably not so good. As for me, I’ve most likely been on the not-so-healthy side for a bit. Exchanging my storyline for a fictional character’s seemed the best choice at the time.

But today, during our holiday of Thanksgiving, I picked up a book about brokenness. Turning the pages of Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way, I felt I was reading the words of someone who understands what it’s like to want to escape, to trade my own dramatic tension for someone else’s.

Listening to the noise of a football game and sipping some water, I read a description of my past several weeks:

“I wonder if all the bad brokenness in the world begins with the act of forgetting–forgetting God is enough, forgetting what He gives is good enough, forgetting there’s always more than enough and that we can live into an intimate communion. Forgetting is kin to fear.”

I understand the forgetting and the rush of fear all too well these days. Why is it that we can’t seem to do what we ought to do? Why do we eat unhealthy foods and forget to exercise? Or, why do we run from God into books and music and any other distractions the world might offer?

I don’t have an answer for these or any other questions really. Reading further in Voskamp’s book, I found this push toward a healthier view:

“The way you always find the light in the dark is to make your hand reach out.”

I thought of my groping in the darkness of fear even as I had given up reading scripture and praying. Isn’t this how life can be, though? We continually fall and then search for ways to get back up, grasp for what will make us stronger and less likely to fall. Whether it is good or bad is our choice. But we keep going, somehow.

Ah, but it is the living that can sometimes trip us up. And how we live–whether in fear or otherwise–can possibly shine the light for others.

Voskamp’s words in the very first chapter made me wonder about my own life right now:

“Not one thing in your life is more important than figuring out how to live in the face of unspoken pain.”

Yes. How do we live with all the pain we carry around day after day? And when life throws you down in the mud–whether it is a divorce, job loss, illness, or a multitude of other problems–how do we continue to live? Will it be with fear and bitterness? Or thanksgiving?

I admit I’m not the role model for the perfect cancer patient. I’m angry far too often and have thrown myself numerous pity parties. Honestly, it’s amazing that anyone puts up with me right now. (Maybe that’s why I hang out with cats a lot nowadays.)

But, perhaps being real about my emotions and struggles while going through cancer treatment might just show another that they’re not the only one feeling this way. That there will be days–weeks even–when you feel you can’t go on.

But the days pass, and occasionally we find a little bit of light somewhere, like in a book. A bit of hope that someone has left for others who are still groping around in the dark.

Nothing has changed in my life since yesterday. I still have cancer and still face more surgery and more treatment. But I’m going to pick myself up today and start doing some of those things I should have been doing all along. Reading scripture, praying… I know I’ll fall at some point, but I’ll look for a speck of hope while I’m down on the ground.

If you’re struggling today, please know you’re not alone. There are a lot of us down here in the dust, trying to stand again.

Truths and Healing

roseThis past year? Well, it was pretty awful. Lots of revelations and revealings and truths that I really didn’t want to know.

They needed to come into the light, though. Sometimes knowing and understanding can bring change, even if it is unwanted at the time.

I cried and cried as I discovered one awful truth after another.

But I also prayed. I leaned into God when there was nowhere else to go. And I managed to make it through each day, until finally a new year was upon us.

When I received the chance to be on the launch team for Surprised by the Healer: Embracing Hope for Your Broken Story by Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery, I knew this would be a meaningful book, one that actually left me thinking and wondering and praying even more. I wasn’t disappointed. Through the stories of these brave women’s lives, the truth that we all need to know is revealed, that of the Healer, Jehovah Rapha.

In the book, Dillow and Slattery write, “The greatest evidence that a person has experienced the love of God is that she will be changed–not perfect but changed.”

Yes. In the past I would have retreated, given up in the face of pain. But leaning into God helped me move through the worst of it.

Are things better now? Have my circumstances improved? Honestly? No, they haven’t. But I’m changing, and that’s only through God’s grace, not my own will.

Ultimately, even if the pain and the circumstances stay the same, God is still here. And through His power we can have healing and hope.

Dillow and Slattery state, “Dear friend, your healing journey is about more than managing your anguish and fear. The Healer has bigger plans for you than a pain-free life. He intends to transform your story into one of victory.”

Healing is possible through an encounter with the Healer.

I pray that I would be changed through Him because the love of God can give us healing and victory even when life is still a mess.

 

 

I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it!

Hey, y’all! I’m so excited! I found out recently that I was accepted as part of the launch team forĀ Nicki Koziarz‘ upcoming book, 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.

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I don’t know about you, but I can always use the encouragement to persevere and keep on going. In the past, I’ve allowed discouragement to get the best of me. I admit that I’ve often quit when I should have kept going.

But I’m hopeful and determined! And I am so happy to not only be a part of this launch team but also learn from Nicki’s book.

I hope you are ready for some encouragement in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!