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Staying Relevant

by Deborah Heal

A Dangerous Trend

I don’t believe fiction, especially Christian fiction for young people, needs gratuitous violence to make the plot exciting. I was happy to discover Wall Street Journal book reviewer Meghan Cox Gurdon and her Imprimus article, “The Case for Good Taste in Children’s Books.” In it she gives examples of unbelievable violence taken from current, best-selling young adult fiction and then makes a compelling case for why this is a dangerous trend:

What I do wish is that people in the book business would exercise better taste; that adult authors would not simply validate every spasm of the teen experience; and that our culture was not marching toward ever-greater explicitness in depictions of sex and violence. Books for children and teenagers are written, packaged, and sold by adults. It follows from this that the emotional depictions they contain come to young people with a kind of adult imprimatur. As a school librarian in Idaho wrote to her colleagues in my defense: “You are naïve if you think young people can read a dark and violent book that sits on the library shelves and not believe that that behavior must be condoned by the adults in their school lives.”

. . . Let me close with Saint Paul the Apostle in Philippians 4:8: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. And let us think about these words when we go shopping for books for our children.  (Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.)

I wholeheartedly agree with her position. You can read the rest of her excellent article HERE.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

But in writing fiction, you do have to have bad guys. I believe that to be compelling, relevant, and useful Christian fiction should honestly address the difficult issues of our times. How will the good be revealed unless it is contrasted to the bad?

One of the minor themes that developed in Unclaimed Legacy is spousal abuse—not a pretty topic to be sure. This is why I don’t recommend it for younger teens, even though I kept the violence to a minimum and mostly offstage.

It wasn’t easy writing about domestic violence, but it is a part of daily life for so many families that I felt I couldn’t gloss over it in telling Reuben and Franny’s story (the historical backstory in Unclaimed Legacy).

As the blurb for Unclaimed Legacy says, sometimes when Abby and John are “time-surfing” they learn more than they want to know about people from the past. (Read the full blurb and a free chapter of Unclaimed Legacy  HERE) Sometimes, when I’m researching for my books, I learn more than I want to know too! I discovered some shocking facts. Futures Without Violence.com says:

One in four women has experienced violence by a boyfriend or spouse.

Seven million children live in families in which severe violence occurs.

On average 500 women are raped or sexually assaulted each day in the U.S.

Trish Jenkins says in her book Treasures of Darkness—which I highly recommend, by the way—that the prison nurse estimated that 96% of her fellow inmates had been the victims of sexual or other physical abuse. (You can see my interview with Trish HERE.)

And domestic violence begins earlier than I ever dreamed—with dating teens! According to the Joyful Heart Foundation, 51% of all 15-22-year-olds in the United States know a victim of dating violence or sexual assault.

And lest you think Christian families are immune, think again. Religion Today tells the story of “Marleen” whose husband was an upstanding member of the church—a deacon and a Sunday School teacher no less. When “Marleen” went to her pastor for counsel, he advised her to “try to submit more.” Two weeks later, she was dead, murdered by her husband. I think there will be a special punishment for this kind of thug.

The Worst Fictional Bad Guy I Could Imagine

And I imagine that the horror and and psychological damage of domestic violence must be much worse where perpetrators use the Bibleabuser (misinterpreted and bent all out of recognition) to justify their crimes—as my fictional character Bertram White does.

When I needed a bad guy for Unclaimed Legacy, I couldn’t think of a worse thing than that he would be a man who quoted the Bible while beating his wife. I kept the photo of this unknown angry man over my computer while inventing Bertram White.

Meet Bertram White in this excerpt from Unclaimed Legacy:

Bertram White slowed his buggy and turned into the lane, eventually coming to a stop in front of the barn. He lumbered down from the buggy and unhitched his lathered mare. Slapping her rump, he turned her out into a pasture that lay beyond the board fence that ran behind the out buildings. He took off his gray felt hat and wiped his face with his handkerchief. His face was red, his mouth set in angry lines, a vein prominent on his nearly bald head.

Kicking at a chicken that was in his path, he stormed across the yard and up the steps onto the porch, the boards creaking under his weight. The screen door wailed softly before banging shut behind him. He walked into the dim kitchen and looked around in disbelief. legacySupper not even started. He swore in disgust and started down the dim hallway, his boots falling like sledge hammers on the wooden floor. When he reached the parlor at the front of the house, his footsteps were hushed by the Oriental rug, but still an aura of violence followed him into the quiet room. He saw that his wife sat staring out the tall front window, its mullions casting a cross-hatched shadow on her face.

He flipped open his pocket watch and she jerked out of her reverie and turned to him. Her face drained of color and she stood, stumbling against the chair leg in her haste.

“It’s getting on to six o’clock,” he said, snapping the watch case shut. “But for some strange reason I don’t smell supper cooking.” His voice was like angry hornets looking for the farmer that had stirred up their nest.

“I was watching for the stagecoach.” She made her lips turn up in a smile, because sometimes she could jolly him out of a bad mood. “Only two riders today, Bertram. We’ll miss seeing the stage coaches go by, won’t we?” A little breeze pushed its way into the stuffy room, shushing the burgundy damask drapes and playing with a few strands of dark hair that had escaped from her chignon. She lifted a pale, thin hand and nervously smoothed it away from her face.

“Well, I for one, am happy to see the railroad come, but that’s neither here nor there. I warned you about having my supper ready on time.”

“I’m sorry, Bertram. I’ll get right in the kitchen and I’ll—”

“It’s too late for your excuses now.” He took off his jacket, laid it neatly over the arm of the settee, and unbuttoned his top shirt button. Even that didn’t take away the angry redness from his face.

“You have to obey me! The preacher said so, ‘Wives, submit to your husbands.’ Ephesians 5:22.”

“I will. I promise I will.”

He whipped his leather belt through the loops on his pants. The snapping sound caused her to flinch.

“You make me do this,” he said, grabbing her arm.

John snapped the laptop shut and stalked off. “That’s enough,” he said, exhaling loudly.

In the gloom of the museum theatre Abby could barely see him, but she heard his breath coming in a sort of wheezy pant. Then she realized she was wheezing too. “I wish there was a way to call the cops on him.”

“I wish there was a way I could get my hands on that sanctimonious toad for just one minute,” John said.

Abby sank onto a seat in the front row. “He’s so full of hate. Guess he forgot that next verse about men loving their wives. I feel a little sick to my stomach.”

Merri sat down next to her. “And I thought my parents’ marriage was bad. Please don’t ever make me go inside that guy’s head again. And why did we, anyway? One minute we’re watching that woman waving at us and the next—”

“I was trying to lock onto her, but we’re too far away from Shake Rag Corner. So it locked onto that Bertram White guy when he drove up.”

John came and sat on Abby’s other side. “I wish we could get closer,” he said.

Abby blinked. But then realized John meant get closer to Shake Rag Corner. She wished he would put his arm around her and hold her for about an hour. She was sure if he did, the hate and violence of the scene they had just witnessed would go away.

What Would Meghan Say?

I think Meghan Cox Gurdon would approve of my handling of the subject. (Now if only she’d post a review of Unclaimed Legacy in the Wall Street Journal!)

I pray that if anyone reading this is in a violent relationship you will be rescued from your misery. If Christians—even pastors—are telling you that you are obligated, as a good wife, to endure the beatings, I want you to know that I and many other Christians—even especially pastors—would tell you that you are not! Flee to safety! The first step might be calling the National Domestic Hotline. 1-800-799-SAFE. Meanwhile, know that I’ll be praying for you.

I am the author of the Time and Again time-travel mystery series. I was born not far from the setting ofEvery Hill and Mountain and grew up “just down the road” from the setting of Time and Again andUnclaimed Legacy. Today I live with my husband in Waterloo, Illinois, where I enjoy reading, gardening, and learning about regional history. We have three grown children, four grandchildren, and two canine buddies Digger and Scout. I love to interact with my readers, so I hope you’ll leave a comment below.

For a limited time, Unclaimed Legacy is available for 99 cents!

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Labor Day

Spending time amongst fellow believers at a conference this past summer, one of the things that I heard a lot was about people having many hats in their ministries. I’ll admit that I joined the choir of complainants. A dear friend looked at me and reminded me the following scripture:

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Luke10:2

When I looked up what are we supposed to celebrate today, this is what I found that Labor Day “celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.”

So from the world perspective here I honor or all those who in one way or another contribute to our economy and society.

From the church perspective I honor all those volunteers that week after week make everything happen. Those who make meals for those in need, who take care of the children of others and teach them the Word of God, To those who prepare in prayer the Praise and Worship for our services, set up chairs, clean the bathrooms, work the parking lots under the sun and the rain…

To all of you:

I also encourage that if you are not plugged within the Body of Christ, don’t take it lightly. We truly need you and we are hurting without you.

Until then, be blessed.

Author Emma Right

Today we have Guest Author Emma Right talking to us about her new book Keeper of Reign.

headshot under trees

Emma, tell us about you?

I’m a happy wife and homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a Long-haired dachshund, I also writes stories for her children. I loves the Lord and His Word deeply, and when I doesn’t have her nose in a book, I am telling my kids to get theirs in one.

 Wow, you are quite busy. Have you always been in the writing industry?

I worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for my ads, before I settled down to have children.

Why did you write Keeper of Reign?

I wanted to write an allegorical fantasy about the fall of man and the redemption story set in a fantasy setting that’s filled with danger and adventure. Something young readers can enjoy but still have a Christian message.

What  do you hope Keeper of Reign will accomplish?

I hope my readers can see that with the power of the gospel, we can overcome our problems and difficulties. I want to empower young readers with this message, that if they seek the truth (the Ancient Books, in Keeper of Reign) they will find wisdom and answers to life’s problems. It doesn’t mean the answers are going to come easy, but persistence will pay off, and the Bible has the answers.

How readers can connect with you?

Please, do connect with me…

Please visit my webpage: http://www.emmaright.com, or my Facebook.com/ emma.right.author, and fanpage on http://www.facebook.com/keeperofreign and follow me on twitter. If you sign up for my newsletter on my http://www.emmaright.com page I will give you book and contests updates.

Thank you, it was a pleasure having you with us today.

Keeper of Reign

Books written in blood. Most are lost, their Keepers with them. A curse that befell a people. A Kingdom with no King. Life couldn’t getperf6.000x9.000.indd more harrowing for the Elfies, a blend of Elves and Fairies. Or for sixteen-year-old Jules Blaze. Or could it?

For Jules, the heir of a Keeper, no less, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It was bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King’s Ancient Books, did not help ward off that anathema.

Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family. Why? Gehzurolle’s agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn’t get himself killed first.

Legitimate Rape

During the US Senatorial Campaign in Missouri, a politician stated that if a woman was involved in a situation of “legitimate rape” the body knew how to reject the products of conception and she wouldn’t get pregnant. This raised a huge issue, as it should have. Starting with the concept of legitimate rape, implying that there are situations of non-consensual sex that are not considered rape. Why am I bringing this up now? Recently, NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” aired an episode dealing with this issue and brought it back to my mind.

I don’t agree with the biology of this concept and I know a lot of people were outraged by the insinuation. But then it became an issue of faith when the Bible was misquoted insinuating that God approved of Rape. These were some of the scriptures utilized.

  • Deuteronomy 22:28-29- This scriptures talks about pre-marital sex not rape and how a man who was already engaged to this woman should marry her after having sex with her.
  • Deuteronomy 21:10-14 This scripture talks about marrying a prisoner of war women, not rape. Now historically no woman had a choice in the men they married in those times. Within that logic every woman before the 19th century was raped and we know that’s not true.
  • Zechariah 14:1-2 This scripture is describing the situation going on, not asking for women to be raped.

Personally I couldn’t serve a God who believe in rape, but I know this is far from the truth. I know how he has healed me from situations that were not His will but someone else’s misuse of free will. Taking the Word out of context is a old trick from the enemy to distract us from the healing that God has for those who have been hurt.

If you have been sexually assaulted, I know that you are hurting. Do not believe this is your fault. Do not believe that this was God’s will. This was the misuse of someone’s free will and God wants to free and heal you.

Now this is what Jesus has asked us to do with each other and it shows the Truth of God’s heart:

John 13:34 says “”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” NIV

We also read in

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” NIV

Jesus said that when Moses was giving the law, he allowed certain things because of the hard hearts of men. Although he said that in relations to divorce, I can see that translating to other subjects. God has not approved for women to be hurt. If we love others, we would not hurt others and that’s the True command.

Until then, be blessed.

clip_image002 This book certainly held my interest straight through to the very emotional ending. Mary Anne Benedetto

With the ever-constant presence of her closest friend, Aimee, Desiree slowly makes her way to God and learns the greatness of His power and love. Cynthia

A very engaging story about faith, love, and friendship, and the trials and tribulations that life can bring you. Jersey Gina

Competing Faith

Have you ever been in a competition where Christians discuss their denominational differences almost like football fans? I think what we miss as believers is that our differences are really as the many ways  of making white rice. What do I mean?

Growing up I learned that to make white rice I had to place oil, water and salt, bring it to a boil then pour the rice. Some people use butter instead of oil, some add garlic powder. At the end of the day you get in your plate the same thing: white rice

The Word of God tells us in John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I believe that our particular rituals work for us in our humanity. Just like music is a matter of taste, but at the end of the day is the message of the Word of God that we are called to live by. I also believe that our discrepancies are used by the enemy to distract us from our real purpose which is to spread the Good News to others. So when you find yourself and those around you that we are ALL here to do the work of the kingdom and not for our purposes. I also invite you to use that opportunity to come together and do something for the kingdom that all of those in the conversation can agree. You will see that you have way more in common than you imagine.

Until next time, be blessed!

clip_image002 This book certainly held my interest straight through to the very emotional ending. Mary Anne Benedetto

With the ever-constant presence of her closest friend, Aimee, Desiree slowly makes her way to God and learns the greatness of His power and love. Cynthia

A very engaging story about faith, love, and friendship, and the trials and tribulations that life can bring you. Jersey Gina

Intuition and Breaking Writer’s Block

I’ve read that women’s intuition is a real thing—it stems from a woman’s ability to keep an eye on the periphery, store what she observes on a subconscious level, and then make connections with that information that a man’s more linear thinking can’t do.

It’s a gift. A talent.

And we know what God asks us to do with our gifts. We need to invest them to bring back a profit to the master. The servant in the parable of the talents who buried his talent to keep it safe, was not his master’s favorite. God wants a return on what he has invested in us.

When we writers hit a wall, get blocked, or just don’t know what to do next with our story, we tend to turn to others for help. It’s good to check your story line against a solid framework, like Bell’s Plot and Structure, and it’s great to let trusted friends have a read and give feedback, but don’t dismiss your intuition. God gave it to you so that you would use it.

Is your writers block presenting as a terrible blank first page? Let your intuition help you start out. Ignore the nagging voice that keeps asking if your idea will sell, and focus on what you love. Do you have a great character in mind? What places does that character naturally fit? Do you have a great setting you’ve always wanted to write about? Who would you naturally see there? Your answers will be all you own, springing up from your deep memory. Flesh out your people and your world and see what kind of stories build from there.
Not a seat of pants writer? It’s okay. Neither am I. Once you have a background built, feel free to plot with as much care and structure as your heart desires.

Do you have a great start on a story but you’ve hit a wall? Try this: Write a scene from sometime in your character’s past. Pick a time of transition or stress for your character: his wedding, her graduation, moving to a new school, losing a parent. Seat of pants this one for me. Don’t plot it out, just let your intuition carry the scene. What happens and how your character reacts to it should open up new connections in that subconscious of yours, where you have been storing little details about your story, but didn’t realize it. Of course, this scene won’t go into your book, but knowing your character better should help you move your story forward.

I secretly think all writers have women’s intuition, even the men. How else could we draw whole worlds out of our minds? Well, whatever you call it, intuition, imagination, inspiration, or just plain paying attention, don’t let this gift from God go to waste. Let your mind wander, to unstuck your work in progress.

Traci Tyne Hilton’s newest story, “Cupid’s Cappucino” is available just in time for Valentine’s Day! Find it in the romance collection. Heart Bouquets at amazon.com!

DSC_3163Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery Series, and one of the authors in the The Tangle Saga series of science fiction novellas. She was the Mystery/Suspense Category winner for the 2012 Christian Writers of the West Phoenix Rattler Contest, a finalist for Speculative Fiction in the same contest, and has a Drammy from the Portland Civic Theatre Guild. Traci serves as the Vice President of the Portland chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association.

Traci earned a degree in History from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, their two daughters, and their dog, Dr. Watson.

More of Traci’s work can be found at http://www.tracihilton.com

WF: Lead me Lord

Now that all the presents have been opened, the food has been eaten. We were able to enjoy our holidays or able to survive our most beloved relatives. The point is that Christmas is over, but not the celebration. In the natural world we still have one more holiday to prepare for. In a few days we will be ending the year 2012, and what a year has it been.

In the US, we had to elect a president. We faced with the pain of several inexplicable acts that resulted in the loss of many innocents. And just as the year ends we’re still waiting to see how much more our finances may be depending on the decision of those we’ve given the power to rule over our country.

Although most of us laughed, the reality is that we were all on the edge of our seats to see if something was to happen on the 21st. So for the tenth time in our lifetime we have survived another announcement of the end of the world.

In summary is time to analyze what has been of this year in our lives: financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Join me in starting this journey this weekend and on Monday I will share the results of my evaluation of 2012.

The most important part is that God was with me and I know he was with each and every one of you through every milestone of this year. Let’s praise the Lord and meditate in his word so that he can show us the lessons learned in 2012

Remember that I have a contest going for the first one who answers a question regarding my new Novella “Season’s Greetings from Amelia” Check it out by reading the instructions of the giveaway here

SeasonsGreetingsFinalCover_thumb.jpgBy Pooh Bear

I recommend Season’s Greetings from Amelia highly. It was thoughtfully written and entertaining. I really enjoyed it…couldn’t put it down!

Lost of Innocence

Last week was a tough one, not only for me but for the whole nation. Thursday night I received a phone call from a very close friend in tears. Her nephew had just committed suicide. I obviously jumped in the car to provide my support. Then the next morning, while I’m trying to shake the emotions from that event, I walked into the break room of my job and saw on the television the news from Connecticut.

I could relate not only at the human level, but at the personal level of the pain and confusion that others were feeling. I could understand how parents felt about answering questions to confused children about the events they witnessed or were made aware of, because the night before I was approached by my friend’s young children with similar questions.
Our children should not have to worry about why someone decides to take their life or someone else’s. Our children should not need to understand the pain of losing a teacher, a brother, a father, a mother or a friend; especially under these horrible circumstances.

We are all looking for a silver lining within the grief. I’ve come to the conclusion that hopelessness is part of the pain of those who commit these acts. They feel like there’s no way to end their pain than to leave this earth and/or hurt others. This has motivated me to continue to do what God has called me to do, to write more and more about the good news of redemption and hope. That there’s always a way out and a solution that doesn’t include more pain.

This has also been a wake up call for me and for so many others of how our lives can change in an instant unexpectedly. It has reminded me to express my gratitude, my appreciation and my love to those around me before it’s too late.
I know the recent events have not only made the children aware of an evil world. It has even place awareness of concern in adults as well. Where are we safe? Thinking as far back as Columbine, I can recall a movie theater, a college campus, several churches, a gym, a mall, several workplaces and now an elementary school, and that’s just off the top of my head. But let’s stand on the Word of God that tells us:

  • Zechariah 2:5 :And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’”
  • Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”
  • Psalm 91:2 “I will say [a] of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
  • Psalm 91:4-5 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,”


I ask you today to pray for my friend’s nephew who left behind a wife and two small children. Also pray for all the victims in Connecticut; for those parents, siblings, for the whole community. But also remember to pray for the family of the perpetrator. He left behind a father who lost a son, and a young man who lost his brother and mother. Let’s also pray that God gives our authorities the wisdom to do what needs to be done to avoid these things, whatever that may be.

Hug each other a little tighter today. I appreciate all of you. Be safe. Be blessed.

Get your copy of Season’s Greetings from Amelia. This great novella brings mystery, suspense and the best stocking stuffer for your favorite e-reader. You can get your copy for just 0.99 cents on Kindle,Smashwords and Nook only during the month of December.

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America, Get Up, Get Out and Vote!

Today is an important day. November is a month where we usually say the things we are grateful for. One of the things I’m grateful about is to live and be part of the US of America.

Today is a day where we show our privileged to democracy. Today we get to exercise our right to elect those who will be making our government decisions for the next four years. Do not fret on this decision, just go out and vote. Regardless of the results God is our provider and our benefactor, but we need to do our part.

Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote doesn’t count. Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote is not important and that it won’t make a difference. It will and it does.

America is time to vote! Wrimos in the US stop your writing for a little while and go vote. The lines are long so just take your laptops with you; you’ll have tons of interrupted time standing in line.

God Bless!!

1 Chronicles 29:12
Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the ruler of all mankind. Your hands control power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength.

4th of July, What are we celebrating?

The 4th of July is one of those celebrations marked with family and friend gatherings, BBQ’s and fireworks. Do we really know what we are celebrating beyond having a day off and the opportunity to have fun?

I’ll make the history lesson as short as I can. On July 4th 1776, Americans became independent from the sovereignty of Britain and were not only declared an independent nation but founded this nation on some principles that in 2012 we seem to take for granted. If you want to read the whole document you can do it here. But today I would like to point out the one that stood out for me.

All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

2012 is an election year

Let’s pray that this country makes the right decision. Let’s pray that we elect someone who will uphold the rights in which this nation was founded. But as believers, let’s make the commitment that whoever ends up being elected, we will continue to pray for his protection and wisdom, in steering this nation.

This is my prayer:

That for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.(1 Timothy 2:2)

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. (Proverbs 2:10)

Let’s not forget who is really in control. “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)

Happy Independence Day!

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