Tuesday, August 4, 2015

By Mary Ellis

When I consider what challenge I have personally overcome or are in the process of overcoming only one answer comes to mind…time management. Trying to juggle too many balls in the air robs me of my peace of mind, produces many sleepless nights, and sends me to my knees in prayer often. God never lets me down. However, when I try to “go it alone,” even for a single day, I struggle. Jesus is my rock on a daily basis and without Him I would have given up on publishing as a career long ago.

Harvest House Publishers, 2015
In my blissful, pre-published days, I erroneously believed that once an author received the coveted “call” and turned in a completed manuscript, she could relax and put her feet up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being published means honoring contracts in a timely fashion, along with a multitude of details. No longer was I squeezing time to “write a book” into my daily routine of tending home, family and day job. Even though I have “retired” from my day job to write full-time, my life hasn’t gotten any easier. With each new release, the juggling act increases from three balls in the air, to four, five or even six. For readers and writers in the pre-published period of their careers, I’ll explain how five projects can demand your attention simultaneously:

First, there’s the book you’re currently writing and editing, according to your publisher’s expectations for word count, theme, and depth of characters.

 Secondly, the book you recently submitted is by no means done. A plethora of add-ons must be finished before the book heads to the printer, such as developmental edits, line edits, back cover copy, book cover and trailer suggestions, and blurbs or excerpts for catalogs and sales brochures.

Thirdly, if this was a series, chances are a book was recently released and requires promotion. Your title will either sink or swim during the first several, crucial months. An author must get the word out to readers through blog or radio interviews, website and newsletter giveaways, and book signings, along with social media. Otherwise, with so many fine books releasing each year, how will potential readers find yours?

Fourthly, an author needs to research the next book she intends to write, and that often involves travel or at least long hours spent in the library. Not everything on the internet can be trusted for accuracy, so I turn to non-fictions books, travel guides, and in person, hands-on research. Luckily, I have a husband who loves to travel and is willing to pick up and go on short notice.

And finally, what happens when your current beloved series draws to a close? If you don’t wish to be out of a job, you must devise an irresistible proposal that your publisher simply cannot turn down. Publishing houses consider projects well in advance, so authors need to think far down the line too. Considering all this stress, hard work and long hours, you might conclude that I’m complaining. Nothing would be farther from the truth. I love being an author, and pray each night for God to make me a better juggler and time manager. And when I worry and fret? Jesus, my rock, is always ready to pick me up and carry my load.

Mary Ellis
Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, Midnight on the Mississippi, first of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, is set in New Orleans. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

 I hope you’ll look for Midnight on the Mississippi at your favorite bookstore or online retailers:

Available at CBD: http://www.christianbook.com/1-midnight-on-the-mississippi/mary-ellis/9780736961691/pd/961690?event=Fiction

At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Mississippi-Secrets-South-Mysteries/dp/0736961690/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436816683&sr=1-1&keywords=midnight+on+the+mississippi

And at Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/midnight-on-the-mississippi-mary-ellis/1120894147?ean=9780736961691

Sunday, August 2, 2015

(first appeared May 5, 2013)
 
I will admit, at the end of this week, I am completely at the end ... of many things.

It feels right now like there’s nothing left, to give others, even to give God.

What do we do in those moments?

With this heart open wide
From the depths from the heights
I will bring a sacrifice
With these hands lifted high
Hear my song hear my cry
I will bring a sacrifice
I will bring a sacrifice
I lay me down
I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down
Lay me down

As the song from the Passion conference says, we are the sacrifice ... we lay ourselves down.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart ...”

I learned something years ago about that word “contrite.” It often gets translated humble, but it comes from a Hebrew word that gives the sense of something crushed and ground to powder.

When the blows of life don’t just break us, but crush us, grind us down until there’s nothing recognizable of our heart ... then that itself is our sacrifice to the Lord.

Why? Why is our brokenness that which God seeks as our most precious sacrifice?

My theory is ... it’s then that we see most clearly how desperately we need Him. And it’s then that He promises to be near us, to save us, that if we bring Him our broken and crushed selves, He will not despise the sacrifice.

I suppose, then, if God has allowed me to come to this place of brokenness ... it’s because I needed it. Not because He doesn’t love me, or care about the difficulty of the situation, but because whatever He’s doing in me would not be accomplished any other way.


The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18)

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:17, both NKJV)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

So, having written about jealousy and envy, I realized it isn’t enough to write about the problem. We must have a solution. A defense, if you will, against the sweet poison that gets pressed to our ears and hearts.

Part of the issue is that it’s so much easier to talk about applying the antidote, than it is to actually do so. Why? Because we have to give up our right to hold onto the hurt, or to the anger. We must, as I wrote previously, forgive people for failing us—in essence, for not being God.

But why—why is it so hard to just lay it down? Even when we know—or say we know—that God is good, that He is all wise, that we trust Him?

I wrestled with this all week but still haven’t come up with a good answer. Oh, yes, I write things and then get tested on them, pretty much immediately. This time seems harder for some reason. Maybe because life has been filled with stresses that fly at me from all directions. You now how it is: you try to hold it together, but at some point one or several darts get past your defenses, and then here comes the meltdown. Your friends, your loved ones, are left standing there looking at you like an idiot—you were so strong last week, what’s wrong with you that you can’t keep it together over this?

And once it’s there, under your skin, it tends to flare at odd moments, like poison ivy—you think you have it beat, or mostly so, then you scratch unthinkingly at a mild itch, and suddenly it’s a full-blown breakout, all over again.

It isn’t that the offenses aren’t real, or valid things to be upset about. The thing is, when we focus on them, it feeds the itch rather than kills it. But when we deliberately choose to look up, to look at the Cross, look at Jesus Himself—it begins to fade.

The stepsisters I wrote about last week, jealousy and envy, will hate that, of course. If the Prince isn’t paying attention to them, they don’t want anyone to be happy, and here’s where they show their ugliness. They’ll stop their charade of sympathy and instead lean into your face, screeching and jeering. You’re such an idiot! This proves it! You’ll never change, God doesn’t care about fixing your situation, you’ll have to put up with this indefinitely, and you deserve the misery you feel.

And you know what? Jesus knows what it feels like to have those things screamed at you. He’s experienced injustice: the people who should have known the time of His coming, didn’t, and even those who followed Him misunderstood His purpose until after the Resurrection. He was beaten, mocked, spit on—and this was God, the One who made us all, who gave us life and then went above and beyond to come be the payment for our rebellion against Him! Who had more right to feel the hurt, to be angry at the slight?

But He knows—and He does care. If He doesn’t change a situation, He has a reason, whether it’s for our growing, or to test our trust in Him, or because His purpose for that other person isn’t yet completed. Regardless, we can know that He’s intending to work a greater good through it.

This doesn’t mean the answer is necessarily always to ignore the voices and tough it out. God is always there beside us, but sometimes He waits for us to actually ask Him to deal with those bullying girls before intervening.

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Hebrews 4 & 12, NKJV)

(first appeared 4/28/13)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

LoRee Peery
This week, we welcome Christian romance author LoRee Peery. LoRee says she writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to I John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. She has authored the Frivolities Series and other e-books. Her desire for readers, the same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. Connect with LoRee through these links:

Website: www.loreepeery.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LoreePeery
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoReePeery
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/o3sn5qk

TBB: Hi, LoRee! Welcome to our blog. We're so excited to have you!

LP: Thank you for the opportunity to visit The Borrowed Book.

TBB: Tell us a little about your writing. Is it hard for you?

LP: I’ve realized more this year than ever before, how much I need the Lord in my writing. I have to pray when I write. Period. Zoe McCarthy considers God her Co-Author. I love that.

Tuesday I mentioned my struggle with the post, "Take it to Jesus, No Matter what IT is." Though I’d prayed specifically, flow didn’t come until I sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Every aspect of the writing process has proven troublesome for me at some stage. I have an idea file consisting of various lengths of interesting tidbits from itsy newspaper notes to several pages of magazine articles. Most of the time, I consult that notebook for beginning sparks.

TBB: Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you arrange your schedule to allow for the most efficient, productive time for writing?

LP: Morning? Ugh. It doesn’t matter if I get out of bed at 6 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. I don’t wake up until after 10:00. I’ve always been thankful I take notes in church because my mind is a blank. I’m a night owl when it comes to reading. Before I fall to sleep I try to hit where and/or what I’m writing the next day. My best writing time is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. so that’s when I write during the daily-word count stage of my first draft. I set the goal of 1000 words and often go beyond. I try to make appointments later in the afternoon. Tuesdays and Thursday I exercise at noon. Some days the writing doesn’t happen because I go ahead and run errands while I’m in the city. My study is upstairs and I try not to sit for longer than 40-45 minutes. I most often call it a day by 7 p.m.

TBB: When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck?

LB: Eat chocolate. No, I save that for a self-reward. I do chomp on chewy candies, and for some reason, it works. Even walking out of the room for a drink of water clears the cobwebs. If my head is spinning, or I’m tempted to twiddle my thumbs, I get up from my desk. The act of moving clears my head. I’ll exercise, go outside, or walk the dog. If I’m totally lost in a fog, I’ve been known to watch a movie, read, or even work a crossword.

TBB: Have you ever performed an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or describe it? Were you ever embarrassed by doing so?

LP: Yes, I have. And I’m so thankful I was alone. In my first story (that will never be submitted for publication), the heroine’s father died in a fluke fall on the basement stairs. Our wooden basement stairs are unfinished, so I contorted my body every-which-way to get the logistics of the fall. Again, in the story where my father’s homicide is fictionalized, I placed myself in odd positions near our pickup parked on our rock driveway. Imagination has to take over, but I’ve stood or sat in various places inside the house, imaging a world I’d created in order to get logistics. The worst I’ve ever been caught at was speaking dialog to myself.

TBB: If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it?

LP: Oh, my, yes. Life happens. God knows my future, I don’t. He’s granted me the desires of my heart. I’ve thought about what I’d do instead of writing. I don’t know how I’d spend my time other than lie around reading and gaining weight. I love to piece quilt. However, I have arthritis in my hands. Attempting to thread a needle either brings tears or laughter. The only repeated motion that doesn’t hurt my hands is typing. I call that a huge blessing.

TBB: Does your best writing flow? Or are you most satisfied with the work that you’ve labored over, sweating and groaning?

LP: I believe it’s both. The absolute finest writing moment is when the characters take over and my fingers fly. I groan when I search the weasel words, such as "was." I’ve found seven cases of "was" on a page, and that did make me groan. I still struggle in my writing. I try to keep learning. I’ll continue to seek my friend Jesus.

Pelican Book Group, 2015
Where Hearts Meet 
Shattered by the loss of her parents, Deena pours her love into her patients at an assisted living facility. When the son of one her charges starts showing up to spend time with his mother, Deena's wary heart is warmed by his attention to his mother...and to her. Simon is plagued by his ex-wife's disappearance years before. When he meets Deena, who closely resembles the woman, he fears his attraction is based only on Deena's looks. But she exhibits a warmth his ex-wife never had. Dare he risk his once broken heart? As two lonely souls pursue a tentative, budding love, secrets and lies come forward to tear them apart. Can Simon and Deena overcome loss and allow their hearts to mend?


Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Pelican Book Group, 2015
by LoRee Peery

Where Hearts Meet 

Shattered by the loss of her parents, Deena pours her love into her patients at an assisted living facility. When the son of one her charges starts showing up to spend time with his mother, Deena's wary heart is warmed by his attention to his mother...and to her. Simon is plagued by his ex-wife's disappearance years before. When he meets Deena, who closely resembles the woman, he fears his attraction is based only on Deena's looks. But she exhibits a warmth his ex-wife never had. Dare he risk his once broken heart? As two lonely souls pursue a tentative, budding love, secrets and lies come forward to tear them apart. Can Simon and Deena overcome loss and allow their hearts to mend?

Has anyone said to you, “Life is easy?” 

Each of us has a story, and each one is unique. God chooses the timing of events in our lives. We either choose to fight as we hit roadblocks doing things our own way, or give the leadership to Him and go along for the ride. At some point we come to realize His plan rules, so instead of fighting, why not seek His guidance?

The writing bug bit me in the mid-eighties, as a cathartic journey to help me through grief and unanswered questions. Does anyone else moan at the thought of our first efforts, be it writing or another pursuit?

I had nothing to draw on besides my own life. Life lessons resulting in growth or aha moments take time to come to fruition. God reaches us when we are still in the valleys, amidst whatever storm caught us in its grip. He works out a different plan for our individual growth. We’d better learn to listen during those hard times. We can be desperate, focused on the pain, or we opt to quiet our hearts, persevere, and discover the grace in store for each of us.

Would writing efforts be worth it if writing came easy? 

Even this post challenged me. I didn’t know where to start because I had a hard time focusing on finding something I hadn’t written before.

Many Bible verses have spoken to me over the years. One of my favorites is 1 John 5:4. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Our family was struck by tragedy in late April, 1975, at the trauma of my father’s murder. For some reason, much like the word closure, survivor rubs me wrong. I’d much rather think of myself as an overcomer.

The word victory also holds significance. Since the origin of my name comes from laurel leaves used in the winning crowns of athletes going back to ancient Olympics, I think of myself as victorious.

That victory comes about only when I set myself aside and seek my Lord’s guidance.

At the time I picked up pen and paper (I borrowed the computer during breaks on the job), I had two children at home, and was clueless as to “how” to write. I started out with short romances and submitted, what amounted to unpolished drafts, to magazines.

I gained writing experience when I contributed to a newsletter for a large church and evolved into editing a women’s newsletter. A friend and I started a Christian critique group.

On the job, I learned how to proofread and copy edit. I bought how-to books and tried my hand at nonfiction. My Nebraska essays were published in academic journals and anthologies.

Did you catch my earlier reference to closure? My father’s homicide remains unsolved. The Lord used that incident as part of my testimony. I received my first writing check when it was published.

To help my early attempts, I took a novel writing course through Writer’s Digest. My first novel took ten years to finish. It will remain in its container. That story was about a young woman who went back to her home town and proved her father’s reported accidental death had been a hit.

Setting down the story of my dad’s murder with resolution and a happy ending has been my driving force.

Would any part of life be worth living if we didn’t have to work hard?

I joined RWA, and learned more in six months than I had in ten years. I attended conferences. I read all the time I wasn’t writing. I didn’t write for eighteen months while I searched for an agent.

The Lord changed my attitude toward a sinful situation in my life, and my break came with White Rose Publishing, an imprint of Pelican Book Group.

 Had the sin remained unresolved, I may still not be published.

“Fragmented to Fulfilled” will appear in an upcoming anthology, But God: Interventions of Grace, projected to release late August. It’s spearheaded by Patricia Bradley.

Back to my father’s homicide, the struggle remains. One day I can say I’ve accepted God’s answer as “No.” The next day I work on the story, a fictional memoir combined with a contemporary romance in the current rewrite, and all the old emotions rise to the surface.

I take it to Jesus. Again.


LoRee Peery
Bio: Christian romance author LoRee Peery writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to I John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. She has authored the Frivolities Series and other e-books. Her desire for readers, the
same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. She’s been a reader since before kindergarten. One day she slapped a story in her lap. “I could write better than this.” (Lofty assumption, eh?) Her dear hubby challenged, “Why don’t you?” Thus her writing journey began many moons ago. Connect with LoRee through these links:

Website: www.loreepeery.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LoreePeery
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoReePeery
Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/o3sn5qk

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jealousy and envy are the terrible, ugly stepsisters in the story of Cinderella. Everyone knows that. So why do we bother to give them the time of day?

Because they’re so deceptively sympathetic when we’re hurt or angry. Oddly comforting, sweetly whispering in our ears that of course we have the right to be upset, who wouldn’t in our situation?

A friend’s spending time with other people, while we struggle with loneliness.

Being passed over for a promotion that in our eyes, we’ve rightly earned—and seeing it handed to someone who should have been in line after us. (Or at least after a friend who we felt deserved it more.)

When someone announces they’ve finished yet another manuscript, or painting, or quilt, while you scrape for time for your own creative endeavors. Or they’ve just signed with an agent, or have a book accepted for publication.

Any circumstance where we’ve been slighted or forgotten.

Those are the moments, when you ache for your perceived loss, that jealousy and envy steal to your side and wrap you in a blanket of their own brand of poison consolation.

It feels so good, at first. It’s comforting. It hurts to be passed over, left behind, ignored. And we forget how, once we let the jealousy and envy take hold, it sinks deeper, eating away at us until the initial hurt becomes a soul-deep sore.

Taking it to God is the only way to find true healing, at any point along the way. But the longer we wait, the more awful the scars that jealousy and envy leave behind.

And the stepsisters are wily indeed. They know how to speak what we want to hear, to offer what we think we need.

For me, it helps to remind myself of a thought from years ago ...

Consider the stars in the sky ... is the significance of one diminished because of the others? Do they waste time in vying for the 'best' position in the sky? Does Arcturus suffer jealousy just because it is not Polaris (the 'north star')?

I think not. The more stars we see, the more glorious the night sky appears. And not seeing the 'lesser' stars doesn’t mean they aren't there, or that they aren't significant ... they all burn brightly for their Creator. And I believe they are each fully aware of the significance of their place in the universe, and the glow we see is one of awe and gratitude to the One who set them in their places.

So let it be with us.

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.... 17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10)

26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5)

For wrath kills a foolish man,
And envy slays a simple one. (Job 5)

30 ... envy is rottenness to the bones. (Proverbs 14, all NKJV)

(first appeared 4/21/13)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A storm system sweeps across the southeast, spawning tornadoes and lashing the landscape with wind, rain, and hail.

Elsewhere, wars brew. Politicians bicker. Children starve or are exploited for the pleasure of others.

So much going on in the world at the moment. So much in people’s personal lives. I’m overwhelmed just contemplating the prayer needs of those closest to me.

But if I had not believed I would see Your good in the land of living ... if I didn’t know that God is perfectly good, perfectly wise, perfectly in charge ... ­ I would have lost heart.

We are not the ones in charge of this world, nor are we required to be. That alone provides some relief—knowing I’m not responsible for the success of my little circle of influence. I’m responsible for praying, for trusting, for expending the effort in the work God gives me, but not for the outcome. Yet sometimes life spins out of control, and the state of affairs across the face of this earth seems to be particularly crazy recently. It’s unsettling at the least.

And yet, it isn’t anything new. During times of great political and social upheaval, people have always been sure the end of the world is imminent.

Never more so than now, though, I’m sure.

And where is God, while the world falls apart? When injustice and horror are pandemic, yet people entertain themselves with the obscene and frivolous?

He knows. He sees. And He takes note of each detail.

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.
For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the Lord,
They shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
12 The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.
16 A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the Lord,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.
(Psalm 37, NKJV)

(First appeared 4/14/13. Psalm 27:13, above, is my paraphrase.)

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