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Monday, October 22, 2018

In the Spotlight: Shannon Medisky's Going for Broke Blog Tour




Going for Broke: How to Suffer Well, Christian/Devotional/Nonfiction, 110 pp., $8.99 (paperback) $4.99 (kindle)


Title: GOING FOR BROKE: HOW TO SUFFER WELL
Author: Shannon Medisky
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 61
Genre: Christian Nonfiction/Devotional

Hardship hurts and suffering sucks.
But there’s very important work—and rewards—we need to be occupied with in the middle of it all.
Suffering has a way of stretching us beyond ourselves. It prompts us to stretch outside of our current comfort zones. But no matter how we feel, we don’t have to be buried by our challenges and circumstances. Instead, we can recognize that God has planted us right where we are for a reason: It’s time to get growing.
Here’s how.

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INTRODUCTION
 
Einstein once said, "God doesn't play dice." He also made it very clear that he didn't believe in a personal God, but rather he trusted that there were underlying laws of nature that made perfect sense of some of the science (mainly quantum mechanics) that even he couldn't wrap his brilliant mind around.
Einstein was an incredible man of science, but he also appreciated that he couldn't make sense of everything. Yet, even in the midst of this, Einstein professed that there still had to be a rhyme and reason to it all. Even if he or current science couldn't make sense of it, Einstein held the belief that there was still a structure, an order behind it all.
I believe the same is true for suffering. I believe this because I've seen evidence of it firsthand.
To put it bluntly, I watch my son die a slow, painful death daily. He suffers terribly, and my heart suffers, too. My heart breaks each time he cries out to me for comfort and relief, and there's nothing I can do.
My head is weary of keeping tabs of his daily intake of protein. Too little and he becomes catabolic, metabolizing his own muscle tissue. Too much, and ammonia levels rise in his blood stream causing debilitating headaches and irreversible cognitive loss. There's no cure, and that's just the tip of the medical and genetic iceberg.
There's also the GRIN2B genetic mutation that causes my son debilitating joint pain, short and long-term memory loss and yet more metabolic issues. His specific mutation causes his body to convert the amino acid called arginine to histidine. This poor kid can't seem to eat enough food to ever really feel full because he can't eat more than about 15 grams of protein per day.
Think about that for a moment.
Imagine being underweight with low muscle tone, experiencing constant headaches and joint pain and then never feeling fully satiated…and that's when he actually feels up to eating at all.
It's hard enough to watch Mark suffer, to walk through all of this with him. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be him.
Mark’s physical suffering alone is staggering to imagine. Prior to joining our family through adoption, Mark was subject to severe abuse and neglect. Deprived of basic nutrition, physical touch and comfort as an infant, it's not surprising that he suffered cognitively, developmentally and behaviorally as a result.
I share all of this because I've heard it said that one should write about what one knows. The last ten years have taught me quite a bit about suffering: how it feels, the toll it takes, and just how unsettling it is when looking ahead holds no promise of relief or respite. I know how it feels to not be able to quite catch your breath, to feel completely and utterly helpless, to vacillate between wondering if you're (really) strong enough to keep going or when exactly you're going to fall apart.
It's from this place that I write about suffering, an open, raw place of complete transparency, because frankly I don't think there's enough out there about it. Everyone experiences hardship at some point. Christ even told us to expect it (John 16:33). Yet most every blog post, podcast and article I’ve come across covers how to get out of it, how to avoid it or—even worse—does a tremendous disservice by quickly trying to sugarcoat it. Suffering is rarely if ever a choice. It’s a natural part of the human experience. So, why isn’t there more help out there on how to do it well?
I believe in the power of prayer. I know God can—and still does—move mountains. I also know that God allows suffering, too. Suffering is a part of His plan. If it weren't, Noah would've never been stuck on that big boat after watching everything he’d ever known be engulfed in water. Joseph never would've been thrown into a pit, sold into slavery and imprisoned. Jesus Himself would never have been ridiculed, tortured and crucified.
During my prayers for Mark's relief and the easing of my own emotional burden, none of this escapes me.
We don't have to relish suffering. We don't have to run after it. It's completely natural to want to avoid it. Even Christ prayed to the Father and asked that suffering be taken from Him if it was within God's will (Mark 14:36). But sometimes suffering is a part of the plan, a piece of the story that God is weaving together in our lives. If we know this is true, that sometimes suffering is a part of the Lord’s greater plan, then doesn't it make sense to prepare for it as best we can?
It has been said that misery loves company, so I took the hint. I dove into Scripture and surrounded myself with what felt like old friends, but I visited with them in different ways. While their stories were nothing new, I connected with what their emotional experiences must have been in brand new and very personal ways. I noted what they did and how God responded to their thoughts, words and actions. I found patterns and parallels. In my searching, I discovered evidence time and time again that God truly does meet us in our mess.
Jesus said, "What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops" (Matthew 10:27 ESV).
Jesus will tell us things in the dark when we're unsure and insecure. It is in this darkness where He whispers to us, sharing things that are only accessible when we're willing, able and waiting to hear.
Suffering is often the place of this darkness.
During suffering we're broken enough to stop listening to ourselves, and instead tune in more carefully to His whispers. Ironically enough, it's usually in the middle of hardship where our relationship with Jesus can truly grow the most. Whether we like it or not, hardship often pushes us out of our comfort zones. Suffering enables us to grow through what we go through.
From this perspective, what a tremendous opportunity suffering can be!
Yes, hardship hurts.
Yes, suffering sucks.
But there's very important work—and rewards—we need to be occupied with in the middle of it all. That's exactly how this book is different. In the pages that follow, you won't discover how to pray your way out of challenges and pain. Quite the opposite, actually. You'll be encouraged to go for broke, to face suffering head on in anticipation of meeting God personally in brand new ways. Suffering has a way of stretching us beyond ourselves. It prompts us to reach outside of our current comfort zones.
This book has been designed to help you take full advantage of this, to essentially help you not waste your pain. If God allows us to suffer, then we can rest assured that it isn't and won't be for not (Romans 8:28).
Suffering isn't just an experience or state we're in. It's a skill, too.
We can squander our experiences and energy trying to spin our wheels to get out of suffering as soon as we can (and sometimes futilely so) or we can choose to suffer well. We can be intentional about how we respond to suffering. We can work on ourselves, actively seeking to grow into all that God wants us to be. We can work on our listening skills, discovering how to quiet ourselves and the chaos around us. We can practice and grow in patience as we wait on God, His will, and His timing. In short, we can recognize with our choices and our actions that, yes, suffering is in God's plan for us, too.
If you're suffering now, I hope this book serves as a tool to help you feel less helpless. I hope that it helps you discover new opportunities to grow closer to and experience God in ways you've never known before. I hope that it helps you realize that you are not buried by your current circumstance or hardship even if that's exactly how you feel, but rather God has planted you right where you are for a reason: It's just time to get growing.











 








“Shannon’s writing is infused with an abiding passion, a marked sensitivity to the needs of her readers and a tangible wisdom gleaned from real life experience,” Danielle D.
Shannon Medisky is a leading expert in struggling with stress, screwing up and seeking God in the midst of it all. Sometimes funny but always real, Shannon’s writing is infused with practical ideas designed to help others create positive, real change in their daily lives. In short, Shannon writes about how to intentional move from simply “going on” to growing on—by God’s grace.
Shannon’s articles, insights and ideas have been featured in Exceptional Parents, Adoptive Families, Hybrid Mom, Mothering and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. For the past nine years, Shannon’s also worked as contributing writer and curriculum designer for OneHope, a global nonprofit ministry devoted to sharing the life-changing message of the Gospel with youth and children worldwide. To learn more, visit GraceToGrowOn.com.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER CHASE AUTHOR OF SCENE OF THE CRIME

“The darkness still loomed around him, but there was a quietness that overcame him.
A brief hundredth of a second, a peculiar whizzing noise filled Roger’s ears and then a brutal blow struck his head and knocked him off his feet. With a ringing in his head and a groggy consciousness, he tried to sit up but more savage blows pummeled his body. It sounded as if a tree splintered just before it fell in the forest. His breath caught in his lungs. Everything went dark.
The anonymous whispers stopped.
All buzzing in his ears stopped.
Roger Case’s heart stopped too.”

–From Scene of the Crime by Jennifer Chase

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and best-selling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers. Her latest book is Scene of the Crime, Book 2 in the Palmer Forensic Mystery series.

Book Description:

A calculating cold-blooded predator closes in…

When a community has barely recovered from a ruthless serial killer six months earlier; now two more horrifying murders hit the radar again. It leaves police burdened with two of the most
shockingly contaminated crime scenes ever documented in California’s law enforcement history. The Slayer works behind the scenes as a sinister puppet master, precisely pulling the strings, taunting the police without leaving any viable evidence, and orchestrating his killer hit squads.

The sheriff and district attorney bring in the best investigators. Reunited again, Dr. Chip Palmer, a reclusive forensic expert, joins DA Inspector Kate Rawlins to sort through the crime scene aftermath in search of the truth—all without a probable suspect or a solid motive. Complicating the investigation—sparks reignite between the two.

Ratcheting up the suspense, Chip suffers a nasty fall hitting his head, impairing his perception and giving him a mind-blowing ability for specific detailed recall. Palmer and Rawlins assemble an unusual team including a rookie detective, a forensic supervisor, and an ex-military operative turned bodyguard. After one of their own is kidnapped and the investigation is taken over by the FBI, the now rogue team must pull together their own resources—alone—with a killer waiting to take each one of them out. Scene of the Crime takes no prisoners and leaves everyone fighting to stay alive.

Interview:

Welcome Jennifer! Can we begin by having you tell us how you got started writing mysteries? Did the movies influence you? Books?
Jennifer: Books, movies, news headlines, true crime stories have all inspired my writing. I’ve loved books ever since I was old enough to appreciate the amazing stories at the library. Mysteries have a special place for me. I love puzzles, forensic evidence, and the delicate balance of the human psyche of what makes a person do the things they do. I’ve always written stories and screenplays, but it was not until 2008 did I chose to write novels professionally and I have not looked back.
Do you find writing mysteries comes natural to you or did you struggle sometimes?
Jennifer: I think when you love something, it comes a bit more easily and you don’t have to fight as hard. I have more ideas than I could ever write in a lifetime. It’s difficult to turn off the writer’s brain sometimes. These ideas come to me when I’m basically anywhere, running errands, exercising, driving, and even in the shower.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Jennifer: Anyone can write. You have to sit down with something to say and convey it to the reader. But, I do feel that you have to understand emotions, not necessarily feel all of them in order to express emotions in your characters that readers will respond to. It helps, for example, that if you’ve felt great loss or extreme fear at some time in your life to write those strong emotions with conviction.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Jennifer: That’s a very interesting question. The way I see it, at least for me, is that it’s the ultimate expression to tell a story and have your readers experience an incredible journey understanding what you’re trying to express. My first novel, Compulsion, was actually similar to therapy for me as I wrote it. I had experienced a violent psychopath neighbor, so being able to write through my stress and experiences was very liberating.
How hard is it to establish and maintain a career in fiction writing?
Jennifer: It’s a difficult balancing act. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but it is challenging field because there’s no sure thing in this career. There are definite successful levels that you can achieve, such as a best seller and award winner, but that doesn’t mean you’ve now have it made. Every book you write there is always some type challenge you must meet and overcome.
Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book, Scene of the Crime?
Jennifer: Taunting the police and orchestrating killer hit squads, The Slayer is the ultimate puppet master. He believes that he has discovered the recipe for the perfect murder.
Dr. Chip Palmer, a reclusive forensic expert, joins DA Inspector Kate Rawlins, together they are reunited as a team to sort through the crime scene aftermath in search of the truth—leaving them vulnerable and fighting to stay alive. But that still doesn’t stop the sparks to ignite between them.
What was the hardest scene to write?
Jennifer: With my background in criminology and profiling, most would think that writing from the mind of a serial killer would be easy. To some degree it is for me, but it takes the most energy and effort to create the killer in a way that doesn’t seem contrived and superficial. I make sure that I put aside enough time with breaks to complete this part of the book.
They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader just can’t put the book down. Can you give us one of those pivotal points in your book?
Jennifer: Without giving anything away, there will be someone within the underdog team that will be kidnapped and you’re not going to see it coming. Everything changes from that point on for the characters.
Will there be a follow up book to Scene of the Crime or other books in the near future?
Jennifer: Absolutely. I love creating mysteries for Dr. Chip Palmer to solve. Evidence of the Crime will be out early 2019. In addition, Dark Lies from the Emily Stone Thriller Series will be out this fall.
Thank you so much for the interview!

In the Spotlight: Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf by Nancy Gray




Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf by Nancy Gray, Mid-Grade Horror, 112 pp.



Title: BIG BAD WOLF
Author: Nancy Gray
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 112
Genre: Middle Grade Horror


Jane is ecstatic when she gets the role of Red Riding Hood in her school play, but she didn’t realize that they’d be using the stuffed wolf prop as the Big Bad Wolf. That tattered old prop has always scared her and, lately, she has been having strange dreams about it that make it seem like it’s something more.

Jane will have to get help to save herself from the hungry spirit that has haunted her people and her nightmares before it consumes her, or worse, escapes the prison of the last creature it took to sate its horrible appetite.

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Chapter 1 - Casting

            “I can’t believe it!  I got the part!” Jane hopped up and down as she looked over the casting sheet one last time to make sure.

            Her best friend, Sophie, laughed, “I knew you would.”

            “I didn’t think so.  I did awful at the audition.  I tripped over my own feet.”

            “Mrs. Rose knew you were nervous because you wanted it more than everyone else.  You deserve it.”

            Jane sighed. “Are you sure that you have to go on that trip?  I want you to be here to at least see the play.”

            Sophie shrugged. “I know.  But, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen my cousin.  Besides, I like spending time on the farm.”

            “I’ll get my mom to tape the show.  We can watch it when you get back.”

            Sophie smiled. “That’s good.  Then at least I’ll get to see it later.  It should be pretty scary.  Well, I’d better go and you’d better too.  You don’t want to make a bad impression being late on the first day.  Good luck, Red Riding Hood.”

            Jane practically skipped to the stage and lined up with the other students that were chosen for parts.  She glanced down the row and frowned.  Patrick was grinning at her with his squinty green eyes and freckled face.

            She snapped, “What are you so smug about, Patsy?”

            He chuckled. “Well, Janey Jane, Let me guess, you were so excited you didn’t read the rest of the cast sheet, right?”

            Jane looked away, embarrassed. “Well, I didn’t want to be late.”

            He laughed harder. “I’m going to be playing the wolf, Red.”

            She ran a hand down her face and murmered. “I knew it was too good to be true…”

            Mrs. Rose walked up to the stage and handed out the scripts to the row of excited students.  Everyone sat down and began to page through their individual copies.  Patrick glanced at Jane with an infuriating grin, but she simply rolled her eyes at him one last time and then moved back to avoid looking in his direction again. 

            Mrs. Rose walked in front of them and said, “First of all, congratulations on all of your parts.  Since this is a Halloween play, I chose the rolls based on who could portray their parts in a suitably ominous way.  Remember, these are fractured fairy tales, so nothing is supposed to end well.  And, the common element in all of them will be the big, bad wolf.”

            Patrick stood up and gave a quick bow.

            Jane thought, “Show off…

            Mrs. Rose continued, “The main theme is Little Red Riding Hood, but as you can see, there will be elements from other stories incorporated.  While she’s going to grandma’s house, she’ll run into Snow White being chased by the woodsman, and themes from other stories as well, as she continues to get lost further and further in the woods.”

            A kid with round glasses and unruly hair spoke up. “Can I play with different colors of lighting depending on the fairy tale?  And can I use strobe effects?”

            “Well, probably no strobe effects.  We wouldn’t want anyone in the audience to have a seizure.  Still, I think different colors according to the story would be excellent.  Everyone, this is Kyle.  He just joined the club as our lead technician.” 

A few people clapped, but Jane clapped a little more than the others. “Thank goodness, someone finally volunteered to be techie, instead of all the backstage work being done by someone who didn’t get a part.  The lighting might actually be good this year. 

Kyle was in a few of her classes, but she never really talked to him.  He didn’t seem the type to be interested in the Drama Club.  He was always playing with his laptop or some kind of electronic device. 

            Patrick whispered in her direction, “I think someone’s in love.”

            Jane whispered back, “Bite me, Patsy.”

            Patrick said, “Maybe I will…AWOOOO!”

            Mrs. Rose tapped her foot impatiently. “Save it for the rehearsal, Patrick.”

            They both muttered an apology and quickly looked at the ground.

            “As you know, we don’t have a good budget this year, so I want all of you to look for old costumes and props that we can reuse.  The basement under the stage is a good place to start, as well as the various trunks backstage.  I believe, if we can get it working, the stuffed wolf would make a great prop too.  There should even be a speaker inside of it from our last play.  Kyle, see if you can reconnect it.”

            “Okay.  It should be pretty easy.”

            “Jane, you go with Kyle and show him the ropes.”

            She nodded. “Yes, Mrs. Rose.”





 








Nancy Gray has published a number of works including her middle grade series Spine Chillers. She also published her YA fantasy series Blood Rain. Her short story “Chosen” appeared in Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Author Quest: a Penguin Special from Grosset & Dunlap. Her work also appears in various anthologies.

Nancy Gray has been writing for over ten years. Gray lives in South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys books, video games, anime, manga, and horror.
Her latest book is the mid-grade horror, Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

FILLING IN THE BLANKS WITH HUSBAND-AND-WIFE MYSTERY NOVELISTS ROSEMARY & LARRY MILD, AUTHORS OF 'HONOLULU HEAT'





Rosemary and Larry coauthor the popular Paco & Molly Mysteries and the Dan & Rivka Sherman Mysteries—and most recently, Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future. They call Honolulu home, where they cherish time with their children and grandchildren. The Milds are members of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Hawaii Fiction Writers. Find out more about their books on their website


1.      The best part of writing as a husband-and-wife is…
Larry: Never having to write in a vacuum, always having someone to turn to and discuss the process.
Rosemary: Spending valuable time together while sharing a meaningful project

2.      The most challenging part of writing as a husband-and-wife is…
Larry: Negotiating a difficult description passage or plot twist or character name or trait.
Rosemary: Accomplishing “a.” without ruffling any feathers. It’s the only thing we ever argue about.

3.     My absolute favorite part of the writing process is…
Larry: Developing the original plot idea into a complete first draft.
Rosemary: Researching and learning pertinent facts needed for the book.
Larry & Rosemary: Holding the final published and printed book in our hands

4.     My absolute least favorite part of the writing process is…
Larry and Rosemary: Proofreading!

5.     We seem to come up with the best writing ideas when…
Larry and Rosemary: when the two of us discuss something we’ve read or heard in the media.

6.     If we ever get “stuck” when I am writing, we get through it by…
Larry and Rosemary: going on to the next page, chapter or section and come back to it later.

7.     _________ is the book that changed my life.
Larry:  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas is the book that changed my life because it convinced me that history and adventure together make great novels.
Rosemary: Gone with the Wind captivated me with its life-size characters and Civil War settingMy second favorite: Forever Amber. So steamy for a fourteen-year-old in 1949 when Amber undoes two buttons of her blouse. I even announced to my mother that I was changing my name to Amber. You can imagine how well that went. 

8.     __________ is the book I wish I had written.
Larry: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is the book I wish I had written.
Rosemary: Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith’s first novel; a brilliant psychological suspense/mystery.

9.     If I weren’t a writer, I’d most likely be…
Larry: An electronics engineer, which I was until I retired in 1993. I’ve been told that I might have made a decent lawyer otherwise.
Rosemary: I can’t imagine not being a writer. I spent my full-time career as an assistant editor at Harper’s; a copy editor at a major medical/scientific publisher; and as an engineering writer at Westinghouse. I love writing personal essays; my stock-in-trade is humor, exaggeration, and dramatizing the minutiae of my quirky everyday life.