Thursday, May 27, 2010

That Lady with a Busy Life. Say Hello to GAIL

Who is our guest this week? She calls herself Gail Sattler, the wife, mother, writer, and musician, and the order of those things, she adds, depend on what day it is.

Gail writes that she is a lady with a busy life, which began with her adventures of musician background from age eight.
Writing would be her next writing passion which has changed somewhat since that early age. She is now more of a romantic adventure.

Gail's newest book A NARROW PATH releases this month through Abingdon Press.

Gail has won a number of awards for her writing over the years, and in 2009 finaled for Best Contemporary Novella in the ACFW Book of the Year contest.

A final word about our friend Gail not always commonly written about in a biography but is always good to know. Though she drives a cheap economy car (according to her own words), her greatest treasure is in heaven, and that is pretty special. (Although a cheap economy car is nice too just not nearly so much as the other.)

To learn more about this unique and feisty musician, writer lady author be sure to drop by her website (the links will be included below) to learn all there is to know about her. 

SDC: Welcome to A Pen for Your Thoughts, Gail. We'll start with how you got your start at writing. Then, we'dl like to know what has been the one thing that's encouraged you to continue in the craft.

GS: The company I’d been working for shut down, so I thought I’d stay home for a while with my kids, the youngest of whom was still in diapers at the time. I thought I’d have a lot of time on my hands, and so I started writing a book. I don’t think I’ve had any free time since.

SDC: Can you remember how many rejection slips you received before you got your first contract? How did you respond when you finally got your first contract?

GS: I’d received probably about a dozen rejection slips, which was only because I hadn’t been writing or submitting long. I got my acceptance by email. I think I squealed and it took about a week for my family to peel me off the ceiling.

SDC: Are you an after draft self editor, or do you edit chapter by chapter? What works best for you?

GS: I do both. I edit by the chapter as I’m writing, but I don’t spend a lot of time on each, because the best edit comes when the book is done and I can read it from start to finish.

SDC: That's a great way, I think, too. What is the one thing that keeps you humble about being a published author?

GS: Rejection letters.

SDC: Those are never fun. But they certainly tell us something. What is your GAIL secret to writing a good book in your opinion?

GS: If I’m bored with writing a scene, the reader will be doubly bored reading it. So if that happens, change something. I wouldn’t call this a big secret, but it works for me.

SDC: How do you respond to the Lord if He tells you that you are going in the wrong direction? (Whether it be with your writing, or even how your mind works creatively)

GS: Most of the time I protest a little, but if the Lord is closing a door, I don’t have any chance but to stop and do something else. It does no one any good, especially me, to hit my head on a closed door hoping that something will change.

SDC: I know few who don't protest somewhat. But I'm glad you don't resort to hitting your head on closed doors. I love the title for your new book. The Narrow Path. I hope you'll tell us a little about it during our time together. Most of the guests here at A Pen for Your Thoughts like to share a copy of their book for one of our fortunate followers who come by. If you wish to take part, that would be great.

GS: Sure, I’ll do a draw for a free copy. But there’s a caveat. I would like everyone who would like to enter their name in the draw to answer this question – why do you want a copy of The Narrow Path – and the answer can’t be just because it’s free. The book won’t necessarily go to the best reply, I would just like the answer before I put your name in the hat.

SDC: Tell lus about your book now. What do you consider the focus of your book?
 And if you were to challenge us to a question about that what would you ask us?
GS: One focus of the book is Miranda doing her best to do the task she’s been given, even though she doesn’t fit in, and probably never will. So my challenging question is, how do you handle it when you are called to do something outside of your comfort zone?

SDC: Good couple of questions for any of us to ponder. Thanks so much. And thanks for coming to A Pen for Your Thoughts. Be sure to let us know where we can find you.

GS: I’m easy to find. My website is Or my blog is at Or the website I’ve set up for this book is  

Okay, friends, neighbors, guests, readers, writers, and all the rest of you. Just by the looks of Gail's book cover this looks like a great book to read. Please note thee questions above that Gail is asking you to respond to. We look forward to your interesting answers. Let us know your thoughts. Don't be shy. And don't forget to leave your email addresses with your names. Thanks so much.

We want to congratulate Cynthia Chow of California! just won a book. Be watching your mail box in the days ahead. And thanks for following A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Will God Come Through for You? Ask Delia this Week...

This week we are pleased to welcome Delia Latham to A Pen for Your Thoughts who has graciously offered to share with us a reflection on TRUST. But first, let's read a little about Delia herself.

DELIA LATHAM is a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. While she considers each of these relationships important, she treasures most of all her role as a child of the King and an heir to the throne.

A former newspaper staff writer, Delia promised herself a novel for years, while raising her four children, working at various jobs and writing the occasional article, poem, or song. She finally had one published in 2006. (Almost Like a Song, currently out of print.) Vintage Romance Publishing released Goldeneyes in 2008. A Christian historical romance with a touch of the divine, Goldeneyes is set in the farm country of the author’s childhood, and therefore close to her heart. In 2010, White Rose Publishing released Yesterday’s Promise—originally Almost Like a Song—in electronic format. A children’s book, Adam’s Wings, will be available in December 2010.
Delia grew up in Weedpatch, a tiny agricultural community near Bakersfield, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. She and her husband Johnny recently transplanted from that area to Okmulgee, Oklahoma.
 At present, she is at work on a contemporary series.

Yesterday’s Promise 
A whirlwind romance amidst the natural splendor of Yosemite National Park, a spur-of-the-moment wedding, and a young bride who awakens the morning after to find her new husband gone with the mountain wind.
Songbird Hannah Johns supports the child born of that ill-fated union by singing in a dinner lounge. Her dream of someday owning the elite establishment and turning it into a venue more suited to her Christian values is shattered when an unexpected transaction places it in the hands of Brock Ellis, the handsome biker who abandoned her in their honeymoon suite.
Ensuing sparks fly high, revealing buried secrets and forgotten pasts. Seeking to find peace with her painful past, Hannah returns to Yosemite, only to have Brock show up hard on her heels. Back where it all began, she finds herself in danger of losing her heart yet again to the man who shattered it the first time around.

And God Came Through
~ by Delia Latham

When I am afraid, I will trust in you
~ Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

     “Daddy will catch me. Daddy will catch me. Daddy will catch me.”
     The words played themselves again and again in my terrified mind, while my little eight-year-old heart beat a double-time rhythm. I scrunched my eyes shut and kept them closed to avoid seeing how far below me Daddy actually stood.
     I’d climbed further up the huge cottonwood tree in our yard than I realized. When Mama stepped outside to call me in to dinner, I looked down—and immediately froze in terror. I couldn’t make myself let go of the branch I clung to, and I couldn’t make my feet move to climb back down the way I’d come.
     Daddy stood beneath me, squinting up through the leaves and branches and encouraging me to drop down into his arms. “I’ll catch you, sweetie,” he assured me. “You know Daddy won’t let you hit the ground.”
     And I did know that. My Daddy was my hero. If he said he’d catch me, then he’d do just that.
     But I wasn’t sure I could let go of that branch even for him. It wasn’t Daddy I didn’t trust, it was me. If I let go of that sturdy branch, I might fall. Jumping deliberately into my father’s strong arms was one thing. Falling without meaning to was another matter entirely.
     Eventually I did, of course. Daddy’s gentle prodding finally convinced me to ease my arms away from that safe limb one slow inch at a time. Free of the anchor I held to, it was a little easier to launch myself off the one I sat on and drop out of the tree. Daddy caught me, just like he promised.
    Since then, I’ve found myself back in that tree so many times spiritually. There I sit, clinging to whatever makes me feel safe and secure, while Jesus gently urges me to let it go and trust Him to take care of me. Just as the child I was knew that my Daddy wouldn’t let me hit the ground, the more mature me knows my God will be there for me. He won’t let me down. He won’t let me fall. No matter what I’ve managed to get myself into, He will be my anchor, my Rock, and my salvation.
     But I have to trust Him. I have to make myself let go and let God.
    Naaman had to dip himself seven times in Jordan before he was cleansed of leprosy. Could God have simply healed him without that gesture? Of course He could! But Naaman was a highly respected man, one who had wealth, servants, gold, silver and fine clothing. For that exalted ruler to step down into Jordan’s muddy water, to dip his entire body into the filthy sludge—not once, not twice, but seven times—had to be a humbling experience. God didn’t ask him to go swimming in a nice, calm, clean lake. God required the sacrifice of a mud bath! But Naaman did it, trusting that God would heal him for his act of obedience.

And God came through.

     The Israelites had to walk around the Jericho wall thirteen times before God crumbled it and let them have the city. They traversed those gigantic strongholds in complete silence—no pleasant chitchat to pass the time, no banter, no singing of hymns, no sharing of jokes and telling of tales. They carried heavy weapons and supplies, once each day for six days, then seven times around on the seventh. Their arms grew tired, their feet hurt, and they didn’t even get to see a preliminary crack in the wall to give them hope. It wasn’t easy, and surely they wondered, looking at those massive walls, if they were not only wasting time, but making fools of themselves as they did so. But God promised them the city. He hadn’t failed them yet, so they trusted that He would do as He promised. They marched.

And God came through.

     Elijah asked the widow of Zarephath, during a time of severe famine, to make food for him from the remaining flour and oil she had in her home. This woman had a son to think about. Already, she was planning their last meal, knowing they would die of hunger when those supplies were gone. Elijah’s request was not an easy one to grant…but, you see, he made a promise: “For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.” So she did as he asked.

And God came through.
Most of the time, all God asks is that we trust Him.

     In my novel, Yesterday’s Promise, my heroine makes a major decision in haste, without talking to God about it first. For years afterward, she suffers the repercussions of that negligence.
     First she comes home from vacation pregnant. Home is the parsonage of a large church pastored by her father. As in any Christian group, there are always a few pious individuals standing ready to point fingers and place judgment. Staying around while her belly grows big with child will only bring shame on Hannah’s beloved father. So she leaves. Now she’s alone in a city where she knows not a soul, and is forced to use the only marketing skill she possesses—her voice. She takes a job singing in a dinner lounge, another decision that might shock some godly folks to their self-righteous cores. But Hannah has a baby to think of—a mouth besides her own to feed. She does what she has to do, remaining pure and holy all the while—despite how her situation might appear to the everyday onlooker.
     Life isn’t easy, and there are times when the load seems more than my little heroine can bear. But through it all—every moment of weakness, every disappointment—she trusts in God to have her back. She’s fortunate to have a wonderful friend (one Hannah herself led to the Lord) to bear her up when she’s down, as in the following scene:

     “Oh, Lori.” Hannah’s voice caught and she swallowed hard. “Everything I’ve tried to
      do to make things better for Davey…destroyed, all in one miserable day.”
     The other woman clucked her tongue, her arched brows drawing together. “Now, you
     just listen to me, missy. Nothing’s destroyed, only threatened a bit. No weapon that
     comes against you can prosper, you know. It’s a promise from the Good Book!” She
     nodded, hiking those auburn brows high onto her forehead. “So with that in mind,
     remind me again, darlin’—what exactly is it you’re worried about?”
     Lori is a bit of comic relief in the storyline, which contains a tremendous amount of pain and emotion. But despite her love of laughter, she’s a wise woman, as the example above shows. If we truly believe the promises of God, what is there to worry about? Our heavenly Father loves us. He wants what is best for us.
     Sometimes He asks us to step out of our comfort zones. He might require enough trust on our part to place a stone of faith in a slingshot of fear and aim it toward the giant, whatever our particular “giant” might be. Our concern, then, is to trust that God will guide that stone to the place it will have the most effect. Our challenge is to rest in the assurance that if Jesus said it, we believe it. Our only requirement is to trust Him.

And our God will come through.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."
~ Isaiah 12:2 (NIV)

SDC: Thank you so much for that, Delia. How fitting and appropriate your words of encouragement and that message of trust are to us all.
I also want to thank you for offering to provide a PDF of your new book, Yesterday's Promise, to a winning guest here at A Pen for Your Thoughts and a Yosemite screensaver program that will be a pleasure to have in the background as we read your story.
What reflection question do you have for us to ponder this week and respond to?

DELIA: What part of your life do you find the hardest to trust God with, and why? What can you do to increase your confidence in His promises?

SDC: Ah! A great couple of questions. Thanks.
Okay, readers... We look forward to your comments. When you respond, don't forget to leave your email address!

Find out more about Delia over at Facebook, 
at her website, and at her blogspots:

Congratulations to LuAnn Morgan of Othello, Washington! Delia will be in touch with you soon, LuAnn. And thanks for writing in.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kicking and Screaming YOUR Way to Ninevah? Read about Linda Windsor!

A hearty welcome to Linda Windsor, well-known author that joins us from the Maryland Eastern Shore.

Maryland Eastern Shore author Linda Windsor has written twenty-nine award-winning historical and contemporary novels. A mother of two and grandmother of two, she lives in an 18th century home called Forest Necke that she and her late husband painfully restored back in 1985. In addition to being handy with paint and wallpaper, Linda sang and played guitar and keyboard along with her husband in a professional country/Old R&R band called Homespun. She still sings and plays music at her church as well as speaks nationally for writer’s conferences, churches and private venues.

SDC: So good to have you here, Linda. Tell us first about your book coming out soon with Avon Inspire. We're anxious to hear.

Lw: HEALER is book one of the Brides of Alba trilogy, Alba being an early name for Scotland. And this is Arthurian Scotland—and King Arthur, for that matter—as never seen before. The series focuses on three brothers, their respective brides, and how love and faith grow to enable them to survive those trying times.

Forced to live most of her twenty years in hiding from both her clan and the clan who murdered her family, Brenna of Gowys wonders how she can possibly fulfill her mother’s prophecy that the Gowys seed will divide the enemy O’Byrne’s house and bring about a peace beyond his wicked ken. Brenna’s clan remnant would have her lead them to certain death against the stronger O’Byrnes. But Brenna is a healer, not a warrior. Nor is she the shape-changing wolf-woman of the hills as she’s rumored to be by the superstitious clans; although she does have a gift with wild animals, including a pet wolf.

So when Brenna witnesses the ambush and attempted murder of a warrior during the annual O’Byrne hunt to find the wolf-woman, she does what she’s called to do. She brings him into her mountain hideaway to heal him, even if he could be her enemy. All she knows is that he is not just wounded in body, but in spirit; that he’d been there as a frightened child when her family had been slain; and that she has seen a future with him. But is her faith strong enough to follow God’s vision, no matter where it leads?

SKC: It sounds wonderful! What made you decide to write in your genre?

Lw: Which one? . God brought me, a new Christian published in the secular and sexy historical genre, kicking and screaming to Ninevah—the inspirational market. I had a number of reasons for resisting, which I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say, I spent four years in the belly of the whale while God closed secular doors until I only had one way to go. With Him.

And I can say with all my heart that He not only showed me my preconceived notions about the inspirational market were wrong, but He gave me a ministry. A ministry of showing how God uses imperfect vessels to do marvelous works according to His plan. I have NEVER looked back. I give Him all the praise and glory because He saw potential in this broken, baby Christian where I saw none. And He led me through chemical depression at the same time. What a God!

SDC: I love that testimony! I'll bet there's more to it.
Lw: OKAY, BRACE YOURSELF. YOU DID ASK. In the midst of my chemical depression, I faced another trial. This affirmed that while my humor is in my romantic comedies/suspense, my heart is in the Celtic historical genre.

Back in the early 2000’s, I read about my Irish heritage in Thomas Cahill’s nonfiction How the Irish Saved Civilization. In doing so, I discovered not only my ethnic heritage, but my spiritual heritage as well. I was so taken by how Christianity made Ireland a place of faith and learning, that I decided to write a family saga set in 5th, 6th, and 7th century Ireland titled The Fires of Gleannmara (MAIRE, RIONA, and DEIRDRE) to portray that history and witness, while entertaining them with a page-turning romantic adventure. The early history of our church as it converted pagan to Christianity, so reaffirmed my faith and helped me to understand some of the New Age concepts (which really are old age), so that I was able to reach my daughter.

She’d been stalked and assaulted in college, turned against God in anger for allowing that to happen to a good Christian girl, and became involved in Wicca, or white witchcraft. I learned to build on what Christianity and pagan cultures had in common (good stewardship, the Golden Rule/Do No Harm, and nature magic (which in the Dark Ages was proto-science, not to be confused with dark magic involving spirits/demons). And then, I was able to do what the early apostles/missionaries did. Point out the major difference was that the pagans worshiped creation and glorified it, while Christians worshiped the Creator and glorified Him for the precious gift of creation.

This was my first and most precious witness. My daughter did not come back right away, but I’d planted the seed of truth and continued to nurture it with other historical knowledge, knowledge that would work on someone who’d rejected Scripture—temporarily. She came back to her faith after five years of my persistent, but gentle pointing to all the ideas/things she had in common with Jesus. She embraced Jesus the man early on, and embracing the Son of God had to follow and did. On Mother’s Day 2004, she went to the altar and gave her battered heart back to Christ. She now has her masters in social work, counsels others who’ve faced similar trials, and hopes to become a Christian counselor as well. What a God!

So this is the message and genre/means I feel called to pursue; showing how pagan societies that could not be tamed by the sword of Rome, were gentled by the love of Christ; and using the history and traditions of this era, the marvelous witnesses of the early Christian priests to reach New Age believers and to arm/educated Christians, especially our young people.

I call it fishing from the other side of the boat. When they discount the Bible and dismiss the church, try approaching them with history. We and especially our kids are constantly bombarded with New Age ideas and a liberal academic agenda that demonizes Christianity.

Had my daughter—or even I, at her age—known the history of early Christianity (how the first Christians reached the pagan multitudes), I would never have allowed myself to be taught in college that Jesus was just a man, if He existed at all. Because I would know better. I’d have an answer for the challenges about Crusades and Inquisition.

Sure the church has some dirty holy water. But don’t throw Jesus out with it!

(Pardon me if I got too long-winded, readers, but this message is my passion and I think you can see why. It hurts me to see people misled with New Age and about Christianity.)

SDC: No apologies necessary, for what a passion that is. Something like that is worth the sharing. We need to hear these things. So tell us, after a long day of writing or doing revisions in a story what is the very first thing you do?

Lw: Exercise if it’s early enough, or eat if it’s dinnertime. I cook or do some chores simultaneously with writing. Which is why sometimes a washing machine load has to be run again after mildew sets in, because I went back to the Dark Ages and forgot it was in there. It also accounts for soups/stews that stick and must be put in a fresh pot, leaving the burned on stuff in the bottom of the other for elbow grease and Barkeepers Friend. My daughter used to think that was part of the recipe. Oh, and when the smoke alarms goes off, which it seems to if I so much as make a peanut butter sandwich, the kids yell, “Dinner’s ready!”

SDC:  A little of this and a little of that. That's about how I do my chores, as well, Linda. How do you encourage other newer authors who get rejection slips?

Lw: I’ve joked time and again that if I ever get a comfy spot on the bestseller lists and do a keynote speech, the title will be: I Failed My Way to Success.

To become a writer, one must have leather-thick skin and the tenacity of a pit bull. The worst rejection is a form rejection. Yet even that can have a good reason for it that has nothing to do with the quality of the work. The Gleannmara Series was rejected in 1999 and bought in 2000. The reason? Another author had written a series set in Scotland and it was too close to Ireland. The publisher didn’t want their own authors competing with each other.

Always look for the good in a rejection letter. Allow yourself three days—that’s all Jesus had—to mope around and grouse. Then get back up, grab what you can from it, and keep on writing. This year I see at least four Christy nominees who were aspiring writers when American Christian Fiction Writers came into being. At least four! All ladies who had attended workshops, mine included, and applied themselves tenaciously, putting rejections behind them and trying again. And here they are Christy nominees! The Oscars of Christian publishing! I’m so proud, I feel like their mom.

Rejections are a writer’s refining. They are like footprints in the sand. If you don’t see any, then you are not moving toward your goal.

SDC: And we all go through that refining fire, don't we? So, how did Avon Inspire find you?

Lw: Actually, my agent found them. Although I’ve been around the horn with several Christian publishers and garnered several awards, so my name is known in CBA. Not known as in from the comfy spot on the bestseller list, though I did make it for a few weeks with Multnomah’s romcom HI HONEY I’M HOME. By the time I’d contracted with Avon Inspire for romantic comedy dashed with suspense, I’d already written sixteen secular books for Kensington Publishing, seven or so for Multnomah/Waterbrook/Random House, and a trilogy for Thomas Nelson’s Westbow. Avon Inspire contracted me along with Tracie Batemen for the launch of the line, so I’ve done two with them—Wedding Bell Blues and For Pete’s Sake.

HEALER, Brides of Alba is my 29th novel and the first of a trilogy for David C. Cook. I am thrilled that they’ve allowed me to put a character list, because Celtic names can be challenging, a glossary/reference because a little elaboration on meanings and cultural traditions is dessert for the historical nut, and a bibliography that provides additional reading for those who’d like to learn more about this particular Arthur (there were at least two) and the traditions/customs of the Dark Ages.

SDC: There's something in a name, isn't there? What advice do you have for other authors discouraged with the craft, Linda?

Lw: This sounds so pat, but I have had this hammered into me by God again and again. God’s timing is not my timing. His is better. He knows when I am ready to write His parable. I’ve had HEALER outlined since the 1990’s. It wasn’t ready. It had to mature along with me as a Christian. The result is a more powerful story for Him.

SDC: What excites you most about your writing experience on any given day?

Lw: The most exciting (and hair-pulling) experience in writing for God comes when I have written 2/3 of the contracted word count and my outline is only half done. I fret and fret. Then I pray, “God, I know you’ve got a plan. Care to share? HELP!”

Invariably, I get answering revelations between four to six in the morning. These are hours I never see unless I’m worried and plotting in my semi-sleeping state. And His idea is way better than the one I had originally. And it will surprise the reader because it surprised me! In fact, that is exactly where I am on THIEF, book two of the Brides of Alba and sequel to HEALER. After sweating a few days, I have had the revelation and am ready to move on. And every time this happens, I am so awed…and humbled.

I used to pray, “God, help me to outline a tighter book so this doesn’t happen.” But now I wonder if God doesn’t let me write myself into a dither just to remind me Whose book it really is.

SDC: And for any inspirational author, it should always be His, shouldn't it. What other books are your reading right now that inspire you?

Lw: At the moment, I’m up to my neck in Dark Age and early Christianity research. I don’t read for pleasure very often, unless it’s between projects. Then I make up for lost time.

SDC: When did you know from your heart of hearts that you were going to become a romance writer?

Lw: I didn’t plan to be an author. My degree is in elementary education. But I discovered romance with the seventies’ releases by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I read Wolf and the Dove during the delivery of my daughter and the nurse wanted the title and author because she’d never seen the like. I devoured historical romances until I read some that made think, “I can do this.”

So I wrote two super thick manuscripts on a caste iron Royola typewriter and sent them off…to be rejected. When my marriage failed, I had no time for writing as a single working mom and those books went into the attic. Years later, my second husband found them in the trash as we were moving. After reading one, he encouraged me to try again, saying “I don’t even read this stuff, but the story is really good.” Bless him.

The completely rewritten novels were purchased in 1990 by Zebra/Kensington, NY. And that was after they’d been rejected by a form letter! An agent sold them, not a word altered six months later. After sixteen books with them, God kicked me over to the inspirational market and number twenty-nine is HEALER.

SDC: That's so interesting. Although I always wanted to write, Kathleen was my early solid food to help me learn how to work with words. Linda, we really appreciate your offer to donate a book. What would you like to ask one of our readers?

Lw: If you know of anyone, especially impressionable teens or New Age aficionados, who might benefit from reading the facts woven into the romance and adventure of HEALER, please pass the book on to them. It could plant a seed, just like it did with my daughter. And I know God will nurture it.
Oh, and I’d like a book report please.

SDC: Thank you so much for being here. Tell us where we can find you on the web.

Lw: I am at Feel free to stop by and read excerpts from my books, or sign up for contest giveaways and my Umpthly newsletter. (Umpthly means it comes out when I have something to say.)
God bless and thank you for this opportunity to share.

SDC: Great word: umpthly. I will have to remember that. We've loved having you, Linda.

Okay, now to you readers and writers and visitors.You can see above what Linda would like to know. 

For Reflection: If you've ever had an impressionable teen, or been acquainted with a New Age aficionado, in what way has the Lord shown you to witness or be an example to draw that person into a relationship with God?

Write us and let us know. Be sure to include your email address. We'll toss you into the hat to win Linda's book.

CONGRATULATIONS TO JAN CLINE OF SPOKANE, WASHINGTON! Be watching for your book, Jan. And thanks so much!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


 A reflection from Cynthia Ruchti

In a contest many years ago—perfect attendance, memorized verses of Scripture, Bible quizzing, bring-a-friend-to-kids-club, or something—I won a milky white cross with a purple satin tassel attached to the top. Instructions that came with the gift said to hold it close to an incandescent bulb for a few minutes, then turn out all the lights and watch what would happen.

The cross glowed in the dark! To my little girl brain, that seemed magical, wondrous, awe-inspiring. The darker the room, the brighter the piece of plastic glowed…as long as I’d held it near the light source long enough and hadn’t grown too impatient.

When I landed on the tagline for my novels—Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark—I settled into it as comfortably as if it were my favorite pillow. I write about hope that shows up best against a dark backdrop. And isn’t that often its most striking display?

Fireworks against a midday sky? Not nearly as spectacular as they are against inky black. How remarkable is a fireworks display when the sun is shining?

And how pale the hope if it hasn’t spent long in the Light.

As a writer, I find that principle demonstrated throughout the writing and publishing process. Hope is what I need. Hope is what God offers. But it seems pale when viewed against a bleached-white sky. Hope’s outline is clearer, though, when it contrasts with the dark backdrop of yet another rejection, a harsh critique, or a disappointment about a project dear to a writer’s heart. That’s when it’s most remarkable for a writer to cling to hope.

In the discussion pages for my new release—They Almost Always Come Home—I wrote, “At times like that, God’s Word becomes our umbilical cord, pumping pulses of hope until rescue arrives.”

As it was with that plastic cross, though, hope’s glow fades if not exposed to the light. The Light.

                                   waiting, waiting, waiting—at every step in the process (and the journey of my life)

I’m reminding myself to hold hope close to the Light so it glows brightly against the dark backdrop of the inevitable disappointments.

In Hebrews 10:23 (Holman Bible), we’re given this reassurance: “Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

In my current release—They Almost Always Come Home—each of the characters face their own issues with fading hope. How did it grow so faint? Is there a point at which hope is a foolish pursuit better abandoned? In friendship? In families? In faith?

The video trailer for the book expresses it this way, giving prospective readers a peek into main character Libby’s longing.

“How can I leave him if I can’t find him? He was supposed to go fishing. He was supposed to come home. And I was supposed to care. Maybe he couldn’t find a place to land on the unforgiving shoreline of my heart. Do I want my marriage restored…even if he never comes home?”

Libby clings to hope like a little girl might cling to a glow-in-the-dark cross in a pitch-black closet. Readers who join her on the journey of retracing her husband’s paddle strokes through the wilderness that didn’t give him back will watch hope’s glow rise and wane.

As a little girl, I knew how to make that plastic cross glow brighter. After writing Libby’s story, it’s all the more clear. May my readers find that true as well.

They Almost Always Come Home released May 1, 2010 from Abingdon Press. It is available wherever books are sold and through,,…

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