Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Guest Author: Gail Gaymer Martin

I'm excited to host Gail Gaymer Martin. Here's a bit about her,

Multi-award-winning author, Gail Gaymer Martin, writes for Steeple Hill, Barbour Publishing, and is the author of Writing the Christian Romance from Writers Digest. Gail has signed forty fiction contracts and has over 1 million books in print. She is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers and a popular keynote speaker and workshop presenter at conference across the U.S. She has a Masters degree and post-master’s classes from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and she was an instructor of English and public speaking at Davenport University in the Detroit area. Visit her website at www.gailmartin.com and her blog site on Writing Fiction Right at www.writingright-martin.blogspot.com

I have to say I am so excited about her new book: Writing the Christian Romance. I've been reading it and incorporating the information into my writing. Very helpful. Here's an interview:

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I began writing for publication in 1994, the year before I took an early retirement. In September, I submitted a book of four Christmas programs I had written for my church. The book, Kneel Before the Babe, was contracted in January 1995. I continued to write articles and short stories for magazines and sold most everything I wrote, but in 1997, I also began to write fiction, my little kid dream. I sold my first novel to Barbour in 1998. Six months later, I sold my second novel to them which was released in 1999 and that year, I sold my first book to Steeple Hill Love Inspired.

Why do you write?

I must. It’s as simple as that. My mind is filled with stories that I want to see in print. I love being blessed with so many sales, forty contracted novels, so I truly believe the Lord has deigned me to be a writer of Christian fiction. Since I am a teacher to the bottom of my toes and know that Jesus taught using parables, I also believe that my novels are modern day parables that can touch people’s hearts and make a difference in their lives. For these reasons, writing is a must.

What inspired you to write the non-fiction book writing book?

I wrote WRITING THE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE for two reasons. For years, I've been a romance columnist with either The Christian Communicator (TCC) or Spirit-Led Writing, an ezine. Lyn Johnson, editor of the TCC, suggested a few years ago that I consider writing a book on Christian romance. I'd give it thought earlier, but her comment brought it into my mind again, but not until three years later, as I mentored writers, was I struck by the need for a book on writing Christian romance. No book exists that deals with this specific genre in full-book length, although you can find numerous books on writing secular romance and some on writing Christian fiction. Since the genre is very different from secular romance, I wrote a proposal and my agent sent it to Writers Digest, the biggest publisher of how-to books on writing.

I agree, Gail. I’ve found the same to be true. I couldn’t find a book which taught specifically on writing Christian romance and so appreciate that you’ve addressed that felt need, as they say. What do you want the reader to take away from the book?

I hope the book WRITING THE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE will provide writers with a better understanding of the nuances of the genre and specific reader and publisher expectations. I hope writers will grasp the importance of three-dimensional characterization brought to life with realistic emotion, meaningful dialogue that moves the story forward, hooks that turn the book into a page-turner, an understanding of the elements of sexuality and spirituality expected in Christian romance, and ideas on networking and connecting with fellow authors, as well as finding an agent and publisher. If they gain this kind of information from excerpts of well-known Christian author and the examples and exercises I provide, I will feel very blessed.

How is writing non-fiction is different from fiction.

Writing non-fiction is a different talent than writing fiction. I think non-fiction needs a teacher’s heart. A writer needs to know how to explain details clearly, precisely and with good examples and excellent organization. Although creativity is needed to provide an interesting writing style and sometimes a storytelling approach, the creativity is very different from fiction. You have no characters to take over and march to their own drum. You have to be the drummer and march to a well-defined tune so that others can comprehend and learn from your book.

I understand you have a new fiction release too. Tell us about it.

My novel, FAMILY IN HIS HEART, is a January release, and it's in stores until the end of January, then still available from eharlequin or Amazon.com. This is the last book set on Michigan Islands, in this case, Drummond and Les Cheneaux Islands in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Les Cheneaux is French for The Channels and is comprised of thirty-six islands of varying sizes. The book received 4-1/2 stars in the Romantic Times.

Congratulations on that review! Do you have any advice for writers?

Helping writers is one of the blessings of a being a novelist. Since one-on-one is difficult when I’m on book deadlines so often, it motivated me to write the book on writing romance. I have also begun a new blog, Writing Fiction Right which is at: www.writingfiction-martin.blogspot.com Both the book and blog offer all kinds of help for writers, but my final thought is to be patient. Don’t take the easy way out and self-published or POD publish. Instead wait until the Lord wants to bless your work when it and you are truly ready and when those who need the book are ready to read it. As the Bible says, a man can plan his course but God guides his steps. We often want to push God instead of waiting for His quiet voice to answer us. My motto is a whole list of Ps for writers---patience, perseverance, planning, preparing, polishing, and prayer. Prayer is the best advice of all.

Thanks for inviting me to be a featured guest on your site. Blessings to you and to all writers. Gail Gaymer Martin

Thank you, Gail. Readers--her website is packed with helpful information for writers. If you have a moment, go take a peek.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I can’t help myself. I will get back to my scheduled series soon, but this couldn’t wait. Today, the verse displayed at the bottom of this blog was one that has come up three times this week, in different contexts and I can’t let it pass without saying this:

You are valuable to the Lord.

Very valuable.

Do you ever doubt that? If I fully believed the Lord valued me as much as I’ve heard He does, I’d:
  • Live more freely
  • Love more openly
  • Trust more completely
  • Soar higher
  • Give more generously
  • Worry less
  • Care more deeply
  • Live without fear

Jesus said:

"Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. " (Luke 11:6-7, NKJV)

He’s saying, you don’t have to worry about your life, because God the Father values you. I read in Genesis this morning of Sarai’s servant Hagar. She was pregnant with Ishmael and had treated Sarai with contempt, so Sarai (Sarah) treated her harshly. Hagar ran away and God met her. He gave her promises and comfort and direction. She began calling Him from that day “El-Roi,” the God who sees.

God sees you. He knows. He cares. And all that because He values you. A lot. Challenge yourself. Do you believe this? Truly? What would change in your life if you did?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Guest Author: Maureen Lang

It is my pleasure to host returning author Maureen Lang. I've recently finished her book "On Sparrow Hill." What a treat. Here's an interview with her. (Don't miss the info about her book trailer.)

Tell us about your newest release, On Sparrow Hill.

Two parallel stories are told in this novel, starting with a contemporary heroine who is the curator of one of England’s finest historical estates. She wants only two things: to make the estate the best example of Victorian living for England’s repertoire of historic homes, and to forget the childhood crush she had on the estate’s aristocratic and most often absent owner. The first goal is a lot easier to attain than the second, since he returns to the estate with every intention of living there during the summer.

A second storyline returns to Victorian times, to Ireland, where an aristocratic Englishwoman arrives to start a school for the “gentle feebleminded.” She is the epitome of Victorian philanthropy, except she wants to be directly involved in running the school instead of allowing others to do it for her. When the brother of one of her students arrives, she isn’t sure he’ll help or hurt her quest (privately or professionally).

This is the sequel to The Oak Leaves, where the parallel stories took place in contemporary Chicago and Victorian England. But readers needn’t have read that book to enjoy this one. On Sparrow Hill is first a romance, but it touches on dealing with persons suffering from mental retardation, with an underlying theme of servanthood.

To see a book trailer about On Sparrow Hill, readers can visit my website and scroll down the homepage to click on the book’s cover. It’s so much fun to visualize various aspects of the book! http://www.maureenlang.com

Why did you write On Sparrow Hill?

Since I have a child who is in many areas considered profoundly mentally retarded, this is a subject that permeates my life. He is affected by Fragile X Syndrome, which plays a part in both The Oak Leaves and On Sparrow Hill. One of the lessons that come with having a child like my son has to do with servanthood. I’m like a lot of people who do what must be done, and yet sometimes, I’m sorry to admit, I resent my son’s disability. Not just because of everything he’s missing, but (selfishly) because of the limitations his condition puts on my life. God often has to remind me that He came to earth as a servant, so what right have I to complain? None. Serving others is something we should all strive for, and if you’re lucky enough to serve someone you actually already love – well, so much the better!

What would you like your readers to come away with?

My first hope with any book is that readers will finish the last page refreshed, having been entertained. But each of my books has a theme, and with this one it was servanthood. My hope is that the next time one of my readers might feel like some of the tasks they do in life seem ordinary, boring, unappreciated, or tiresome, they’ll be reminded that if that action is in the service of someone else, it’s valuable to God.

What do you love most about being a writer? What do you least like?

I recently had a discussion about writers getting to “live a dream.” This is absolutely true for me. I’ve had a desire to tell stories since I was a little girl, so writing is something I obviously can’t do without. I would write stories even if I were the only one to read them. But I must admit, knowing others are reading my books is one of the things putting my life in the dream-come-true category. I think a lot of people are living their dream. We’re wired for work, for the satisfaction of creating. When we learn what we’re wired for and then get to do it — that’s living a dream. A slice of Heaven.

As for what I like least about writing . . . well, there isn’t a lot I don’t like. I love actually writing, even at the beginning of every story, when I’m terrified I won’t do the subject justice. There is, however, a business side to writing that all writers must tend to, whether we’re published or not. Before publication, you have to do all you can to get your work in front of agents and editors. The whole submission process takes you away from actually writing. After publication, networking remains every bit as important as before publication, and that takes time, too. I think a lot of writers are like me, rather introverted, and we have a vision of just sitting at our computers creating. It can all be fun if it’s balanced well, but to me the dream part of this career is found in the actual writing, not the business angle associated with it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Practical advice would be of course to just sit down and write. We can improve our skills by reading good books, attending conferences, joining writer’s loops to learn more about the craft. But the bottom line is to devote the time you can to writing. I’m always amazed when people tell me they have a passion for writing, but they have trouble finding the time to finish a manuscript. If this is happening to you, the first thing to do is get that first draft under your belt, if only to prove to yourself that you can. Don’t be obsessed with making each scene perfect until you’ve gotten the first draft down. You’ll have plenty of time for revision! But the next piece of advice I have is to not let yourself get swamped in rewriting, either. We can tweak a project to death sometimes. There comes a time when you just have to let go, move on to something else, and perhaps come back to it in the future if you still feel it can use some revision.

Personally, I like to think of writers actually writing. It’s what we do. We can find enjoyment by reading the work of others we admire, we can research non-fiction books for material. We can attend writer’s group meetings, writer’s conferences and retreats, which is all fun, not to mention important for networking. But it’s all about the writing, so if some of that stuff is getting in the way of writing, then it’s time to sit down again and create. It’s why we love this so much. God created us in His image, and part of that is a love of creating. For writers, that only comes by writing. So get to work!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Jesus was fully submitted to the Father, for the course of His life: His choices, His will, His ways. He only did what He saw the Father doing.

But even the word submission gives us anxiety. Give up my rights? My choices? My will? No way!

Here’s how I like to see it—I’ve got a plate in my hands—a dinner plate. It’s full of my own choices and their consequences, my own ways, my chosen course (rebellion) and all of it is ugly. It’s loneliness and depression, fear and failure. Not good.

Then, Jesus comes along. He’s got a plate in his hands and a banquet coming into view behind Him. He comes in wisdom; He knows the best ways to navigate through this life. He comes with blessings: peace for my anxious thoughts, communion in place of loneliness, faith in place of fear and humble success in place of failures. He’s also got a question:

Will you give up your plate full of garbage (personal ways, rebellion, pain, fear, etc.) and accept His feast (including peace, unconditional love, forgiveness, faith, life more abundantly)?

The enemy of our souls would have us believe submitting to God and His ways will mean bondage. And we believe that for fear. But God’s Word says:

and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17, Literal)

Ever watched a small child ride along in a car? They’re buckled into their car seat with safety T-seatbelts, hands at their sides (in a content moment) and trusting. That’s the key.

God can and will take the willing believer farther and with more freedom and peace than s/he could ever go alone. And after this journey on earth is completed, eternity with Him, where we’ll feast on Him.

What do you have in your hands that is more blessed, beautiful or meaningful than what God can offer you? What ways are you walking in that God has shown you aren’t His? What will you do about it?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


This is one of my favorite facets of Jesus’ character. His compassion. This aspect shows us His tender side. Have you ever thought of God as distant and cold and waiting to knock you back in line should you stray? This trait proves that depiction is a lie from the enemy meant to turn you off toward God.

Over and over in the Gospels, Jesus comes upon a sick or needy person and He is moved with compassion. (See Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 20:34, etc.)

Here’s one of my favorites passages:

“And a leper came to Him, begging Him and kneeling down to Him, and saying to Him, If You will, You can make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I [am] willing; be clean!” (Mark 1:40-41)

In the Visual Bible Matthew series, Bruce Marchiano (as Jesus) played that passage (from Matthew’s account) with such compassion and tenderness. It’s very moving. Jesus saw how much this person had suffered and how lonely he was. The Lord was his only hope, and Jesus chose to help him because of compassion.

It’s the Lord’s compassion that made me fall in love with him the first time. When I saw His tender side, I was moved and undone. All the guards and facades and protective mechanisms I’d developed from dealing with life and imperfect people (like myself) fell away in the light and warmth of this amazing compassion.

And it’s His compassion that woos me now, when I have a rough day or when the guards shoot back up into place. When I’m untouchable even from God’s perspective. Not for long. He has a secret weapon. Compassion. He doesn’t want the miserable to stay unhappy and wounded. He wants us healed and freed to glorify Him.

When we gaze on His tender heart, all cynicism melts away and we can then have compassion on others. I have to be willing to behold His tenderness so I can be molded into a person who loves mercy more and more.

I don’t mind. I love His compassionate heart.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Now, you know when you start focusing on one aspect of the Lord, learning about a certain facet, you’re going to get a chance to practice.

This is me the other night during a windstorm. A sense of dread because I knew it was coming. Prayer about how to handle it better than previous times. We have narrow passageways between our yard and the yards of our neighbors, and we have lots of huge trees. The wind loves to barrel down the narrow places and whip past our window while stirring up a horrendous noise in the trees. Just outside the bedroom window, where, a-hem, we’re trying to sleeeeeeeeep.

What did I blog about just last week? Peace??? Right. Time for some practice.

I sat in my room and journaled, reading the Word before bed. The weather reports were calling for high winds through the night. Yippee. But God spoke to me. He told me the winds are clearing the trees of dead branches. That the storm wasn’t going to hit us very severely and that He would guard our home (and sleeping children). I could rest in Him.

Wow. What a difference. Peace.

He also instructed me to use the air filter we have in the room, which provides rather loud white noise.

Ya know, Jesus laid down in the back of a boat and fell asleep out in the elements during a huge windstorm which brought plenty of water over Him. He knew God would protect Him. That night, I knew God would protect me. The gales woke me a couple of times (having three children, I’m a light sleeper), but I kept putting my trust in the Lord. And He got us through.


Aren’t you thankful God wants to carry us through, that the Prince of Peace wants to impart peace to us?


Thursday, January 3, 2008

His Peace

Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called Wonderful,
Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6, NKJV)

Ever get anxious about anything? I do. Wish I didn’t. I know Jesus didn’t. He walked around in full trust of the Father, no matter what. He had intimacy with God, and He made time (sometimes praying all night) to spend with Him. Being in communion with God on a continual basis will bring you peace.

Jesus didn’t come to bring peace to the world (at least not the first time around) (see Matthew 10:34), but He did come to bring peace to the fretful soul. He came to get personal. Personal with your needs, your broken heart, your pain, your life. And He came to personally give you peace.

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27, NKJV)

That peace which He offers isn’t an empty greeting. The peace Jesus offers is real—tangible. He is the Prince of Peace and as such, when He speaks peace, He imparts it.

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:39, NKJV)

I believe Jesus took His concerns to the Father, like Paul the Apostle later wrote:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV)

So, the key to being conformed to Christ’s image in peace is to have intimacy with the Father, handing your burdens over to Him. A great place to begin? Ask for the Prince of Peace to speak peace to your heart.