Friday, January 20, 2017

Devotion: The Hardest Thing for a Parent

I'm writing this devotion 10,5 hours away from home. Why? Because this week my eldest kiddo started university. It is truly the most bizarre concept... pack up all her things, drive for a day, dump  her and all her packed things off. 

Wait, WHAT?

Every instinct is screaming against this foreign concept. Since the first day a crying pink bundle landed in my arms, my job has been to Be There, Mop Tears, Hug When Life Sucks, Cook Food, Clean The Dirty Dishes, Wash Dirty Clothes, Help, Listen, Love. Now I have to leave her and drive 10,5 hours in the opposite direction. That's over 1000 kilometers, not that anyone is counting. If you need me, I'll be over in the corner sobbing.

Driving away from Stellenbosch without her is going to be one of the hardest things I've ever done. I've bought tissues.

Wow. As her mom and dad, Scott and I are thinking of everything she may need so that when we leave town, she'll be able to do what we brought her all this way to do. She is here for a purpose and we are providing access to everything she needs to make sure she can get on with it.

All this sounds familiar though, doesn’t it?

Jesus felt the same when He left us humans after living with us for a while. But, in His usual perfect way, He had a plan. And what a plan it was! John 14:18 tells us that He didn't leave us as orphans, but sent Holy Spirit to be with us. If you read 2 Peter 1:3, you'll know that He has provided all things for life and godliness. And just as I can't wait for the first holiday when she gets to come home (and man, you can be sure her room will be ready!) Jesus is longing for the day we get to be reunited with Him too. He has already got the place all spiffied up for us. It's all there in John 14:3.

But do you know what would break my heart?  If my girl chooses not to use the bookshop account and struggles without textbooks for the year. If she chooses not to use the chemist facilities when her allergies get bad. If she doesn't use the cash we put in her bank for food and clothes.

Sounds crazy, right? But many of us struggle daily with things that Jesus has made provision for. I want to spend this year combing through my Bible and figuring out everything that He has provided.  Then I want to access it and use it lavishly for myself and for those around me.

Knowing how I feel about my kiddo, I'm pretty sure it will delight His heart.

Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She has just signed a three book contract for a YA series, Spirit Walker, with Pelican / Watershed.

Finding Mia is available from AmazonPelican / Harbourlight, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Shackles is available as a free ebook from Amazon & Smashwords.

Find her on FacebookTwitter and her sporadic blog Doodles.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The RITA Awards

It’s that time of year again when this UPS box is delivered to my door.

Is it a late Christmas present?

It feels like that :)

Inside are the books I’ve been given by the Romance Writers of America to judge for their annual RITA Awards!

It’s always exciting to open this box and see what stories I get to dive into.

This year I received six books. One is signed by the author. I love that, although of course it doesn’t affect my view of the book. I remain impartial whether the book has a gorgeous cover or not, whether it was published by a big house or independently published, etc.

Sorry I can’t share more details, but certain things must remain confidential.

For romance writers, this contest is akin to the Academy Awards (Oscars). It is judged solely by published romance writers.

Here is the link to RWA’s website if you’d like more information on the contest:

They even have a list of past winners.

Last year, one of the books I judged won. That was nice to see, since I loved the book. But there are tons, and I mean tons, of great books that didn’t win that are fabulous!

So happy reading everyone!

I have until March 7th to complete my judging. How many books will you read by then?

Eva Maria Hamilton is the author of Highland Hearts, a Love Inspired Historical novel published by Harlequin. Her novel, Highland Hearts, won 2nd Place in the Historical Romance, as well as the Traditional/Inspirational Romance Categories in the Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Awards, and was an Inspirational Series Finalist in the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her short story, Disinherited Love, can be read in the anthology, A Kiss is Still A Kiss. Eva Maria Hamilton is also the owner of Lilac Lane Publishing, which has currently published, Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice Colouring & Activity Book featuring Illustrations from 1895, and Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility Colouring & Activity Book featuring Illustrations from 1896.

To connect with Eva Maria Hamilton online, please visit her at

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Learning to Surrender

If I learned anything last year, I learned that I’m not as in control as I think I am. Not in my personal life, not in my ministry, and not in my writing career. And while I’ve never thought of myself as someone who needs to be in charge of everything, I have discovered that I have the need to fix things. And yes, to be in control.

Like many of us, with the New Year upon us, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting about what is ahead, and praying for God to direct me and use me. Normally, I pray, wanting words to hear words like renewal and refreshing, but this year the word I kept hearing was surrender.


It’s not easy to surrender it all--my fears and worries, my marriage, my children, my ministry, my writing. . .everything.

I don’t know about you, but surrender doesn’t seem to be something that we as humans do automatically. Or maybe it’s just me. Every time I turn around, I catch myself trying to handle things on my own. Trying to fix things on my own. Over and over.

To help me understand what surrendering really means, I started reading through scripture that talked about trusting in Him only and where my focus needs to be.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matt 6:33

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Corinthians 12:9

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

I’m continuing to learn that He hears my prayers and my cries and wants me to trust everything to Him.

To surrender to His will, His direction, and His promises.

And I’m learning that is enough.

LISA HARRIS is a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom and Vendetta, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 (Blood Covenant) and 2015 (Vendetta) from Romantic Times. She has over thirty novels and novella collections in print. She and her family have spent over thirteen years working as missionaries in Africa. When she's not working she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari. For more information about her books and life in Africa visit her website at

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Professional Development for Writers

By Narelle Atkins

I started writing my first book last century. Fourteen years later I sold that book to a traditional publisher in a six book deal. My writing apprenticeship of fourteen years is long by today's standards.

A debut author has options in 2017 that didn't exist when I started writing. They can pursue traditional publishing opportunities or independently publish their first book. Both options are legitimate. The wisdom lies in an author discerning which publishing path (traditional, indie, or hybrid) is best for their writing career and whether or not their book is ready to be published.

Writing quality matters. In many ways it matters more in 2017 than it did last century. The book market is saturated with books that aren't going out of print. The supply of new print, digital, and audio books available for readers to purchase or borrow increases every day. Millions of books are available online. Readers are no longer limited to reading what's available on the shelf in their local book store or library. The best quality books will stand out in a crowded market where word of mouth marketing sells books.

My fourteen year writing apprenticeship was largely spent on two key things. Firstly, I invested time and money in learning the craft of writing. I took writing classes, read craft books, attended writing conferences, worked with critique partners, and entered unpublished writing contests.

Secondly, I learned how to write a marketable contemporary Christian romance that attracted the interest of an editor at a publishing house. Both of these endeavours required skills that aren't born from natural talent. A writing career requires persistence, hard work, and a willingness to learn.

The hard work doesn't end when your debut book is published. Marketing and book promotion activities become part of an author's life. Readers who enjoyed your first book eagerly await your second book. And your third book. They want to be wowed again and again by the stories you create.

Writing professional development is a lifelong pursuit for authors. Traditionally published authors have to wow their editor to obtain their next contract. All authors have to wow their readers to inspire them to buy their next book.

In March I'll be blessed with the opportunity to attend a Margie Lawson Immersion Master Class over a holiday weekend. In Australia. In Canberra. Only a fifteen minute drive from my home. I've wanted to work with Margie for years, and I'm thrilled that I can fit the Writing Intensive Master Class into my 2017 schedule. The timing is perfect for a bunch of reasons.

Have you made plans in 2017 to pursue writing professional development opportunities? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, NARELLE ATKINS was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia.

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins

Monday, January 16, 2017

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

I am often a witness to this phenomenon with my five-year-old son at the dinner table. That moment when the child can hardly flex his jaw for all the food propping it open. How often have I told him "not so much", or "one bite at a time", or "swallow that before you stuff any more in there!" Slowly I am learning how easy it is to find yourself in that predicament.  

This post is perhaps a perfect example of that--one more bite that probably should have been passed to someone else. Yesterday was the deadline for the third book in my Hearts at War series and the release of my debut novel (the first book in that series) is in less than two weeks. 

That would have probably been enough for the month, but I also decided to gnaw on home renos and putting our house on the market. Add packing up half the house so it won't look cluttered when people come to view (two adults and three kids in a two bedroom home makes for tight on space). 

Change always fills up the mouth quite quick, so why not add some more? This week my responsibilities have changed with the children's program in our church. I am now in charge of music, which etails teaching the children new songs. Two twenty minute programs every Sunday. 

And I still have to do laundry and dishes and tidy up (and chase) after three kids under 6. Oh, and two birthday parties - one for the sweet girl who turns four today! :) 

Please don't think I just wrote my laundry list so you could feel overwhelmed with me.  On the contrary, I shared some of the craziness of this month so I can testify to the greatness of our God. For he is Great. He is my strength and in Him all things are possible! 

Somehow I have enough time. Somehow books get written and children get cared for and read to. Somehow I am carried through tasks when I'm too weary to do it on my own. 

There will always come those days, months, or even years that we realise we have bitten off more we can chew. We have writing deadlines and book promotion intermingled with real life. God is always near, ready and willing to bear our burdens and give us the strength we need as we move forward in faith!

A Woman Compelled by Christian Charity
Surrounded by the musket fire of the American Revolution, Rachel Garnet prays for her family to be safe.  When the British invade the Mohawk Valley, and her father and brother don’t return from the battle, she goes in pursuit of them. She finds her brother alive but her father has been killed at the hand of the enemy. Amidst the death, how can she ignore a cry for help…? Rachel reluctantly takes in a badly wounded British officer. But how long can her sense of Christian duty repress her hatred for his scarlet coat?
A Man Lost to the Devastation of War
Passages of Scripture and fleeting images of society are all Andrew Wyndham recalls after he awakens to the log walls of his gentle prison. Even his name eludes him. Rachel Garnet insists he is a captain in the British army. He mourns the loss of his memory, but how can he hope to remember war when his “enemy” is capturing his heart?

A Scarlet Uniform Holds the Power to Unite or Divide
Andrew’s injuries are severe, his memory slow to return, and the secret of his existence too perilous to ignore. As Rachel nurses him back to health, his hidden scarlet coat threatens to expose the deeds of her merciful heart, and Andrew is forced to face a harrowing decision—Stay hidden and risk losing the woman he loves or turn himself in and risk losing his life.
Available for Preorder at:       Barnes & Noble           Indigo/Chapters         Amazon

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Coming Up This Week


Angela Couch


Narelle Atkins


Lisa Harris


Eva Maria Hamilton

Friday Devotion

Dianne Wilson


New Releases

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sow in Love, the prequel novella to her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series), releases independently as part of the collection Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley in January 2017.


Upcoming Releases

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense, Desert Secrets, will be a February 2017 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense, Pursued, will be an April 2017 release from Revell.

Patricia Beal's debut contemporary women’s fiction set in Germany and in the United States, A Season to Dance, will be a May 2017 release from Bling! Romance / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sprouts of Love, Book 1 in her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series), releases independently in May 2017.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Promise of Peppermint, prequel to her Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in July 2017.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Memories of Mist, Book 3 in her Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in August 2017.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Better Than a Crown, Book 3 in her Christmas in Montana Romance series, releases independently in October 2017.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Rooted in Love, Book 2 in her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series) releases independently in November 2017.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Walking Around in A Fog By Marcia Lee Laycock

Walking in a Fog
Walking in a Fog
I was in a hurry and it didn’t help that I had to warm up the car and brush the snow off the windshield. Then I realized I’d forgotten something on my desk so I dashed back into the house. My glasses immediately fogged up but I just kept going. Wham! I whacked my knee on the bench in the hallway. Ooff! I bumped into the end of the couch in the family room. Finally I stopped long enough to take my glasses off and let them return to normal. It only took a few seconds for them to clear and I was on my way again.

We often walk around in a fog, bumping into obstacles that hurt. We get aggravated and anxious when there is a simple solution. Stop. Stand still. Wait until the fog clears, then proceed. Of course in real life we think there isn’t time to stop. There isn’t time to stand still and wait. There are deadlines to meet, important people to see, vital decisions to make. The world will whiz by without us if we don’t keep up. So we plow ahead, and usually end up in a mess.

Often we wander in a fog spiritually as well. Something happens that causes us to lose our faith or to challenge the goodness of God. Though we are confused, we plow ahead on our own, bumping into false philosophies and destructive ideas. Our logic becomes the fog of disbelief. The solution here is the same. Stop. Be still. Wait.

Waiting for the fog to clear is a biblical principle. David knew about it as he wrote, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14). He must have felt like he was living in a fog as he was chased into the wilderness. He’d been anointed king of the land but it didn’t look like he would ever rule. It didn’t look like God was going to come through and fulfill his promises. But David held on to what he knew about the character of God. He knew God’s faithfulness. He knew all he had to do was stop, be still, and let the Lord clear the fog away.

God has said it himself – “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). No matter what’s happening around us, we can have that single assurance. God is God and he will never leave us. No matter how confused we are, no matter how angry we become at him, he will never turn his back on us. He will clear the fog away, the fog of doubt, pain, anger or fear. Nothing is too thick for him. Nothing is too dense. He will blow it away like the thin smudge from a tiny candle. He will fulfill all his promises. All we have to do is take the time to be still, hold on to him, and wait. 


Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

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