Monday, December 26, 2016

The Year I Forgot Christmas

A Very Special Guest Post from Deborah Hemstreet . . . Dvora Elisheva in Hebrew . . . directly from Israel

Holiday of Holidays in Haifa, Israel
An Israeli Christmas
by Deborah Hemstreet

I first came to Israel in 1982 at the age of 27 years. It was the first time I had lived overseas. I was immediately immersed in a new world. I was also living in the Middle East, in a culture that was and is forming its own unique identity—an amalgamation of cultures from East and West thrown into a stew beyond my comprehension.

I was the odd one out, a Messianic Jew who was frequently told that I wasn’t really Jewish because my father was Jewish, not my mother, and because of my absurd belief in a Messiah that no good Jew could possibly believe in. Even the Jewish Christian community where I lived in Tiberias didn’t know what to do with me. I didn’t fit into anyone’s box of stereotypes. I had not been brought up with a “Jewish complex” as I call it. My identity as a believer in Jesus was just that. Jesus first, Jewish second.

Learning a new language that forced me to read from right to left was a real challenge—I am severely directionally challenged. I still get horizontal and vertical mixed up! I was a visiting nurse caring for elderly people who had given up far more than I had for the privilege of living in a holy land, where I was more aware of holes in the logic of faith than of holiness lived out by the Chosen People or the Body of Messiah.

This was a land where seasons were marked by rains and winters that seemed more like spring, and where the thirsty land cried out for those precious life-giving drops.

I didn’t look at my English calendar much. The days, weeks, and months were measured around the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Time flew and suddenly I was surrounded by the wonder of my first Hanukkah—the Feast of Dedication—in Israel.

Hence, my surprise when late in December—the 24th to be specific—I entered the home of friends and saw—of all things—a Christmas tree. I’d completely forgotten about Christmas. My friends thought that was insane… how could I have forgotten? But I had. Without the external trappings to surround me, and with no familiar songs filling my heart, somehow Christmas had just plain slipped my mind.

That could never have happened in the Haifa of 2016 where I now live. Haifa is proud of its reputation for tolerance and diversity. Everyone accepts each other. Jews, Christians, and Muslims live together in peace, even, for the most part, Jewish believers in Jesus. In Haifa we celebrate the Holiday of Holidays, where Christmas, Hanukkah, and the Feast of the Sacrifice, and sometimes Ramadan, converge for a December festival. People from all over Israel come to visit and enjoy the holidays. Holidays—not holy days.

Over the years, I’ve learned to separate the holiday from the holy day. The day Jesus was born, based on the weather in Israel in December, was most likely NOT December. Shepherds would not be out in the fields in December when winter rains are almost guaranteed—except in time of drought—and when the cold is a certainty near Bethlehem—possibly even snow!

In my heart I miss the holiday of my childhood. Putting up the tree with my parents, going to a midnight Christmas Carol service, coming home, opening gifts, watching A Christmas Carol… the holidays speaks to my heart of tradition, family, joy, giving, and sorrow for days now past.

But the Holy Day? That day is celebrated in my heart every time I take the bread and wine and remember that the importance of Jesus’ birth rests in His death and resurrection. He is Risen—He is risen indeed. And that could never have happened if He had never been born.

Christians all to often argue about this holiday until I want to scream. Pagan holiday vs holy day and some avoid singing the Christmas Carols at all costs. I’m one of those weird ones who plays Christmas Carols all year round and wish we could stop arguing and start living. Christmas has become secularized. It will become more so. Why should we be surprised? We live in a world that is increasingly hating truth and light and truly holy days. Holidays are fine—but holy days?

But if we make every day a holy day the world cannot rob us, and we can enjoy the holiday. And when the family, trees, gifts, and carols are memories past, no one can take the Holy Day from us, because Jesus is in our hearts!

That is Christmas for me. May these thoughts encourage and bless you as this season fades into a New Year, and may the birth of Jesus be a joy to your heart every day, because He is risen—He is risen indeed! 

Deborah Hemstreet writes under her pen name, “Dvora Elisheva.” Her father was a Jewish believer in Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew), her mother was a non-Jewish believer. Deborah likes to identify herself as a follower of Jesus—with no denominational affiliation other than a member of the Body of Christ.
Professionally, Deborah has been a nurse (LPN), and holds a BA in Special Education and an MA in Technical Communication. Currently she is the English Communications Specialist at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel—the largest hospital in northern Israel. She is actively involved in representing the hospital to the Christian community. She also teaches English using the Bible as a textbook in an Israeli Chinese Church and is a member of the worship team in her Messianic congregation in Haifa.
Deborah came to Israel in 1982, and other than for a brief period of time (2007–2011) has lived there ever since. She married for the first time in 2007 and relocated to the USA, she thought forever. However, God had different plans and in 2010 her husband Rich died, and in 2011 she returned to Israel to live.
Her autobiography, Connecting the Dots of a Disconnected Life: Hope for a Fractured Soul was recently published and is available on Amazon.
Find Deborah / Dvora on the Internet:
·                  Author Website:
·                  Blog:
·                  Email:
·                  Facebook:
·                  Twitter (I don’t tweet much though): @DvoraElisheva (

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Blurred Future ♦ Tanya Eavenson

"Kisses, Kids, and Bundles of Joy" Collection

A Blurred Future
by Tanya Eavenson

Recently I was asked to share what inspired my new story To Gain a Mommy. It might surprise you, but my inspiration behind this story isn't what most people would think of, it was actually a prayer. 

Several months ago I was asked to take a great position at the company I work for, but the catch was I'd barely have time for my family. So I prayed. In that prayer I asked God for direction for my family, my job, and my writing. 

I love how God knows us. 

He KNEW I had a desire to be a part of a boxed set of stories, working with other authors, and to write my first novella because without a push, I wouldn't have done it.

It all began by a simple post on my FB timeline. Someone posted to say that they had messaged me but wanted to let me know since FB has a couple of message boxes. 

I didn't know this! I clicked on messages and there it was, the extra message box, filled. As I read through them, I had a message asking if I'd be interested in joining the boxed set Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy. 

He answered my prayer! So, needless to say, I didn't take the position and through this boxed set, I’ve become an Amazon Bestseller and an International Bestseller in three countries. Isn't God good!

Is there something you’re praying about? Trust in the Lord and He will direct your path.

♦ ♦ ♦

 Excerpt from To Gain a Mommy
Chapter One
Carl McGuire smiled and shook his head as his eight-year-old son, Brody, held the sheer curtain and stared out the window at some poor, unsuspecting woman across the street.

Brody pointed, excitement dancing in his wide eyes. “Did you see the dog? He was standing by the palm tree a minute ago.”

“No,” Mary huffed, moving her younger brother to the side, swiping the tan fabric from him. “What does she look like?” She followed his stare out the window.

“She’s golden brown. And how do you know the dog is a girl? You can’t tell from here.”

“I’m not talking about the dog. The lady. What does she look like?”

“Who cares about her? Look at the dog.”

Carl leaned back in his desk chair, setting his phone down. The woman had no idea what she was about to encounter being their neighbor, but if she did indeed own a dog, she’d find out soon enough. Perhaps he could go over and warn her before it was too late. “Why don’t you give our new neighbor some privacy?”

Mary perked up and turned from the window. “I have a better idea. Why don’t we go over and say hi? It’s the neighborly thing to do. Love your neighbor as yourself, you always say.”

How conveniently she recalled scripture when it suited. Only last week she totally ignored his comment to ‘obey your parents.’ Even if there was only one parent, it still applied.

“Yeah, dad!” Brody pushed past his sister to stand near the door, so if Carl agreed, he’d be the first out. “I’m sure she’ll let us play with her dog while she moves her stuff from the truck.”

Carl had actually thought about going over to introduce himself and his children when the moving truck had first pulled into the driveway earlier that day, but several phone calls later, the fire department’s fundraiser was finally underway. As captain, he had an obligation not only to the townspeople and their safety but also to raise money for needed improvements to the fire fighters’ “home away from home.”

He glanced at the list of numbers he still needed to call. “Maybe tomorrow. We can take some cookies or something.”

“But Dad, it’s a golden retriever.”

As if the breed of the dog would change his mind. “Sorry, buddy. I still have too much to do.”
Mary released the curtain. “She has blond hair, but that’s all I could tell.” She rounded the couch and plopped down in the recliner. “You know, if you’d just get him a dog, it might cure his dog fascination.”

 “Thank you, Mary. I’ll keep that in mind.” Even though his daughter stayed silent, he sensed she wanted to say more but held her tongue, something she’d been doing more often lately.

Being a single parent wasn’t easy, but he’d always known where he stood with Mary and what was on her mind. Now he wasn’t so sure and it bothered him. She’d be a teenager in less than six weeks and was growing up much too fast. Every day he’d been noticing little things that reminded him of Faith, memories of what he used to have before she was taken in a hit-and-run. Some days like today were painfully real.

“…are you listening? We’re hungry.”

Carl blinked twice, pushing his thoughts away as he glanced at the time on his phone. “What do you want to eat?” He stood and slid his cell into his pocket.

Mary linked her arm through his. “Can I go to Tiffany’s house Tuesday for a sleepover?”

Brody ran past them into the kitchen and opened the freezer. “I thought we’re going to Grandma’s?”
“You are. I’m on shift.” He patted his daughter’s hand as it slid from his arm. “Maybe next week.”
“Why I can’t go? I’m a teenager now. I can take care of myself. Besides, it would be easier for Grandma if I wasn’t there. One less mouth to feed.”

“You know how I feel about staying together while I’m on shift. I don’t have to worry about your safety. And besides, Grandma fixes us food regardless or sends it home with us. Speaking of”—he opened the refrigerator—“are you in the mood for leftovers?”

Brody yanked out a pizza. “How about pizza?”

“Not pizza again.” Mary sank to a barstool. Her lips protruded slightly into a pout.

“Okay.” Brody stuffed the pizza back in the freezer and held out two more options. “We have pizza rolls or pizza pockets. I like either one.”

Carl chuckled, swiping his wallet and keys from the counter. “Grab your shoes. We’ll get something to eat.” He went into his room and put on his running shoes, but as he was walking out, the picture of Faith on his dresser caught his eye. The ache in his chest dimmed over the years, but never quite vanished. She gazed back at him, her smile brilliant. Breathtaking. And a mirror image of—

He shook his head to focus on the present and his two hungry children. Walking back into the living room, he yelled, “We ready?” The front door was open. They must be waiting for him by the truck.
In an instant, an ear piercing scream cut through the air, straight down the center of his heart.

About Tanya:
Tanya Eavenson is a bestselling and an award-winning inspirational romance author. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. 

Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. You can find her at her website on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What You Think You Know

A few years ago, I started NANOWRIMO. As many of your readers may know, this is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, when writers, like myself, strive to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. I started writing about my childhood, trying to fictionalize it, but, yet, using a lot of my own experiences. When I realized the book wasn’t working, I quit and set it aside for almost a year. I had only achieved about 20,000 words.

Last year, again around November, I picked it up again. I realized that what I had started was too much like a memoir and I wanted it to be fiction. As an editor, I wanted to go through the novel writing process and learn the details of self-publishing a book so that I could better relate to my clients. I began consulting with friends about how to keep moving forward with the book—should I plot the outline, should I change this character, should I change the entire opening scene, should I just call it quits and start something else? A few friends encouraged me to outline. It was the “only” way to get it done they said. But I couldn’t do an outline—I’m more of a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” kind of writer. However, thinking about the outline did spark new interest in me for the story and helped me pick up the proverbial pen and start writing again.

As I wrote, I realized my characters had this deep connection—a friendship more like sisters—like I had with my best friend. I began to explore that and soon the book morphed and changed into this beautiful story about two close friends who must deal with loss, betrayal and figuring out forgiveness. Although their friendship seems solid and fun, when real life starts to intrude on their lives, they see their childhood vanishing behind them.

What You Think You Know is both a young adult novel, but also a coming of age, a buddy story and women’s fiction. It’s the story of young women coming together in times of struggle and heartache. At its core, I hope my novel speaks to women (and men) about the values of friendship, loyalty, forgiveness and respect. I hope your readers pick it up and love it as much as I do. Thank you for this opportunity to share it.

What You Think You Know

Fifteen-year-old Emily Forester is sure of one thing: Beth Myers will be her friend forever. Friends almost since birth, they even share the same nervous habit—biting their cuticles. They’re like sisters and nothing can ever change that, or so Emily thought.

Now, Emily discovers Beth displaying disturbing new habits, and begins to doubt how well she knows her best friend after all. When Beth betrays their sister-like bond, Emily is crushed and considers what life would be like without Beth. She’s already lost her mom; will she lose Beth, too?

The one concrete thing in her life, her friendship with Beth, starts to crumble. Longing to talk with her mother, Emily confides in her dad instead and he reveals more shocking secrets. Will these new revelations bolster her relationship with Beth, or tear them apart forever?

Sue A. Fairchild is a writer, blogger and editor. Sue’s devotionals have appeared in numerous Christian devotionals and websites. In addition, she has been a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series twice. Sue edits professionally for an online publisher as well as Christian Editor Connection and is a member of ACFW. For more information on her professional services, please visit her website Sue’s Simple Snippets: Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Tatterd Testament ♦ Lucy Neeley Adams

     I am pleased to once again bring you a devotional from Lucy Neeley Adams. This first appeared in The Upper Room Daily Devotional in August, 1977. Thank you, dear Lucy, for sharing it here with us.
From Google Images

A Tattered Testament      (Read Psalm 46)

"Thy word is to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.  (Jeremiah 15:16)

 My tattered little paperback New Testament sits on my bookshelf, held together by a rubber band.  I still find great meaning in reading it, but I must handle it more carefully than when it was new.  Its messages are still like water when I am thirsty, or food when I am hungry.  

On several occasions it has renewed my shaking spirit when I saw no way to get through the moment.

In the last four years there have been four deaths among my close friends.  They were so sudden that it took all the faith I had to persevere.  From my daily Bible study, God gave me strength to be helpful to the grieving families.  And this little paperback Testament was my constant companion at the funeral services.  

On its inside front cover, I have written: "Holding onto this at the funeral of: _____."  I filled in each name at the beginning of their funeral. 

I know there is no magic in holding the Bible.  But I do know there is a miracle of peace and comfort that comes from being assured of its inner message.

PRAYER:  O God, how wonderful it is to have Your Word!  Thank You for the people who were inspired to write for You.  Loving my Bible is an outgrowth of loving You.  I do love You and thank You.      Amen

My Bible is like a rudder that guides me through each day.

Lucy Neeley Adams     Winchester, Tn.   (August 6, 1977)    The Upper Room  Daily Devotional  - Nashville, Tn.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Some Writerly Tips from Jenna Victoria

Hey, just because it's Christmastime, doesn't mean writers still don't have work to do!
Please welcome guest blogger Jenna Victoria as she shares some great writing tips for you.

♦ ♦ ♦

Alone Again (Unnaturally)
by Jenna Victoria

Writers are a bit, well, different.

We willingly (eagerly!) embrace those hundreds of solitary hours hunched over a computer keyboard or a lined writing pad while doing, um, writerly things. Even when it looks like we are staring into space, we are working. Trust me on this. Being a published author is the carrot at the end of the stick; the stick being the time periods we are tucked away, alone, in our writer's garret—if we are fortunate. Other writers furtively steal a quiet hour or two each day to sit at a corner of the kitchen counter with just enough space cleared for their laptop, rushing to get that fleeting thought or plot twist onto the page. We are happy there, lost in a creative bubble that cushions us from many types of unpleasantness. Like conversation. Like cleaning. Like changing out of our pajamas.

The thing is, though, when the day comes and our book launches on Amazon or is delivered by distributor to the shelves of the local book store - we will need to emerge from that cozy nook. And meet people. And be witty with the repartee. Oh, and be properly attired, like with shoes and stuff. Bunny slippers will not make a good impression, believe me.

Long before our first book signing or Facebook Live video or online radio interview - we need to prepare, to practice our public persona. You know, the one hidden underneath the hair we didn't bother brushing before collecting it into a hair clip as we powered up our computer for another writing session.

Here are some tips that have helped me:
  • 1.      Don't panic. The published side of this writing gig isn't a great monster waiting to devour your soul. Take a few deep breaths and relax. You've got this.
  • 2.      Join a local in-person writing group. Interact with your tribe. If there are no local groups, join online communities such as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) or Faith, Hope and Love, an online chapter of Romance Writers of America. Submit your work to other members and get feedback.
  • 3.      Take an adult education writer's class. Not for the content alone - but to mix and mingle with others who understand it's scary to talk out loud about your manuscript. Get comfortable schmoozing, meeting and greeting other writers.
  • 4.      Regularly attend poetry readings, even if that's not your genre. Watching others bravely face an audience can be empowering. Besides, they, too, likely wear fuzzy bunny slippers when they are at home.
  • 5.      Attend a local college or community event with an open mic session. Take the plunge - stand in front of that microphone and be the boss.
  • 6.      Be proactive - reach out to others who are just as nervous as you. Help coach them through their readings and you'll be amazed how the confidence rubs off on you.
  • 7.      Volunteer to help out at a local bookstore or library during author events, or help plan writer events in your area. If you are able to join a local writer's group - volunteer to assist. The more you interact with publishing leaders, the more polished and professional you'll become. I once had the pleasure of driving a multi-NYT best selling romance author from the local train station to our meeting site. It was a lovely time of soaking up her knowledge but also seeing how easy and comfortable it was to interact.
  • 8.      Graduate to attending a national conference. Pitch your work to an editor or agent. Practice your pitch on friends and family. Practice saying, "Yes, I'd be happy to send you a partial or a full."

Before you know it, being in public won't be as intimidating. You'll be ready to don that sparkling evening gown and step onto an awards stage at RWA or ACFW, to accept an award for best first book.  (Even though you'll be wishing you were at home in your sweats and spooning chocolate ice cream out of the container). Trust me on this, too - every other writer there will be feeling the exact same way.

Title:  War of the Heart
Sub title: (A Snow Globe Christmas) 
Publisher: Forget Me Not Romances
Blurb:  When a vintage snow globe sends Boston dress designer Louise Martin & British B&B owner George Walker back in time to London, December 1940, they race against the clock to reconcile a feud between their families and solve a 75-year-old mystery. As Louise relies on God; and on George for guidance, friendship then love, will the future George envisions strangle her own dreams? Will their love survive generations of mistrust, the Blitz and being stranded in wartime 1940, possibly never to return to their former lives? 

Release Date: October 9, 2016
Format: E-book, paperback, audio book
Amazon Links:

Bio:  Ever since her grandfather co-created Twinkies, Snowballs & Hostess cupcakes for Intercontinental Baking Company, circa 1959, Jenna's yet to taste a cake she hasn't liked.
Jenna is the author of  “fiction that feeds your faith” – Happily-Ever-After romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian world view. She also writes clean, wholesome romances. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading…with a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she kicks butt & takes down names… and those that feature the sweetest of fairy-tale-ending love stories.

She writes romances that glorify God and His sacrificial love through His Son, Jesus Christ and show how He gives us hope & peace amidst unbearable situations. After her first breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, several reoccurrences and metastasis, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books.

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Barbara Britton TV Interview

It's common knowledge that authors find their muse in many different places, but one author found her muse while teaching Sunday school.

Author Barbara M. Britton recently was featured on the Books of the Month TV program. Today we host the episode, now available online, on demand, courtesy of Preach the Word Worldwide TV Network. Learn how teaching Sunday school to children helped to spur Barbara's story ideas for her now-popular Biblical fiction series "Tribes of Israel."

(if you can't see the video, click here to visit the Preach the Word Worldwide Network TV station page.

Purchase Providence: Hannah's Journey today

Pre-order Building Benjamin: Naomi's Journey

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Jesse Tree: An Advent Tradition ♦ June Foster

Read Isaiah 11:1-2, 10

Bringing you a special Christmas article from author June Foster. I don't think I've ever heard of a Jesse Tree. This is most interesting to me, and I hope you'll enjoy it. too!

Though our primary focus at Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus, it's a time to think about family and friends as well. We get so busy with our lives that the season is a wonderful opportunity for us to think about the importance of family. The older I get, the more valuable brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, and spouse become.

If you haven't already, start a family tradition. Even when children grow up and have families of their own, it's likely they will remember fun family activities and incorporate them into their own lives.
I remember one Christmas we created a Jesse Tree. By this time, our daughters were teenagers with boyfriends. We all gathered at our home for dinner then adjourned into the living room where our Christmas tree, bare except for lights, stood ready for ornaments.

First, we read the story of the Jesse Tree which tells, through the use of symbols, the Biblical story from creation to the birth of Christ. In Medieval times, when the tradition of the Jesse Tree first began, people created large carvings, tapestries or even stained glass windows to place in churches for members of the congregation who were illiterate. Today the Jesse Tree symbols are used on advent calendars or banners in the shape of a tree.

So, now it was time to get creative. Each family member chose a couple of symbols for ornaments they wished to construct from the variety of materials I had accumulated and set out on the dining room table. When the ornaments were completed, we hung them on the tree. The next week we gathered again and told the Christmas story. In the correct order, each person removed their ornament, told the story and replaced it on the tree. Afterward we prayed and asked the Lord to help us keep Christmas in our hearts every day of the year.

Here are some of the story elements and their symbols.

Creation - the earth
Garden of Eden - a tree with an apple
Noah & the Flood - a rainbow
God's promise to Abraham - a tent
Isaac - a ram
Jacob's Ladder - a ladder
Joseph's coat - a multi-colored coat
Moses - a burning bush
Israelites and Passover - a lamb
the 10 commandments - two stone tablets
Joshua and the fall of Jericho - a ram's horn trumpet
Ruth - a sheaf of corn
King David - a six pointed star
Jonah and the whale - a whale
John the Baptist - a scallop shell
Mary - a white lily
Joseph -  a carpenter's hammer
The Wise Men - three gifts
The Shepherds - a fluffy sheep
Jesus - a baby in a manger

♦ ♦ ♦

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. In 2013, June's book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC's eBook awards and in 2014 a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan's Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the 2014 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. 

Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT's 2014 Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan's Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, and What God Knew are available at as well. Misty Hollow is published by Helping Hands Press. 

June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek and Almond Street Mission

Visit June at
Find her on Twitter @vjifoster

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Do You Suffer from S.A.D.?

Winter in NW Wisconsin ©Peg Phifer 2016
 Does the above picture make you shiver? I took it yesterday morning with my cellphone. While I don't mind the snow so much, it's the cold that gets to me. That being said . . . 

It is my pleasure to feature author Sue Fairchild to Whispers in Purple today, with a timely guest post for this time of year! 

Hi, Sue . . . welcome. Now, what, exactly, is S.A.D. ??

Hi Peg! Thanks for this opportunity to share my new journal! 

When the winter season starts to roll around and the weather turns cold, damp and dreary, I find myself losing momentum and longing to stay in bed. My creativity drops and depression seeps in. Have you ever felt this way? It might not just be the “winter blues” – it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder. S.A.D. affects more than 3 million people in the United States alone, including myself. As I fought to cope with the onset of winter this year, I found new and interesting ways to combat my disease—ways that seemed to help, including journaling. When I heard of multiple friends and family members who were also suffering from this same illness, I decided to create a journal in order to share my newfound knowledge and encourage others to learn.

A Season with S.A.D.

Do you or someone you know suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D.)? S.A.D. affects more than 3 million people in the United States alone. It is often referred to as the “winter blues,” but should not be discounted easily and it is not something to simply shrug off. “A Season with S.A.D.” is a six-month journal designed to provide space to document your symptoms, feelings and even the weather, as well as tips to help you mitigate your disorder.

Sue A. Fairchild is a writer, blogger and editor. Sue’s devotionals have appeared in numerous Christian devotionals and websites. In addition, she has been a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series twice. Sue edits professionally for an online publisher as well as Christian Editor Connection and is a member of ACFW. For more information on her professional services, please visit her website Sue’s Simple Snippets: Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness.
You can also connect with her on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Peg here: Thank you so much for this, Sue. I know I suffer severely from the cold temperatures of winter, and yes, probably experience some depression along with it. I'm going to have to check out your journal. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

7 Ways to Choose a Title For Your Book

Title Wars

by Denise Weimer @denise_weimer

Your book, your story – you’ve put your heart and soul into it. You’ve agonized and edited and even produced the nutshell summary that should snag publishers and readers alike. But one thing evades you. Maybe just one word, in fact! But oh, what a word. The title.
The other day a reader asked me for the first time how I go about choosing titles for my books, which got me thinking. You know, titles, like writing styles, have really changed in the last quarter century. There was actually a time sweeping sagas dripping myriad adjectives, adverbs and descriptive details – accompanied by a dramatic title – were prized. If it wasn’t grand, it wasn’t worth picking off the shelf. Now, after the title of our book grabs the reader with succinct cleverness, we’re supposed to introduce both hero and heroine on page one, while simultaneously plunging them into hair-raising action.
That said, there are still several ways to go about selecting a title that both draws attention and encapsulates the heart of your story.
·        The descriptive, one-word title. Think of all the popular YA reads with titles like Shattered, Hunted or Erased. It’s powerful, arousing curiosity and creating immediate kinship, if you can find just one word that says so much.
·        Two-word, action-name or action-noun title. Examples: Redeeming Grace (the title of my first novella, which also reflected theme) or Finding Fairies. Couples your clever character name or subject with what happens to them.
·        Location title. Consider this option if your story encompasses a region or exudes a strong sense of place. Granted, titles like a state or city name can sound Michener-esque, so you might want to go with something less grandiose by adding another word, like the movie, Mississippi Burning.
·        If an item figures prominently in your story, the item title may be your way to go, especially if you are going for either foreboding or sentimental. Example: The Heirloom.
·        The play-off-a-similar title title. Be careful that you’re not infringing or offending, but there are times it’s appropriate and even humorous to play off the words of a well-known title, especially if your story is tongue-in-cheek or spoofy.
·        The character-possessive title. Example: Sarah’s Revenge.
·        The theme title. If your book possesses an underlying lesson for the reader, or if a thread runs through your story or series, you can reinforce that in the title. I did this in both of my series. The Restoration Trilogy titles of White, Widow, and Witch offer punch and puzzlement while representing the historic back stories at the heart of the novels. In The Georgia Gold Series, each title (Sautee Shadows, The Gray Divide, The Crimson Bloom and Bright as Gold) reflect the light, shadow and color of turbulent times and the mystery of missing gold throughout.

I’ve just scratched the surface, but hopefully I’ve got you started thinking if you’re stuck. Choosing a title doesn’t have to be the point where you bang your head against the wall! 

What about you? Do you have a tried and true formula for selecting your title, or as a reader, does a particular type of title really capture your interest?

Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below. Join the conversation!

Author bio: Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. A former magazine writer, she is the author of romantic novella REDEEMING GRACE, The Georgia Gold Series (SAUTEE SHADOWS, THE GRAY DIVIDE, THE CRIMSON BLOOM, and BRIGHT AS GOLD - winner of the 2015 John Esten Cooke Award for outstanding Southern literature) and The Restoration Trilogy (WHITE, WIDOW and WITCH). Denise is a wife and swim mom of two daughters who always pauses for old houses, coffee and chocolate!