by Sherma Webbe Clarke | @sdwc8181 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 2 (NKJV) Inspiration and Habits Some writers stick to a fixed schedule. First thing in the morning before the ...

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Devotion: Musings from a Dot in the Atlantic Ocean and more...

Devotion: Musings from a Dot in the Atlantic Ocean

by Sherma Webbe Clarke | @sdwc8181 




Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
3 John 2 (NKJV)

Inspiration and Habits 


Some writers stick to a fixed schedule. First thing in the morning before the birds and children are moving around. Two o’clock at the same café every other afternoon. Ten o'clock to midnight every evening. Others write when inspiration prompts them, hastily recording their thoughts onto napkins, scraps of paper, or into electronic devices.



One famous writer visited Bermuda many times and considered the Island vital to his health and creativity. Between 1867 and 1910, Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens) frequented the Island as an escape from his routine life in favor of the natural beauty and slower pace that he enjoyed during his residences here. His famous quote, “You can go to heaven if you want to; I’d rather stay in Bermuda,” floats around the Island like a longtail (white-tailed tropicbird) soaring over the ocean. I liked the idea of a connection between the Island and this revered literary figure, but the statement never settled well with me. As beautiful as Bermuda is, it can't compare to God’s heavenly paradise.



Digging into the context of the quotation, however, I discovered that Mark Twain’s intention is opposite to the message that is conveyed as popular understanding. Or misunderstanding. Whether convalescing at one of the local hotels or enjoying the eerie beauty of the Crystal Caves, Mr. Twain experienced a revival in his health after the doctors had pronounced their grim prognoses. As a man defying his ailments and infirmities, he declared to those who seemed poised to make funeral arrangements, “You can go to heaven if you want to; I’d rather stay in Bermuda.” In other words, “Don’t write me off yet; I’m not going anywhere.”

In one particular way, he was right about staying in Bermuda. Bronze statues of Mark Twain dot the Island, giving him a permanent presence, albeit in an immobile form. I recently worked in an office building that boasted a statue of the author at its entrance. His bronze likeness also sits on a bench at the hotel he frequented in the City of Hamilton.


What inspires you? 


As writers, we receive inspiration from many sources, and we pour these experiences into words, sentences, novels, a series. What inspires you? Is it a long, scenic walk? Camping by a lake? Or playing with your grandchildren? Jesus connected with people through stories crafted from situations in ordinary life. Seeds and sowers. A woman sweeping. Lost coins. Vineyards and grapes. A traveler who helps an unfortunate man without expecting a reward.



Some of us may not be as prolific as Mark Twain. And having multiple statues built in our honor? Probably a long shot. Maybe we have one book in us. One book that will fulfill our purpose. One book that will touch the heart of someone who will experience God’s love and grace through our story. As the words of a favorite hymn say, You may have this whole world; give me Jesus.


Let's chat: Where do you live? Has any particular place, close to home or far away, inspired you on your writing journey? I'd love to hear about it!


About Sherma . . . 

Sherma is a contemporary fiction writer, amateur photographer, reading enthusiast, and wife who often takes her husband by the hand to explore nearby and far-flung areas of the globe. This wanderlust has its perks. She credits many of her story ideas to these adventures, which provide great opportunities for research for short stories and the novel series she is currently working on. Quiet, early-morning walks along the railroad trails on her home island of Bermuda provide inspiration when she is homebound.


    



English Christmas through History

The Writing Life: A Passion for Christmas through History
posted by Donna Fletcher Crow



When asked to give advice for up-coming writers the first words out of my mouth are usually, "Write from your passion." Few things in my career give a better example of that than do my Christmas novels. 

I love Christmas! I love English history! I love novels! So what greater joy than to be able to combine these loves in telling stories that give us glimpses of English Christmases through the years and have allowed me to call on my own experiences in forming the stories, such as my first English Christmas in a Cotswold village in 2000.

Glastonbury, my epic of the Christian history of England, includes a Christmas story. After all, one could hardly tell 1500 years of history without including Christmas. As a matter of fact, the book opens with a druid on Glastonbury Tor observing the Star of Bethlehem.
It is in the section on Norman England, however, that we experience a full, Medieval Christmas when young Bors returns home to the manor house from schooling in the monastery. (Although not as young as my grandson when he slew his first dragon.) The full Twelve Days of Christmas are meticulously observed, complete with yule log, wassail, a roasted boar’s head, a Lord of Misrule, and mummers performing St. George and the Dragon.
Christmas celebrations in England became more subdued after the Reformation with suspicions that many of the former festivities were pagan. In 1647, Cromwell’s Puritan government actually canceled Christmas. Not only were traditional expressions of merriment strictly forbidden, but also shops were ordered to stay open, churches were closed and ministers arrested for preaching on Christmas day.
By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, although the traditions of a full-blown Dickensian Christmas had not yet been introduced (many of them started by German-born Prince Albert) festivities had been restored. My Where There is Love series encompasses six novels of love and faith—stories of real people and stirring historic events. Where Love Restores, book 4, recounts Granville Ryder’s struggle to find his place in his illustrious family, in God’s work and in Georgiana’s heart. The book takes the reader through the seasons of a late Regency year, including Christmas on an English country estate which included a fox hunt and hunt ball, constructing an English kissing ring, midnight Christmas Eve service, and alms-giving on Boxing Day. All as it was celebrated in Georgiana's home, Badminton House, which I had the delight of visiting many years ago.

For an out-of-the ordinary contemporary English Christmas I draw on the Christmas I spent in an English monastery “helping” my daughter prepare for her Epiphany wedding. Although, I hope I wasn’t quite as pushy as my heroine’s mother.
An All-Consuming Fire, book 5 in my Monastery Murders, finds Felicity and Antony happily planning a Christmas wedding in the monastery. It’s all idyllic until Felicity’s over-bearing mother arrives and tries to turn the whole event into a royal wedding. And Antony is drafted to narrate a television documentary on the English mystics. And then Felicity takes on the challenge of directing a Christmas pageant for Kirkthorpe’s troubled youth on a long-disused stage in an abandoned quarry at the back of the monastery grounds.
At least most of the vexing disruptions occurring on the filming locations are miles away from the Community of the Transfiguration. Until the threats move closer. Close enough to threaten the joy of Felicity and Antony's Christmas wedding.

I hope that one of my stories might help enrich your Christmas season with an understanding of past traditions and provide a few leisure hours spent reading by the light of your Christmas tree. I’d love to hear of some of your favorite traditions—whether from history or all-new.


See more at: https://www.donnafletchercrow.com/

    



Introducing Tracy Traynor and Grace in Mombasa

By Tracy Tranory @tracy_traynor


Hello, my name is Tracy Traynor. I’m an indie-author and I love to write stories.

From a very early age I used to spend immeasurable amounts of time day dreaming; now I spend every minute I can at the computer putting day dreams to paper and creating stories, which I hope people will enjoy reading.


Grace in Mombasa is fictional, but was inspired by a woman I met in Kenya called Moira Smith. I met Moira twice in 1991, and she made such an impact on me I have not been able to forget her, and over the years I began to imagine what her life might have been like. I would be driving to work and suddenly she would appear in my mind and I started to create a fictional life for her.

I did a lot of research and the book is filled with facts, at the end of the book I mention the things that happen in Grace’s life that were the real things that happened to Moira.


This is a life – and therefore a story in two halves. The first half of her life was spent in England, and so the book’s first part is her life during World War 2 in England. The second half of the book is set in Mombasa.


Moira was an amazing woman who dedicated her life to helping the Kenyan people who came into the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa, a place where people believed they only went to die. She inspired me, and I hope I have done her story justice so that it might inspire others.


To continue with Moira’s good works for the people of Mombasa, I have hooked up with Barnabas Trust Outreach Mombasa, and I am donating 50% of all sales to them.


Sean McIntyre Missionary to Kenya with Barnabas, and minister at AOG Colchester, gave me this endorsement:
The story of Grace captures the experience of many others who, though quite ordinary by themselves, find that the love of God propels them towards quite extraordinary endeavours. Tracy is the author of Grace's story but the inspiration was Moira Smith and the author of her story was none other than God himself, described in the Bible as the 'author and finisher of our faith'. I commend Tracy's book "Grace in Mombasa" to you in the hope that, inspired by the story of Grace and Moira, you will become hungry for a story of your own and that you will turn to the great author of all our lives. He already has a story prepared for you!
The first person to read the book, besides the editors, is Wendy H Jones, Author and member/webmaster of the ACW Scotland – Association of Christian Writers. Here is her endorsement:
Tracy Traynor’s writing transports you from World War 1 and 2 England to the courts of heaven, via Mombasa. With characters which pop off the page and straight into your heart, this is a book you will remember for a long time.

To tempt you to buy the book, please find the blurb below.


Inspired by true events. Grace in Mombasa is an intriguing historical saga of betrayal and loss, romance and heartbreak, and one woman’s journey in faith.

From the day she was born, Grace Clifton has navigated a life of loss and heartbreak, without a mother to guide her and through the ravages of two World Wars. With England in the midst of a Second World War, Grace, experiences the excitement of love and romance, but all too soon it turns to heartbreak. Through it all, Grace is sustained by her unwavering faith in God, but when all she holds dear is ripped away from her, Grace is left devastated and doubting everything she’s ever believed in.

As the world slowly recovers from war, Grace too begins the process of healing from bitterness and the deep wounds inflicted by life. However, her steadfastness to God is lost and she determines never to pray again. When an unexpected opportunity comes up in Kenya, Grace seizes the chance to escape the memories, hoping to find a purpose and build a new life for herself. In the city of Mombasa, Grace soon begins to realise she can’t ever distance herself from life’s complications, but if she’s prepared to open her heart, maybe her shattered faith will once more bring her hope, love and the healing that she desperately needs.

Grace in Mombasa is a story about a woman with amazing faith that is shattered when her life falls apart, but will God simply let her go? If you like heartfelt dialogue, stories seeped in fact and history, and memorable characters, then you’ll love Tracy Traynor’s moving and inspirational novel.



You can find Grace in Mombasa online at:



About Moira Smith ... the inspiration behind Grace

Moira Smith was born in 1912, in England. On 25th July 1953, aged 41, she boarded the ship SS Uganda and set sail for Mombasa, Kenya.

She spent her years on the island helping people who came to the Mombasa Coast General Hospital, in any way that she could - and by taking every opportunity to spread the gospel. She never got to retire in the convent. She died in the hospital in the mid 1990s, where her last action was to give away the medicine that people brought in for her to the other patients.

Moira's ashes are buried in the compound of St Peter's Church, Nyali, Kenya.

Find Tracy Traynor online at:



    



Bookish Tuesday - All Made Up by Kara Isaac

By Narelle Atkins @NarelleAtkins



Today for Bookish Tuesday I'm sharing my book recommendation for Kara Isaac's latest contemporary Christian romance - All Made Up.


I initially had mixed feelings about reading All Made Up. On the one hand I love Kara Isaac’s writing. I trust her, after reading her first three books, to deliver a great story.

On the other hand I’m really not a fan of reality tv shows. I wasn’t sure if I’d like reading a contemporary Christian romance based around a Bachelor-style reality tv show.

Kat is an internationally renowned make up artist who has won an Oscar for her work in film. She’s in a tight financial situation and agrees to work behind the scenes of an Australian reality tv show that’s set in a Sydney mansion. Kat is stunned to discover the handsome farmer bachelor is Caleb, her first love who broke her heart when he abruptly ended their relationship.

Caleb is a farmer from Toowoomba in Queensland. His mother secretly sent in an audition tape because she wanted to see her son happy and married and settled on the family farm.

When Caleb is chosen at the last minute to be the bachelor, he feels compelled to do it to please his mother who is struggling with major health issues.

The producers quickly regret choosing Caleb because he’s terrible on camera and a potential financial disaster for the show. Caleb is awkward and uncomfortable around the large number of physically beautiful and scantily clad young women who are living in the mansion and competing for his attention and affection.

When Cat is directed by her boss to fill in as a contestant on the show, she grits her teeth and does her best to survive the circus that ensues. The whole set up is both humorous and sleazy, and I totally understood why Caleb hated his time at the mansion.

The first fifteen percent of the book was, at times, a bit icky to read. If I wasn’t a fan of the author, and if I didn’t trust her to deliver a great story, I probably would have tossed the book during those early chapters. The thought of reading an entire book set in the mansion was not appealing.

I’m glad I persevered with the story and kept reading. By the twenty percent mark the story had really picked up and was motoring along. There’s a big twist in the story that takes the tv show in a different direction and forces Cat and Caleb to confront their past.

In typical Kara Isaac style, the big secret reveal toward the end of the book is heartbreaking. Cat and Caleb reassess their faith and values and beliefs as they make tough decisions.

Fans of The Bachelor will love this romance story that provides a rare happy ending for a reality tv couple. Readers who you couldn’t pay to watch a reality tv dating show may struggle with the early chapters, but I encourage them to keep reading and journey with Cat and Caleb on their fun and humorous roller coaster ride to true love.

Learn more about RITA® Award winning author Kara Isaac and her books at her website plus check out a preview of All Made Up below.


    


Did Someone say 'Bomb'?

By Gail Sattler @ICFWriters



The theme of THE OTHER NEIGHBOR is that the FBI got a tip that Jeff and his co-horts are building a bomb, so they have to find out what he is going to blow up, and stop it before that happens. Agent Steve Gableman's job to get information from the to-be-bomber's neighbor, Cheryl, without her knowing what is going on.

This brings up a question. 


The sad and terrifying truth is that when we hear about someone who has done a mass shooting or set off a bomb, someone, somewhere, knows that person. They interact and live in a normal society, have friends and neighbors, jobs or school, until they follow out their horrible plan, or are are stopped before tragedy happens.

Often, in hindsight, people tell the reporters that they felt something was wrong or strange with that person. But no one saw it coming to that degree. Few people think their neighbor or workmate could be capable of something so horrible.

This brings me to my story, THE OTHER NEIGHBOR. 


This is based on a true story, only in this case, just like the book, the FBI received a tip and followed it up before anyone was hurt.

I hope there are lots of people who, unknown by the people who were saved, will call in and report something they fear will end in tragedy.

About Gail Sattler

Gail Sattler lives in Vancouver BC Canada, where you don't have to shovel rain. When she's not madly writing (Gail Sattler has over 40 published novels and novellas, plus a few works of non-fiction) she plays bass for an Elton John tribute band as well as a community jazz band, plus she plays piano for a smaller private jazz band. When she's not writing or making music (or at her day job) Gail likes to sit back and read a book written by someone else, along with a good cup of hot coffee.

Find Gail Sattler online at:



About The Other Neighbor by Gail Sattler


Cheryl Richardson doesn’t know that her landlord who owns the other half of the duplex where she lives is plotting to build a bomb—but the FBI does. In order to discover what her landlord is planning to blow up, agent Steve Gableman moves next door to get closer to Cheryl to learn what she knows, namely the target and motive, so they can stop it. But when Steve involves himself in every area of her life, including her dog, will Cheryl be the one to explode?

    


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