I have always loved history. I want to know what past times were really, how people lived, what they did, and how it felt to be part of society in bygone days. The more I study, read and write about history, however, the more I believe that, technology and modern conveniences aside, the answer to most of those ponderings is “about like we feel.” I am constantly amazed when I read about prejudices, conflicts and struggles in bygone times and find myself thinking, “That hasn’t changed!” An interesting example I encountered recently was reading “What Made the News in 1809”in my favorite magazine Jane Austen’s Regency World. It seems that the English had seized 16 Dutch fishing vessels, an action that led to the government banning fishing trade with the Dutch to protect British fishing. I then turned to reading the same week’s Economist, but had to check to be sure I’d changed magazines when I read of English trawlermen protesting European Union fishing quotas and a government leader promising to withdraw from an international fishing treaty, including with the Dutch. The fact of how little people: their basic desires, feelings and ideas, really change has been an on-going underlying theme of my writing. All of my books, even the contemporary murder mysteries, have an important element of history as a means to understanding what is going on in the present. In A VeryPrivate Grave, the first of my Monastery Murders, Felicity, my thoroughly modern, full-steam-ahead American heroine struggles greatly with this concept when she is thrown into close contact with Antony, her church history lecturer and they set out to solve a present-day murder with its roots deep in the past. “History is—well, history,” she argues. “It’s past. You can’t change it. The future is what matters. That we can change.” Antony agrees to the truth of her statement, then explains, “But the past impinges on the future. We have a better chance of controlling the future if we understand the past.” And so I write history because I’m really writing about today—and tomorrow. Donna Fletcher Crow is currently writing the fifth book in her Lord Danvers Investigates Victorian true-crime series, and, as always, is continually amazed at how little attitudes, desires and motives have changed. You can see these books and all of her novels of British history at www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com
This blog was supposed to appear very early in the morning of this very day. Unfortunately, I missed the memo.
Six months ago, my husband and I invited my mom to come live with us. She’s 94 and was living in a seniors’ assisted living facility. We realized not long after she moved there that it wasn’t ideal for her. Mom has always been independent, and she didn’t enjoy the institutional feel of the place.
Most of her friends had passed away and she needed a place to belong and be cared for, so we decided to give her a home and a family.
In making this commitment, I asked myself how this decision might affect my writing. I couldn’t answer the question because I had no idea. When God asks you to do something, you do it and trust that He will provide the required resources. So far, I’ve been able to continue with my writing on a fairly normal basis. Until last week.
One week ago Thursday, Mom had a heart attack, and everything changed. I can’t leave her alone right now. I can’t travel to conferences or even writer’s group unless someone familiar is here with her. With all the hubbub, I also neglected to check my Facebook page, and thus missed the memo about postings for the rest of this year. (My apologies.)
Life is all about the unexpected. We make plans, but life happens. We make commitments and do our best, but sometimes, life throws a curve ball and we are unable to fulfill our obligations.
The comforting thought in all this is that, as Christians, we are in God’s care, no matter what unexpected events occur. Just like character motivation in fiction, everything in our lives happens for a reason. Nothing is a surprise to the Lord, the One who creates the stories of our lives. So we rest in His care and His plan as it unfolds.
I don’t know what the future holds for Mom, or for us. I will continue to write as time allows, but of first importance is discerning God’s plan for each day. His way is always best. And, to top is off, He gives us His peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” John 14:27.
Coming Up This Week
Donna Fletcher Crow
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.
Carolyn Miller's regency romance set in England, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Book 3 in her Regency Brides series, will be an October 2017 release from Kregel.
Lucy Thompson's historical romance set in Australia, Waltzing Matilda, in The Captive Bride Collection: 9 Stories of Great Challenges Overcome Through Great Love, will be an October 2017 release from Barbour.
Sandra Orchard's Amish mystery The Hound and The Fury, Book 17 in Amish Inn Mysteries, will release in October 2017 from Annie’s Attic.
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.
Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in USA, Vanishing Point: A Nikki Boyd Novel, will be a November 2017 release from Revell.
To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.
My mask, a smile
My defence’s camouflage,
The barrier to being known.
My mask hides
My heart, a vault
Secrets and stories stored
Away from prying eye
My vault hides
My mind, a pit
A cavern, bottomless.
Integrity lost in darkness.
My pit hides,
I want to run, run, run!
But where can I run to?
I want to cry, cry, cry!
But no tears can wash the past.
I want to be free, free, free!
But where the key to the locks?
A stranger confronts my mind,
Calls to my heart!
Hands, head scarred.
Eyes of fire.
Voice of love.
He says He knows me well.
His Name is Jesus.
He speaks my name.
He looks, I’m uncovered.
He speaks, I’m redeemed.
He embraces, I’m cleansed.
He smiles, my mask dissolved.
My mind, now a well
The water of life now within!
A new dignity has begun.
My well provides
My heart, a door.
Secrets shredded, not dreaded!
Forgiveness frees me.
My door welcomes
My smile, unmasked
Is genuine with sincerity
Capable of intimacy
My smile radiates,
Ray is a themed Devotional writer . His 8th book 'The Warrior Lord's Triumph has just been released. In Christians bookshops or contact him direct. R.R.P. $11:95.
|Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Five years ago I was about to attend my first ACFW Conference. Like this year’s event it too was in Dallas (a different venue) but was a nice direct flight home to Sydney. I went as a contracted author, my first novel, Angelguard, due to be released six months later in early 2013.
On the first morning (the event started the prior afternoon) a young lady shared a devotional. She was humble, funny, self-deprecating and clearly had a love for Jesus. She had a signed contract for a multi-book series but, like me, wouldn’t release her first book until the following year.
Last week I noticed a photo in this lady’s FB feed of “her pile”. The stories (novels, novellas and short stories) she’d published (both tradional and self). I was in awe. And proud of all that she had accomplished. Melissahas become a writing friend. I’ve read a couple of her stories and love them. Melissa writes rom-com style novels that feature characters who have a faith in Jesus.
Another Aussie friend wrote a post only this week where he mentioned he’d attended ACFW last year for the first time and he’s now in a position of having recently become agented and finaled in a competition at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference.
We read about this all the time and it can be challenging to not do it. Remember we have an enemy who will try to mess with our minds at every opportunity. Envy is one of those core “deadly sins” that he tempts us with.
“Your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
I did do the comparison because it was pretty simple to do … one published, one waiting to be (well I’m believing that to be the case!) and 40% of another. Hey, it pales in comparison. Could I have written more? Yes, I could of and should of. But I chose not to beat myself up or get down on myself, rather to regard it as the past and be stirred to produce more in the future.
Besides being in awe, Melissa’s post inspired me. Look at what we can achieve. Look what is possible. Even when you work two jobs which Melissa does. We all know authors who are similarly prolific. Our own Lisa Harris releases a couple of stories each year while being a missionary in Mozambique with her husband. Kara Isaac has had an extremely busy couple of years releasing three novels and giving birth to a bub! Carolyn Miller, another Aussie author, hadn’t released anything eight months ago but in October the third in her Regency Brides series is released. Sure, Carolyn didn’t write three full-length novels overnight, but wow.
Only God knows what we’ll be doing in five years time. I hope I’ll be getting ready to attend another ACFW Conference along with many other members of the ICFW family. And I hope to have more books, both fiction and non-fiction, published.
But more isn’t necessarily the answer. Something we always need to be conscious of. Too often we will place value on ourselves through our “more”, through our achievements. It’s important to remember that we are children of God and already are significant because of that. He created us and therefore we are significant.
Amongst the madness of writing, publishing, working and having a life I asked Melissa for a few thoughts on what worked so she maintained her sanity:
- Never put writing above the people you love. You will never, ever regret spending time with the people God has put in your path. They're there for a reason ... and they will always be more important than fictional people! That said... :)
- Know yourself! Know what works for you and what doesn't. What doesn't work for me is strict word count goals and deadlines (whereas I know others who thrive on deadlines!). What does work for me is finding a long weekend here or there when I can hide away from the world and just write to my heart's content. When you've discovered what works for you, you can lean into that and get so much more done than if you try to do what you see everyone else doing. I've been soooo much more productive since I quit trying to write on evenings after long days of work and instead just focused on finding three- or four-day stretches here and there where I can bang out a bunch of words at once.
- Don't be afraid to take breaks! When it comes to reaching for a dream, it's easy to feel like we need to do and do and do and push and push and push. But for me, some of my best creativity and best productivity has happened after allowing myself to step away ... whether for one night or one weekend or even one month. Those are the times in which God refreshes my spirit and I rediscover why I'm doing what I'm doing.
I love that … such great wisdom. We’re all different and understanding what works for each of us is important.
Go forth dear writing friends. Keep leaning into Jesus and keep believing. And keep writing. Remember writers write. (I always need to remind myself of that)
Grace and peace.
Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter