Friday, April 19, 2013

What If.....

I homeschooled my boys since they were in Kindergarten. I received slack from some, praise from others, and sympathy from most. This last year, the kids were put into public school, one of the hardest schools in our district.
Today and Monday, the schools gave all the kids those two days off for testing. Last week, Gage and Gavin had a Blast Off to Outer Space party for finishing their math packets that literally had 1000 questions. Chris and I were able to go to Gavin's party, and then I went to Gage's.
As I sat there, I began to realize just how much work teachers go through. I have friends who are teachers, and I often saw how much they went through, how time consuming teaching is. It certainly isn't an 8-5 job. Not in the least.
Which got me to thinking: We don't give our teachers enough credit. School funding is the first to go when there is a budget crisis. Teachers don't get raises, lose their jobs, and even before all of that, they have to deal with children who don't want to learn and with parents who think it's only the teachers' job to educate their children.
We have every day heroes and role models in our neighborhoods and cities, and they don't own million dollar houses. I'm talking about teachers, policemen, firemen. People who literally put their life on the line for the rest of humanity. How do teachers do that? By going to school every day to shower our kids with knowledge. They are the first to respond when a tragedy occurs in our schools, the ones to protect our precious babies. Following them are our law enforcement.
What do these amazing people receive salary wise? Not much. Barely enough to live on. So, what would happen if our professional athletes took, oh, I don't know, let's say half of their generous salary and donated it to teachers. Think about it. How much does the average athlete get paid? I can't even begin to imagine. But there are at least 20 players per football team, 10 per baseball, 10 per soccer and basketball. I think I'm even low balling it. But what if those players, each and every one of them, stopped living lavishly and started giving away their salary to teachers across our nation?
Yes, I am also talking about teachers in private schools, charter schools, and public schools. My goodness, that would be astounding! Truly and wonderfully astounding!
You see, I'm thankful for each teacher my boys have had. The teachers at the elementary school and the teachers at their charter school. While I cannot pay them what they deserve, I will give kudos to them and do my best to show my appreciation.
If you haven't already, please thank your child's teacher!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sharon Srock

Sharon Srock visits us today with a special message about Spring.

Same Song, New Verse

Spring, what a lovely time of renewal. Brown, stubby grass turns green and needs to be mowed overnight. Skeletal trees and bushes lose their winter leanness as sun and rain put flesh back on their bones. Even the weeds on the back forty slip into their Easter wardrobe, bursting with multicolored blooms and dancing with butterflies. It’s a season of change, but it is also a season of sameness. All of that new life isn’t a different life, it’s simply a renewing of what God made them to be. If you dig up a rose bush and plant it in an apple orchard, Its still a rose bush. The location may be different, it’s path may be interrupted, but it adapts to its new, it doesn’t send up a desperate what were You thinking plea to the Almighty, it simply blooms where its planted.

So it is with our lives. God made each of us to be something distinctive and individual. The Bible says that He knew us before we were formed. Before we breathed a breath, He had a perfect plan for us. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to know where God wants us to end up even though the getting there is a little foggy. I’m really bad about giving God a step by step plan about how I want to get to where He wants me to go. Sometimes God pats me on the head and nudges me back on track, sometimes He plucks me up from my comfort zone and smacks me down in the middle of an unexplored path. Doesn’t mean his plan for me has changed. Just means He has a better way of getting me from point A to point B.

If that replanted rose bush decides to cross its branches and never bloom again, It’s still going to be a rose bush, just less beautiful for its stubbornness. Have you discovered God’s plan for your life? Do you feel like God is trying to write a new verse in the song of your life this year? It really is less about the path and more about the destination. Its spring. Bloom. Sing.

Despite a bustling day care center and a new foster child, Terri Hayes hungers for a family of her own. Then a plumbing mishap leaves her homeless and questioning God’s plan. Steve Evans’s gracious offer of his basement apartment as a temporary solution is an answered prayer.
Steve is a successful writer and a good father, but Terri is horrified when Steve’s book research leads him to a harsh confrontation with the parents of her foster child.  She needs to distance herself from Steve, but her efforts fall short as his two scheming daughters plot to make Terri their new stepmother.

Will harsh words and sneaky plans drive Kelsey’s family further apart and put a wedge between Terri and Steve? Or does God have another plan in store?

Sharon has a free pdf download put together by her publisher to introduce you to her characters. Here's the link:

About Sharon:
Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in Rural Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her grandchildren. She is a member of the ACFW and currently serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon’s debut novel, The Women of Valley View: Callie released in October 2012. The second in the series, The Women of Valley View: Terri releases in April 2013.

Connect with her here:


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Deliver Us, by June Foster

Grab a good cup o' joe and sit back and relax with June Foster, author of Deliver Us.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the mother of two and grandmother of 10, soon to be a great. My husband and I traveled in our RV full time until last November when we bought a house. I taught school for 34 years and began writing in my 60's. I love the Lord and couldn't go one day without Him.

Tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
Well, I'm 5'10" and have a daughter who's 5'2". My great grandfather was a Catholic priest. I generally tell people to think about that one for a minute. I lived in Europe for three years.

 Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
I loved reading as a child. The Bobsey Twins and Nancy Drew books were my favorites. In high school, I loved historicals.

As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author?
Never. That is another strange thing about me. I wrote academically in college and with my job, but never fiction. It was only until the Lord put a story on my heart that I began writing. I knew nothing about the craft and started reading every "how to" book I could get my hands on. I'm continually learning.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Quirky, huh? I've done lots of crazy stuff, but one I don't think I've mentioned before is many years ago when my brother came to a dinner at my house, he pretty much passed out from, shall I say, too much wining and dining. I painted his nails on both hands red. I need to mention, that was in my BC days. Before Christ.

What is your favorite genre to read?
Though I write contemporary romance, I believe end-time fiction such as the Left Behind Series, is my favorite.

Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.
I get up in the morning and read my Bible, accompanied by a hot cup of coffee. Then my husband and I do a devotional and pray together. Since I'm retired from teaching, my schedule isn't as rigid as it once was. I try to go upstairs to my office for a couple of hours. Since my husband is on Eating For Life, I do a lot of cooking. Then, God willing, I try to do one of my exercise tapes - stretching or aerobic walking. Then it's back to the computer and more writing. Some days doing the wash or going to the little country grocery store near our house keeps me busy. 
When did you first begin writing, and why do you write still?

I first began writing in January, 2010. I continue to write because the Lord won't let me stop. Seriously, I have so many stories in my head and such a strong desire to get them written down, I can't stop.

How many books do you have published and where can they be found?
I have four published. Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, Deliver Us, and A Hometown Fourth of July. They can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Desert Breeze Publishing, and where ever e-books are sold. Ryan's Father will be published with White Fire in January 2014.

Tell us about your latest book.
The Way Home whose name is soon to be changed, is the story of a Christian woman who falls in love with a handsome accountant she believes would make the ideal Christian husband. In reality, she discovers he belongs to a non-Christian cult, but it's too late, she loves him and doesn't want to give him up.

Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
In 2011, I submitted a proposal to Desert Breeze Publishing for my Bellewood Series. I never thought it would result in a contract. One Sunday morning in September, I opened my e-mail and received the news that Gail Delaney wanted to contract all three books in the series. When I screamed, my husband came running from the bedroom thinking a bug had attacked me or something. Deliver Us is the third and final book in that series.

What inspired you to write this particular book?
Probably the same thing as the other two. I have a passion for characters who deal with difficult issues but overcome by God's power in their lives. Deliver Us has a strong pro-life theme which I stand behind.

 How long did you write before you sold your first book?
I began writing in January, 2010 and sold my first book September 2011. I kid around saying that God must have put me on the fast track to publication because He knew I don't have as many days on earth as my younger colleagues.

 What are you working on right now?
I'm rewriting a book called The Way Home but will probably be changing that title pretty soon. It's about a Christian woman who meets a handsome accountant she believes will make the perfect Christian husband. But she soon learns how wrong she is.

Where do you get ideas for your books?
I believe the Lord gives them to me. Since I write romance, I like to think of a man and a woman who would least likely fall in love. Shall I confess right now? I wrote one book about a young woman who falls in love with a Christian homosexual man. Yes, it's true. Ryan's Father will be out in 2014. I'd like to remind you my stories are all told from a strong Christian worldview, so you'll have to wait to see what happens. The story reflects my stand on this delicate topic.

How do you choose names for your characters?
Mostly I choose names I like, except for the antagonist. I've actually gotten last names out of the phone book. If I hear someone's name in real life that I like, I write it down and assign it to a character later on. I also like to select names by their meaning. My current heroine is named Joella meaning Jehovah is God.

In three words describe your style of writing.
Simplistic. Heartfelt. Melancholy.

How do you get to know your characters?
I get a picture of a famous person I think looks like my character. Then I fill out a character chart describing every detail about this character. I interview him/her asking pertinent questions relating to the novel's plot and see what answers they give me. I examine their goals, motivation, and conflicts. If I know anyone who's like my character, I try to figure out how that person would react and what they'd say in various situations.

Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between, and can you elaborate on your answer? I am mostly a plotter. I have to begin knowing my characters and the basic events of the plot. But often, new ideas will pop into my head after I'm finished with the first draft and I don't hesitate to add them to the story. Also, my wonderful critique partners give me ideas which help me change the story for the better.

What are you favorite themes to write about?
I like to write about issues we as humans struggle with. Though we're Christians, we're not immune from the world. But Christians have an advantage. We don't have to solve our problems alone. God offers his wisdom and power so we can find victory. So I've written about addictions, jail terms, abortion, forgiveness, shop-o-holism, and many others.

 What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
My "office" has changed drastically since we moved out of our RV. Before I had a desk and two filing cabinets where the couch used to be in the RV. It actually worked fine. I wrote five books in that location. Now I have a whole big room upstairs in our house. I have more room to spread out now and more reliable internet, which is a blessing. Each day, I try to get up by 6:30 and get to writing no later than 9:00. I take breaks for various reasons, but most days I don't finish up until 9:00 or 9:30 at night.

Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
I'm very blessed to be retired from my job. I was an elementary teacher. But I do still have family responsibilities - like all the cooking, doing the wash, church events, etc. So I try to prioritize my life. The Lord is first and my husband, kids, and grandkids second. Then the rest of the time goes to my passion, writing Christian inspirational novels.

Does your faith affect your writing? How?
In every way. My characters either start out with faith in God or find it somewhere along the way. I want to communicate to readers why I believe it is vital to have a relationship with the Lord.

Why do you keep writing?
I think it's because the Lord has put the motivation in my heart. He's given me the desire to write my stories. My prayer is that the Lord will use them to minister to others who are experiencing the same issues as my characters and will be encouraged.

Do you put yourself into your main character, or do you find yourself borrowing from family or friends as your characters develop?
So far, yes. I see a little of myself in my heroines. And yes, I've borrowed character traits of others - family and friends, but I don't pattern the character entirely after others. I just use part of what I observe in them.

Is there any scene in your book that came from a real-life happening?
No, not entirely. I may use some real-life occurrences but change them so no one will recognize the situation or the people involved.

If you could interview any character in one of your books what might that character say? Why?
If I interviewed Ryan Reed, he'd say praise the Lord for His glorious freedom from the things that held me captive.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I'd probably be sightseeing with my husband in our RV.

 Have you won any awards with your writing?
My book Give Us This Day finaled in EPICon 2013 awards in the spiritual/metaphysical category.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Prayer and seek God's will first. Then learn everything you can about the craft of writing. Grow tough skin and don't worry about the rejections. Just keep on writing.

What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
This happened not because I'm so good at taking risks, but I had to. My husband used to have a small 4-seater plane. We were flying along, and he had to crawl over into the back seat. He told me to take the controls and fly the plane. I'd had a few flying lessons but wasn't good enough to "fly the plane" like he said. I took the wheel though the plane met with turbulence, and we were heading toward a mountain range.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?
Back after the hurricane Katrina hit the southern states, my husband and I were hired by Pilot Catastrophe, a branch of Allstate Insurance to process claims. I got fired after two weeks.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? Maybe a writing tip for aspiring authors?
Read, read, read. The books on craft as well as books in your genre. Make good friends with your critique partners.

 Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?!/profile.php?id=100000594753461!/authorjunefoster!/vjifoster

Join us in celebrating the launch and release of June Foster's book, Deliver Us, Book Three in the Bellewood Series. Releasing April 1st from
About the book:
The young fraternity man who coaxed Jillian Coleman upstairs that night is only a blur in her memory. Now she lives with the unrelenting guilt that she aborted her baby. God might forgive her, but she can't forgive herself. As Bellewood's premier gynecologist, she hopes to open the Jeremiah House to offer teen girls an abortion alternative. Though the handsome and successful Dr. Jett Camp wants to marry Jillian, he believes her plan is a waste of her skills.
Riley Mathis spent ten years in jail for dealing drugs. Now as a Christian, he's trying to put his life back together. Working as a janitor at night, he attends college by day. When he meets Dr. Coleman, he recognizes her from the sapphire necklace she wore the night he stole something precious from her. When she confesses the choice she made to abort her baby, Riley can't tell her he's the father of her child.
About the author:
June Foster is a retired school teacher, who until recently traveled full time with her husband, living in their RV. Now settled in Alabama, they are enjoying their new home, and being close to family.
Deliver Us is available from your favorite seller of e-books April 1st.