Reading, Writing, Courage

I am addicted…to reading.
I blame it on Mrs. Niedzielski. When she taught my 5th and 6th grade class, she insisted on weekly book reports. That got me into the habit of reading. And boy did I read—a lot. Like many 10- and 11-year-old girls in the late-80s, I read a lot of Sweet Valley High books, a series of books that basically were a teen soap opera in print form. (Hmmm… Perhaps Mrs. N. is to blame for my soap opera affinity as well….) But that is not all I read. Mrs. N. pushed everyone to read more than just the current popular books in our age group. She had a list of Newberry Award winners, and she kept the classroom shelves stocked with a selection of these titles. At one point, she even held a little reading contest, the prize being a book of the winner’s choice. I remember that BINGO board, and working diligently to fill in each square. The copy of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends that I earned still sits on my bookshelf, one of my most prized possessions.

That reading addiction has served me well over the years, especially in my current course work. As I am learning more about the craft of writing, I am reading a lot more. Some of it is dry and bland (check out some of the essays on writing by Charles Baxter…the man might know a lot about writing, but he does not know how to write about writing in an interesting manner.) Some is very informative in improving my own writing (Sandra Scofield’s The Scene Book has been invaluable.) And some is just for fun (because, thanks to Mrs. N.’s influence, I can’t go long without reading a novel!) Most of the novels I’ve been reading lately are in Kindle form. As much as I love the feel and smell of a real, printed book, I’ve found that with the Kindle I can build my book collection without taking up extra shelf space in the house (after all, though I once thought it impossible, using a shelf for sports trophies earned by children really is more important than displaying a vast book collection.) Thanks to Book Bub, I am able to build my Kindle book collection quite inexpensively. I add 2-3 new books to my Kindle each week for free. Most of what I download are Christian novels, because that is what I write. Makes sense to me to keep up with what is being published now so that I have some idea where my work will fit into things.

This week, I have finished reading two of the free novels that are currently on my Kindle. I am about half way through a third. And I have to say that what I am reading is leaving me a little depressed.

Not to sound conceited, but I can write better than this! Of the three books, only one had really deep characters. That book had its drawbacks, but the characters seemed more like real people than the characters in what I am reading now. The current novel features very flat characters, doing really nothing. Halfway through the book, and I am still not really sure what the book is about. I can’t pick out the plot yet. Not only are the characters boring, the author’s description is bland. The book is set in an area of the country that I have never been to. In itself, that’s not a problem. Part of why I read is to experience parts of the world that I am not able to visit in my real life. But the lack of vivid description makes it hard to imagine myself actually being in California’s wine country. I have yet to become so engrossed in this location, in this story to feel like I am anywhere other than curled up on a corner of the couch in my Jackson, Michigan living room. And this book was written by a woman who is not only an author, but also a literary agent and a creative writing instructor!

I am left wondering something—do I need to write badly in order to be published? Does my fiction need to be flat, bland, and boring to grab the attention of agents and publishers? If so, then why am I in school? What is the point of honing my craft, of learning to write engaging fiction if it is this bland drivel that is being published?

Or maybe what is needed is a little courage. I love writing and for the most part I am pleased with my work. But I have this perfection issue—I want my work to be perfect, absolutely perfect before I show it to anyone else. Especially anyone who is in the writing business. But after reading these books and thinking all through them that I could do so much better, I think that needs to change. For years I have said that God gave me this writing talent. He will get it into the hands of those who need to see it. I do believe that. At the same time, I find myself thinking that He might require a little more of me than just writing down the stories.

Perhaps it is time to do a little more work, to try a little harder to get my work noticed by agents and publishers. I know that God will get my work into the right hands. But how will those “right hands” know anything about where to find my work if I am not sending it out?

Praise and Purpose

I’ve been reading Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence for over a year now. In case you’ve never heard of this little book, it’s a daily devotional written by Sarah Young. She writes from the perspective of Jesus Christ, as if He were speaking directly to the reader. I can’t even begin to imagine the thoughts that must have gone through her head as she wrote this book, the daily struggles she must have had in thinking of how unworthy she or any human is to take on the voice of Christ. But that is a topic for another time.

I started reading this book in April 2013, after hearing about it from my Uncle Kevin. See, he and his wife were reading this together early that year. Not that either of them bragged about it. Uncle Kevin and Aunt Janet would never brag about their relationship with Christ. They just lived it, every day. It was at Uncle Kevin’s funeral on April 5, 2013 that I first heard about this devotional book, though I had probably seen it in stores before then. One of the last daily readings my uncle had enjoyed was shared during the service.

At the time, I was going through a difficult patch in my relationship with Christ. I was so mad at Him. I was angry about my own health issues. There were things that I should have been able to do that I couldn’t. Chronic pain, a heart condition, nerve damage, and life walking on a cane—all at age 37—were hard for me to deal with, and I was so angry that God was allowing this issues into my life. And then He allowed cancer to take away my uncle. Uncle Kevin, who was always smiling and full of life, died a few months short of his 20th wedding anniversary, leaving behind a wife, two adult children, and three beautiful young grandchildren. He believed in God, lived his life for Christ, asked Him for healing, and yet on Easter Sunday left his family to join Heaven’s choir. One more thing for me to be bitter about.

And I was bitter. For a long time. I’m not proud of it. Uncle Kevin and I were not particularly close. But I was already mad at God, and his death gave me one more reason to be mad. So I used it as an excuse to fuel my anger.

At the same time, I was intrigued by his reading choice. The particular cancer my uncle had was very aggressive. It progressed rapidly. Some say that was a blessing, as Uncle Kevin would not have wanted to be a burden to anyone. I don’t know. I know only that even as he grew more and more physically ill, Uncle Kevin stayed focused on Christ. His spirit never wavered. In the days before his death, he continued with his daily devotions, reading from Jesus Calling with Aunt Janet. Shortly before he passed away, he found the strength to sing the hymn “Have Thine Own Way” with his wife and daughter. Even though I was angry at God about my situation, on some level I craved the clarity, the deep level of faith that Uncle Kevin had.

I’ll admit, I am not always as dedicated in my daily devotional reading as my uncle. But I am trying. And I think that God is trying to talk to me through it.

Yesterday, in the reading for October 20, I read the line, “Do not be anxious about the weakness of your body.” I hadn’t marked that line, but it sure grabbed my attention again this morning. As soon as I opened the book for today’s reading, my eyes fell on it. My body is weak. Some days it is much more so than others. They say you are only as old as you feel, and I feel old, oh so very old some days because of the pain and weakness in my body. The past few days have been like that. And it worries me. I try to give it over to God, but when nothing changes, I wonder if He is listening to me. Holding on to the worry doesn’t change anything. There isn’t much that I can do to strengthen it or bring back what has been lost. It seems like all I have is the worry. And when that is all I have, it’s hard to let it go. Does that make any sense?

This morning, I read something else that felt like God talking directly to me. “Remember that all good things—your possessions, your family and friends, your health and abilities, your time—are gifts from Me. Instead of feeling entitled to these blessings, respond to them with gratitude.” Wow. And if that was not enough of a punch, the verse to go along with the reading was Job 1:21—“He said, ‘I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!’”

Not only have I not praised the Lord for what He was taken away from me, I have not praised Him for the things He has given me to replace those things. I don’t think I have fully praised Him or thanked Him for the things He has allowed me to keep. And I am quite certain that I never bothered to praise Him for the things that are gone when I had them. I just sort of took them for granted. I can’t promise never to do that again, but at least for today, I am praising God for the things He has given me, thanking Him for taking away the things I don’t need, and trusting Him to use the things I have left for His glory.

Uncle Kevin was fond of saying, “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.” His pulse may have stopped, but so long as his life is still touching others, his purpose goes on.

Worth A Read

Visit the author online at

Visit the author online at

Dreamer, a suspenseful novel by author Phillip L. Davidson, is not your typical Christian fiction book.  There are some moments of rough language and some situations that can be viewed as paranormal.  This is not the type of “easy-going” Christian romance that I normally read and review.  However, I am open to trying new things.  And the fact that main character David Elliot is motivated, at least in part, by his intense love for his wife made this book worth reading.

This book is action-packed.  If you like something fast-paced, this one will be well worth your time.  My only issue with it is the language.  I realize that in wartime, the language used is much different than what I am used to using and hearing on a daily basis.  However, if a book is being marketed to a Christian audience, I do feel the author should take that into account and tone down some of the language used.  Though I enjoyed the story line, the language alone will keep likely keep this book from making it my “read again” shelf.




About The Book:



Is the Dreamer good or evil? As war looms between Britain and Argentina over the barren Falkland Islands, Major David Elliott is having nightmares. Long ago, in a dark jungle near Cambodia, he failed to do his duty. That duty was to execute a member of his team. David’s weakness eventually led to his team’s capture. Tortured by the Viet Cong, they revealed the dark secrets of the CIA’s Phoenix program. Forced to leave the service in disgrace, his men now live in the ‘darkness’. What do the dreams mean for them? David’s wife, Sonia, sees them as harbingers of evil things to come. A revolutionary in Argentina before the war, she escaped to America and became a citizen.

Now, Captain Alvarez, head of the Argentine Secret Police, wants her back. He devises a plan that lures her into returning to Argentina where she is imprisoned on Los Estados Island. Meanwhile, a mystical creature has summoned David and his former team to gather once more to honor the ‘covenant,’ a pact they made with each other when they believed their lives were coming to an end. Together, with an errant priest, Father Perez, they reluctantly agree to assault Los Estados and free Sonia. As they travel across Mexico, Central and South America, they encounter the CIA, Contras in Nicaragua, the M-19 narco-terrorist group and the United States Navy; while all along being shadowed by the mystical entity. Is the entity God or Satan? Will submitting to the will of the entity allow David and his men to stand in the light of men once again? Is the Dreamer good or evil? You decide.

Dreamer is a tale of redemption, honor, courage, belief in God and betrayal! If you enjoy military fiction, this book is for you.

Review of OCEANS APART by Karen Kingsbury

   Conner Evans has a perfect life in Florida with his wife and two daughters. A highly respected airline pilot, Conner feels beyond blessed. News of an air tragedy over the Pacific Ocean reminds him how fragile life can be. But it’s been so long since he flew in that area of the world that Conner is sure he knew no one on that flight. He goes on with his life, not letting that one plane crash affect his life. Until the phone call from a strange lawyer. There was someone on the crashed plane that Conner knew, a flight attendant he had shared one night with nearly a decade ago. She has left Conner with the one thing that she loved and cherished in this world- her eight year old son, Max. The son Conner never knew existed.

   Over the past five years I’ve read many Karen Kingsbury books. I thought I had reached the point where I would not have another “new” book by Karen Kingsbury to read until she published another. In fact, I was so disappointed with her most recent series that I was not sure I wanted to read anymore. Then I came across “Oceans Apart”.

And I suddenly remembered all of the reasons I have enjoyed Karen Kingsbury’s work.

Her characters are real people, who just happen to be Christians. Conner has lived his life by hiding his indiscretion from his wife. Michele, his wife, suffers from self-esteem issues and forgiveness. They are not perfect, but they still love God. They have made mistakes, but they still know God loves them. They are enough like me to make them feel like friends. I loved reading about them.

Of course, saying that I read about these characters at all is not completely accurate. I didn’t read “Oceans Apart” so much as I listened to it. “Oceans Apart” is one of the books that I’ve recently listened to on The narrator, Joyce Beam, brought the characters to life, just as much as Karen Kingsbury’s words did. It was a very enjoyable experience, one I would highly recommend.

Looking Forward

I can’t “blame” my writing career on Karen Kingsbury.  God is the one who gave me the talent I have and He is the one who put into my heart the burning desire to write books that glorify Him.   But Karen is the one who first made me think that sharing the stories God has given me could be much more than just a dream.

The number of times I was told that Christian books would never sell….  I don’t know that I can count high enough to give you a number.  But it happened often enough that I even believed it for a while.  It wasn’t until an on-line friend suggested I read something “anything, really” by Karen Kingsbury that I changed my mind.  Her books were good; her talent very real.  And she has sold more than a few books.  My goal with my writing isn’t to see title after title at the top of The New York Times Best Seller List (though I wouldn’t be totally upset to see that happen, either.)  But seeing what she has done makes me think that it is possible, with a lot of hard work, for me to actually contribute something, financially, to my family through my writing.

God may have put the desire in my heart, but Karen has set an example for me to follow.

I’ve read pretty much everyone of Karen’s books that my library carries, and I’ve even added quite a few of her titles to my personal books collection.  (My favorites?  One Tuesday Morning and Even Now.)  I follow her on both Facebook and Twitter, and find myself anxiously awaiting whatever story she comes up with next.

I was really anxious to read her Bailey Flanigan Series.  Reading through the books about the Baxter family, I got to see Bailey grow up.  I could hardly wait to see what would unfold for her as she navigated her way through her 20’s.  Over the weekend, I read the final two books in this four book series.  I have to say that I was a little disappointed.  The series did not end the way that I thought it would, and for the first time I found little “quirks” in Karen’s writing style that annoyed me.  When I reached the last page of the final book, I was actually happy to be done with it.  I honestly didn’t think I’d be interested in reading another of her books for quite a while.

And then I found this trailer.   Oh my goodness!!!!  I so cannot WAIT to read this one.  Of course, it’s about the Baxters, and I am so hooked on their lives!  Coming Home looks to be another great story.

Holy eBooks, Batman!

In early May, I thought I would celebrate 5 years of writing full time by giving away three of my novels free for the Kindle. My husband wasn’t sure what he thought about that. He was concerned that by giving them away, I was losing money. The ebooks weren’t selling before, though. It’s not always easy to get your books purchased when you are an “unknown” author. I thought that if I could give away a few copies and then sell copies of the other titles, it would be well worth it. I chose to only do three titles–FORSAKING THE CALL, SUMMERTIME, and MIRACLE PLAY–because they were the only ones I had formatted for Kindle. I put them up for free for 2 days each and worked on formatting the other two books. Yesterday, both SHATTERED and THE LADIES OF FAITH went up on Kindle for a 2-day free promotion.

This morning, I checked on sales numbers and was pleasantly shocked at what I saw.

A total of 300 free copies of FORSAKING THE CALL were downloaded. An additional 20 copies were purchased.

A total of 276 free copies of were downloaded. An additional 6 copies were purchased.

A total of 386 free copies of SUMMERTIME were downloaded. An additional 18 copies were purchased.

So far, 692 free copies of THE LADIES OF FAITH have been downloaded and a staggering 852 copies of SHATTERED have been downloaded. No paying sales on those two yet, as the free promo is still going on.

Did you add up those numbers?? I did. It is over 2500 copies of my books that have gotten into the hands of readers just this month. “Only” 44 of those were paid, so I only get royalties on those 44 books. My husband looks at the 2500 books that I don’t get paid and gets said. I look at the 44 that will earn me some money, and I am excited! Before this month, I had not sold any electronic copies of my books. If I hadn’t taken a chance and offered the giveaway, I likely would not have sold those 44 books.

I am not in the writing business to make money. Sure, I’d love to make a steady income at this. I would love to have a studio purchase movie rights for one or more of my books and earn enough that my husband doesn’t have to go spend his days in a hot factory. But the money isn’t my guiding force. My goal is to get my work into the hands of readers, to find people who have never heard the message of Christ’s love and use my work to plant a little seed in their lives. That is my goal. And the free Kindle promotion seems to be helping me to reach that goal.

Tamara Leigh’s DREAMSPELL

I have vivid dreams.  Sometimes when I wake up, I can’t tell for a few moments if the dream really happened or not.  More times than I can count, I’ve wondered what it would be like to not wake up from the dream, to just make a life for myself in that dream world.  I have to wonder if author Tamara Leigh ever had those same thoughts.  She must have, because that is what happens in her new novel Dreamspell.

Kennedy Plain is a doctor, studying the effects of sleep deprivation on dreams.  She is also battling terminal cancer.  The end is nearing, and she knows it.  She just wants to finish this one last project before it’s too late.  One of her study subjects, MacArthur Crosley, brings to her an interesting concept….  He claims his dreams of life in a medieval land are more than just dream—Mac believes he was really there, really witnessed the events written in the book “The Sins of the Earl of Sinwell.”  He has read the book and dreamed about, and every time he re-reads the book, events are changed due to what he has done in his dreams.  To say that Kennedy is skeptical is an understatement…until she falls asleep and wakes up in the same book.  She meets Fulke Wynland, and though she doesn’t trust him at first (after all, he is the antagonist in the book Mac has given her to read), Kennedy soon finds herself falling for the dashing earl.

This book was not what I expected from Tamara Leigh.  The first of her novels that I read, Faking Grace, was a fun, inspirational “chick lit” book.  That is what I expected to read here, as well.  To be honest, when I started reading it I was disappointed.  Time travel through dreams?  That sounded a little too sci-fi for my tastes.  But I kept reading, and soon I was caught up in the romance and adventure.  Though they don’t trust one another—for many valid reasons—Fulke and Kennedy can’t fight the attraction they feel.  Despite what they believe about one another, the love is there.  And it is a fierce love that transcends time and space.  And the ending….  I don’t want to give it away, but I must say that I loved the tender way Leigh ended this story.  Oh how I wish I could crawl into the pages of the book and listen the conversation that is just beginning between Laurel and Hunt!

Dreamspell was definitely worth the time it took to read it!  It is on my Kindle and will stay there for a long time.  I know that I will go back and reread it again.  It’s one of those stories that doesn’t just go away.

Amazon KindleChick LitDreamDream world (plot device)DreamspellFaking GraceTamara Leigh

Miracle Play Preorders

I have so many things that I want to get done today!  Not many that I absolutely need to get done, I suppose.  So that makes me lucky in some ways.  Yet I still have no clue where to begin.  If I don’t do something soon, I will never get anything done.  And I do so want to get something done.

Well, since you sat through that babble, I suppose you deserve a little something special!  As you may know, my fifth novel Miracle Play will be available on April 5.  I can hardly wait for that!  Already I have a book signing lined up for the 14th.  I just need to know how many books I should have on hand.  So, I have a question for you—would you like a copy of Miracle Play?

In case you don’t know what the book is about, here is the trailer for the novel….

The books will sell for $15 each on April 5.  But I am offering a special on preorders!  Anyone who orders a book before March 16 will only need to pay $12 for their copy.  If you are in the Jackson, Michigan area, I will deliver your book to you for free.  If you need me to mail the book to you, the shipping on it will be $2.

To preorder your copy, please leave your email address and the number of copies you would like in the comments section after this blog post.  Or you can email me at  and put MIRACLE PLAY PREORDER in the subject line.  Let me know how many copies of the book you need and how you want them delivered to you.


It’s been a while since I have updated this blog.  If you are a regular reader, you already know that!  At least, I hope you have noticed that I’ve been gone for a while….

Anyway, there are a lot of reasons that I haven’t been here in a while.  One of those reasons is because I have been busy writing a couple of novels.  The first one, MIRACLE PLAY, has been sent off to the publisher!  It will be available for sale on April 5, 2012.  I am real excited about this book.   I recently told a friend that the fifth novel is just as exciting as the first.  “It’s kind of like the feeling of having a new baby, only without the morning sickness, swelling, and pain.”

This time around, I’ve done something that I never have before–I made a trailer for the book.  I’ve thought about doing it before, just have not actually taken the time to do it.  My trailer is available on YouTube.  I’ve added it here so you can find it easily.  Please let me know what you think of it.  You can can share your feelings on the trailer and book here or right on YouTube.  Either way, I am eager to hear what you have to say.

VICIOUS CYCLE by Terri Blackstock trailer

A year ago, I read my first Terri Blackstock novel.  It was called Intervention and I loved it!  When I saw that a sequel was available at my local library, I picked it up.  Vicious Cycle was just as good and just as hard to put down as the first book!  I am working on a review of it now.  In the meantime, I thought you might like to see the video trailer.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

InterventionTerri BlackstockVicious CycleZondervan