Saturday, April 15, 2017

What do you have to offer the world?

posted by Teresa Slack
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as an expert at anything. We haven’t discovered anything or invented anything or cured anything. We haven’t built a business that employs millions or solved a great problem facing humankind. We downplay our abilities since they’re not that impressive. After all, almost anyone can balance a checkbook or raise kids or even write a blog post. We keep our heads down and hope we don't sound like we’re bragging.

Recently I was asked to speak at a writers’ conference. It's been a long time since I've talked about writing. To be honest, it's been a long time since I've written a whole lot. I believe I do have something to offer writers. I’ve been doing it a while and have met with some success with my published novels. But an expert…I don't know if I'd go that far.

I almost didn't accept the invitation. I worried I might not have enough to offer that the attendees didn’t already know. Actually, I was afraid. Afraid of not having as good a presentation as the other writers doing workshops. Afraid I’d fall on my face. Afraid everyone would see me as the fraud I thought I was.

Aren't those dumb reasons for not doing something I love?

No matter your interests or abilities or experience or natural talent, you have something to offer that can benefit or impact someone. Don't let fear or the thought that you're a phony or not as good as you think you are keep you from doing what you enjoy and from being a being a blessing to others. We tell ourselves we’re not that funny or talented or experienced. Consequently, we do nothing. Who suffers when we make that choice?

Not only are we hurting ourselves by not stretching our wings and doing what we enjoy, we are also hurting the people we don’t help. Vanity is sometimes disguised as fear. The fear we experience when doing something outside our comfort zone is vanity. No one wants to fall on their face in front of witnesses. But not doing something helpful or beneficial to others because of selfish reasons is vanity.

No matter how minimal you believe your talents, someone can benefit from learning them. Even if you think everyone knows how to bake a chocolate chip cookie or housebreak a puppy or sew on a button, you will come across someone who needs your advice on the subject. I am sure there are also bigger things, too, in which you have experience.

What are you good at? What are your interests or natural talents? Baking. Organization. Writing. Graphic design. Woodworking. Money management. Animal training. Crafts. Mechanics. Health and beauty. Just to name a few. There is at least one area in which you could help someone else. Probably many, but for the sake of this article, we'll focus on one. Name one thing you could teach someone else. If you share your knowledge & experience with one person, you have possibly enriched them…and yourself.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Meet the Author, ALEXIS A. GORING


by Molly Noble Bull
  


Molly:
Alexis, it is great to have you’re here, and I can hardly wait to learn more about you and your writing. As an only child, playing “Let’s Pretend” was my favorite game and kept me from being lonely. I believe that some authors, if not most, are “Let’s Pretenders,” and fiction writing is what “Let’s Pretenders” do when they grow up.
Tell us about you, Alexis, your family and your life. Did you like to play Let’s Pretend, as a child? If so, how did this influence your decision to become a writer?

Alexis:
Oh yes, I loved to play “Let’s Pretend” as a child! I loved to pretend that I was an actress, singer, model and traveling the world. This totally influenced my decision to become a writer! My mom is an educator, my dad works in a hospital and my brother and his wife are professional physical therapists who earned doctorate degrees. Growing up, my grandparents babysat my brother and I. It was an impromptu storytelling game created by my grandpa one day that spurred me to start writing fictional stories.

Molly:
What wonderful memories. Like me, you are a Christian author, making us Sisters-in-Jesus Christ. Tell us about your spiritual life and how the Lord influenced your writing as well as the person you are today.

Alexis:
I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ and thank God for giving me the gift of writing. God led me on the writing career path from a very young age. I’ve always loved reading and writing and started writing stories at age 9.
God affirmed my gift through words from teachers such as my Bible teacher in high school who told me via a written message in my yearbook that he hopes that I will continue writing because I have a “tremendous gift.” The Lord led me to mentors in college and after college who helped me to grow my gift. Two years ago, He led me to Full Sail University where I earned my MFA in Creative Writing.
The Lord blessed me with family members who are supportive of my dream to be a professional writer. All of this influenced who I am today by growing not only my gift but it also grew my faith in God. This journey that God is taking me on is also growing my patience as I learn
to wait on the Lord for His perfect timing and plan for my life.

Molly:
What a blessing. Now, tell us about that novella of yours, A Second Chance.
  


Alexis:
It’s a story about characters that are in need of a second chance in life and love. The story focuses on Marc and Traci who have had their share of heartbreak in relationships. There’s a spiritual theme of forgiveness tied in with hope and completed with restoration. My characters
go through highs and lows which tests their faith, and they learn how to trust God. Ultimately, Traci and Marc learn the meaning of Jeremiah 29:11.

Molly:
Pictures on the covers of books are great. But when I decide whether or not to buy a book at a bookstore, I read page one. Please post the first part of A Second Chance.

Alexis:
Chapter 1
Knee-deep in debt from wedding expenses, Traci Hightower sighed as she filed through the credit card statements. She should be married now, back from her honeymoon in Bali, and settled into her new home with her husband. Happy. Not single and broke.
She slapped an envelope against the desk. Five months of struggling to survive and pay off the debt. Her meager, entry-level journalist salary didn’t stretch far enough. She’d been paying her dues for seven years. She rubbed her temples.
The numbers on the credit card statement blurred in front of her eyes.
The doorbell rang. A little thrill rushed through her. She stood from her cross-legged position on the floor and hopped over the mess of papers and laundry that decorated her living room.
“Who is it?”
“The woman who gave you birth.”
For the first time today, Traci smiled. She opened the door and reached for a hug from the one person who never left her hanging.
“Hi, Mom.”
Her mom returned her daughter’s embrace, then dragged her suitcase inside. She glanced around. “Oh, my.”
Traci locked her door, then turned and shrugged. “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve been looking forward to this. Can’t you stay for more than two days though?”
Mom stopped picking up the bills from the floor and faced her daughter. “No, honey. I’m sorry, but I need to return home by Wednesday morning. Dad and I have an important meeting later that day.”
Traci’s heart dipped. Mom paused and placed the bills and the stack of paper she’d picked off the floor on Traci’s kitchen counter. “Oh, sweetie.” She cocooned her daughter in another embrace.
Traci snuggled close. She inhaled the familiar scent of her mother’s favorite perfume. It smelt like coconut and lime.
“You always were a cuddler.” Mom stroked her hair. “Still up to your eyeballs in debt?”
Traci nodded.
“Why don’t you let me and your father help?”
Traci took a step back and made eye contact with her mom.
“We’ve been through this. I got myself into this mess. I’ll get myself out.”
Mom smiled. “Your father and I were talking. We hate to see you struggling.”
“You don’t exactly live in a palace either. I know you want to retire soon, and I won’t have you dipping into that money.”
Mom reached into her purse. “Living in the nation’s capital area is expensive.” She rummaged through her handbag’s contents. “Have you considered moving home?”
“I can’t do that. I don’t ever want to live anywhere else. My life and career are here.”
“How’s that going for you?”
Traci picked at her fingernails. “It could be better.” Better boss, better pay, better office space. The works.
Mom nodded as she retrieved one sealed envelope from her purse. She looked toward Traci’s kitchen. “Can we make some tea? I’d like to talk with you.”
“Sure. Come with me.” Traci reached for the box of peppermint tea bags and got a bottle of honey from her refrigerator. As she put the kettle on to boil, her mom settled into a wobbly kitchen chair. She smoothed the creased edges of the envelope.
Traci poured the hot water over the tea bags in each mug and the scent of peppermint filled the air. “Everything okay?”
“Just thinking, honey.”
“About what?”
“Have a seat.”
“Sure, just let me allow the tea to steep.” After she placed a plate over each mug and set it aside, she settled into the chair across from her mom. “What’s up?”
“I never did like Greg.”
Traci traced a ring stain on the table. “Do we have to talk about my ex-fiancĂ©?”
“Yes, because your grandfather always trusted my judgment.”
“So, Grandpa didn’t like Greg either?”
“I inherited my instincts of discernment from him. Speaking of discernment, here.” She pushed the envelope within Traci’s reach.
She frowned as she picked it up and tried to flatten its wrinkles.
“What’s this?”
 ~*~
Molly:
Thanks, Alexis, and thank you for coming. But before you go, please leave your contact information.

Alexis:
Thanks for inviting me to be your guest! Here are the links to my social media where readers may connect with me: 

Facebook:
“God is Love” blog: http://capturingtheidea.blogspot.com 



Thursday, March 16, 2017

WHAT'S NEW?

by Molly Noble Bull

I would like to introduce my friend, fellow author, and proof-editor—Jeanette Pierce. She has written an interesting article based on the Bible, and as new as today’s headlines, and you will want to read it. It is just below.
Jeanette is a retired high school English teacher, and she has an MA in English with a minor in psychology. We have partnered on two sets of study guides for homeschool families based on two of my novels.

When the Cowboy Rides Away


Gatehaven


  

THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN “- King Solomon
By Jeanette Pierce
Once upon a time an upright man lived in a great land that he loved with all his heart. But there came a time when men in authority with a different world view took the people captive from their beloved land.
As time passed, people living in the surrounding area but not having the same pride in their land, let the infrastructure go to ruins, and the land became ugly, desolate, and unlivable.
Then one day the man, saddened by the condition of his homeland, felt he could and must make his homeland great again. First, he got permission to proceed with the project. Next, he assessed the magnitude of the problem of both the inner city and the total infrastructure to understand the task before him. Last, he gathered a collection of the best men to help carry out his mission.
Finally, he and his men were on the job, making good progress in making his country great again. But alas, soon his enemies from surrounding areas, not desiring that he succeed in renewing his homeland, began plotting against him. First, they tried to discourage him by mocking him and his men. One opposition leader (a governor, no less) mocked him saying his structures were so weak that a fox could jump on the wall and break it. When mockery failed to distract them from their task, their opponents resorted to slander by telling him that rumor had it that he was making the land great again because he planned to rebel and set himself up as a king figure. They even tried to draw him away from his team for a supposed meeting, but he realized their motive was to get him alone and assassinate him, so he sent a letter declining the invitation.
After their non-violent attempts failed to stop his work, the opponents conspired with all the various enemies in the land and began to physically attack the workers. But their courageous leader wisely divided his workers into two groups, one to guard the wall and the workers while the other group worked. The workers finally had to resort to working with one hand while holding a weapon in the other. But most importantly, prayers were sent up to the one true God to protect this great leader and his teams that their enemies would be powerless against them. God heard all the prayers and protected the workers, and they finished their project ahead of time and under budget. Their enemies, realizing they were powerless against this great leader because God was fighting his battles, lost their confidence and gave up.
This great leader did all the work to make his country a great nation but took no salary.
If you have labeled the great leader as President Trump, the enemies as President Obama and the liberal Left, using Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals to destroy your great leader, you would be totally wrong.
To read a story that has unbelievable similarities to what is happening in the United States at present, read Nehemiah, chapters 1-6 (Old Testament). The story begins during the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia. His queen is Esther, the beautiful, wise, Jewish heroine who literally saves her people from destruction. Nehemiah is the king’s cupbearer, meaning he tastes the king’s wine first. If it has been poisoned, Nehemiah, not the king, will die. The job requires a trusted person. The modern equivalent would be the job of the FBI to take a bullet for the president.
Nehemiah is saddened to the point of weeping because of the terrible condition in Jerusalem since the Jewish people have been in captivity in Babylon over 70 years. The city is in ruins, and the walls have been knocked down and the gates burned. The local enemies, including governors of the provinces, plot constantly to thwart the efforts of Nehemiah and his workers. Chapters 4-6 enumerate the various tactics they use against Nehemiah, which leads me to conclude that Saul Alinsky wasn’t the first to use his Rules for Radicals. Sanballat and his partners in crime used some of the same tactics against Nehemiah in 445 B.C. Solomon even said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9b) Nehemiah 6:15 states that Nehemiah and his team completed the wall around Jerusalem in an unprecedented 52 days. And Nehemiah 5:14 states that Nehemiah took no salary during the 12 years of his first term as governor. Does history repeat itself or what!!!



Sunday, January 22, 2017

SPEAK UP! 
Do You Know What Happened On January 22, 1973?   



Two important events in American history took place on that day. Do you know what they were?
I’ll give you a hint. One was about the life and death of a man. The other was about the life and death of millions.
I remember that day well.
By 1973 I had been a pro-life Christian for some time and was a member of a group called The Ad-Hoc Committee in Defense of Life. On January 22, 1973, I was watching our black and white television set when a TV commentator announced that the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision, stating that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman’s right to have an abortion. I was devastated.
I needed to talk to someone—share what I’d just heard. In my rush to phone Alice, my pro-life friend, I didn’t even bother to turn off the TV set. I just dialed her number, weeping as I explained what had just happened—that Roe vs. Wade was now the law of the land.
Suddenly, the TV newsman said something like, “I have another announcement. Former President Lyndon Baines Johnson has just died at his ranch near Johnson City, Texas.” 
The stories about the death of the 36th President of the United States were on the front pages of every newspaper in the country the next morning. Roe vs. Wade was considered of lesser importance and was pushed to perhaps page ten. However, the future death of millions of unborn children was the big story for that day and any day.
As a result, I helped start two pro-life organizations, marching and speaking up for life. According to the Bible, we are being righteous judges when we speak up for those that cannot speak for themselves.

Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor and needy.  Proverbs 31: 8-9. (Good News Bible)




Heaven Father, give us ears to hear the cries of those who cannot speak for themselves and the hands and hearts to protect the rights of the poor, the needy and the helpless. In the blessed name of Jesus. Amen and amen.  

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received

Posted by Teresa Slack
Nearly every time I speak to a book club or writers’ group I am asked a variation of the following question--What’s the best writing advice you ever received? I’ve received plenty of advice and inspiration over the years. But the best is often the simplest.

This advice came from country music singer Toby Keith. He said; “You can’t tell a writer to write better. You can only tell them to write more.”

Not exactly rocket science, but for me it was spot on. Don’t write better. Write more.

Regardless of our abilities or experience, there’s no excuse for not writing more. Even if it’s garbage and most of it will be edited into oblivion, we can still do it.

Imagine your doctor said you needed brain surgery. You could schedule with the guy fresh out of school who knew all the latest techniques and innovations. You would be his first patient. Or you could have the one who performed your type of surgery every day, and she was known throughout the country for her skills and experience.

You can choose whomever you want, but let me tell you, I’d pick the one who did my surgery every day.

I don’t know about you, but I am my own biggest roadblock for not writing more. Or should I say my doubts, fear—and dare I say it—laziness are my biggest roadblocks. But they shouldn’t keep me from finishing the stories I believe I’m called to write.

Whether it’s the story idea that’s been pestering you for years, the article you should’ve written last week, or the blog post you’ve put off for too long, write it. Don’t worry that it’s too long or too short or not original enough. Don’t wonder if anyone will like it or if the market will support it. Write it. And don’t write better. Write more.

What about you? What’s the best writing advice you ever received? Share it here and let us encourage one another.

Teresa Slack’s first novel Streams of Mercy, the first in her Jenna’s Creek Series, won the Bay Area Independent Publishers’ Assn award for Best First Novel. It is currently available as a free download on Amazon through May 17th. Click here to get your copy and then check out the rest of the series. Teresa’s down-to-earth characters and realistic dialog have endeared her to readers and reviewers alike. Learn more about her and her books at her website www.teresaslack.com or on her Amazon author page. Follow her on Facebook & Twitter to stay up to date with what’s coming next.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

WHY WOMEN DON'T LIKE DONALD


by Molly Noble Bull 

As a Christian Republican, I am NOT part of what some call The Establishment. In fact, I am far from it. I am a pro-life, pro-family constitutional voter who was once, years ago, a southern democrat.
I prayed that the Lord would send us Christian candidates to get this country out of the mess we are in, and He did. In my opinion, the Republicans had some excellent candidates early on, and then Donald Trump got in the race.
To be honest, I liked some of the things Donald said he was for in the beginning. But that all changed when he went after Megan Kelly. The name-calling began to get under my skin after that, reminding me of every playground bully I ever knew in elementary school, and with each new insult I liked Donald a little less. I became worried when I realized that I was beginning to dislike him more than the democrats.
Ben Carson said that Donald Trump was two men. But a two-headed leader never works for me because you never know which head is speaking.
I woke up early this morning, and since I couldn’t go back to sleep, I found myself thinking up ugly names to define Donald Trump. I repented for my wrong thinking. Does Donald repent for his? 
In the New Testament of the Bible, Saul was a bad guy who hated Christians, but God turned him into a good guy, changing his name to Paul—also known as Saint Paul. May the Lord turn all our Sauls into Pauls, and save our country now and for generations to come.
At this point in time, I cannot vote for Donald, if he is the candidate, and I will not vote for a democrat. But I will vote for all the other Republican candidates. 
I don’t know why other women don’t like Donald. I can only speak for myself. But I am praying for him, and will continue to do that—right up until Election Day and beyond. 

P,S., I voted for Ted Cruz in the Texas primary, and as a published Christian novelist, I am endorsing him now as our future President of the United States. 
   

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

WORDS HURT


by Molly Noble Bull

It is true that sticks and stones can break bones. But words hurt. Words have hurt me. Words have hurt you. Unkind words have hurt just about everybody.
Yet Donald Trump defines people by calling them one of his now famous acid names. Every time he does it, I remember back when someone treated me unkindly, and I don’t want to remember those events. Nobody does.
I am a mom, a grandmother and former elementary and early childhood teacher, and I find myself constantly wishing I could wash Donald’s mouth out with soap or send him to the “time out” corner for his childish behavior. I am also a Christian. As a Christian, I forgave those who said or did something unkind to me and pray for them in the name of Jesus. But what of those who fail to forgive?
Can you spell stirring up anger? If I am an example, The Donald stirs up anger almost daily, and I don't like getting angry. That is not who I am. 
He has promised to become presidential once he gets the nomination. I hope he means it. But how can we know for sure? Can you imagine sitting on the edge of your chair each night, watching the evening news and waiting to hear what evil name the Donald called some world leader or his wife that day?
I don’t know about you, but my husband and I didn’t vote for Donald Trump in the Texas primary. Words hurt, and though none of the Republican candidates are perfect, only one has an acid tongue.
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Check out my newest western, When the Cowboy Rides Away.