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Words fitly spoken

June 22, 2014

All of my life I have had a love affair with words. When I write a story, I listen for the rhythm and cadence of each sentence, as though I were writing music, and if the phrase strikes an odd tone, it needs fixing.

Life is like that.

Some emotions, actions, reactions, and words are spoken with cymbals and huge crescendos (very loud), while others remain pianissimo (very quiet) their whole life through.


Words can shout at us to sit up and pay attention because what is about to be said is super important. Or words can be whispered in the ear to tell a secret that is meant only for us. God speaks to us both ways. His voice is thunder. His voice whispers.

Beautiful music is like a word fitly spoken. Kind, encouraging, uplifting words that brighten the hearts of those who hear them. But sometimes a single word can change the kindness to cruelty, the encouragement to shame.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver,” Solomon said in Proverbs 25:11 (Apples in the Bible may have actually been what we know as the apricot.)

Tone and timing of words can also affect the meaning of words. “Fitly spoken” carries the idea that I stop and evaluate–I “think before I speak.”

Fitly spoken can mean, “wait.” Or it can mean, “choose my words with care.” Or it can mean, “share this, it will be helpful to the listener.” It can even mean, “confront–as in speak the truth in love.”

We have to ask ourselves whether the thought we want to share, that may have just “popped into our minds” really matters. If it never gets said, will the other person miss out on something grand? Or do we speak to hear our own words?

Golden apples are a thing of beauty, just as a tray of silver sparkles like the sun. Words well spoken are just as beautiful. To speak them in love, at the appropriate time, with the right motives, with the desire to build up and encourage, takes them from mere language spilling from our tongue to something of value.

Like apples of gold in settings of silver. Rich. Shiny. Inspiring.

And in a small way, a picture of love.



by jill at 6:46 pm in ,

Writing Process Blog Tour

June 9, 2014

images-50If you’re coming from Kathleen Fuller’s blog, welcome! She posted on this blog tour last Monday, June 2. Kathy is a dear friend and former critique partner. She writes truly memorable stories – Amish Fiction and Historical Romance.

Now it my turn to make the switch to biblical fiction.

(Please make sure you check out the two authors (Fantasy and Historical Fiction) to follow next week – links are at the end of this post.)

  • What am I working on at the moment?

I am in the midst of finishing the first draft of Deborah’s story. Once I put that aside to set for a time, I will step into Solomon’s life and travel to ancient Egypt to meet his Egyptian queen. Her novella is next on my list.

  • How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Every biblical novelist comes to their stories from their own perspective. We bring to the Bible our personal relationship to it and to its Author. And our worldview, that internal theme or outlook we carry, comes to play a part in the lives of the characters.

Of course, each of us takes time to study the history of the times, the culture, the geography and all that goes into writing an historical novel. But the longer I write, the more I realize why so many novels can be written on the same biblical characters and yet not resemble each other. The reason lies in that internal viewpoint and what comes from the author’s heart to the page.

For instance, the theme of grace and forgiveness continually come through each story I write whether it is in the forefront of my mind when I start the work or not. That’s because I see grace woven throughout every story in Scripture.

Other biblical novelists may have a different theme of heart, and that will affect the way their story is written. We all infuse a little piece of ourselves into our stories. If we didn’t, we couldn’t relate to the people about whom we are writing.

  • Why do I write what I do?

I love the Bible. God has given me a heart for His Word and the people in it, and I want to bring their stories to life for my readers as other biblical fiction brought the stories to life for me.

I also want to inspire readers to pick up the Scriptures and read these often overlooked tales to see what truly happened and compare it to what I found in my research and filled in with imagination. I hope it instills a greater love of Scripture for my readers.

  • How does my writing process work?

I set a word count for each week and then aim to meet it. I set deadlines for the first draft so that I have time to let the story settle in my mind and can go back later and fix what needs fixing. I rewrite a couple of times, get feedback from my critique partners, and read the whole book out loud to myself before I ever turn it in to my editor. Once it is “in house” it goes through a few more sets of revisions before it lands in the reader’s hands.

I’m tagging Anne Elisabeth Stengl who writes award-winning fantasy adventure novels, and Tracy Higley who writes historical/biblical fiction about places I wish I could visit! They will blog on June 14 and June 16, respectively.

Happy writing~

by jill at 8:00 am in

Been there, done that?

June 8, 2014

IMG_3861Do you ever get in a rut and feel like everything you do has a “been there, done that” kind of feeling? Routine isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes it’s nice to mix it up a bit, yes?

This can be especially true when we enter a new phase of life. For us, right now, it’s called the “empty nest.” When our kids were young and we were involved in just about everything a person can do, this era of life never even crossed our minds. Empty nest was a bird term. Or perhaps something our parents understood. We weren’t going to get to that place…not in a million years!

Well…life has a way of happening, like it or not. And time has this quality that defies science, because it has the ability to pick up speed with every passing day, month, year. Though the hands on the clock still say they are moving at the same speed, don’t let them fool you. Time crawls when you are 16 going on 30. Time flies when you are 40 going on…well, you get the idea.

So…that empty nest. It’s a strange nest – and apparently not just a bird term. There are no little mouths to feed. (Unless there are grandchildren, which right now there are not.) Suddenly, if you don’t want to cook a meal…you can eat out! Ha! And you can go places without checking the schedules for five people. You only have to remember for two (though there is a chance if you don’t write it down you might forget what’s on it). You have the ability to try new things!

IMG_3862Trouble is, this is also a time when you tend to have less energy. (This is so backward. We should gain momentum as we age, like time does.) And we can also become way too comfortable with the tried and true. Been there, done that just becomes comfortable.

To which I say – p-shah! (How do you spell that?) This seems like the perfect time for a new adventure!

With that in mind, I’ve got a new summer goal. To try something new every week (more often if possible) and to create a bucket list for the rest of 2014 and beyond. Though we have been to many places in our local area, we’ve missed a lot too.

So yesterday we began with a trip to the Farmer’s Market in Royal Oak, Michigan. We’d seen the signs for it, wanted to go, but just never got around to it. Time to change that thinking. And what fun! We weren’t there super long, but in the course of an hour we bought plants for our garden, tasted homemade popsicles that were amazing! Bought raw honey and some great-smelling soap from local vendors. Even met a real-live shepherd, who lives north of the area and sells lamb meat and homemade lamb pasties.

One vendor gave us all kinds of flavors of popcorn to try, and others had baked goods and vintage clothes, and there was a guy playing his guitar and singing. I can’t remember the last time I visited a farmer’s market, (we went to one in Seattle once) but this one won’t be our last.

In a few weeks, I’m hoping to make it to the IMAX theater in Dearborn to see the National Geographic special showing of Jerusalem. Friends told us it was great, and having been to the holy city in person, I am always happy to see it in pictures. Jerusalem is my favorite city on earth outside of where we live and some favorites in California.

What new adventures will you try this summer or this year? My list includes a hot air balloon ride (maybe), going to a play at a local theater, visiting the opera house, touring a local mansion, attending an art festival, and riding bikes in some local parks.

I’d love to hear your ideas. How can we make the most of the seasons, of this journey called life that God has given?




by jill at 9:00 am in

June 2014 Christian Fiction Releases

June 7, 2014

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


All Right Here by Carre Armstrong Gardner — Ivy Darling can’t have children of her own, and her husband Nick’s resentment is forcing them apart. And while Ivy has the support and love of her large, close-knit family, Nick’s family has never welcomed her into the fold. When the three children next door are abandoned by their mother, Ivy and Nick take them in for the night. One night becomes several, and suddenly Ivy and Nick find themselves foster parents to the only African-American kids in the town of Copper Cove, Maine. As Ivy grows more attached to the children, Nick refuses to accept their eclectic household as a permanent family. Just as Ivy begins to question whether or not she wants to save her emotionally empty marriage, Nick begins to discover how much Ivy and the children mean to him. But is his change of heart too little, too late? (Contemporary Fiction from Tyndale House)

A Woman of Fortune by Kellie Coates Gilbert — Texas socialite Claire Massey is living the dream. Her world is filled with designer clothes, luxury cars, and stunning homes. But her Neiman-Marcus lifestyle comes crashing down when her charming cattle broker husband is arrested for fraud. Suddenly, she finds herself facing attorneys, a media frenzy, and a trail of broken hearts. Betrayed and humiliated, Claire must start over against incredible odds to save her family–and discover a life worth living. (Contemporary Fiction from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

The Cat Lady’s Secret by Linda W. Yezak — Emily Taylor loves to help people, loves to ease their burdens and make their dreams come true. But when a conman ruins her reputation, she discovers that helping others is safer and easier from behind the scenes. When one of Emily’s gifts captures the attention of an avid journalist, her identity as the town’s anonymous benefactor-and her renewed relationship with her high school sweetheart-are threatened. As her private life begins to unravel, she realizes the one hope for regaining control lies behind prison walls. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Harbourlight Books[Pelican])

Contemporary Romance:

A Romance Rekindled by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Susan Hill can’t forget how Blake Mitchell jilted her and left their hometown without an explanation. But when he returns to Leavenworth, the ruggedly handsome writer evokes conflicting emotions, especially when Susan meets the child she assumes is his daughter. Since his parents’ deaths six years ago, Blake’s been raising his little sister on his own. But he’s never forgotten the woman he left behind. Now, he can’t undo the past, but maybe he can change the future…if he can convince Susan to give him one more chance. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Lakeside Sweethearts by Lisa Jordan — Agnes Kingsley can hardly bear to walk past the house she lived in as a married woman. It’s full of bad memories she’s never shared-not even with her best friend, Ian James. But now Ian wants her help to restore that old home for a community project. Agnes knows it’s for a good cause, but as their work brings them even closer together, she’s afraid to trust-in herself or in the feelings she’s secretly harbored for her childhood friend. Yet as they chip away at the house, walls come down around both their hearts…uncovering a foundation to last a lifetime. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Their Unexpected Love by Kathleen Y’Barbo — Widowed contractor Logan Burkett knows exactly what troublemaking teens need: discipline. A former rabble-rouser, Logan had his life turned around by firm guidance and hard work. But try telling that to Pippa Gallagher. The softhearted event planner runs a skate park ministry for troubled teens and thinks a place to be themselves is the answer. As he and Pippa work together renovating the space, they seem to disagree about everything. But when disaster strikes, Logan finds himself feeling very protective of the beautiful planner and surprised to discover they share one very special thing in common…love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inpspired [Harlequin])

Historical Fiction:

The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart — Nell Marchwold is fortunate to have landed a job as an apprentice designer at the prominent Oscar Fields Millinery in New York City. When Nell’s fresh designs begin to catch on, her boss holds her back from the limelight, claiming the stutter she’s had since childhood reflects poorly on her and his salon. But it seems Nell’s gift won’t be hidden by Oscar’s efforts. Soon an up-and-coming fashion designer is seeking her out as a partner of his 1922 collection. The publicity leads to an opportunity for Nell to make hats in London for a royal wedding. There, she sees her childhood friend, Quentin, and an unexpected spark kindles between them. But thanks to her success, Oscar is determined to keep her. As her heart tugs in two directions, Nell must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for her dream, and what her dream truly is. (Historical General Fiction from Faith Words [Hachette])

Historical Romance:

Four Weddings & a Kiss by Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Mary Connealy, and Robin Lee Hatcher — In 1885 five western preachers sit around a campfire talking about unlikely couples they’ve seen God bring together. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson & Zondervan])

The Beaches and Brides Romance Collection by Lynn A. Coleman, Susan Page Davis, Mary Davis, Paige Winship Dooly and Cathy Marie Hake — Venture along historic American shorelines, enjoying five stories that are full of adventure, challenge, and romance. In Key West a couple collides over a child’s welfare. In Washington, a captain’s wife guards a secret. In Maine, a castaway returns from the dead. In Georgia, a woman dares to man a lighthouse alone. In Virginia, a wounded soldier recoups at a seaside cottage. Watch as God works through their challenges to bring them safely to a harbor of love. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Stuck Together by Mary Connealy — Tina Cahill, newly arrived from the East, is determined to get the saloon in Broken Wheel, Texas, closed for good. To that end, she pickets outside the place every afternoon. Unfortunately, so far no one has paid any attention. Vince Yates earned the nickname “Invincible Vince” because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn’t know he had, show up in Broken Wheel without warning. Vince has a lot of people to take care of, and Tina doesn’t approve of how he’s handling any of them. But with almost all the other men in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with feisty Tina over and over again. Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he’s ever seen, so if he could just get her to give up her causes, he might go ahead and propose. But he’s got one more surprise coming his way: Tina’s picketing at the saloon has revealed a dark secret that could put everyone Vince loves in danger. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

Truth Be Told by Carol Cox When Amelia Wagner takes over her father’s newspaper in 1893 Granite Springs, Arizona, she vows to carry on the paper’s commitment to reporting only the truth. But Amelia soon learns that even the truth can have serious consequences. Her father’s revealing articles about the Great Western Investment Company have caught the attention of the wrong people, and pressure mounts for Amelia to retract her father’s statements. Determined to find out the real story, Amelia begins her own investigation. She’s joined by Benjamin Stone, a Great Western employee who’s been assigned to keep tabs on her. What they uncover stuns them both–and has far-reaching implications for not only Ben and Amelia but all of Granite Springs. Can they reveal the truth before the enemy finds a way to silence them for good? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

A Place in His Heart by Rebecca DeMarino — Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Puritan Barnabas Horton is still grieves the loss of his beloved wife and needs only a mother for his two young sons. And yet these two very different people with very different expectations will take a leap of faith, wed, and then embark on a life-changing journey across the ocean to the New World. Along the way, each must learn to live in harmony, to wait on God, and to recognize true love where they least expect to find it. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Ozark Reunion by Helen Gray — In the aftermath of the Great Depression, it’s time for Riley to start over. And the first step is winning the trust of his Missouri hometown. But it isn’t easy for a man with a troubled past. Especially when his first love, Jolene Delaney, seems to believe that the new rumors about him are true. After Riley broke her heart, Jolene threw herself into teaching school and caring for her father and little sister. But she knows something is missing from her life. Especially when she comes face-to-face with Riley again. Can he convince Jolene that he’s truly a changed man? Or will he succumb to old temptations and destroy her faith in him once again? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer — Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole’s father has always focused on what she’s not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping. Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it’s too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family’s greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father’s rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole’s plans. After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world. Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father’s rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family’s legacy? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

Historical Women’s Fiction:

Yankee In Atlanta by Jocelyn Green — When soldier Caitlin McKae woke up in Atlanta after being wounded in battle, the Georgian doctor who treated her believed Caitlin’s only secret was that she had been fighting for the Confederacy disguised as a man. In order to avoid arrest or worse, Caitlin hides her true identity and makes a new life for herself in Atlanta. Trained as a teacher, she accepts a job as a governess to the daughter of Noah Becker, a German immigrant lawyer, who enlists with the Rebel army. Though starvation rules, and Sherman’s troops edge closer to Atlanta, rages, she will not run again. Will honor dictate that Caitlin and Noah follow the rules, or love demand that they break them? (Historical Women’s Fiction from River North [Moody Publishers])


Blind Trust by Sandra Orchard — Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can’t believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker’s investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor’s innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation-and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world-and her budding romance with Tom-begin to crumble. To Kate, it’s clear that she won’t be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster’s secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom? (Mystery from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Romantic Suspense:

Moon over Maalaea Bay by H. L. Wegley — They expected the honeymoon of their dreams. What they got was a nightmare wrapped in revenge and kidnapping. (Romantic Suspense from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])


Sky Zone by Creston Mapes — Jack Crittendon is expecting a mindless night on the job at Festival Arena, but when Homeland Security picks up intel about a potential terrorist threat, Jack is thrust into a life-or-death battle to save himself-and the lives of thousands of innocent people. (Suspense from David C. Cook)

by jill at 7:37 pm in

MICHAL – Free ebook

June 3, 2014

IMG_3855How did June get here already? I’m loving the weather in Michigan. Feels like summer most days. (And I don’t long for California quite so much this time of year.) My lilacs are in full bloom (the scent in my kitchen is heavenly!) and the grass is growing faster than we can keep up with it. We finished putting in the garden this past weekend, so if the rains continue and we remember to water on days it doesn’t, we should have some nice herbs and a few vegetables. I never have the best luck with cucumbers and zucchini, but I keep trying. This year I put them in a different place, so maybe the sun won’t scorch them quite so quickly.

MICHAL Free Ebook PromotionAs of June 1, Michal (ebook format) entered a limited time free promotion. It is available on Kindle, Nook,, and wherever ebooks are sold. If you know someone who has not yet read the series, please pass this along to them. It’s a risk free chance to read the first in the Wives of King David series. (I loved writing that series!) Thanks!

I’m in the middle of reading through Deborah’s first draft. I didn’t actually finish the story yet, (made it to 87K) but realized that I needed to go back and add things that kept popping up later in the story. Hazard of writing too fast is that you forget what you wrote ten chapters ago. So I started over again. I must say that I love the way God gives me little snippets of encouragement in the process. Things I thought awful aren’t quite as bad as they first seemed.

Lots of company and dinner out with friends these days. I think everyone is so glad that winter is gone that we want to fit as much life as possible into each day. I wish we could share some of our rain with those in the drought states like Texas and California. Last night on my way home from dinner with a friend, the sky opened up and drenched the roads. We don’t live in an area that sees many tornadoes but for a moment the sky looked like it held the possibility.

And now Tiger has hopped up on my lap with the intent of keeping me from typing. I push his paws off the keyboard, and he grabs my thumb and starts chewing. I push his paws away again, and he’s right back where we started. We repeat this cycle until he finally gets down and goes off to munch food. Every now and then, it’s good to snuggle a kitty. I just prefer he sit nicely rather than “help” me.

I suppose while the sun still shines, I should peek my head outdoors and get back to work. I hope the day is a blessing to you all.


by jill at 3:24 pm in , , ,