I Almost Fainted!

Psalm 27:13-14:  I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

I felt overwhelmed. Have you ever met a career woman who seemed as if she had it all together, or a woman who made motherhood look easy?

Spend a day in the life of an author. It’s definitely not easy. You would be amazed what it takes for us to stay relevant in the industry: posting daily promotions on various online sites, answering emails, strategizing the next book while trying to finish the current project. Plus, coming up with a topic for two monthly blog posts, such as this one. I felt God wanted me to speak from the heart. Add to this mix, my first solo author event in a few weeks—PRESSURE.

Before a book is published, an author has to research the topic, write a draft, tweak it before it goes to an editor, re-write scenes that don’t work per the editor, tweak it again then send it to the proofreader. Once the final adjustments are corrected, it’s off to a formatter. For a cover, my preference is to have it created before or during the writing process. If not, I have to scan pages of stock photos to find the right models that I hope will convey the story’s message.

By the end of 2016, I was recovering from multiple degenerative discs in my neck where the pain was radiating down my arm. It was so severe that my writing was limited to a couple of hours a day, if I could endure the pain. My writing deadlines were constantly being extended.

Throughout this period, God didn’t forsake me as I pledged to praise Him through the pain. My comfort was Scriptures where Jesus healed ailments and the soul. So the last four months were challenging to say the least.

With 2017 fast approaching, I had to create my writing lineup. I had planned for my next novel to be book nine in the Jamieson Legacy series—THE VERDICT.  I began to question what was the spiritual significance, and the message, besides a great Christian love story and history lesson.

Although writing is a ministry, ministering to God’s people was the priority—praying for the sick and afflicted, fasting, visiting the sick, attending funerals, etc. Should I walk away from writing?

Then the Lord spoke to my spirit, “It’s time. There’s a message in this story, someone is hurting…” I pulled out the proposal of THE CAREGIVERS from five years earlier, and re-read my former agent’s notes about the proposal. Her thoughts:

This is SUPER cute! Very sweet. I love the idea…it’s just a simple romance but I think a lot of readers will resonate with the caregiving factor. So yes, you’re on the right track. 🙂
1. Oh I LOVE how you give Tabitha a flaw right up front.

2. Again, I love how you drive her flaw home with the scene with all the smoke in the kitchen.

3.I love the idea of Marcus …Very sweet!

4. Oh I LOVE how this is going to end!

Wow, this was confirmation that this story needed to be told. Thank you, Jesus for speaking to me, because I would have fainted, I would have quit, and created a void in the writing ministry.

So readers, please pray for me, and authors in the Christian fiction. This is a labor for the Lord, and without your prayers and support, we would faint unless we see God’s goodness.  Look for THE MYSTERY WOMAN, Book 1 of The Caregivers series, coming soon. Join the Wait. https://goo.gl/forms/2nhShO88cRINzVX83

 

Guest Blogger Terri J. Haynes: Christmas Sober

 I was one of those Christmas crazy people.  Making cookies, decorating the whole house, mailing Christmas cards on time and blasting holiday tunes the day after Thanksgiving. I was fully in the season as soon as it began.

But notice I said I “was.” That was before I started working retail.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate my job. And a bookstore is not typical retail. It’s lower key than other retail jobs I’ve worked but it is still retail. I don’t exactly know how retail impacts Christmas crazy. Maybe customers frenzy to get the perfect gift for their loved ones. Or maybe it’s the long hours on your feet and working at times you would normally be home with your family (like Christmas Eve). Now, I don’t bake cookies, I have to remember to load the Christmas music on my iPod and I laugh when someone asks me if I sent out Christmas cards.

Although this sounds like a bad thing, my diminished Christmas crazy has turned out to be a good thing. It has made me Christmas sober.

Since I don’t have as much free time as I normally do, I’ve had to reevaluate my Christmas activities. Before, Christmas wasn’t Christmas if I wasn’t cheery and bubbly and it a whirlwind of activity. Now, I’ve learned that Christmas is not only that, but it can be thoughtful and reflective. Since I have less time, I have to be more selective. I now have to look for activities that aren’t just my holiday traditions, but ones that are meaningful.

Like taking two minutes to dance to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas with my husband in the middle of my kitchen. Or whispering to my children what I got their siblings for Christmas and watching the happiness on their faces for a gift that isn’t even theirs. Or calling someone to say Merry Christmas instead of writing out a card.

The reality is that no matter what activities I partake in during the holidays, the reason I celebrate is still the same. No, it’s not the day Jesus was born but it is the time we recognized that He came as a baby to be our Savior. He is God Incarnate, God with us and the reason for glad tidings of great joy. And that is sobering. It makes the heart deeply grateful. Jesus’ arrival is the frame of all our Christmas activities.

When we thinking of the savior’s birth, we think of the angelic chorus announcing His arrival to the shepherds and the glory filling the heavens. But there is another side to His story: the manger side. The unusual and inconvenient arrival of this precious baby. Even Mary, after hearing that her baby would be the Messiah, pondered the news in her heart. Not all of Jesus’ story was exciting and joyous, but that doesn’t diminish its importance.

So I am Christmas sober. My celebrations will be meaningful and thoughtful activities, remembering that Jesus is the most important gift I’ve received and I’m okay with that. It took me a while to reach this point, when I gave up on trying to work myself up into a green and red glittery froth. Now that I have, it seems I’m looking at the holidays with new eyes.

A Joy to the World type Christmas is great but so is an “all is calm, all is bright” Christmas. “Peace on earth, goodwill to men” is just as meaningful as “Christmas bells are ringing.”

If you are Christmas sober this year, embrace it. Find meaning in the quiet moments as well as the joyous ones. Most of all, enjoy whatever kind of Christmas you have because Christmas is about Christ.

About Terri’s Latest Book Release

All Brea Sutton wants for Christmas is for something to go right. Instead of a magical family holiday, her parents are going to Hawaii, ruining Brea’s plans. For the first time in her life, Brea will be celebrating Christmas alone.

The office holiday gift exchange gives her an opportunity to recapture the joy of Christmas…until she picks the name of the most challenging person in the office. Undeterred, Brea is determined to find the perfect Christmas gift. Her quest unearths some surprising truths and she discovers Christmas cheer comes in very unexpected ways.

 

Available at Amazon.com 

 

 

Author Bio 

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a graphic designer and avid knitter. She loves to read and is storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers in the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives. Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. She holds a certificate in Creative Writing and Masters degree in Theology. Terri is a licensed minister and pastors a church with her Retired Army husband. She has three children, who beg her not to kill their favorite characters. She lives in Southern Maryland just outside Washington, DC.  www.terrijhaynes.com

Category: Blog, Books, Guest Authors | Tags:

Celebrate Christmas With Me

As an author, Christmas really is my favorite time of the year for a new release. Of all my books published throughout the year, I feel my Christmas books are really special.

Since 2012, I have offered readers a Christmas story. Each one carries a unique message of hope, love, faith, and reconciliation. Christ outshines Santa every time.

It’s not surprising for retailers to brainstorm their holiday picks for products and promotion as early as January. At the same time, I also contemplate the storyline for my annual Christmas novellas. I pray that God’s message will hit home, if not for all, at least some readers.

In 2012, I introduced A CHRISTIAN CHRISTMAS (The Andersen Brothers series, Book 1). As a rebel with a cause, I was determined to promote Christ in Christmas.  I used Christian Andersen (the hero) as my voice to remind Joy Knight (the heroine) that Christ’s invaluable gift isn’t under a tree. There are simple things we can do every day to show Christ lives within us.

Because of writing deadlines in 2013, I doubted I would have anything to offer that year. Thanks to two author friends who convinced me that I could do it, I scrambled to write A BABY FOR CHRISTMAS. That novella, so far, has been my best selling Christmas novella. Who doesn’t want a bundle of joy for Christmas? Sometimes God’s gifts aren’t packaged the way we expect. This is Book 2 of Love at the Crossroads series and my favorite one. Check it out.

God moved me in a different direction in 2014. This time, the message was about Christ’s power to deliver us from the demons of our past.  While some go overboard for Christmas, others are counting down the dreaded days until the whoopla is over. The reasons could be because the memory of the death of a loved one, lack of finances or estrangements from family and friends. When Daniel Washington (hero) couldn’t find the words to say ‘I’m sorry,’ or ‘I love you,’ I created Saige Carter (the heroine) to design a line of greeting cards just in time for the holidays. CHRISTMAS GREETINGS is a reminder that God has plenty of blessings to replace the sadness in our lives.

I returned in 2015 with a reflection on the ‘have’ and ‘have nots’ in our society. For the most part, the homeless are invisible in plain sight. Although I enjoy writing fairytale endings, real life happens, so my fourth Christmas novella, A NOELLE FOR NATHAN, demonstrates the generosity of others that don’t end on the day after Christmas. This was the final book in the Andersen Brothers series.

 

For 2016, I’m serving up a helping of a big happy family. Well, sort of. Robyn and Derek have been divorced for years, but that doesn’t stop their five year old son for wanting his dad to marry his mother—again. COUPLE FOR CHRISTMAS.

 

 

If you enjoy Hallmark movies this time of year like I do, then I hope you make time to read my feel good stories for the holidays. Merry CHRISTmas and blessings for the new year.

Elegant Holiday background with red bow and place for text. Vector Illustration.

My Family Legacy

I’ll admit there are a lot of things about my family history I don’t know. Imagine that, since I love researching my genealogy. While attending my aunt’s funeral last month, I was a surprised to learn that my relative was a rebel. How cool is that? I knew that my mother, along with her siblings, were born in Mississippi. Back in those days, being a nurse or teacher were honorable and common professions for African Americans.

Aunt Edith was a champion of civil rights in Illinois. One of her impressive accomplishments was joining forces with her husband, pastor and two others to file a class action suit against the Waukegan School District #61 for their segregation hiring practices. But she didn’t stop there. Aunt Edith didn’t wait on their decision. She became a driving force in recruiting black teachers from the South and other states to come up North, (about an hour outside Chicago) to teach in schools with predominately black students. Rock on!

What is my legacy? Have I ever been a rebel? Maybe. Many years ago, I played a small part to help shut down Interstate-70 in St. Louis. It was in protest of minority contractors not getting their fair share (only a small percentage) of awarded contracts on major building projects across the city. Always rooting for the underdog, I joined hundreds to send a message that minorities are skilled laborers as well as highly educated professionals and deserve to be included, not excluded. It worked. The media coverage and the inconvenience to drivers caused our voices to be heard.

Fast forward decades later, then back track to only a few years ago, and it was a different scenario in St. Louis—Ferguson. The area is only seven miles from my house. This time, people were outraged that there had been another unarmed black youth killed by a white police officer.  I have a son, nephews and friends who have African American sons. Whoever coined the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” hit home, because our children’s lives do matter, along with all lives. Again, African Americans were looking for inclusion, not exclusion that blacks don’t deserve to live a long life as do whites.

So, did I protest? I wanted too, but situation became too dangerous. Before I could slip into my walking shoes, a mass of misguided people looking for an opportunity to lash out at police took over, but not for the common cause. That was not good. The lines of hate were thick. We began to pray and reach out to families who were boxed in by the curfew, clean up businesses that were vandalized, and held seminars to inform parents of black youths how to keep their sons and daughters safe and alive when confronted by the police.

To be a rebel today means changing laws on the books before trying to tackle mindsets of people in power. That’s my legacy, to go after elected officials and force changes, then to hold people in power accountable for their actions based on the law. Marching is good, voting is better, but God’s will trumps all. We have to pray during difficult situations such as these.

To learn about the Ferguson that was untouched by the protests, download a copy of any of my Christian romance novels in the Guilty series. My passion is evident on the pages. I weave buried stories about the best and the worst in America.  Yes, it’s a balancing act to write an inspirational story when so much was and still is stacked against African Americans, but the true meaning for “We Shall Overcome One Day,” can only be achieved with Christ, and if my stories help to reconcile the past and the presence, then to God be the Glory.

 


 

Here’s to Aunt Edith Mae Smith:

aunt-edith 

Click on the banner to get hooked on the Guilty series by beginning with Book One Guilty of Love.

200x300-guilty-of-love-final-2016_06_01-16_47_04-utc  guilty-series-2016_06_01-16_47_04-utc

I Found A Friend

The Book of Proverbs is filled with wise tidbits about how to live life to the fullest. Chapter eighteen ends at verse twenty-four about friendships: A man who has friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We know Jesus is the that friend.

Earlier this year, God gave us some new friends. Eric and Evelyn Mapp had recently relocated to St. Louis from our sister church in Chicago.

Because they attended my cousin’s congregation, I especially wanted to reach out to them with a dinner invitation. We got to know each other over a Super Bowl party. They came to our house for dinner and one morning for breakfast. By June, we waited on each other after service to pick a place to eat.

Eric at our anniversaryIn this picture, the Mapps and our neighbors helped Kerry and I celebrate our June 33rd wedding anniversary.  Funny thing about this dinner is not only did everyone wear blue, except Eric, but it was the same shade. We laughed about him not getting the memo.

When my novel, THE CONFESSION, won Best Inspirational Romance a few months ago, we celebrated by enjoying a buffet after church service. When the Mapps walked into Bristol’s, Evelyn was carrying flowers. Since Eric could be quoted saying, Evelyn and me (2016_06_01 16_47_04 UTC)“I love my wife,” I assumed he had bought her flowers. Instead the bouquet was for me in celebration of my win.  Wow, I thought. That was something I would do. It was a humbling experience.

 

 

As 4th of July rolled around, I asked them if they were going back home to Chicago and said Kerry and I were barbecuing. Evelyn’s response was, “We’re coming to your house.” See, friends don’t wait for an invitation. They invite themselves and show up with a dish. I love it!

It was fun introducing the former Chicago couple to popular eating places in St. Louis, and not so long ago, we enjoyed soul food at OL’ Henrys. Eric said he couldn’t wait to eat there again.

The last Sunday in July, we didn’t meet at a restaurant for dinner after church. Instead, Eric and Evelyn decided to join Kerry and me at a concert in the park on the campus of Washington University.

Two days after that outing on August 2, 2016, at 7:30 in the morning, Eric was dead at the age of fifty-six.

My husband and I never cried so hard. Hours earlier, he was still alive. I remember his last words to me on that Sunday night, “See you later sweetie.” We exchanged kisses on the cheeks.

There were two things I can say about Brother Eric Mapp in the short time Kerry and I were able to form a friendship with him. He loved his wife and he was sincere about his Holy Ghost led walk with Christ.

As shocking as his sudden death was, Eric knew weighing more than four hundred pounds was a health risk. So three years earlier, he and Evelyn embarked on a diet plan together to lose hundreds of pounds. If they hadn’t told us, we wouldn’t have believed them. Eric lost the weight, but I guess the damage to his heart was already done.

So now fourteen days after his death, I reflect on the few months God gave us to be friends with Eric down to his last days. Kerry and I will always be thankful that “we showed ourselves friendly.”

Please keep Evelyn in your prayers. Oh, and we will continue to take her out to dinner on Sundays after church.


2016 Better Emma Award (2016_06_01 16_47_04 UTC)Pat Simmons is an multi-published author of more than a dozen Christian titles and is a three-time recipient of the Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance. The Confession is the latest winner. She has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.
As a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth, Pat is passionate about researching her ancestors and then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-altering experience. God is the Author who advances the stories she writes.
Pat is currently overseeing the media publicity for the annual RT Booklovers Conventions. She has a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Pat converted her sofa-strapped, sports fanatic husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. They have a son and a daughter.
Read more about Pat and her books by visiting www.patsimmons.net or on social media. Download her latest release JET: Back Story to Love Led by the Spirit for only .99

restore my soul series