Thursday, February 14, 2019

More Than a Box of Chocolates

Today I am so excited to host author, Kathleen Neely where she talks about the history and meaning behind Valentines Day...

It’s Valentine’s Day, and romance is in the air. We set aside a special day to celebrate love. It’s a day for flowers, candy, dinner, and gifts. An evening for a Hallmark flick in front of a cozy fire. A month to read a heartwarming romance.

But why? Where did this celebratory day begin? The origin actually had little to do with romance. It dates back to the 3rd century AD. A Catholic priest, Valentine of Terni, was executed for aiding Christians who were being persecuted. Here’s the link to romance. 

Marriage among Christians was banned by Emperor Claudius II because he felt men were reluctant to leave their wives and families to fight for Rome. Valentine defied that order and married Christian couples. His execution occurred on February 14. Upon his death, the church honored him with Sainthood, and Valentine’s Day was born.

Don’t place all of your focus on romance. There are greater needs than a floral bouquet and a heart-shaped box of chocolates. St. Valentine was martyred because of his love for God and for other Christians.

This is what we should remember.
  • See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are. 1 John 3:1
  • Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. 1 John 4:7
  • We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
  • Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:26
I could fill pages with beautiful passages about God’s love. The word love appears 551 times in the NIV Bible. (This varies among versions).

‘Show, don’t tell’ is a common catchphrase for writers as they pen their stories. But we can take that beyond the written page. St. Valentine showed his love for Christians in tangible ways. How can we show love to both Christians and those who don’t yet know Christ? How can we meet their physical, emotional, and relational needs? We don’t need a romantic special someone in our lives to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We have the Author of love in our hearts urging us to go into the world, spreading His love. Let’s answer with the words from Isaiah. “Here am I. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8.
About the Author
Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.
She is the author of The Street Singer, to be released in February, 2019. Beauty for Ashes and The Least of These will be released in 2019. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions.

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers. 
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Check out her new release:
The Street Singer will be available February 22. Learn more about it from her website at .

Excerpt from The Street Singer
“I done figured you knew. You wore them questions all over your face. She opened her water bottle and took a long, slow drink. Here’s what you gotta know. There ain’t no more Adaline. I’m Adda, my given name. That’s all I am.”

Trisha nodded but remained unsatisfied. “Can I ask what happened?”

Adda laughed. “Honey, age happened. You too young to understand. The body goes. The voice goes. The energy goes.

“I know, but your records, they sold…maybe millions.”

Adda chuckled at that. “Well, you be givin’ me too much credit, but yeah, they did sell back in the day.” Adda looked at her watch and took a bite of her sandwich. “So, I guess you’re wondering where all my money went.”

Trisha backpedaled. The bluntness made it sound so callous. “That’s none of my business, but...”

“You right there. It ain’t none of your business. But I’ll tell you anyways. My daddy, he was a sharecropper in Mississippi. We young’uns had to help when we got big enough to hold a shovel. I never got me past primary schooling. Them record people knowed it and all them fancy papers I signed didn’t give me much left over.”

Trisha gasped. “That’s terrible.”

Adda looked up from her lunch. “Oh, they treated me good. Real good. Set me up in a fancy place to live, bought me clothes and food. Dressed me for pictures and took me to the studio. But they never let me go places where I’d get to talk and never let me talk in microphones where I went to sing. Didn’t want me having no friends. I knew they feared my poor schooling would show. Them fancy papers I signed didn’t leave me much left over.”

Monday, February 11, 2019

Desolate Paths - Romantic Suspense

When rehab is Brooke Hollen’s only chance at redemption, she runs straight to it. But can she survive the serial killer who hides amongst the damaged and healing? And can she trust Kyle Reston, another rehab resident, who wants to take her under his wing? Or is he responsible for the residents who keep disappearing?

Today I am so happy to introduce author, Erin Unger. She has written a romantic suspense called Desolate Paths and I'm super excited!

Romantic suspense is one of my personal favorite things to read so you know I jumped at the chance to interview her.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

If I could go back—and boy do I wish I could—I’d tell myself to start writing!! Like right now. I wish I’d figured out God’s plan fifteen years sooner because it’s a long and arduous process becoming an author.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Funny you should ask. My Kryptonite is way more persistent than Superman’s. It’s my mostly grown kids. As soon as the ‘Do not disturb’ sign goes up on my office door, suddenly they have a million questions and emergencies. And I have to help them right then. Nothing can wait. It’s so hard to send them away without dealing with their crises.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Ooh, this is an easy one. Erynn Newman’s book Out of Darkness is absolutely one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, yet few people know about it. It should be on the NYT bestseller’s list for sure.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? I love hiding a secret mulligan in every book I write. It’s a single name. I dare my readers to search for it. It can be a place or a person. And it means a lot to me because it stands for the beginning of a lot of things for me. Like where I first started writing and where I matured the most.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Writer’s block is worse and more real than the biggest monster in your closet. I’ve suffered from it several times in my writing career. And I have friends who’ve struggled with it too. I even almost considered quitting because I had it so bad at one point. But thankfully God has kept me going and equipped me with better writing techniques to get past it.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I write because I feel God called me to be a writer. I even tried to give up and tell Him he was wrong about me becoming a writer. I’m sure you can imagine it didn’t work. It’s the way I minister to others in this world, and it’s very spiritual watching my characters grow in Christ. I even find myself growing with my characters as they are learning spiritual truths sometimes.

A big thanks to Erin for her thoughtful answers.

See Below for Information on Erin Unger

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Short Bio:

Erin Unger was raised in the hills of Virginia, exploring abandoned houses and reading the scariest books she could find. After marrying so young it would make a great romance novel, she has enjoyed an exciting life with her hubby. But her fast-paced life sometimes rivals the suspense in her books thanks to all her mostly grown children and a couple grandkids. Her novel, Desolate Paths, released January 11, 2019.