Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spotlight: Keely Brooke Keith, Author of The Land Uncharted

This week, I welcome Keely to my website. When she emailed me about a spotlight on my blog, I checked out her website and other places she hangs out on social media. She sounds like a really interesting person and thought you would like to meet her! Maybe part of it has to do with the fact that she is another writing homschooling mom! That's right - she is an author and has a brand new book coming out. Keep reading and find out all about it. Now, without any more fuss, here she is.....

Keely Brooke Keith.

Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely was a tree-climbing, baseball-loving ‘80s kid. She grew up in a family who frequently relocated. By graduation, Keely lived in 8 states and attended 14 schools. Keely’s many adventures include: being an exchange student, recording with a former Beatles producer, being chased through the New Mexico desert by a rattlesnake, jumping out of an airplane at 14,500 feet, and sleeping under the open sky in the Australian outback.

Keely is a bass guitarist and plays on worship teams and for solo artists. She is married to singer/songwriter John Martin Keith, and they frequently perform and tour together. When she isn’t writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores.

Keely resides on a hilltop south of Nashville with her husband and their daughter, Rachel. 

P.S. After the book introduction, keep reading for an interview with Keely. 

Keely loves to connect with readers! Find her online:

 The Land Uncharted

Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land. Day and night, she rushes by horseback to treat the ill and injured, establishing a heroic reputation as the village’s new doctor.
Naval Aviator Connor Bradshaw is flying over the South Atlantic Ocean on a mission to secure any remaining sources of fresh water in a 2025 world torn apart by war. A malfunction activates his aircraft’s ejection system, parachuting his unconscious body to the shore of a hidden land.
Lydia risks her safety to help the injured outsider despite the shock of his mysterious arrival and the disastrous implications his presence could have for her peaceful society, which has gone undetected for seven generations.
Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, but his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland. And while Lydia’s attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated, it also pushes an unwanted admirer to stage a dangerous attempt to win her affection.
As Connor tries to keep the Land off the radar, he learns the biggest threat to Lydia lurks in her village. But when Lydia’s greatest passion and darkest fear collide, will she look to the past or the future to find the strength to survive?

Have you always been a writer? I started writing stories and poems when I was a kid, so I’d say I’ve always been a writer, but I’m new at being an author. My day job is in music--I’m a bass guitarist. I’ve been very blessed to get to live out both of my passions: music and writing. I’ve had other jobs along the way, of course. That’s just life in the arts--the work fluctuates between feast and famine.

What does your family think of your writing? My husband and my parents are my biggest supporters. They have cheered for me and encouraged me every step of the way. I have a wonderful family.

When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing? I ride the line between introvert and extrovert. I love being alone and writing, but as soon as I’m done I want to interact with people. I love game nights, antiquing, and just hanging out with friends.

How do you manage your time? Not only do I work on writing about 40-50 hours a week, I’m also a working musician, a homeschool mom, and I help my husband with his business, so I have pens and notebooks and sticky notes in every room of the house. When I get to sit at the computer, I compile all those notes and start writing. It took a few months of trying every day to be able to shift my focus from my other duties to my writing, but I’ve finally got the hang of it.

Where do you get constructive critiques and feedback?  I start involving other people in my writing during the second draft. That’s when I do the deep research and interview professionals in whatever field my characters and stories require. After several drafts, I start sending the story to beta readers. I’ll send it to a few at a time, get their comments, revise if I need to, then send to a few more. I have several critique partners who are also authors and their feedback is invaluable. When I believe the manuscript is the very best it can possibly be, I send it to a professional editor.

What was your favorite chapter or part to write and why? I enjoyed the world building and creating the Land and the village of Good Springs and their customs. It was like having a mental vacation getting to dream it all up.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book? Hurting characters. But by time I started the second book in this series, I was over that. Not that I enjoy it now--just that I see the good that comes from it.

Do you plan on writing a sequel to this story?  The sequel, Uncharted Redemption, is complete and in production as we speak. It will be released Spring 2015, and the final book in the series, Uncharted Inheritance, is written and almost ready for my betas.

Thank you for joining us Keely! I look forward to reading your book. Okay, readers -what caught your attention about Keely and/or her book? 
Now, go stop by one of her online hangout spots and tell her hi!

Monday, October 27, 2014

News and Updates

God is good. He has blessed me with the opportunity to write Where Hope Starts and bless others through that and other writings. 

But I can't stop there. My 2nd book, Where Healing Starts, is at my publisher undergoing edits. And I must get busy writing my 3rd book, Where Joy Starts

For the next several weeks, I'm going to focus on planning out and getting started writing book 3 and then of course, the Christmas season will be here. In the interest of keeping my sanity and not leaving my family behind, I will be posting a bit less through the end of the year. 

But watch out 2015. There are some fun things I have planned and look forward to sharing with you. 

In the meantime, I do have something new to tell you about. I'll tell you Friday on Facebook. Be watching!

If you haven't liked my Facebook Page yet, you might want to do that so you don't miss the news!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

I paused after reading Psalm 29 and wondered 
at all the references to the voice of the Lord.

Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones, 
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; 
worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. 
The voice of the LORD is over the waters; 
the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. 
The voice of the LORD is powerful; 
the voice of the LORD is majestic
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; 
the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. 
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. 
The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. 
The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. 
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. 
And in his temple all cry, "Glory!"  
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; 
the LORD is enthroned as King forever. 
The LORD gives strength to his people; 
the LORD blesses his people with peace.

The voice of the Lord can be in the whisper.(1 Kings 19:12) His desires made known by the look of His eye.(Psalm 32:8) But take a minute and meditate on what the psalmist says here about the voice of the Lord.

The voice of the Lord….
Is over the water
It thunders
Is powerful
Is majestic

The voice of the Lord makes things happen. Can you imagine what He can do in your life?

Have you asked to hear from God, to receive a word from Him?

Are you ready?

photo credit: // Gualberto107 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guest Jeanie Jacobson: Wipe out Worry

Every year I miss out on Autumn's beauty because I'm worried about the approach of my nemesis-- winter.

My choices: 
A) Waste two seasons dreading cold Nebraska weather.
B) Stop worrying and enjoy today.

Do you worry about things you can't change? If so, there's hope.

When Jesus walked the earth, people were much like we are today, minus the iPhones.

Take Hiram and his wife Miriam.
Every day Hiram hopped the donkey and headed to the vineyards, toiling to keep a palm branch roof over their heads.

Work-at-hut mom, Miriam, held things together on the home front using the latest appliances, like her new top-loader laundry pot, and updated flat-top cooking stone.

Their twin boys, Uriel and Uziel, similar as two lentils in a pod, devoured food as fast as Miriam could grind it.

Teenaged daughter, Rachael, cruised the marketplace with her friends in her free time. Miriam routinely steeled herself against Rachael's pleadings. "Mom, my sandals are so last century, and there's a sale at J.C. Peniels."

Rachael worried about her wardrobe. The twins worried about who'd get the biggest piece of lamb shank. Hiram worried about bringing home the mutton. Miriam worried about everything.

In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus offered them the same reassurance he gives us now:

We're valuable to God.
He knows our needs and will provide for them.
Worry won't change our situations.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. " Matt 6:33-34

When worry rears its sneaky head, bash it like an arcade game Whack-a-Mole. How? With God's word.

"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers." Phil 4:6

Three steps to wipe out worry
 1) Find scriptures relating to the situation.
2) Write them down.
3) Pray them aloud.

Every time the enemy--worry--attacks, overpower it by declaring God's promise. The more we speak it, the more we'll believe it.

What do you need?

Provision "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:19

Guidance "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." Prov 3:5-6

Love "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself." Jer 31:3

Healing "...and by his wounds we are healed." Is 53:5 

What's worrying you today? What's your strategy to overcome it? Please leave a comment. I'll be glad to pray for you, or share a scripture to help.

Jeanie Jacobson, a contributor to three Chicken Soup for the Soul books and a Bethany House compilation, lives in NE where she serves on the leadership team of Omaha Wordsowers Christian Writers Group. She is also a regular contributor to their blog and teaches a workshop geared toward helping new writers. Currently, she is busy writing 
a Christian-slanted YA fantasy series. 

Connect with Jeanie: 
Newsletter (sign up and get chapter one on her current WIP)

donkey photo courtesy: //m_bartosch

Monday, October 13, 2014

Delays and Setbacks

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 

 My hubby is putting new siding on our house. We watch the weather so we can cover the unfinished portion if rain comes. Of course, we live in Nebraska. That means…7% chance rain brings a downpour and 50% brings sunshine (that really happened – in one day).

One night the downpour came and I ran out to help manhandle the tarp. The wind blew it out like a sail and it was difficult to manage, but I held on tight while hubby nailed it in place. The next morning we discovered wet carpet where water had seeped in due to a downspout pouring against the house.

Life demanded a pause and there wasn’t much we could do.

Out came the furniture, up came the carpeting and in came the fans. Hubby used the wet vac to pull out as much water as possible, then we propped up the padding and carpeting and let the fans do the rest. We slept on our mattress on the living room floor until the carpet was dry and we had time to relocate back into our bedroom.

If we had ignored the wet carpets, then eventually mold would have set in and we would have bigger trouble than wet floors.

The same can be true spiritually. If we don’t pause life when storms create messes in our life and take our messes to God, we might end up with spiritual mold.  

We can be working away on our assigned task from God when storms hit. We baton down the hatches best we can, but storms have a way of oozing in and making a mess anyway. If we ignore the warnings and barrel through we might end up with burnout, deeper struggles, or ruined efforts.

The best response when storms strike, is to pause and find some whitespace in our life. A place to allow hidden troubles time to surface so we can take them to God. Then He can help us with the mess left behind by the storm.

Have you ever had to hit the pause button? 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Video Devotional: Ambassadors for Christ

Do you ever feel under-qualified to speak for God? 

God isn’t looking for people who have it all together to 
share his good news. [Click to Tweet

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 
2 Corinthians 5: 17-20

P.S. If you were encouraged with this video, please share with your friends! Thank you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spotlight: Melody Balthaser Author of Seeking Sophie

Today, I get to introduce you to another CrossRiver Author, 
Melody Balthaser and her book, Seeking Sophie.

In 1858 New England, orphaned, indentured servant Sophie Stalz stabs her master to protect herself from rape. Now she must rely on her brother and his friends to protect her. Escaping through the Underground Railroad, Sophie finds herself stranded on an island in the hands of a stranger.

Surrounded by the sea and occupied with the duties of a lighthouse keeper, Jackson Scott just wants to be left alone with his memories. His fortress is about to crumble when his friend deposits Sophie on his doorstep. An old debt needs to be paid and the cost is dear.
As her master is Seeking Sophie, will Sophie and Jackson find a life together free from their past?

Get your own copy: 
CrossRiver Media or Amazon
~ ~ ~
Get to know Melody
MELODY BALTHASER lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and their three children. She has traveled to Africa to help orphans in Zambia and worked in children’s and women’s ministry. She enjoys traveling, hiking, camping and canoeing, but when winter settles in she heads indoors to sit in front of the wood stove, while a classic chick-flick plays on the T.V. and homemade soup simmers on the stove. Melody’s passion is to encourage people to let God’s love free them of fear and rejection to live the adventurous life their Creator intended.

Have you always been a writer? I have not always been a writer and am still not a full-time writer. I was at home with my children, working part-time and homeschooling, when I began writing Seeking Sophie. The story unfolded over the next few years. I entered the first three chapters in the Genesis contest and got encouraging advice but did not place. I put the manuscript away for a few more years until I felt I was supposed to share it and God led me to CrossRiver Media.   

What kinds of interesting things have you done in your life? I have had all kinds of jobs from hairstylist to service writer in a heavy machinery shop. I’ve raised goats, milked them and made cheese. I’ve been to Zambia and I’ve jumped out of a plane at 13, 500 feet! 

What books have influenced your life the most?  Francine River’s books have had the greatest impact on me, especially the Mark of the Lion Series and Redeeming Love. They really began to awaken me to the depth of God’s love.  

Tell us about getting your mind in a creative mode? I am most inspired after being outdoors. Sights, sounds and smells of nature trigger my creativity.

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? I am not a very scheduled person and am pulled in many directions all the time. I am learning to accept and understand what works best for me and realize it may not look like anyone else’s process.     

What advice, do you have for others aspiring to publish a book of their own/follow their dream?  Open your heart and listen to what God is saying you. He will direct you and He will use you in ways you never expected if you stay humble and teachable.

What is your book about?  Seeking Sophie is about a young woman finding her place in a male dominated nineteenth-century world and her struggle between the desire for independence and belonging.

What was your favorite chapter or part to write and why? Believe it or not, my favorite part to write was Damien’s POV. He is such an interesting antagonist and I enjoyed trying to get into his head and experience things from his perspective. I love writing dialogue for him.  And what was the hardest? I have a hard time with POV and what I really want to do is a no-no in novel writing. I like head-hopping because I like to think about each person’s perspective of the same situation. It’s why sociology and psychology always intrigued me.

Do you plan on writing a sequel to this story? I am working on the second novel in what I’m calling Drawn to the Light series, Chasing Clare, in which readers will get to know Sophie’s best friend Clare. More of the mystery introduced in Seeking Sophie will unravel.

Connect with Melody