Ps 91 (NKJV)

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the perilous pestilence.4 He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day,6 nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writer Wednesday with James Callan

James R. Callan is my guest today. Please help me welcome him to A Bed of Roses...Thorns Included.

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published four non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mysteries, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.

You can find James on the web:
Amazon Author page:
Twitter: @jamesrcallan

The Story Behind A Ton of Gold
By James Callan

For several years, I had wanted to write a book where the protagonist was a researcher in computer science, particularly information retrieval.  I had done some research in this area when working on a Ph.D. in mathematics many, many years ago.  Also, I had a son who was a professor of computer science at Carnegie Melon University.  A couple of ideas had formed, but none jumped up and said, “Write me.”

One night, a couple of years ago, I wanted something short and light to read before turning out the light and going to sleep. I grabbed a collection of old Texas folk tales, flipped through and selected one at random. Of course, it was interesting. Folk tales usually are. It told of a wagon load of precious metal being pushed into a lake to hide it from the pursuing Mexican Army. There was no mention of it ever being recovered.

This one played around in my mind and even as I went to sleep, it stayed with me.  In the morning, I thought about it and dismissed it for what it was: a folk tale.

Over the next month, it kept coming back to me. And each time, I would remind myself it was a 178 year-old story and had no relevance today. But all parts of the mind do not always agree.  And one part of my brain started asking the question: how could such an old story affect the lives of people today? 

The two ideas of information retrieval and the old folk tale kept popping up in my mind and slowly began to weave around one another. Before long, the skeleton of a plot took shape, and I was ready to begin.  

As I wrote, interesting characters presented themselves and demanded to be included in the story. Of course, I said yes, come right in and add your own flavor to this book. And in developing the back story for the protagonist, a very interesting subplot arose.

The end result was the 94,000 word mystery/suspense novel A Ton of Gold.  The protagonist, Crystal Moore, is a researcher in information retrieval. The old folk tale comes to the attention of some greedy and not too bright thugs.  This eventually leads to murder, arson and kidnapping.  And in the midst of this, the man who almost destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back.  This time, he can ruin her career.

Crystal will need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, a street-wise friend, and Crystal’s feisty, seventy-five year-old grandmother.

Set between Dallas and the piney woods of east Texas, A Ton of Gold answers the question can old folk tales affecting people today. And the answer is a resounding YES.  They certainly can.  Just ask Crystal Moore.

More about A Ton of Gold (a contemporary suspense novel):

Can long forgotten, old folk tales affect the lives of people today? In A Ton of Gold, one certainly affected young, brilliant Crystal Moore.  Two people are killed, others threatened, a house burned and an office fire-bombed – all because of an old folk tale, greed and ignorance. 

On top of that, the man who nearly destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back.  This time he can put an end to her career.  She’ll need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, her streetwise housemate and her feisty 76 year-old grandmother.

A Ton of Gold is available in paper and digital editions at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.   
Amazon, paperback
Amazon, Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook

Another of James' books, Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel, can be found here:

Thanks for joining us today, James, and telling us about why you wrote A Ton of Gold.

I'm not a prolific folk-tale reader, so tell me, my wonderful readers, what other folk-tales do you know that spark the imagination?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writer Wednesday with Mary Ellis

Running a little late this morning. I'm not sure why I forgot to get this done yesterday. I guess my mind is in too many places.

Today, please help me welcome Mary Ellis.

Mary Ellis has written twelve bestselling novels set in the Amish community. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Living in Harmony, book one of her last series won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction. Love Comes to Paradise won the 2013 Lime Award. She is currently working on a three-book series of historical romances set during the Civil War for Harvest House Publishers. The Quaker and the Rebel released in January. Her current release is A Plain Man. She can be found on the web at:  (Where you can also sign up for her newsletter.)!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

What I Learned About Newsletters 
by Mary Ellis

Every author wants to know the best way to reach potential readers. After a dozen years in the business I have come to the conclusion, there isn’t one correct way. Each author must try a variety of ideas, and then return to those which have the best results. Many industry professionals feel newsletters are an effective way to reach your audience. This month my publisher, Harvest House, released my twelfth Amish romance, A Plain Man. Soon I will send out my spring newsletter to help spread the word. Recently I organized what I’ve learned about newsletters into one concise list from a variety of sources. Keep in mind some of these “rules” I personally abide by, some of which I sometimes follow, and some of which I flagrantly ignore. Decide for yourself what works for you and good luck.
~ Newsletters should come out every two months
~ The best day to send: first day of the month
~80% should be content to benefit your audience, only 20% should be news about you (I don’t follow that exactly)
Each newsletter should contain:
1)    a feature article 500 words or less which should help, inspire, or entertain
2)    an extra “value” section, such as frequently asked questions or recipes
3)    A brief bio with your value statement (what your books intend to accomplish other than entertain)
4)    An endorsement from a name that your targeted readers would recognize (I’ve never done this)
5)    A calendar of your upcoming speaking or book signing events (usually I just insert a link to the calendar page in my blog)
6)    Your current featured release (now you get to talk about current book with blurb, cover, trailer, and if it’s on sale yet somewhere)
7)    Contact info: your email, website, blog, Facebook, and other media links (but don’t go overboard with this)
8)    Should have a professional layout  such as a banner across the top
9)    Give them something for free (like an article you’ve written or chapter one of your book. (These would be links readers can click on)
10) Mention your upcoming contest. (Twice a year I give away 10 signed copies of my current release to newsletter subscribers.
Thanks it! Now you know everyone I know about newsletters. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

More about A Plain Man:

Though Caleb Beachy tried the Englisch world for some years, he is a Plain man at heart. But when he decides to return to the Amish lifestyle, he discovers there’s more to embracing his faith and reconnecting
with the community than merely driving a horse and buggy and giving up his Levis.

Josie Yoder was just a girl when he left. All grown up now, she gives Caleb hope for the future and reminds him that while his faith may have wavered, God never left his side. But will past mistakes end up destroying their fledgling romance before it really has a chance to begin?

Delight in the story of a wounded heart finding joy, health, and healing in God’s infinite grace.

I have this novel sitting in my to-be-read pile. Arrgghh, now I want to read it all the more.

Time where art thou?  LOL

A Plain Man is available at Amazon and other fine retailers.


PS. Mary has graciously agreed to give away one copy of A Plain Man to one person who comments below. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

How long is forever?

Do you know how long forever is? says, "without ever ending." That's forever. 

Kari Jobe has a new album out called "Majestic." On this album is a song entitled, "Forever." Our choir (The Rock FWC, Madison Campus) will be singing it for our Easter services (Friday @ 7pm, Saturday @ 4 and 6pm, and Sunday @ 9, 10:45, and 12:30). 

I like Kari Jobe. I think she's an awesome singer, but even better she's a great worshiper. This song has touched me a great deal as we've practiced it. 

It seemed appropriate to post this during this week leading up to Easter. I pray you will read these lyrics and think about the true nature of our God, about how much Jesus gave up to save us, and how much He loves us all, no matter our sin, no matter our past, no matter how we feel about ourselves. 

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Savior of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse was broken
One final breath He gave
As Heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken
The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated
Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive
© 2013 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP) / Worship Together Music (BMI) (Admin. at

Here is the video. It's long, but well-worth the 13 minutes of your day. Don't turn it off when the man gets up to speak. His words are powerful. He may not be singing, but his worship is just as poignant.

May God bless you today as you obey him, worship him, and give him the glory.