Saturday, September 25, 2010


In Psalm 127 it says, Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.

This psalm goes on a little further to say, It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors: For He gives to his beloved even in his sleep.

This verse always speaks powerfully to me when I read it. Either it encourages me to be confident that the work I'm involved in is His will.

Or, like today, it makes me stop and think and pray---is the work that I sit at with my laptop for 8 to 10 hours a day really His will? Or am I 'building a house' He does not want?

Anyone who reads my blog knows I love to write. I'm willing to put in the long, long hours, the months, the years to hone my craft. It's been about 8 years of seriously pursuing a ministry/career in writing, with a great many sacrifices along the way.

In talking to other Christian authors, this is the norm. It's also common that once an author is published, the money they make is a pittance. There's certainly no job security. When one is published, the author is only as good as her last book. And the pressure to market yourself and your book takes you away from the labor to produce another.

Yet, with all artists, the desire for wealth and fame is meaningless. It's the art that pulls on their hearts---the desire to use that art to glorify God. It's this that gives them the urge to give and give and give to this labor.

I see this in my son---a musician. As his 'artsy' mother I understand his need to pursue his music, with the overwhelming desire to honor the Lord, and assist others in their worship of God.

In my work, the desire is to help others 'see' God within the words and scenes I type on the page. I want them to understand something of what I glean from the Word of God. What He has taught me through my tumultuous journeys in order to help others trust in Him.

But alas, we live in a world where food must be put on the table, the roof over our heads must be financed. The gas bill must be paid. And I look at this favorite verse in Psalms and I ask myself like I do every day---Lord, am I doing what you want me to do with the labor of my hands?

I'm writing my third fictional novel at the moment. I've taken a short hiatus from writing the non-fictional Children's Camps International Book. Life is so busy for those folks right now, a short hiatus suits them too. Because in the meantime, I feel a tremendous pressure on me to finish my fictional novel and 'send it out there' with the hope that....this one will sell.

Is this pressure from God? Or my vain imagination? After all, I'm a writer, my imagination works overtime.

Will this fictional novel be it? The one to officially start my career? The one to bring in the small bit of wages I need to help support my household?

I don't know for sure. All I know is that every day, the Lord keeps nudging me forward. Don't stop, keep going. I'll provide.

But it's a bit scary to be taking such a risk. If you know me and care for me, say a little prayer for me. I'd like the confidence within my spirit that I am doing exactly as He wants me to do.

Then I read the verse in Psalms again. For He gives to his beloved even in his sleep...

The Lord gives to me when I take my much needed rest. While I sleep He forges the path for me. Why do I fret?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

SURRENDER THE WIND--Guest Blogger, Rita Gerlach

Today, my writing friend, Rita Gerlach, shares a little of how she crafted and wrote her historical novel, Surrender the Wind. Rita takes us into the writer's mind and workshop. For all other aspiring writers out there---I hope you enjoy.

SURRENDER THE WIND--A Review By the author, Rita Gerlach

When an American patriot of the Revolution inherits his grandfather’s estate in faraway England, he inherits more than an isolated manor house. He discovers Juleah’s love and a plot that leads to kidnapping, murder, and betrayal, in this stirring tale of fidelity and forgiveness. ~

Instead of answering interview questions, I’m commenting on some quotes from reviewers to give my readers a deeper glimpse into the storyline in Surrender the Wind.
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From author Marylu Tyndall ~ Ms. Gerlach's historic research is evident throughout the story, and her attention to detail and literary descriptions of scenes placed me right in the middle of the action.

If a writer wishes to write a historical novel, research is a vital, essential part of developing a great story. When I began Surrender the Wind, I read numerous accountants of the Battle of Yorktown where the book opens in the prologue. I researched uniforms, dress, weaponry, food, and culture.

As the book moves forward into Chapter 1, the reader is taken to England, to a crumbling manor house in Devonshire. The historical research from this point on had to be in the details. I wanted my reader to see in their mind the scene, outdoors and indoors. Everything from a tallow candle in the socket of a brass candlestick, to the blue and white pitcher and bowl on the heroine’s washing table, adds strong visual imagery. My editor told me once that a place can become a character in a book. I feel that is true for Ten Width Manor. It's walls hold secrets of lives past and present in the story. Because it is the ancestral home of the Braxtons, Ten Width has a stronghold on those living in it.

Then there are the historical cultural markings in a book that make up the characters. Dress. Etiquette. Traditional family life. I studied 18th century wills and marriage customs, the fashions of the period, and how the classes interacted with each other.
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From author Linda Clare ~ The American Revolutionary period comes to life as Gerlach explores themes of patriotism with a faith element.

In America today there is a resurgence of patriotism. We are returning to our roots, our Constitution, and faith. In the 18th century faith played a major role in the lives of people in both the Colonies and United Kingdom. In Surrender the Wind, I bring faith into the story as a lifestyle. It is delicately woven into the characters' personalities. One thing I did not want to do is write a ‘religious novel’. My goal was to write a novel where readers would become immersed into the characters by relating to the struggles they faced which bring about spiritual breakthroughs.
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From Annette Temple ~ A Well-Watered Garden Blog' This book is one of the most romantic books I've ever read. The passion and love that is poetically described between Seth and Juleah was rousing.

I am so grateful to Annette for this comment. She helped me realize that I achieved my goal. Most of us ladies want a bit of romance in our stories, don’t we? We want a hero that is tough with the world, but tender with his lady. And a heroine that is strong in the face of tribulation, but swept away by the love of a man. Romance in a novel, in my opinion, is the most intriguing when what is written is just enough to leave the rest up to the reader’s imagination. In Christian fiction a writer brings out romance deftly, love that goes beyond the material, but deeper into the heart and spirit of the characters.

I’ll close here with a romantic excerpt from Surrender the Wind . It is Seth and Juleah’s wedding night. I hope you will consider reading my novel, and keep an eye out for the release of book 1 in a new series, Daughters of the Potomac, coming out in May, 2012, entitled ‘Before the Scarlet Dawn’.
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In his bedchamber, which they now shared, Juleah slipped on her silk nightdress. Thin white ribbons laced the front. She sat at the dressing table brushing her hair. Tinted with the golden splendor of the candles, she smoothed it over her shoulder and ran her fingers down its length. Excitement filled her, tripped over her skin along with desire. She glanced around the room. How masculine it appeared. A fresh coat of paint would improve its appearance, and white curtains over the windows would bring it warmth and light.

She set the candlestick on the table next to their bed. The brass clock on the mantelpiece chimed out the hour. She paused to listen to the musical sound it made, while she pulled down the coverlet. The door drifted open. Seth came inside, shut it, and proceeded to pull off his waistcoat.

“Ah, have you seen the moon?” She opened the drapes wide to let the moonlight pour in. It bathed the room soft blue. “Is it not lovely, Seth?”

He joined her at the window. Wrapping his arms around his wife’s waist, he stood close behind her. His breath brushed against her neck and she sighed.

He whispered in her ear. “Doubt thou the stars are fire. Doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar. But never doubt I love.”

It pleased her that he, a Virginian rebel, had memorized the beauty of Shakespeare’s verses. Melting with longing, she turned to him. He took her into his arms. She reached up and pushed back a lock of hair that fell over his brow. “I will never doubt your love, not for anything in the world.”

He brought his lips to hers and she strained against him. Love rose within each heart. He lifted her, and her feet dangled above the floor. Holding her, he kissed her, turned with Juleah toward their bed, and took his bride away from the window.

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To read the first chapter of this book, click here on Chapter One: It takes a moment to load, so be patient.

Rita’s Website:

Surrender the Wind is available wherever books are sold. Kindle additions available from

Cokesbury Bookstore is having an amazing sale. Click here

Friday, September 10, 2010

SURRENDER THE HEART--Review of MaryLu Tyndall's latest novel

My author friend, MaryLu Tyndall, says that getting a literary agent . . . intriguing a publisher to even look at your work . . . and then have them publish your novel, is a miracle. Anyone attempting to enter the publishing world, Christian or not, knows how true that is.

I believe if someone is published in the Christian world of books, then the Lord has wanted that person's voice to be heard. Just so with MaryLu. Let me tell you about her latest novel.

Surrender the Heart—a naval / historical / inspirational / romance by MaryLu Tyndall—is set during one of my favourite times in history, the War of 1812. The characters, Marianne Denton and Noah Brenin, are two ordinary American people.

Marianne is aware Noah only wants to marry her for the fortune he supposes her to have. She has no love for him either, and allows him to remain under the delusion she will inherit a great deal of money for reasons of her own. When he walks out of their engagement party to tend to his ship, she follows with the intent to confront him. Hours later, she ends up concussed and on his ship too far out to sea to be returned to the safety of her home.

Things are bad enough until a British man-of-war darkens their horizon. Marianne and Noah, along with a few other crew members are impressed (kidnapped) off Noah’s cargo ship onto the hostile English vessel. Then war between Britain and the United States is declared.

MaryLu Tyndall’s fast-paced, fresh style of writing always gives me a few hours to escape from the weariness of life, and inspires me at the same time. In Surrender the Heart, Marianne finds herself in a situation much like that in the biblical account of Queen Esther. Marianne learns that God has allowed the events in her life to bring her to ‘such a time as this’ whereby her faithfulness and obedience can save lives and change the course of history.

Marianne and Noah, as well as the crew of the Fortune discover that, when God is working through them, they are anything but ordinary. By the end of the novel, even the name of Noah’s ship is changed from the Fortune to the _________. But you have to read the story to find out what.

In reading this ripping naval adventure, I found myself rooting for these American heroes, which just goes to show the talent of the author. You see, this particular reader is a Canadian citizen, born on British soil. It’s a bit of a switch for me to root for characters who fought on the other side of the war of 1812. Ah, but we’re friends now, aren’t we.

If you'd like to order this book, click here on Surrender the Heart.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Our pastor once preached a sermon that talked about the vanguard of God’s protection. He used the metaphor of the mountains surrounding the wide, fertile valley we live in to show the enormity of the Lord’s love. Normally when I look at these low, gently rounded coastal mountains encircling my home, that’s what I think of—God’s protection, a shield of love.

Last week my husband and I took our son back to college on the prairies. To get there, we drove through a series of mountain ranges, including the Rockies. Driving through narrow canyons with mountains growing to staggering heights, gave me a different perspective. Sometimes mountains are so stupendous, they’re scary.

Down in a skinny ravine, where only at certain times of the day the sun reaches the canyon floor, it can get dark. The road before our car winds like a serpent. We can’t see what’s ahead. In fact we can’t see much but the dense, dark, fir and cedar trees whipping past.

So much like life—scary at times, troubling. We’re not able to see clearly, or understand what’s really happening in our life. We desperately want to know that God has taken care of what’s down the road so we won’t be hurt, or that He will dig us out of our present avalanche of pain. But our hearts grow faint the deeper we go through this dark, winding place that has no easy answers.

Is God really here with us? Will He bring us out to a place where we can experience clarity and peace and joy?

If you’ve ever driven through the Rockies going east, you know how quickly the surroundings change. As soon as we reach the grandest heights, the Continental Divide is right there. Rivers change their course. And not much farther we seemingly go through an open doorway. Low, docile foothills greet us, and flat prairie stretches for thousands of miles.

No longer do the mountains restrict our view. All of a sudden the sky becomes alive, taking center stage. Now we can see storms 20, 30, 40 miles away. Rain falls like a diaphanous drape on towns, then stops, and then falls on another. We can see lightning strike from a safe distance. And if the storm is coming our way we at least can be prepared for it. Perhaps even move out of its way. But it's more than that. The vast, huge sky—so much bigger than the greatest peak or crag—envelopes us.

Depending on how the sun filters through the massive clouds, the sky broods or smiles, or scintillates with a joy beyond human understanding. And if no clouds dot the living canopy that stretches forever, a crystalline blue takes our breath away. Yet...even here we can still see the vale of tears. Not until Heaven will we cease to feel the weight of sadness and disappointment.

But after coming out of the mountains, the mammoth, open atmosphere becomes our vanguard. Our God is so much bigger than anything He created. The One who made the sky will protect, bring peace and joy...with the breath of His spirit.

We must remember this when we're in the dark, winding place, that His great truth will be visible soon. Hold on. Trust.

Psalm 5:12 "For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love."