Thursday, February 27, 2014

ALL I EVER WANTED WAS A HUSBAND, A HOME, A FAMILY -- by Guest-- Rachel Leigh Smith

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

I’ve always loved this verse. But it’s hard to remember the truth of it when you’re stuck in the middle of a disaster.

For the first twenty-five years of my life I wanted one thing: a husband, home of my own, and a family. To me the three are entwined. In May, 2009 I walked down the aisle and thought I had it. A man who appeared to adore me, got along with my family, had a bright future in his chosen field, and I was willing to follow him anywhere. Even to New York, the last place this country girl ever wanted to live.

Then it all blew up in my face. I was two hundred and twenty miles form home, in a town where I knew no one, and my dream turned into a nightmare. I had this verse on a plaque which I kept on the dresser. I spent hours pouring my heart out to a man who was the opposite of what I thought I was getting, hours pouring my heart out to God. Hours crying and demanding to know why I couldn’t have my dream.

The following January we moved even further from home. This Southern belle moved to Long Island, hoping and praying things would get better. Things got worse. They escalated, in fact, to the point where I had to call the police.

Even as every woman’s worst nightmare unfolded, my God had a plan to protect and prosper me. In 2001 I discovered message boards on the Internet, and made a friend on Long Island. God, in his mercy and provision, put me fifteen minutes from my friend. Her parents sheltered me until mine could arrive.

But it was over. Two weeks later I left out of fear for my safety and life. I tried for a year to put things back together and give him another chance.

I was angry, offended, and wanted nothing to do with God for over a year. I was on thin ice for awhile. And it was lonely. But he drew me back to him. Convinced me Jeremiah 29:11 is still true. Gave me new dreams that have taken me to places I never could have imagined I’d be.

I’m a novelist. Before those new dreams took root my words dried up. I wrote nothing for close to a year. It hurt to not write. Then, on what would have been my third wedding anniversary the words came back. A novel poured out of me that summer and became the story of my heart, with a wounded hero looking for redemption. God’s fingerprints are all over this space opera universe.

I once again believe with all my heart his plans for me are good, to give me hope and a future.

(Here’s the excerpt, and fits with the theme of the post. I poured a lot of my journey back to wholeness into A’yen.)
He leaned against the wall, back of his head touching the cool metal. Dr. Hart brushed his arm. “You look a little lost.”
First step to trusting her was talking to her. “I don’t have a purpose anymore. Everything I used to do no longer exists.”

She took his hand, rubbed her thumb across the top. “Not true, A’yen. You know about stars, and now I’m going to teach you about archaeology. There’s a lot to learn and you only have a month.”

She released his hand and held her empty one out to him, palm up. First he stared at her hand, then her eyes. Everything in him missed physical contact with another person. Hell, missed sexual contact. The way it made him feel. The way he made his partner feel. He’d never been with a human woman on his own terms before and he wanted it. Really wanted it.

Master’s voice whispered in his memory. Patience. Desire alone wasn’t enough to sustain a relationship or reveal his secrets. Master could have taken him at any point, but he never did. It must be mutual, or he really was nothing more than a slave.

He placed his hand in hers. Green eyes flicked to his hand, the storm gray cuff around his wrist, then up to his face. As if she knew what she asked of him, and what it cost him to say yes. “Let’s get one thing clear. I am not a lab rat to be molded to your specifications.”

Rachel Leigh Smith is a romance writer, a geek, and a Southern belle. She lives in Louisiana with a half-crazed calico named Zoe. When not adding words to an SFR novel she’s reading paranormal romance or crafting while watching some type of SF on TV. She’s still unpublished, but hopefully not for long. 

Rachel also blogs at and hangs out on Facebook.

Monday, February 24, 2014

ONLY BELIEVE---by Guest, MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA

The pediatrician’s words rocked me to the core of my being. “Your daughter has an incurable disease of the lymph gland system. Children with this disease rarely live beyond nine years of age.”
My heart lodged in my throat as the Word of God flooded into my consciousness: 

All things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23).

I gazed at my two-month-old daughter lying peacefully in my arms then looked at the doctor. My physical ears had heard his words, but my spiritual ears refused to receive them. 

Fear wrestled with faith on the ride home. Over and over in my mind, I kept hearing our Lord’s words: All things are possible to him who believes. What an amazing promise!  Not some things, but all things. How could this be?

That night, my husband and I laid hands on our baby and prayed over her. “Gina, by the stripes of Jesus you were healed. Jesus became a curse so that you would be free from the curse. Bless the Lord Who heals all your diseases.” We prayed and we believed.

The next day, I turned on the Christian television station. My baby lay in her cradle beside my chair.  As the TV minister prayed, he looked up and spoke these words: “There is a baby in the TV audience with a lymph gland disorder, and God is healing her now.”  

Instantly, I felt a sensation as of warm oil flowing from my head to my feet.  I jumped out of my chair. “That’s my Gina! I receive that healing for my Gina!”

Shortly thereafter, her intestinal bleeding stopped. I took my baby for a follow-up visit with the pediatrician. 

He ran tests and more tests.  No sign whatsoever of illness.

He stared at me, amazed. “Only God could have done this.”

Gina is now 36 years old, healthy, strong, and serving the Lord. Glory to His Holy Name!
Whatever you are facing, dear reader, remember that all things are possible to him who believes.

Don’t worry or fret. Only believe!

About MaryAnn Dioro:
Dr. MaryAnn Diorio writes compelling, award-winning fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart.  Her latest work, A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING, was published by Harbourlight Books of the Pelican Book Group and is a moving story about the power of forgiveness to heal wounded hearts and restore broken relationships. MaryAnn holds the PhD in French and Comparative Literature from the University of Kansas and the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.  She is Online Adjunct Professor of Fiction Writing for Regent University and a popular writing teacher and coach.  She is also the founder and director of The New Jersey Society of Christian Writers and an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers.  MaryAnn and her husband live in New Jersey and are the blessed parents of two amazing daughters and the delighted grandparents of a beautiful, little granddaughter. In her spare time, MaryAnn can be found painting in her art studio or playing old hymns on her beloved Knabe parlor grand.

When Sonia Pettit’s teenage daughter suddenly disappears for seven long years, Sonia faces losing her mind, her husband, and her son as she struggles to forgive her wayward daughter and trust God for her return.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Correction---How to Make Your Very First C.H.E.A.P
but  Pretty Book Trailer

So you’ve written a book and it’s time to do those  millions  of things you need to do to market. I kid you not...millions is not much of an exaggeration. That’s just how it feels when you are marketing your book

Like a lot of writers published by an indie press, I couldn’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for an expert to create my trailer. I took my artistic genes that show up in my literary art, and put them to work designing my own visual marketing tool by using what I had FREE at hand---my Microsoft Pictures Manager which came with my program, and the Microsoft Movie Maker.

But even if you have another computer program, there are other points to share in the making of a simple, cheap, but effective trailer. For Mac users, you probably received iMovie with your Mac purchase. It appears to do much of the same things as Microsoft Movie Maker.

Hint *  No one knows your book better than you, so start now . . . .
. . . Visualize your story.

The first trailer I made for Shadowed in Silk, cost me over $400
I worked on it in the evenings for about 4 months.
My second trailer for Captured by Moonlight, cost me about $100,
and required only a few weeks of evenings to create.
My latest trailer for Londonderry Dreaming, cost me only $85
and I sewed the thing up in a few hours. 

I will start by showing you the first trailers I made, for Shadowed in Silk
and Captured by Moonlight---what I discovered by accident---what really works.
Basically . . . what I learned the hard way.
And most importantly what I learned about
TONE  and emotion

After that, I will walk you step-by-step through the making of my latest trailer for Londonderry Dreaming. 

Click on the picture below to watch the trailer for Shadowed in Silk.

What I learned from my mistakes in this trailer: 

  • ·         It was too long. I try now to keep my trailers just over ONE minute.

  • ·         At the start, I tried to show the somberness of my characters’ situations by casting them in sepia-like tones. Finding historical photos is hard, and expensive. The WW1 photo is rough and grainy, and the difference in the tone bothers me.

  • ·         So I adjusted the timing of the music to coincide with the vibrant slide of The Golden Temple so that the trailer makes a complete change when the watcher is swept away  to India.

What I’m proud of in this trailer:

  • ·         The way the word India  pops out in vibrant turquoise and changes the entire tone and gives the viewer the emotional sensation of going somewhere exotic and warm.

  • ·         The way the Animation of the slide matches the action in the photo. This can be seen in the slide of the airplane. The tilting animation of the slide gives the impression of the plane soaring. More about animation in the step-to-step section below.

  • ·         I love the way the light flashes on one of the last slides, with the caption The Twilight of the Raj. The sun-flash is centered to land on the water, so it almost looks natural. Watch the trailer again if you missed that. In the Animation section of Windows Movie Maker, you can set the caption with the sunburst where you want it to land.

    Hint    *  Play around with your movie-making program. You will find that sometimes your movie theme is hidden within its tricks, the same way that your story sometimes tells you how it should be written.

Below is my second trailer. It cost a THIRD of what the first trailer did, and took a THIRD of the time.  Click on picture below to study the trailer for Captured by Moonlight.

Let’s start with what I’m proud over in this trailer.

  • ·         The slide of the Indian arches in royal blue is actually a photo that I used in the trailer for Shadowed in Silk. Since I had already paid for the license, I changed its tone to blue by using Microsoft Windows Picture Manager, and which my wonderful publisher Roseanna White of Whitefire Publishing used to create the back cover of this book.

Hint *  Keep all the photos you buy. You never know how you can adjust the color, crop them, use part of them in something else—another trailer or even a book cover.

  • ·         I like the slide with Laine with her 1920's hairstyle, where the sun-flashes with the caption “But never again”.  That little flash shows emotion, and the spunkiness of my heroine. Watch the Captured by Moonlight trailer again to see how the sunburst of the caption matches the tilting animation of the photo so that it apprears as if she is lifting her head in defiance.

  • ·        Match the animations of each photo to the action. Eg. in the photo below,  the slide moves upward as the eye travels up the tall palm trees. And in the photo of the young Indian man, the slide animation tilts so that appears as if he is romantically turning his head.· 


  • ·        In the Captured by Moonlight trailer, I kept the same  tone  in all slides, deep royal blues, primary reds and yellows, emerald greens, and crisp photos.

What I didn’t like:

  • ·         The house in the slide where Laine never expected to see Laine again, was too modern.

Hint *  Remember you can always crop a photo to highlight only what you want. Use only the eyes of your character, or a portion of a face. 

Use whatever will convey the emotion you want to convey. Instead of painting your story in words, you are now painting with images and color . . . 

. . . and  MUSIC
You worked so hard to give your reader an emotional experience  in your writing. In a trailer you can use music, the universal language to express emotion. Unlike written text, that must go from the eye . . . to the brain . . . and then to the heart, music skips a step. Music   goes straight from the ear to the heart.

Please review the latest book trailer for my new release Londonderry Dreaming.

book trailer                 

So, back to square ONE. No one knows your story better than you. You already have the mental images.
What   tone  are you looking for?

      1. Scour the stock photo sites for the pictures. There are several reputable sites, as well as a number of places you can find free photos. I found free pictures on the Morgue File, and I have purchased licensing from iStock, Shutterstock, etc. 

*  Be very careful to purchase the licensing, or be sure your photo is really free before you use it. 
Images are like words, and are copyrightable.

2.      Create light-boxes on those stock sites. These are places where you can save photos you are considering. Pick lots of photos. Then, narrow things down from there.  
*  Have your trusted critique partner look over your photo and music choices before you purchase. I wouldn't know what I'd do without my brilliant critique partner, the award-winning author of  The Language of SparrowsRachel Phifer

Here are a few of the photos I chose for Londonderry Dreaming. Crisp tones, and colors, greens--emerald and lime, the sandy beige of a beach, sky blue, and azure sea, all taken from the front cover of my book which was designed by the publishers at Pelican Books. You will notice that the first slide is a cropped version of the front cover of this book. Horizontal rectangles fit the movie slide shape.

3.      At the same time you are looking at photos on the stock sites, also look for your music on audio stock sites. I found music for all three of my trailers on iStock. 

*  Your music selection will not be the correct length. You will need a music specialist. I am blessed that my son is a music major from Briercrest Bible College. But your worship pastor at church probably has the same education, or knows of someone who can edit your music to the correct length. 

 4. After you buy your photos, arrange them in the order you want. Now compose captions for each slide. I do this on an ordinary word document, and send that file to my critique partner. This is where your writer skills come in. You have to tell the essence of your story in a series of captions. 

Now, open up Windows Movie Maker on your PC

5. Insert whatever picture you want to use for your Title slide. You will see the place to pick Title in the HOME section of the main tool bar. For my title slide for my latest book, I cropped the photo of my front cover to make a nice horizontal rectangle to fit the shape of the slide best.

6.   Insert the rest of your photos in order by using the Add Photos and Video button on the HOME section on the main bar.

*   Notice that each second is measured on the movie maker by the number of times the slide appears. Like looking at a movie reel.

7.    After you have inserted all your photos, you can insert the text by going into the Captions menu. This will bring up a text box, and you can choose the color, size and font you prefer, and position on the slide.

8.  In the Text Tools (on the upper bar) you will find Format choices. This is how your text will come onto the screen. In the first two of my trailers, you'll remember some text came on with a sunburst, or came from either side, or as in the word  India   came outward until it disappeared. Text Tools Format is where you can choose your special effect.

9. You choose the animation of each of your photos, including the Title slide, in Animations on the top tool bar. On the far right of the Animation selections you will see an arrow for the full menu. If you pull this down, you can get a better idea of the various ways you can make your photos tilt, zoom in or out, come from the side, etc. 

   *   For your first attempt, you'll need to play around. Making Shadowed in Silk, I made about 3 trailers until I felt I knew what the program could do.

Save your working file at the far left corner in Home, NOT in the far right corner which will convert it to a movie ready for Youtube.
10. By now you will notice that all of your slides are 7 seconds long by default. You can see this by the 7 slides in a row. You can shorten, or lengthen the duration, but more likely shorten your slides by going into 2 different spots. Go to the Text Tools menu and choose Text Duration to select the length. To shorten the length of the photos, go to Video Tools and Duration

*  I vary the lengths of my slides--longer for those slides that have more text, and shorter for those captions where I want a little punch.
11. These are the basic tools that I have used. There are more advanced special effects, but I found I didn't need much else. Once you master the animations and text tools, then it is time to insert your Music.
*  In the MUSIC TOOLS you will find spots where you can start your music, or have it come and grow louder, or go quiet as it nears the end of your trailer. 
12. When you are happy with your trailer, and you are sure this is it, NOW you make your FINAL SAVE in PREPARATION FOR POSTING TO YOUTUBE.  In the upper right hand corner you will see where to do that. I usually take the recommended version. This will take a few minutes, anywhere from 20 to 30.

When you have a completely saved movie, it is time to post your movie on YOUTUBE. Create an account with Youtube at no cost, and post your movie. This will usually take a little while, 20 minutes to an hour. If it takes longer, you may need to delete it and start over again.

*  I hope this has been helpful, and will inspire you to create something for yourself that will not cost you a great deal. 

With only the above-mentioned tools, I was able to create my trailers, and with each attempt, I grow more inventive. I will probably be looking at purchasing a better program for greater effects in future trailers, but I am quite pleased with the low cost of what Windows Movie Trailer could do for me. A program that came with my Windows program.

And have fun.
Like we Canadians say:  Keep your stick (Hockey stick that is) on the ice. 

Or like the Irish say:  May the road rise up to meet you, and the wind be always at your back. 
 Blessings from Christine


Christine Lindsay was born in Ireland, and is proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Her great grandfather, and her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they accept no responsibility for the sinking of that great ship. 

It was stories of her ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India that inspired her Multi-award-winning, historical series Twilight of the British Raj. Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and Christine is currently writing the final installment of that series called Veiled at Midnight to be released August 2014.

Londonderry Dreaming, Christine’s romance novella set in N. Ireland releases Feb. 21, 2014.

Aside from being a busy writer and speaker, Christine is also VP of Christian Authors’ Network. She makes her home in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada with her husband and their grown up family. Her cat Scottie is chief editor on all Christine’s books. 

Please drop by Christine’s blog site or follow her on Twitter and be her friend on Pinterest , Facebook  and  Goodreads