Long time, no see. I am officially back to the blogging world, and I’m very excited for the new year ahead. I’ve got some ideas that I can’t wait to share here, and at the same time I am just as excited to read what you all have to share with me. ❤
In the meantime, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope that wherever you are in the world, you are happy, safe, and with those you love. It is holidays like these that remind of us of our blessings, and it is so crucial that we do take a moment to thank God for what He has given us.
Some of you probably aren’t the biggest fans of Christmas and the holiday season, but I urge you to consider what the season is all about. While society has made a big deal of the materialistic aspect of gifts, gifts, gifts, there is a deeper point to Christmas and why it applies to all of humanity. So… Without further ado, let’s look at some of the most important takeaways of Christmas.
1. GIFTS ARE TO BE GIVEN
It is no secret that you, me, all of humanity–we like getting gifts. We all want things. Some of us are hoping for a shiny engagement ring this Christmas; others hope for something as simple as a new pair of shoes. But in the midst of all this desire for things, we must remember that gifts are to be given.
Huh? What does this mean? Aren’t you supposed to give gifts so that you get what you want?
Well, not exactly. It is better to give gifts than to receive them. Why? Because you’re doing something for another person. You’re ignoring your own wants to provide the wants of another. And trust me, there’s nothing better than seeing your loved one (or a stranger, I might add) open a gift and smile bigger than Texas.
2. LOVE ON DISPLAY
The holiday season is about love. Without getting too soppy, I’ll say that the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is a good one to listen to. In these weeks of celebration, family is hugely important. Whether your family is blood, or your family is your friends (or maybe a pet LOL), you must be with them. Why do I require it? Because we don’t know how many Christmases we get on this planet, and it’s important that we savor family time while we have the chance.
And this is the perfect time to love on people, even if you want to slap them or disappear due to the family drama. And another thing, we’re not just supposed to love those we know. We’re called to love those we don’t know, and we must be kind to all we meet. That is what I love about the holidays: That, despite the manic tone in the air, there is also a feeling that… Maybe, just maybe… We can slow down and take the time to show kindness to those around us.
3. THE BIRTH OF THE SAVIOR
Some people don’t celebrate Christmas for this reason, but I’ll tell you that to me it is the most important. Christmas, which I like to think of as “More Christ” (Christ + más, which is “more” in Spanish), is the day in which we celebrate the birth of a particularly lovable baby named Jesus Christ, the very baby who would one day grow up and save the world. Sounds like a story, right?
True stories are the best kind.
No one really knows when Christ was born, but we take December 25 as an opportunity to commemorate the birth that would change everything in human history. Some speculate that his birth was actually in the springtime, but I’m going to be tart and say: I don’t really care when he was born. I care that he was born, and that he lives!
This is the true reason for the season, as they say. And even if you don’t believe, I ask you to read Luke 1:1-20 and Matthew 1 & 2:1-11. What does it hurt to read about a baby that was born to be the savior of the world? Even if you don’t think it’s true, you can’t not say it isn’t a compelling story. ❤
Merry Christmas, everyone! Again I am so glad to be back on this blog and posting content for you guys. But this is also an opportunity for me to get to know you all better, so keep writing and recommending things to me. I love hearing from you!! ❤
Last week I released my newest novel, Church Boy, to the world! While I should have posted on this sooner, I was a tad bit busy and forgot to advertise the book. (Pretty “redonk”). Anyway, I thought I would go ahead and post something now so that you guys are up-to-date!
Church Boy is not my typical book, but I’m happy it is done and released. It took a month to write and clocks in a little under 60,000 words. While I submitted the manuscript to Harlequin’s Christian line, the book was almost immediately rejected, so I thought: “Why not just go ahead and publish it free online?”
Without further ado, here’s some info on this little summer project of mine. 🙂
Who doesn’t want a church boy?
This is an everyday thought in the small town of Colonia, Mississippi, where church and romance are as integral as breathing. But when Olivia Scott moves to Colonia to care for her ailing father, she isn’t looking for love. The daughter of irreligious parents, Olivia constantly struggles with her Christian faith, and a summer romance isn’t on her mind. And for young Baptist minister Luke Sweeting, his peaceful life as a bachelor is tested when town gossip Lisa Richards decides to matchmake her pastor with their mysterious newcomer.
This unexpected love story sets off a chain reaction that affects the entire town, including a young mother who falls for a faith-seeking drug dealer; folks long entrenched in a Christian family feud; and Colonia churches of all backgrounds. Despite the pressures on the young couple, there is a common denominator: God’s will be done, and goodness will prevail no matter what is hurtled their way.
For most of you guys, this book is probably not your cup of tea. Romance? Christian romance? I mean, if I went into a bookstore today, I probably wouldn’t hit up the Christian romance section. That being said, this was something I’d been thinking of for a while, and I like to challenge my genres whenever possible. Some writers stick to legal thrillers, but I’m a bit of a chameleon, and this was my calling for summer 2019.
But for fun let’s have a little Q & A session on the book and see what you guys think!
1. How did you come up with this story?
The inspiration for Church Boy is a little murky in my mind. Whenever I am at college in California, I don’t get enough church/Jesus time, and it’s really because I miss church back home in the South.
I think I conceived this novel sometime around my sophomore year of college, and it was probably in response to being so far away from home. While there are churches all around the world (amen to that!), there is nothing quite like a good old Southern Baptist pulpit in my opinion.
The romance part of the book came much later. I knew I wanted to write wholesome Christian romance, so the connection between this book’s two main characters came rapidly. A pastor and an out-of-towner struggling with her faith? Interesting enough, and it was a way to play with dual aspects of ourselves: The faith-believing side, and the doubting side.
2. Why set it in Mississippi?
This book would not be possible without the South, and especially the state of Mississippi. As I mentioned before, there’s nothing quite like Southern Baptist churches, and when I was craving my Sunday mornings away, Mississippi was the place I wished I could visit.
A lot of you are probably thinking: Really? Mississippi?!?!?!
Yes, Mississippi. The people in this state are larger than life, but they’re some of the best people you’ll ever meet, and this novel is my attempt to flatter the people there. Of course, who knows what they think of good old Tennesseans. 😉
3. Where can I find/download your books?
Well, if you want, you can download any of my novels, including Church Boy, for free via Smashwords, Apple iBooks, and Barnes & Noble. While I want to make my novels free everywhere, they are $2.99 on the Kindle Store (eBook version) due to policy situations. As for paperback copies, I just sent my final edits to Amazon, and this is my first book published paperback (a little more expensive, unfortunately, but wow!).
Let me make it easier for all of us and post some links.
Well, I’m not really working on anything right now. I’m about to head back to college, so I’m sure I’ll have a lot of material to work with shortly. However, at this stage, I’m enjoying blogging, writing poetry, and studying airplane stuff. So we’ll see what comes from my fingers next. Maybe I’ll stick with romance, since those books are pretty easy to write, or I’ll challenge myself with something a little more thought-provoking. Who knows?
THANK YOU GUYS!
All right. This pop-up post is coming to a close, but thanks again for reading this attempt at marketing my latest book. I’m super excited for the future, and I feel so blessed to be able to share my content with you guys so easily online. Thank goodness for technology that allows us to share our stories with the world!
On Friday we will resume normal blog posts. That one will be a summer update post, so stay tuned for more then.
FOR EONS NOW the First Baptist Church of Colonia, Mississippi, had been the social hub of the entire county.
On Sundays every business shut down, except the bookstore run by the only Jewish man within fifty miles. Church was expected, not just a friendly tip. It was so expected that even the morally ambiguous put on their shiny shoes and zipped on over to their chosen place of worship—and there were plenty to choose from.
But nothing was more distinct than the First Baptist Church. Most churches within the area had long since given up their status as being first in their particular denomination: First Presbyterian had become Hope Pres, and First Lutheran, with its ten congregants, had become Friendship Lutheran. First Methodist, First Baptist’s loyal enemy, had stayed the same to spite those said Baptists, and the Church of Christ up and moved to the country, needing a respite from Colonia’s self-righteous residents.
Now it was true that most Southerners were, aptly so, Southern Baptist. It was a tradition with a rigorous history, and though its membership had been on the steady slope downward for a while now, Colonia’s First Baptist Church was as strong as ever. Nearly four hundred churchgoers flocked to the pulpit at ten-thirty on Sunday mornings, donning suits and dresses and the occasional skirt or slacks. Some women wore lace hats that plumed like peacock feathers, while others covered dainty hands with satin gloves. Everyone clutched weathered Bibles, including the youngsters who sprinted across the aisles with annoyed brothers and sisters trying to catch up.
Miss Sue, a religious attendee at First Baptist since the 1940s, was no stranger to the scene. Miss Sue, who was the opposite of a stickler, felt her panty hose rip right down the middle of her age-spotted leg as her great-grandchild, Emma Ray, bounced into Deacon Todd, who was a righteous son of a gun.
“What in…” shouted Deacon Todd, who held a stack of pamphlets in his leathered hands.
“Hiya!” shouted Emma Ray as Miss Sue caught up.
“Where is her mother?” snapped Deacon Todd, but when he caught a wicked glance from Miss Sue, he readjusted his tie.
“I’m a good enough substitute, don’t you think?” replied Miss Sue, shaking her head. “I know you wouldn’t have a clue, Todd Appleby.”
“A clue as to what, Sue Richards?” he growled, tossing a bulletin to an unsuspecting guest.
“How to live a little, and remember that children are children. Now, you come here, little miss!”
Emma Ray snaked her way out of her grandmother’s arms once more and dived into the sanctuary, her church shoes somehow screeching against the emerald green carpets that had been laid in the ’70s, back when Emma Ray’s mother was her size. The little girl was a tornado as she burst through throngs of gossips and guests and terrified people in general. Everyone had always thought there was possibly a curse in the Richards family line, because none of those Richards women could calm down.
“Emma Ray!” screamed Miss Sue, almost tripping over her nemesis in the process.
The nemesis, Rita Scarborough, licked her lips and rolled her eyes. She lifted a red-painted fingernail into the air and shook it back and forth as she chatted with her gaggle of best friends, all of whom had been born, survived, and would die in Colonia, Mississippi.
“Sue Richards,” she muttered.
“Emma Ray,” said of the friends, in a nasally accent, “is such a mess in comparison to your little Margaret Ann.”
Just at that moment Margaret Ann appeared, docile and doe-like in her mother’s arms. Rita took her granddaughter, kissing both china doll cheeks, while Emma Ray or Miss Sue (it was hard to tell) shrieked across the aisle.
“Grandma,” said Margaret Ann, pushing back a few perfect curls from her face, “Grandpa was looking for you.”
“Was he now?” asked Rita Scarborough. She knew it probably wasn’t true. Her husband of nearly forty years was always somewhere or the other, collecting even juicier news than she could. It was what had attracted them to each other in the first place, if you didn’t count the Ole Miss degree, fancy diamond ring, and the fact that they’d been matched since birth, when their families prayed over them at the baby dedication.
And, in reality, Wesley Scarborough was not looking for his wife. He stood beside Deacon Todd, greeting guests and regular attenders alike, learning as much as he could about anybody and everybody. Todd passed out the papers, and Wesley passed out the Southern hospitality.
At some point, as the sun rose higher in the sky on this particular Sunday morning, Wesley grew a little tired, because he needed a doughnut or a bagel or anything with caloric intake. Since it was almost show time, the crowd had withered in the lobby. Deacon Todd ran out of bulletins and grouched off like an elderly crab, leaving Wesley alone and at peace, because he enjoyed his solitude too, even in the midst of a place as spiritual as this.
But then, out of nowhere, the front doors opened, and there was a young woman he had never seen before. She was so young, he noted, that his wife would either take her under her wing or scoff at her for the rest of time, and so he estimated her age to be twenty-four. She wore an acceptable dress, her curly hair bouncing down her back, and she clutched a Bible with nervous hands. He knew they were nervous hands because he’d been in those shoes, long, long ago, when he also visited First Baptist Colonia after a long bout of disbelief and anger and grit and grime.
“Welcome, young lady!” he said, extending a hand.
“Am I late?” she asked, her eyes huge and green. “I wasn’t sure if… I don’t know. My neighbor invited me, and…”
“You’re all right,” said Wesley, wondering where this creature had beamed in from. “What’s your name, dear? I’m Wesley Scarborough.”
“Olivia Scott,” she said, the Bible a barrier between them.
“It’s nice to meet you, Olivia. Who’s your neighbor?”
Wesley smiled to himself. “Lisa Richards, one of the most active members in this congregation! I swear—well, I suppose I shouldn’t swear, on account that we are Christian people, Miss Olivia—but half of this congregation belongs to the Richards family!”
“I’d believe it. There’s always something going on at that house.”
“Here, let’s see if we can see her. You’re just in time, dear. No worries if you’re late, either. We’re a talkative congregation.”
They walked to the edge of the sanctuary, where all four hundred congregants chattered and buzzed around like the busy bees they were. Wesley caught a glimpse of Deacon Todd throwing Emma Ray onto his shoulders, while Miss Sue chased him down. He then saw his wife and his daughter and the grandkids and smirked. There were the Pipers, debating politics, no doubt; and Mr. Blake Sampson, who’d never taken a wife, and Reece Jetterby, the richest man in the county, and Oscar Thomas, the poorest man in the county. But where in the world was Lisa Richards?
“It’s okay if you can’t find her,” said mild-mannered Olivia Scott, “because I can find her after the service. I just promised her I’d come, and so here I am.”
“Well, you’re more than welcome to sit with my family and me if you’d like, or I can point you in the direction of the young people’s section, or…”
“Hi, Wesley,” said a strong voice behind them, and Wesley twisted around to face the young pastor, Luke Sweeting, who’d been in town for three years but felt like a forever presence in the church home. Luke was twenty-eight, a Georgia man who’d been educated up North and came home with a desire to preach. He’d come to Colonia on a whim. But as everyone believed in Colonia, there was more to it than just a whim. Things always worked out according to God’s miraculous plan, and they had hope that things always would be that way.
“Pastor Luke!” shouted Wesley, grabbing the man’s hand, pulling him in for a hug. When they drew apart, Wesley began with, “This is our dear guest, Miss Olivia Scott.”
Olivia blushed, and Wesley found this interesting.
“Very nice to meet you, Olivia,” said Luke, shaking her hand. “Welcome to our church. I know it can be overwhelming, but I hope you enjoy your time here, and that you feel God’s presence in the meantime.”
“Thank you,” she said, and Luke excused himself, heading off to the worshippers, a shepherd collecting his flock.
“That’s the pastor,” said Wesley again, and then he nodded. “Well, I’m going to have to insist you sit with my family, Olivia Scott.”
This poor girl, thought Wesley to himself. At least she’d have a story to tell.
My beautiful readers! Thank you so much for reading this far. I hope you all are doing spectacular!
As you guys know, I have challenged myself to write three books this summer, one of them being this short but sweet romance, Church Boy. When it is finished, it will clock in around 50,000 words and be self-published through my go-to website, Smashwords, which you can find here: Link to my books!
Church Boy is a Southern, Christian romantic comedy. Some of you will probably cringe right there (and I absolutely feel you). However, I conceived this story a few years ago, and it felt like the time to crank it out before I totally lost the energy to write it.
This book pairs two unlikely leads: Luke Sweeting is a kind Southern Baptist pastor, whereas Olivia Scott is a struggling law student who is new to town. The two meet at Luke’s church in Colonia, Mississippi, where things do not exactly go according to plan…
Therefore, I wanted to give you guys a little teaser before the book comes out. Right now I am hoping to get it out there by June 1, but it may be pushed back to June 15. We will see, we will see. 😉
Okay, I have to go study for now, but expect more blog posts soon. Thank you all for reading!