Brightness In The Dark: Kim Williams | Elaine Stock

Brightness In The Dark: Kim Williams | Elaine Stock
— Read on www.elainestock.com/2018/11/brightness-in-the-dark-kim-williams/

FREE SET OF BOOKS to someone who clicks, reads, and comments. You can learn a bit about my writing journey in this post. Excited to be interviewed by the award winning author, Elaine Stock.

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What’s Your Favorite…?

“Hey, Kim, what’s your favorite…?” This is often a difficult question for me to answer. For example, how am I to choose between warm chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake, peach cobbler, or traditional birthday cake to select my favorite dessert? Likewise, when someone asks me who is my favorite author, I cannot be limited to one name. I have too many favorites well worth mentioning. Although this is not a book review blog, and I am not a reviewer, I thought I’d stray from my typical post style and share some of my favorite Christian Fiction authors and books.  (Heads up: This post is more lengthy than my routine posts.)

Author Elizabeth Camden writes Historical Christian Romance set in the United States. Her settings are always interesting and her history details are well woven into the romantic story.  I’ve read all her books and am listing my two favorite. Against the Tides has some beautifully written dialogue between the protagonists. The story deals with the misuse of a common drug of the day.  Both the history and the romance in Every Breath made it one of the most interesting stories I’ve read. The early stages of  seeking a cure for tuberculosis throws the protagonists together. Both stories are filled with humor.

Elizabeth Musser’s stories follow a variety of settings and topics. She has a two-book series set in Atlanta and Hilton Head.  I actually  road-tripped and viewed the locations she mentions in that series. However, my favorite works of hers is the Secrets of the Cross Trilogy  that is set in France in the 1960’s and later on in…well, I won’t give away part of the story. Huguenots. Religious persecution. Smuggling of believers, etc. are all a part of this series. Readers will grow with the two protagonists as the stories span their lives. The lead characters are a delight to get to know.

Kate Breslin writes outstanding historical fiction. My favorite is For Such a Time, set in WW2 and focused on a particular Nazi officer and a female prisoner. The title should give you some hint to the plot of the story.

LN Cronk wrote the Chop Chop Series. I came across the first book on Bookbub, read it, and fell in love with the stories, even though they are out of my usual genre.  I have read the series many times. I laugh out loud, wipe tears, and find myself thinking about the characters as though they truly exist. Ironically, many of the scenarios in the stories have taken place in my own life–so much so, that I wrote the author and told her. I later became a beta reader for her. The stories follow a group of friends for a span of fifty-plus years. The books are primarily (perhaps entirally at this point) sold as e-books.

Cathy Gohlke writes historical Christian fiction. My favorite novel is Saving Amelie, set in WW2. A gripping story of how the war impacted families–particularly the life of a little girl.

Changing gears just a bit, take a look at these recommendations:

  1. Want to laugh? Becky Wade writes modern day romance with a good sense of humor. I’d suggest you start with My Stubborn Heart.
  2. Want to deal with an intriguing medical disorder?  Read Elaine Stock’s Good Girl.
  3. Love WWI? Sarah Sundin is a great choice. Her books can be read independently, but groups of them stay connected. I’d start with the Wings of the Nightingale Series.
  4. Do you like an intricate plot? Give Kristy Cambron a try. I’ve enjoyed every one of books equally–ok, maybe I would pick The Ring Master’s Wife as my favorite. Her protagonists are very interesting characters.
  5. One of my favorite male characters is in Kristen Heitzmann‘s Rose Legacy Series. Think 1880’s Colorado mining towns.  What a transformation this troubled character experiences.
  6. Whom have I recently discovered? I read Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof. (Honestly, I’m already on my third reading of it.)  Her writing style flows smoothly and rhythmically. I  enjoy good insight into characters, and this story has  allows the reader to get to know the protagonists from the inside out.  This book has a deaf protagonist that is beautifully written. I kept seeing this novel mentioned all over my social medias and had to see what the hype was all about. I will definitely be reading more of her works.
  7. Do you like drama, crime, and lawyers? Try James Bell.
  8. Do you like a lot of variety in an author? Give Charles Martin and also Robert Whitlow a try. Yes, you’ll begin to discover the author’s underlying writing habits, but each of them write drama with a taste of romance and a twist of unique storylines.
  9. Have you mentioned every author or book you favor? Nope, and my heart hurts a bit for not doing so.
  10.  And, if you’re looking for a series set in rural 1920’s Texas, click this link: https://tinyurl.com/ybof68te  Bothbinding(I’m shameless.)

Thanks for letting me chase a rabbit trail on this post.  One last question: Who are your favorite authors and books? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Reading.

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Behind the Scenes

Learn some behind the scenes info about the Letters to Layton Series in this video interview:  https://youtu.be/EJbt8-G076U

MM#140: How to Grow Your Online Network using (non-FB groups) with Kim Williams Author
We’re often told to, “Grow our online network,” but it can seem like an uphill climb, can’t it? Where do we go? How do we find networks that offer what we need, and that we have something to offer in return?

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:4-5

flower4I have learned something about myself. One might assume that since I am hovering somewhere between fifty and sixty, there wouldn’t be much left to learn. Oh, contraire.

I have always known that I love flowers, red birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds. flower1Through the years, each spring, I would buy hanging baskets to decorate my porch, deck, and pool area. I remember being so proud of myself when I moved from silk flowers to real flowers for this annual event. I occassionally under watered and overwatered.  My hanging baskets had a  very short life span.  As for the rest my outdoor favorites–my hummingbird feeder never drew hummingbirds and my bird feeder drew squirrels.

flower3This year I made a change. God gave me a daughter-in-law with a green thumb who is teaching me how to actually care for plants that attract butterflies—care, as in take care; work at. Producing beautiful flowers and plants takes intentional attention. Herein is the lesson I’ve learned. I naturally like to look at blooming plants and beautiful flower gardens, but the upkeep just doesn’t come naturally to me at all. In other words, the natural me does not produce the type of bloom I’d like to see.

Paul tells believers in the book of Galatians what type of bloom—fruit—should be displayed in their lives.  However, he also reminds us in Romans 7:15-20 that the fruit does not come from human efforts, but from the Holy Spirit in us.  Making choices to be nourished by the Holy Spirit who produces this fruit can be a struggle. flower5God the Creator has His Spirit in us to  dig and prune and enable intentionality. His word nourishes and fertilizes us to grow in our relationship with Christ. Time in prayer waters and refreshes us, and allows us to hear His gardening tips for our live

flower2If you are like me, life gets busy and can cause us to neglect the gardening our souls need.  Without abiding in Him we may find ourselves resembling a silk plant that is pretty, but lifeless—a mere imitation of what our Creator intended us to be. None of us want to do a lot of something that becomes nothing. Do you need  to “stop and smell the roses” spiritually? Do you need to abide?

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Do You Trust Me?

I am thrilled that my new book is released. Whew! Thanks to all who’ve shown your support with texts, emails, time, posts, and purchases. Readers, may you enjoy the read! While I treasure the moments after a release and catch my breath, the third (and final) story in the Letters to Layton series that has been peeking around the corner is now jumping up and down in front of me begging for my attention. Like a patient parent, I tell the story to give me a moment, then it will get my undivided attention. In the meantime, I’ve got some people to talk to–the characters.When_the_Butterflies_Cover_for_Kindle

I write letters to my characters, and I interview them as I prepare to bring their story to life. They talk to me as well. Sometimes they share their hearts at the most inconvenient time when I can’t drop everything and listen–for example when I’m driving or trying to sleep. I recently had a conversation with Henry.

“Henry, what do you most fear?”

“Plunging into the darkness.”

“What will you do if that happens?”

He hesitated, and I can only assume a slight grimace formed on his face.

“I will be totally dependent on others and on God to help me. I won’t be able to think, much less pull myself out.”

“Do you trust me enough to take you there?”

Another pause.

“Will you leave me there?”

My care for him must have shown as I felt my lips press together. My fingers felt the impulse to pat his hand.

“That’s for me to know. Do you trust me?”

As I asked Henry this question, my mind wandered back to times in my life when God had asked me the same question. Our third miscarriage. My mom dying with cancer.  Financial strain. Health concerns. Times in “wait mode,” wondering why God was silent other than asking if I trusted Him. The one thing I’ve learned is that God “always comes through.” This doesn’t mean that every outcome is what I would have preferred. It does mean that whatever the outcome, God is sufficient to give me what I need at the time.

I think of  Abraham. God made the childless, aging man a promise that a great nation would come from his off-spring. Abraham did what humans often do. Perhaps a little panicked, he looked at the circumstances and figured he better do his part to fulfill the promise God made. “Doing” is often easier than “waiting.” Despite Abraham’s intended solution, which carried its own set of consequences, God gave him the son he intended to use as the fulfillment of His promise. Then, years later told Abraham to sacrifice the life of that son. In my mind, this would have been more confusing to accept than the original promise.  Although I get the symbolism behind God asking him to sacrifice Isaac, for the life of me, as a parent, I cannot “get” how Abraham had enough trust and faith to prepare to do it.  He climbed Mt. Moriah trusting in God — to provide a replacement or tell him nevermind, or, gulp, to sustain him through the act of obedience.  I suppose that Abraham focused on the truths and promises he’d received from God—that a great nation would come from his offspring.

I have never been called upon to do something as difficult as Abraham was asked to do. However, as mentioned earlier, I have been called upon to trust God’s character and His promises. When He “comes through,” I find myself wondering how I could have ever been anxious in the first place. (Hint: I’m a doer and a fixer.) God has filled His Word with promise after promise that we can depend on Him and trust Him in every situation.  Take a look at some of His promises:

He will fight for us. He strengthens us. He upholds us. He is with us in deep waters and flames. His love never fails. He breaks our chains of bondage. He binds our broken heart.  He gives us wisdom. He forgives our sins. He hears and answers our prayers. He will never forsake us. He gives us the desires of our hearts. He gives eternal life through Christ. He blesses us. He communes with us. He meets our needs. He guides us. 

Take a breath! Isn’t the list amazing? Might I mention that it is incomplete. Claiming God’s promises are a part of our relationship with Him. A healthy relationship builds trust. You, know, just the other day I was fretting over something, and God showed me two different times in two different ways that He has the matter under God's Promisescontrol. What a beautiful picture of relationship that builds trust in God’s promises.

You might ask, “Who is Henry and what is this darkness?” The answers are found in the pages of my sequel story.  Will I take Henry to the dark depths in my third book? I don’t know, but trust me, I’ll do my best to make the story worth the read of finding out.

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Happily Ever After — Or Not

Let’s start out with a quick writing lesson. All stories need a plot. What is plot in literature? It is the sequence of events that make up a storyline. In fairy tales, plot takes place between “once upon and time” and “They lived happily ever after.”

  • Guy and Girl meet.
  • Guy thinks Girl is cute. Girl thinks Guy is cute.
  • Guy and Girl begin to date.
  • Girl meets Guy’s perfect brother but still only has eyes for Guy.
  • Guy proposes. Girl says yes.
  •  Girl gets deam job offer overseas.
  • Guy already has best job ever.
  • There is a standstill. Wedding is off.
  •  Girl moves.
  •  Two broken hearts pour themselves into their great jobs.
  • Guy loses his sense of smell, use of his thumbs, and his job two weeks after perfect brother is hired by the NFL.
  • Guy calls out one name over and over in the grip of agony — Girl’s.
  • Girl learns of this through her best friend’s social media .
  • Girl, who still loves Guy, now faces a conflicted heart and a dilemma.
  • Will true love prevail? Will she return to Guy and care for him until death does them part? Will he attempt heroism and tell Girl to marry his perfect brother instead? Whatever the answers are, we have a resolution — “The End.”
  • Sometimes we get an added bonus: an epilogue. Perfect brother pays for Guy’s  new robotic appendages, marries Girl’s best friend, and a movie deal is made for Guy’s story, resulting in numerous job offers.  What happened with Girl? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. 🙂

(Well, thank you for humoring me and please keep reading this post.)

Authors have the ability to entertain with plot and resolutions, leaving the reader feeling satisfied because conflicts are solved and wrapped up neatly. Although a reader may have preferred or anticipated another wrap-up, at least they know the end of the story.  However, life isn’t always wrapped up.  We may not understand why a conflict took place and how it will be resolved.

I have recently  completed a Bible study by Jen Wilkin and also had the opportunity to hear her speak. In both situations, she discussed the fact that God is not a limited being who is bound by time.  Indeed, He is limitless. Unlike our Creator, “we are limited

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creatures with numbered days and because of that, we don’t always get a plot resolution.”   We might be left with a cliffhanger that has no foreseen sequel.

Most every believer has experienced devastating or dire  circumstances that make us cry out to the author and finisher of our faith, “Why? What are you doing?” These questions force a decision upon us. Do we let confusion, anger, sorrow, and the like consume us and take over our character?  Do we process these feelings through the filter of faith and allow the author to continue His story through us?

When your plot includes difficulties, how well do you trust your Author? Take a look at parts of His bio:

  • Jehovah: possesses all authority; self-complete Exodus 3:13-15
  • Infinite: beyond measurement Romans 11:33
  • Omnipotent: all powerful; we are sustained by Him Jeremiah 32:17-18
  • Good: kind; caring; full of favor Psalm 119-65-72
  •  Love: personal; intimate I John 4:7-10
  • Jehovah-jireh: provider; Genesis 22:9-14
  • Immutable: perfect and unchanging Psalm 102: 25-28
  • Just: fair; equitable; holy Psalm 75:1-7
  • Omniscient: all-knowing Psalm 139-1-6

The list could keep going, but I’ll stop where I started.  In the story of life, we have limited knowledge, but God doesn’t. Combine that with His love, justice, goodness, and all the other traits mentioned above, then wonder why we limited humans so easily default to fear and anxiety over faith.

Think of Job. The Author’s description of him reads like this, “There is none on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  (Job 1: 8) Yet as the plot thickens, Job’s life is turned upside down. Job never knew the reason why God allowed trials to come his way. However, thousands of years later, we do. We’re part of the on-going epilogue in Job’s story.

In my upcoming sequel, the protagonists struggle to understand “the why” about each other. I allow them to muddle through misunderstandings, feeling hurt and confused; yet I also have the resolution in sight. The circumstances they find themselves in bring them to a crises of faith necessary for “The End” that the author had in mind.  Hum? If a limited being gets this concept for developing a fiction story, how much more should this limited being trust the Limitless Author of our Faith in real life?

If you would like to do a study on the attributes of God, here are two links you can click for resources I recommend.

  1. Bible Navigators: Praying the Names of God  https://tinyurl.com/y7wkh4jw
  2. Jen Wilkin resources: https://tinyurl.com/y7v673hs

 

 

 

 

 

The Myrtle

wild crepe myrtleI have a confession to make. People ask me how my book title, Among the Crepe Myrtles, relates to the story.  It doesn’t. Well, let me clarify, at least it didn’t until I made it fit. I was reading the Minor Prophets when I came across the phrase “among the myrtle trees” in Zechariah 1:8.  I can’t explain why, but I knew at that moment my book title would be “Among the Crepe Myrtles.” I’d tried out several other titles, but none gripped me like that phrase. So, to be accurate, I did research about crepe (or crape) myrtles growing in Texas. Bingo. It was very rewarding to weave the title into the story. Since then, I have done more research on the crepe myrtle. To my pleasant surprise, my research revealed information that fit much of what my characters in the story struggled with and also what God was trying to do for them.fullcover

You may know the crepe myrtle as a shrub. You may know it as a tree. Indeed, it is both, and even to a girl whose green thumb is non-existent, the myrtle tree is quite interesting. (My neighbor has one planted next to the fence between our yards. I admire it as though it were mine. Truthfully, I am glad the tree does not belong to me, for it would have ceased to exist. That exact thing happened to my bonsai crepe myrtle.) The myrtle tree made its way into more than one story in Greek mythology. Perhaps the most noted is that of Adonis and Aphrodite.  In many cultures, the myrtle represents beauty, love, paradise, and immortality. To the Jews, it can represent sweetness, divine generosity, peace, God’s promises, and recovery.

I find that the characterisitcs of the myrtle tree offer us some symbolic lessons.

  • These trees and shrubs have the ability to grow in stony soil.  Even in circumstances that seem unfavorable, the myrtle is designed to grow, thrive, and do what it was created to do.  When believers allow God to do His work in us, we have joy and peace. He restores what the circumstances of life may have made bare.  See Isaiah 55:12-13
  • The myrtle tree is an evergreen designed to continually keep growing, always offering life. Colossians 2:6-7 tells says “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as your were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
  • The myrtle tree is adaptable to grow in the wilderness, a setting that is not ideal. See Isaiah 41:19. Everyone of us can think of a time where we felt life left us in Sinaia harsh situation. A wilderness may not offer thriving fountains and beautiful florals, but it is not void of all life .
  • Myrtle tress produce an aromatic beautiful blossom.  2 Corinthians 2:15 reminds believers that we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ to those around us.
  • In Zechariah 1, this tree is seen as an emblem of peace. In this chapter, God is asking His people to return to Him from practicing immoral, ungodly practices. As a result, peace is promised. This same offer exists to us today. God promises inward peace that passes our understanding to those who have a growing relationship with Him.
  • HadassahThe Hebrew name for Esther, Hadassah, means myrtle. Esther is symbol of righteousness in an evil world. Esther allowed God to place her in a situation that she did not ask for and use her to represent Him.

I  never cease to be amazed at the treasures found in the Bible and in Creation. I am  grateful to God for His Word.

 

(Acknowledgment to Carolyn Roth Ministries: God as a Gardener and to flowerinfo.org)