Category Archives: Author Interviews

She Speaks Conference Equips Over 700 Women in Charlotte, NC…

Friends!  Any of y’all interested in writing or speaking?  Pray about attending next year’s She Speaks Conference, hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries ( I had so much fun at the most recent one on July 21st and 22nd, in Charlotte, NC, I just have to share some tidbits with you…

Whether you’ve written a book or are contemplating writing one, or have been speaking various places and think God is calling you to do more speaking, She Speaks is the conference to attend. (7/26-28 are the dates for 2018.)

Due to some perfecto peer pressure a/k/a strong suggestions from my friend, Liz, I signed up for this year’s conference. Not knowing a soul except for Liz Curtis Higgs who would be teaching two workshops and speaking for one of the Main Sessions, I prayed I’d meet some fun friends.  God was gracious.

The morning of registration, I immediately met two gals, one from Wheaton, IL and one from Naples, FL.  We were all three newbies. We had crazy fun connections and promptly agreed to meet up for every meal, sharing tidbits from our workshops.

My new friend, Dawn, and I posed by the She Speaks sign near Registration.  This was a popular photo opp, all of us dumping our book bags which amazingly no one tripped over.

The challenge of the conference was which workshop to sign up for as each one sounded better than the next. Just as an example, here are the ones I took:

“Creating Biblical Content to Engage Your Reader”

“Storytelling on the Page and the Stage”

“Creating a Message That is Powerful, Memorable, and Life Changing”

“How a Small-Time Blogger Can Actually Get a Book Contract”

“60 Things You Can Do to Become a Better Speaker”

“Study Strategies for Teaching Scripture”

The above are a glimpse of the many, many, many workshops offered, plus each attendee had the opportunity to attend Four Main Sessions over the two days with these top-notch speakers:

Pastor Chris Hodges

Chris kicked off the conference Friday morning with a powerful message from Exodus 28 and 29, called “Dress for Success.”  His connection with the Proverbs 31 gals is a sweet one:  One of his children is married to one of Lysa TerKeurst’s children.

Chrystal Evans Hurst is a  fireball like her Dad, Tony Evans, and her sister, Priscilla Shirer. Chrystal equipped us Friday night to take care of ourselves in order to be better used by God. Her stories of biking across the Golden Gate Bridge numerous times were priceless. Some trips were more successful than others, as in “let’s not bleed to death in the process.” (A trip over the handlebars brought about that illustration.)

Sometimes we need to slow down! Rest is a form of worship!

Chrystal also gifted us with several Scriptures, my favorite being:

She closed with, “Be true to your journey, it is enough.”  Amen.

Whitney Capps  was a wonderful wake-up call Saturday morning after many of us had had a sleepless night due to the power going out in our area.  Hotel rooms defined dark and became stuffy hot without the air conditioning.

Whitney remarked that Satan is always trying to thwart her efforts for her messages and this time was no exception…  Seems a snake crawled down into one of the substations and nibbled on some high voltage equipment, causing damage enough to knock out the electricity in a huge grid most of the night.  This included our hotels plus 14,000 other households.  Come on, now!

Here’s the pic the local paper ran:

He looks way too friendly.

Good news is the conference went on as planned, coffee was at the ready, and Whitney preached a meaningful message on “Six Reasons Your Church Needs You.” Thank you, Lord.

Liz Curtis Higgs closed out the conference Saturday night with a bang, working our tear ducts overtime from laughter one minute, to moving testimonials the next.  A few of my favorite quotes from her are:

“Minister to those who are in front of you. Don’t count numbers, because everyone counts to God.”

On writing, Liz encouraged us with, “If He knows every word we are going to say, surely He knows every word we’re going to write.” And I LOVE this:  “You don’t have to write THE best book, you just have to write YOUR best book.”

Obviously, take-home value was at a premium.

One of many bonuses we attendees received was the opportunity to sign up for cd’s of other workshops we weren’t able to attend.  Incredible resources!

Saturday afternoon I rode up the elevator with a gal who had attended this conference the previous year.  She said this year’s conference was so different.  I was astonished because the number of workshops and their variety causes one to wonder how you could keep changing it up?

The brainchild of Lysa TerKeurst, She Speaks ran like a top. Lysa’s beyond blessed to have such a sweet and compassionate team who somehow took all seven hundred of us under their wings!

Here are a few other workshops I also wanted to take but couldn’t squeeze into my two days:

“Writing a Bio That Gets You Hired”

“The Verses That Keep Me Up at Night:  The Risks and Responsibilities of the Christian Writer”

“Creating Your Book Proposal from a Marketing Perspective”

“Guarding Your Capacity to Pace Your Race”

“Finding Soul Rest in the Midst of Busyness”

“How to Write When You Have Kids”

And there were more!

Another bonus of She Speaks was the amazing worship offered before each of the Main Sessions.  Worship  was led by the worship team from Elevation Church in Charlotte.  ( )

They were incredible, opening the conference with my current favorite song:  What a Beautiful Name.  Another song they sang I learned they also wrote:  O Come to the Altar.  You can imagine the effect of 700+ gals singing their hearts out.  The Holy Spirit filled the room to its’ brim.

One exciting discovery was learning about the “First 5” app available FOR FREE to us all.  (Go to: ) Many gals I met were familiar with this app and were “regulars”.  Its’ premise is we all need to plant our faces in Scripture the first five minutes of every day.

The First 5 teachers and writers taught different workshops. It was a blast to meet them and hear from them up close.  They were most gracious in sharing their various methods, all of these gals wise beyond their years.

We attendees also had the opportunity to sign up to meet with publishers and agents.  These were offered on a first-come basis.

She Speaks had about twenty-five people (publishers and agents) to choose from, of which I had to pick five, and of those five, they’d pick two.  How they orchestrated all of this made my head spin.  We each had fifteen minutes for our meetings which evaporated like fifteen seconds.  This was an invaluable experience.

At one point in the worship, as the conference was about to close, I thought, “What if all seven hundred of us goes home, ready to be used by God for God to reach so many for the Kingdom?  What if?”  That’s my prayer for all of us and for any of you considering such an opportunity.

‘Til next time!


Liz and I sat together Friday night when Chrystal spoke.




Filed under Author Interviews, Conferences, Scripture, Travel

Guest Post from Author Lucinda Secrest McDowell, of “Dwelling Places”…When Will You Finally Slow Down? (Plus Q and A’s…)

Friends! This week we’re in for a real treat. We’ll be hearing from an author friend of mine, Lucinda Secrest McDowell (Cindy) who seems to have a “word” for us all, namely yours truly on a regular basis. I’ve written about a couple of her beautiful, inspirational books in previous posts:

One Word That’ll Make Your Day

When Was the Last Time You Took a Bath?

And Don’t Allow Distractions to Derail You

Cindy is a gifted writer.  She’s been mercifully gracious to me and our Tuesday Bible study group recently when we had the privilege of studying her book Refresh!


This week we get to hear straight from Cindy, gleaning inspirational words from her newest devotional, Dwelling Places.


Please join me in reading Cindy’s post we can all relate to as I rush out the door…:


When Will You Finally Slow Down?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Driving through Pebble Hill Plantation I saw the road sign that caused me to grind to a halt.

“Slow Down. I Mean It!”

And Pansy Poe, the owner of this beautiful estate outside my Georgia hometown, had signed her name to give it more authority.

Actually, God could have authored that sign as well.

I believe He sends signs warning me to “Slow Down” all the time, but I’m usually running by too quickly to notice. Missing what God has for me – “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” (Isaiah 32.18)

Or, as one seasoned pastor advises, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry.”

When was the last time you really rested? Hard to do, isn’t it? Our environment is constantly depleting us with noise, distractions and the compulsion to always be in a hurry. We are just too busy to rest.

“Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means that you are busy, just like everyone else,” claims Kevin DeYoung, a pastor and father of six who struggles with finding true rest. “It’s not wrong to be tired. It’s not wrong to feel overwhelmed. It’s not wrong to go through seasons of complete chaos. What is wrong – and heartbreakingly foolish and wonderfully avoidable – is to live a life with more craziness than we want because we have less Jesus than we need.”

Do you want more of Jesus and His rest?

I believe our greatest threat is distraction. Did you know the root of this word is the Latin word distractus which literally means “to draw or pull apart?” No wonder we feel torn in every direction!

The author of “Sanctuary of the Soul” says that we have noisy hearts. “The fact that our schedules are piled high and we are constantly bombarded by multiple stimuli only betrays that we have succumbed to the modern mania that keeps us perpetually distracted. The moment we seek to enter the creative silences of meditative prayer, every demand screams for our attention.”

How can we quiet our hearts and discover these “undisturbed places of rest?”

Unplug. Sign out. Turn off. Hang up. Be ‘Closed for the Weekend.’ Clean up your surroundings so fewer projects call out your name. Put sleep and ‘nothing’ on your agenda and then keep those appointments. Determine your greatest distractions and energy-drainers and decide to be proactive about curbing their power over you.

And then go to Jesus and rest in His care. “Faith means resting – relying – not on who we are, or what we can do, or how we feel or what we know. Faith is resting in who God is and what He has done. And He has done everything.”

Slow Down. I Mean It!

©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell Excerpted from “Dwelling Places” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell (Abingdon Press)


Lucinda Secrest McDowell is passionate about embracing life — both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she offers “Encouraging Words” to all on the journey. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, Cindy is the author of twelve books, including Dwelling Places, Live These Words, Refresh!, Amazed by Grace, Quilts from Heaven and Role of a Lifetime. Whether co-directing the “New England Christian Writers Retreat,” mentoring young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Cindy’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things. She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at



Thank you, Cindy! Wonderful words of encouragement…


Finally, let’s ask her a couple of questions:

How did you come to write this book?

LSM: So…. how did I come to write a book called “Dwelling Places?”  Honestly, this one-word-a-day devotion (meant to both inspire and teach) came out of my own need to know. And to grow.

Every year I choose a “word from the Lord” and find myself marinating in what it means to my life on all levels — spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Last year the word was DWELL and as I explored the many facets of DWELL, I recognized my own desire to learn how to dwell in peace and serenity and joy and hope; rather than spend my time in exhaustion and hurry, chaos and confusion.

Turns out God’s Word is full of dwelling places – those sanctuaries of refuge and abiding. In my new book “Dwelling Places” I offer 130 of those words and unwrap their meaning through storytelling, biblical teaching and hundreds of quotes from hymns and godly people who are my own teachers.

There are actually four sections which can be read at any time, but they include 30 days for Advent and 40 days for Lent if you’re interested in trying out that special discipline during the church year. DWELL (Fall) SHINE (Advent) RENEW (Lent) GROW (Summer) OR just read any word, any page at any time.

I loved writing this book and felt each word and verse were truly given to me. I absolutely know the benedictions at the end came straight from God through my pen. I am humbled and grateful to be able to share these words. 


Why should people read Dwelling Places?

LSM: My observation is that people everywhere are hungering for refuge. A safe place. A true home where they can live authentically. Ask the hard questions, and receive all the grace and mercy needed after devastation. In my speaking and writing I long to help show that all throughout God’s Word the precious concept of “dwelling in His constant presence” is lifted up. In the Old Testament we are directed to sanctuary, refuge, and called to Be Still. In the New Testament we are encouraged that Christ wants to make His home in our hearts.

So I decided to write a devotional that lifted up these concepts – each day based on One Word in a key verse. My goal is that throughout the stories that are shared, the biblical and historical profiles mentioned, the hymns, poetry, and even children’s books will all work together to help teach the reader how to live the deeper “with God” life. But at the same time enjoy the process of knowing where to find hope, grace and mercy. In other words, these are words that touch a hurting world. Everything I do must have a practical aspect so I hope there is a takeaway each day on how to live the word you have just been reading about. Also, I felt compelled to offer a short benediction, as though God were now giving His blessing and charge on your going forth, now strengthened with His Word in your heart and mind.


Will you share some favorite quotes from Dwelling Places?

 “So I embraced both meanings of dwell: 1. To live 2. To focus. It soon became obvious that all too often I live amid hurry and obligation, dwelling in anxiety and surrounded by noise. And where was my default focus – circumstances, lists, self-preservation, tasks, things? No more.” Lucinda Secrest McDowell in “Dwelling Places” (from “Dwell” p. 2)

“We all carry soul wounds. Scars from childhood family skirmishes. Scratches from professional rejection. Scabs from physical trauma we never saw coming. Limps from having fallen one time too many. What are your souvenirs of suffering and what will you do with them?” Lucinda Secrest McDowell in “Dwelling Places” (from “Wounds” p. 144)




 ‘Til next time!

P.S.  Don’t forget about Book Club, next Monday night, September 26th, with author Kristy Cambron coming to discuss her book The Ringmaster’s Wife.  6:30-8:00 p.m., at Middletown United Methodist Church, in Louisville, KY. Bring a friend and join us!

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Dash to Danville for Dinner and a Play: Angela Correll’s novel, Grounded, comes to the stage July 7 – 18 at Pioneer Playhouse

Friends! If you live anywhere near Danville, Kentucky, make plans NOW to attend the play, Grounded. It’s based on Angela Correll’s excellent novel of the same name. Grounded The best part? It’s G-rated….so bring family and friends. It runs from July 7th to the 18th. (Go to: for ticket information.) PPGroundedFlyer This opportunity gets even better for this non-cooking girl. The Pioneer Playhouse serves dinner before the play!!! (Options for tickets with or without dinner are available.)

Pioneer Playhouse calls Grounded an “uplifting play about family, faith, and the choices we make.” Kentucky Monthly says, “Grounded is a play about second chances and the lure of the land we call home.”

Pioneer Playhouse also tells us, “Grounded is part of our annual ‘Kentucky Voices’ series, which celebrates local writers and stories. (Read more about the Kentucky Voices series on Pioneer Playhouse’s website.)

If you want to hear the astonishing backstory of how this all came about, including a shooting from 100 years ago which involved one of Angela’s family members and one of the Playhouse’s owner’s family members, read Steven Vest’s article from May 26, 2015, Creative Connections, in

Once you pick your jaw up off the floor, and google what a hoosegow is (!!! Well, some of you may know and some of you may not. I obviously haven’t watched enough Westerns.), you’ll love learning that Angela said, “I really see this as a redemption of our family history in many ways.” Beautiful.


Pictured here are the Hensons, whose family has owned and run Pioneer Playhouse for over sixty-five years with Angela in the middle. Heather and Angela met in the 7th grade at Bate Middle School!

This entire experience (having a playwright create a play from one’s novel) made me super curious. I asked Angela how she felt about someone doing this. Did it make her nervous? Excited? Did the playwright flip things around a lot?

Several of my author friends have admitted getting a book published is like birthing a baby…Call me crazy, but I think it could be tricky to have someone else adjust one’s “baby”??!!!

Angela said she’s not met the playwright, but that her agent negotiated the contract with her which gave her artistic control.   She added, “When a book’s adapted for the stage (or a movie), changes have to be made since they are very different media. I understood that and knew the play needed to have some things that would heighten drama and make for a good show.”

Here’s my favorite thing Angela relayed, “My concern was to make sure it didn’t lose the ‘heart’ of Grounded. I also wanted it to stay G-rated.” I love that she kept the integrity of her book.

Chelsea Marcantel (pictured below) is the playwright who is currently a Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwright Fellow at The Julliard School in New York City, studying under renowned Kentucky playwright Marsha Norman. Angela got to see a rehearsal of the play recently and found herself getting emotional. (Can you imagine seeing your book and its’ characters come to life???) This makes me all the more excited to see the play. ChelseaMarcantel02--240x300

Angela will be at the playhouse every night signing copies of her novel and will talk about her writing. There will also be demonstrations and tastings (can this experience get any better???) from vendors of locally made products such as Marksbury Farms, Kentucky Soaps and Such, Buster Bees, Wilderness Trail and others.

Ever since my buddies the Butter Babes and I ventured to Stanford I’ve been dying to take my better half, John, there too. I’m happy to report Hubster and I’ll be making the trip, staying in one of Angela’s newly remodeled guesthouses ( and then going to dinner and the play in Danville. (Stanford’s only ten miles from Danville.)  This is a primo opportunity with our upcoming 31st Anniversary next week!!!

Lord willing, we’ll grab breakfast the next morning at Angela’s restaurant, The Bluebird Café (, and then we’ll go shopping at Angela’s store, Kentucky Soaps and Such ( Her goat’s milk body cream is the best product on the planet. I have multiple friends who are hooked.

Back in May, I wrote about the Babes’ visit to Stanford plus Angela guest posted a wonderful article called “A Time for Everything”. Here’s the link FYI: “Why Can’t Anyone See I’m Still Mourning?”

Please join me in praying for this endeavor starting July 7th through the 18th: for all the actors, the production, the details, the weather (even tho’ they do have Plan B inside!!!), and for ALL attendees, who perhaps may not know the Lord, that they will be drawn to Him after watching this.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Hope to see you at the play!

Be watching for Angela’s next novel, Guarded, due out in December.

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Author Interviews, Book Reviews, Travel

A Chat with Bob Russell on his Book, and the Movie, Acts of God—Why Does God Allow So Much Pain, Plus a Few Questions of Interest…(BOOK GIVEAWAY TOO!***)

Many of you know Bob Russell and have been blessed by his preaching. John and I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with him early into our “visiting days” at Southeast Christian Church before we became members. While I still find myself calling him “our pastor”, I’m certain many of you claim him as well.

When Bob announced his retirement from Southeast a few years ago, I confess, I thought, “Well, there goes the church!” But as we all know, Southeast continues to grow. (

Additionally, it never occurred to me that by Bob “retiring”, this freed him up to preach all over the United States, blessing many audiences he wouldn’t normally be able to reach.

Bob’s not about to kick up his feet and sit on the sofa all day. He’s still writing books, Bible studies, his weekly blog (, hosting monthly mentoring retreats for pastors, and playing that frustrating game called golf.

He and his wife, Judy, also a dear friend, just celebrated fifty years of marriage! What an amazing milestone! Bob’s blog from May 30th of this year, Fifty Years of Marriage – Enjoyment Not Just Endurance just doesn’t get any better.  Do not miss this!!!

(Also, please see Judy’s wonderful post from last week if you missed it: JUDY RUSSELL CHALLENGES US TO SPEND MORE TIME AROUND THE TABLE… ) Bob and Judy After all these years, the only flaw I’ve seen in Bob is his tendency to pull for the “red-n-black” team here in Louisville, and not our “blue-n-white” team in Lexington. S’pose we can overlook that…

Concluding a church member must’ve brainwashed him early on, I point blank asked him this week:

What swayed you to pull for the Cardinals?

Bob said, “I pull for the Cardinals because when I moved to Louisville I was impressed with the play of Wes Unseld who I thought was a terrific player. Then Mike Lawhon, a member of our church, played for U of L and I had someone special to cheer for. Plus U of L is 70 miles closer than Lexington!”

Alrighty then….Here are the cardinal glasses I get out just to be hospitable when Bob and Judy come to dinner, even tho’ I do use our UK pitcher occasionally!!! All in good fun… FullSizeRender Another cool thing Bob’s been doing since he left Southeast is hosting a mentoring retreat for pastors. The retreat is called “A Time of Refreshing.” (For more information on these retreats and how to apply, go to Bob’s website listed above and click on “Mentoring”.)

Bob says, “It’s purpose is to encourage and re-energize ministers for their stressful task. Preachers are constantly serving others, so we provide a retreat where they can be spiritually, emotionally, and physically refreshed.

I guess the one most important lesson we try to pass along to them is from Galatians 6:9: ‘Don’t grow weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap a harvest if you don’t give up.’”

Bob’s most recent book, Acts of God: Why Does God Allow So Much Pain?, comes highly endorsed. When I saw some of my favorite authors endorsing our favorite preacher, I knew before I ever read the first page I’d dive in quickly! (Liz Curtis Higgs, Max Lucado, Al Mohler, Becky Pippert, and Ann Voskamp are just a few of his endorsers. HUGE!!!)

***You have a chance to win a FREE copy of Acts of God when you comment below.*** Acts of God Book In an interview about the Acts of God project (which includes a Bible study and a full length feature film), Bob was asked, “We are seemingly inundated by news accounts of tragedies back to back. How should the Christian respond?

Here are his answers:

1 – “First, don’t blame God. He is not the author of most suffering any more than a father who takes the training wheels off his child’s bicycle intentionally causes the spills and tears that inevitably follow…We live in a fallen world where the lethal sin-virus strikes without discrimination. God warns us that the rain will fall on the just and the unjust.

2 – And don’t expect any pat answers. God doesn’t normally explain why He doesn’t exempt good people from pain. He doesn’t disclose the future and reveal to us just how, ‘all things will work together for good.’ God asks for two responses from us: trust and patience. Job said, ‘Even if He slay me I will trust Him.’ It takes time for God’s good purpose to unfold.

3 – Remember this is exactly what the Bible predicted would happen. God’s Word warns, ‘There will be terrible times in the last days’ because of unrestrained evil in the world. The Scripture does not teach that we will be exempt from the world’s hurt, but reminds us that this temporary, evil world is not our home. Jesus promised, ‘In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ Even tho’ it may appear the world is unraveling, the Lord has not lost control. The world is moving toward God’s final intervention. The increased tragedies are reminders of our ultimate hope.

4 – Finally, band together as a Christian community and use the horrible tragedies as a positive testimony to the world. C.S. Lewis called pain, ‘God’s megaphone.’ He said God shouts to us in our pain. But pain is also God’s spotlight. The world watches intensely to see how we respond. They’re  keenly interested in seeing whether our faith sustains us thru’ tough times. We may have more opportunity for witnessing in tragedy than we ever do in prosperity.

The world needs to see, ‘….We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure,’ even when the sea is turbulent.  Our MOST EFFECTIE TESTIMONY is when we say, ‘I don’t understand this, but I still believe God is going to make things right one day.’” 

Another question asked of Bob was: “The movie looks intense—how will it bring a message of hope in such depressing situations? Why should we watch something with so much reality in our faces?” 

Bob answered, “That was my concern when I first read the script for Acts of God. It’s a heavy film. It’s not an escape from reality. It deals with very intense and very realistic situations. But, because it is so real, the end result is edifying and encouraging. 

After a preview of Acts of God, one man came out in tears and said, ‘Thanks for doing this movie. I had a child killed in an auto accident years ago and I’ve struggled with anger against God. This really, really helped me.’

Another said, ‘I have a son who lost his faith because he saw so many horrible things in Iraq. I want to bring him to this movie, I think it will help him to see he’s not alone.’

Bob added, “The movie shows it’s possible to hold on to our faith even when life falls apart. It shows that we can forgive even the most hideous of offenses. It shows that life can go on and we can be joyful because we have an eternal hope.” 

Don’t forget Middletown United Methodist Church (MUMC) is showing Acts of God Monday night, June 22nd, at 7:00 p.m. Popcorn included!!! Bring a friend to this fun, FREE event!!! (You can also order a copy of the movie by visiting )

MUMC’s Summer Bible study will be on Bob’s book, Acts of God—Why Does God Allow So Much Pain. It will begin that same week of June 22nd. Nancy Tinnell will teach and Bob teaches via the DVD’s, plus he will teach in person the week of the last classes, July 21st and 22nd . (For details, click on YOU’RE INVITED TO A SUMMER BIBLE STUDY…)

Lastly, I asked Bob what he’s working on now:

He said, “Moody Press asked me to write a book on experiences of being a pastor for forty years—what I’d do differently and what I’d repeat. That’s a primary project for me right now along with the speaking engagements, mentoring groups and weekly blog. I’m also hoping to tape another series of Bible studies this November on the book of Acts.”

Thanks, Bob, for your time and great example of a life well-lived for the Lord. You continue to touch so many lives. Your family, friends, audiences and readers are beyond blessed! We look forward to hearing you teach in July at MUMC!

Also, for those of you near Louisville, Bob’s preaching at several Louisville churches this year. If you’re not near Louisville, take heart, he’s all over the place and he may be coming to your town! To see his schedule, go to his website and click on “Events”.

***If you’d like to comment on Bob’s post, please leave one in the Comment section and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a FREE copy of Acts of God!!!***

‘Til next time!  


Filed under Author Interviews, Book Reviews

More Marvelous Minutes with Author Jan Watson, And FREE Book GIVEWAY of Buttermilk Sky!!! (Part 2 of Interview)

Welcome back!  Please join me for the second half of my interview with Jan.  Go fetch a cup of coffee or tea and join us: (If you missed last week’s interview, here’s the link to catch up…….) a cup of coffee with a heart shape toned with a retro vintage in Question #6:  Tell us something you enjoyed while writing Buttermilk Sky

Answer:  I enjoyed Mazy and her story.  She is so fun and innocent. buttermilk-cover Question #7:  Who’s your favorite character in Buttermilk Sky?

Answer:  I dearly love Chanis Clay.  I borrowed his name from a boy from Robertson County.  When I had a signing in the library there, he came and brought his Dad, Chanis and his Grandpa, Chanis.

Question #8:  What’s your favorite story from when you were a nurse?

Answer:  Once I wheeled a bouncing baby boy to his parents’ room for their first bonding visit.  The new dad took one of the little towelettes from the end of the crib and asked what it was for.

“It’s for hand-washing,” I said.

The dad nodded seriously before he ever-so-gently began to wipe the baby’s hands.

I didn’t say a word.  I wouldn’t have dared to spoil that sweet moment.

Question #9:  Tell us about your family…

Answer:  I have three sons and two close-as-daughters.  They are all nearby.   Also, I have three grand-cats.

Question #10:  Do you have an all-time favorite character from all of your books?

Answer:  Copper Brown is my all-time favorite character. She allowed me to indulge my desire to bring the lost, long-ago baby to life.

Question #11:  Which was the easiest novel to write and which was the most difficult?

Answer:  Troublesome Creek was the easiest to write because I didn’t know how hard it is to write a book.  The second, Willow Springs, was probably the hardest because how do you top the first? Willow-Springs-200x300 Question #12:  When you get stuck, what inspires you or helps get you unstuck?  Please say chocolate….

Answer:  I just listen for the story and write as it unfolds.  (Chocolate gets me into trouble.)

Question #13:  Will you please share with us why you inscribe Isaiah 43:1-2 on each of your novels when you sign them?

Answer:  Sometimes when I am writing, a whisper of Scripture will come to mind.  When  it does, I stop and get out my concordance and look up the Scripture and ponder on it.  The first time this happened, I was twenty-four pages in on my first book, Troublesome Creek. Troublesome-Creek-cover2-199x300 This book is based on the wisp of a story my Granny told me when I was a girl.  It’s about a baby who drowned in a flash flood up a holler in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.

Even tho’ the novel I penned was fiction, Isaiah 43:1-2 was a comfort to me as I wrote the character of Julie, a young mother who gave her life to save her baby. In my heart, I wrote the book to save the baby whom I unwittingly named Laura Grace.

Years later, I discovered the connection between my story and the real story when a reader sent me the biography of Nettie Alberta Myers.  Mrs. Nettie Myers, along with her husband, ministered at a Bible College in Van Cleve, Kentucky. On July 5, 1939, Frozen Creek flooded taking the lives of many residents of Van Cleve including Mrs. Myers’ husband, her two sons, and her baby girl. Little creek flooding When I opened the biography of that sainted woman, the Scripture from Isaiah fairly leaped from the page:

Isaiah 43:1b-2, says, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

I’ve since been honored to visit the grave of Mrs. Myers and lay copper-colored roses by the stone commemorating Lela Grace, her swept away baby.

God truly works in mysterious ways.


Wow!  Did you catch that amazing story? Go back and look at the babies’ names!!!  God is good.

Last fall, Jan had a book signing in Louisville.  Yes, I crashed the party for three reasons.  One:  if Jan is anywhere nearby, I don’t want to miss her, Two:  I’d ordered several copies of Buttermilk Sky, deeming them perfect Christmas gifts which she most graciously signed for some friends, and Three:  if you ever get a chance to hear her read from her books, it’s a priceless experience you do not want to miss. (You’ll never read her books the same without hearing her voice speaking to you. )

Jan reminded us she hails from Robertson County, and was raised on a tobacco and dairy farm.  She frequently got to visit her Granny in Breathitt County.

Her Granny had thirteen children, two of which died.  Her Pawpaw was a coal miner.  You may remember Skip Rock Shallows is set around a coal mine  and the eye-opening mishaps that can make or break you. Skip-Rock-Shallows-200x300 One consistent thread in all of her books is the presence of Eastern Kentucky culture.  She always honors these “strong and stalwart faithful people” because she feels they’re so often maligned. She also tries to make things fair in her novels since “too much is unfair in this world.” Amen and amen…

Finally, a teensy teaser from Jan’s most recent novel, Buttermilk Sky:  You’ve already heard from Jan of her fondness for Sherriff Chanis Clay and Mazy Pelfrey. (Pelfrey is Jan’s Mother’s maiden name.)

A mind boggling romance is already in place between Mazy and Chanis, complicated by a rather rich young man in Lexington, where Mazy is attending secretarial school.  Irony’s not lost on this fellow’s name, “Loyal”.  Chanis seems a tad more smitten than Mazy which complicates the Lexington locale.

Chanis travels back and forth from Skip Rock.  We readers begin wishing he were living in Lexington. Which suitor will Mazy choose?

Map Of Lexington Kentucky Will she uncover Loyal’s disloyalty?  Will she survive the frightening river episode?   Oh, dear friends, so many challenges.  How will Jan wrap this up? You know the answer…You must read Buttermilk Sky to find out!!!

One of many favorite parts where Jan incorporates God’s Word is found on page 171: “When Mazy was a girl, she had dreaded bedtime.  The darkness seemed to rush at her, trying to pull her under its monstrous wings and carry her away.  Her mother had taught her to recite a comforting Scripture when she was scared…

The words of Jesus were more soothing than any medicine could ever be.”  Old Holy BibleWithout realizing it, Mazy began reciting John 14:2-4,In my Father’s house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”

Mazy’s friend Ernestine, listening said, “That’s so pretty…I like the way they sound.  Can I borrow your Bible sometime so I can copy them?”  Don’t you LOVE that???

I mustn’t give any more pearls away.  Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Buttermilk Sky.

Or, try your chances first to WIN A FREE COPY!  Post a comment and my sweet husband will draw one of your names next Thursday.  I’ll contact you by email to find out where to mail the book.

‘Til next time!

Don’t forget to post a comment!!! 


Filed under Author Interviews, Book Reviews

Please Join Me for An Insightful Interview with Author Jan Watson, Part 1 of 2

God was most gracious to cross my path with author Jan Watson several years ago. He did this in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky in Rupp Arena, no less. (GO CATS!!!) main-header1 My friend Nancy Aguiar and I had road tripped it over to attend a Book Fair and have lunch with Paula Deen. Yes, the Butter Queen. Lest you be impressed, Nancy and I, and one thousand five hundred and ninety-eight others joined Paula for lunch.

Prior to our going downstairs for lunch, Nancy and I wound our way around countless tables, with countless authors, with countless books at the Book Fair. Heaven comes to mind. Stacks Of Books The very last table we came to beheld the cutest lady named Jan Watson. We were immediately drawn to her. Turns out her book was her first-ever published book! She had won a publishing contract with Tyndale publishers from a contest she’d entered! Troublesome-Creek-cover2-199x300 Oh, this gets better. The contest Jan entered was one the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild First Novel Contest sponsors. Jan’s husband encouraged her to enter. She’s a retired nurse and had been writing away since her retirement, with prodding from her husband.

The best part? Jan turned sixty years old the year her book published! Isn’t that a light to hang your hat on for all of us writers out there???

The worst part? Tragedy quickly struck. When Jan went to Colorado to accept the award, her husband died suddenly back in Lexington. Can you imagine?

The silver lining lesson for us all? She had a little conversation with God on the airplane home that night, rushing back to Lexington.

She told God she was mad and didn’t care if she made it back home or not. He quickly spoke to her spirit, “Jan, remember….YOU are not the only person on this plane.” In other words, “There are plenty of other people also hurting in this world and your mission is to continue to do what you’ve been doing.”

And the Lord’s been with her every step of the way.  We praise you, Lord.

Troublesome Creek is Jan’s first novel. The book I’ll be telling you about next week, Buttermilk Sky, is her eighth novel!!! Whichever one of hers I’m reading becomes my current favorite. Her style is so dear, so encouraging, laugh out loud funny, crazy suspenseful, very visual, and always full of God’s grace and lessons. buttermilk-cover This week, please enjoy the first half of my interview with Jan. You’ll love her candid sense of humor and determination. Go make a cup of coffee or tea and sit with us… a cup of coffee with a heart shape toned with a retro vintage in INTERVIEW: Question #1: What’s in your frig? (This question was Jan’s idea!)

Answer: Red grapes, diet Coca-Cola and Colby cheese. Red Grapes On White Question #2: Are you a dog or a cat person?

Answer: I love both. I have a Jack Russell terrier, Maggie, and a domestic short-haired cat, Willy. (I once closed Willy up in my fridge. He is a cool cat.) Maggie Question #3: What is the toughest season you’ve had to endure?

Answer: I suppose being a widow is one of the most difficult seasons. It is a season of sorrow that doesn’t end.

Question #4: What lesson did God reveal to you on the other side?

Answer: During the summer following my husband’s sudden death, I began to hear strange sounds emanating from the thick hedges under the windows of my ranch-style house. It was a reptilian sound and reminded me of those prehistoric raptor birds in Jurassic park. Errr-errr-errr-errr…

I would hear it whenever I went outside to get the mail or to walk Maggie. After a lady up the street found a large lizard in her swimming pool, I began to imagine that one of those slithery things was nesting in my hedge. brown Lizard, asian lizard or tree lizard I figured when it got hungry enough, Maggie might become a tasty treat. After several days of this, curiosity overcame my fear. My common sense told me to call Critter Control.

Instead, I prayed for protection before I carried a large flashlight and a broom handle into the bedroom at the end of the house where the sounds were the most pronounced. Vector flashlight on dark striped background I closed the door (to protect Maggie), took the screen and the lower storm window out, and sat down on the ledge, keeping my feet well inside the house. I shone the light into the overgrown bushes and poked around with the broom handle. My heart lept to my throat when my efforts were rewarded with an intensified errr-errr-errr-errr!

Then I heard that still small voice, “Look up, daughter. Look up.” From over my head, I saw a long nail sawing back and forth in the metal gutter. Errr-errr-errr-err.

And now whenever I am fearful or dismayed, I remember and LOOK UP. Looking Up Question #5: What’s your current project you’re working on?

Answer: Perhaps a Christmas novella featuring Copper.


We can’t wait for a novella about Copper! She’s one of my favorite characters!!!

Next week, we’ll finish the interview, which includes an only-God-could-pull-this-off-incident as well as pearls Jan shared at a recent book signing I attended. We’ll also touch on Buttermilk Sky . IF you comment, you’ll be entered in a drawing to WIN a copy!!!


Meanwhile, you can find out more about Jan’s other novels (See covers below) on her website: Skip-Rock-Shallows-200x300 StillHousePond-200x300 SweetwaterRun-198x300 tattlers-branch-200x300 TorrentFalls-200x300 Willow-Springs-200x300 ‘Til next time!


Filed under Author Interviews, Book Reviews

Fantastic Opportunity to Meet and Hear Author Jan Watson, Monday, April 28th

Those of you anywhere near Louisville, please mark your calendars for next Monday, April 28th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.!!! You will have the opportunity to meet and greet Author Jan Watson. Call all your friends and head to Middletown United Methodist Church for an evening of fun, encouragement, and blessings.


11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243

If you don’t know Jan, you’ll immediately fall in love with her, her humor, sincerity and writing. She is some kind of an amazing gal.

I first met Jan (totally believing to this day the Lord orchestrated our meeting) in Lexington at a huge Book Fair. She has an only-God-could-pull-this-off kind of story.

A retired nurse, she’d always had it in her heart to write.   Jan jumped at the chance to enter a writing contest. Not just any writing contest….Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writer’s Guild Writing Contest! Without further suspense, she WON.

Jan Watson

Her winning entitled her to a publishing contract with Tyndale. She was a mere sixty years of age when her first book released. I’m even happier to report, she’s still writing and after just celebrating her seventieth birthday, book number eight is complete, due out in the Fall. Be sure to ask her about it!

Branches Book Club will be hosting Jan Monday the 28th. We’ll be discussing her seventh novel, Tattler’s Branch. Jan grips you in the beginning and takes you on many twists and turns full of surprises, moments of fun, and some tear-filled ones requiring a nearby Kleenex.

You’ll fall in love with some of her characters, and then one or two others make you want to take justice in your own hands. A gripping and visual writer, you’ll agree you’re more than ready for Jan’s next book when you finish this one!

She is also gifted at bringing in the importance of reading and applying (and memorizing!) God’s Word for future peace and comfort in trying situations. How she comes up with some of these “situations” in her books is beyond me.

Tattler's Branch

Bring your book with you and Jan will sign it for you. Be thinking of questions for her too. She loves to answer them, as well as hear comments from you, her readers.

Last fall I had the opportunity to connect Jan with Nancy Sleeth and Kelsey Ach. (For more information, click here. This post also includes the story of how Jan and I met. Crazy fun.)

Lexington authors need to know one another, don’t you think?!!! We had a ton of fun that day. I’ve spoken of Angela Correll from Stanford, KY before, too, and she and Jan met in a writer’s class years ago. Thumbs’ up to all these girls’ books:

Almost Amish Sleeth

grounded cover

Try your hardest to get to this meeting as this is the last Book Club meeting of the school year. Branches will resume in the Fall.

To RSVP for the meeting or if you have any questions, please call Kelly or Nancy at (502) 245-8839.

See you Monday, April 28th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.!!!

Next month we’ll tackle a tough subject I keep returning to: Margin. Be ready for some R & R, fresh from God’s Word.

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Author Interviews, Book Clubs