379739o 250pix When writing devotions for children, the challenge is to keep them kid-friendly while addressing a variety of spiritual topics. A picture book can zero in on one theme or concept and use 24 + pages to develop the lesson. In devotional books, however, the writer has only one or two pages to develop a complete message.

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A log cabin ChristmasAn unusual Texas snowstorm traps schoolteacher Maddie Parker in her dilapidated log schoolhouse along with her nemesis Sheriff Brad Donovan and three of her most challenging students.

Will a snowbound Christmas be just the thing to bring hope and forgiveness to the entire town?




About the Author:

Margaret Brownley is a New York Times bestselling author with more than 30 novels to her credit including her newly released Gunpowder Tea, and a non-fiction book. Look for her work in the following collections: A Bride for All Seasons, A Log Cabin Christmas and A Pioneer Christmas. 

Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.


Janet Perez Eckles

“Oh, sweet friend,” I said in an email to my dearest friend from my college years, “I’ll be attending a fancy gala soon. And if you find any fancy gowns in your shopping ventures in my size, let me know. Little time for me to shop these days.”

As is her nature, she went to action. She researched and sent me links to dresses she chose according to my color and size. Then she wrote, “I found great bargains for gorgeous dresses. And I found other items that I’m sending too. I know they will look great on you. They’re all yours too. My gift to you.”

God smiled at me through my friend. Did you ever experience that? When you ask, God pours upon you more than expected in ways you never thought. God is that way. Like my friend, you ask for something that you need and He lavishes upon you.


There are three secrets to receive that immense love:

1. Keep friends close by, showing love and faithfulness to the relationship.

2. Make it a habit to be grateful for everything. Yes, everything.

3. Trust God will provide.

Can I share my heart with you? I’m immensely grateful for Jesus, the Friend who makes it possible to nurture friends on this earth. I make sure that even in my blindness, I see His hand at work upon my life.

And I trust, truly trust He will provide in the way He sees fit, in the precise moment He planned and in the fashion that will exceed my expectations.

I believe in God’s kind of love: “And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure” (Ephesians 3:19).

How our days would shine if we thanked Him ahead of time for doors He will open in our ministry, praised Him even at times our writing is rejected, and waited with expectation at every turn.


Judson Press, 2011

Simply Salsa, Amazon Best-selling book


Janet Perez Eckles

Cheering you on to experience life, harvest its lessons and share their outcome.

Best-selling author and international speaker, Janet Perez Eckles’ personal success coaching is just a click away: www.janetperezeckles.com

Maureen pic from booksigningIt is poignantly fitting that National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month occurs in the same month as one of our most memorable holidays – Thanksgiving Day. Alzheimer’s is a disease that robs people of their memories. Thanksgiving Day is an occasion when people gather to celebrate, give thanks, and weave conversation from past to present to future memories. Photos, videos, and audio recordings will be made during the festivities. And some of these will make their way sometime in the future into the lap of someone who once participated and remembered, but now needs to be gently coaxed to even recognize the people, frozen in time, smiling up at them from a photo album.

As authors, we use our memories all the time. Even if the stories we write have nothing to do with what we’ve experienced in the past, we call upon certain elements of our lives to flesh out and inform our work. And it is here that my CAN blog for this month focuses. How do you capture things and people, places and events as you experience them? How do you recall them? Are they now as they were then? Or, has time colored them differently or your experience from then to now given you fresh perspective.

One example of the fragility of memory came, for me, rather unexpectedly (and humorously). Years ago, when sack lunches were PB&J and chips, there were those cupcakes. Ah, you know what I mean. Those chocolate cake, chocolate frosting-with-a-swirl-of white cupcakes that made sitting through boring classes worthwhile.

When news came months ago that those cupcakes would disappear from store shelves, many were devastated. But, they returned – to great fanfare and acclaim. So it was that I found myself scouting store shelves for those cakey, sweet treats of “yesteryear.” And, I found them!  But were they the same as before? Alas, no.

Or, perhaps they were the same, but I had changed. Adult now, and very conscious of eating healthfully, instead of ripping open the package and digging in, the first thing I did was locate the label – calories, sugars, carbs…yup. Then, I secured a napkin and contemplated a fork, not eager to make a mess on the placemats I’d just laundered. Only then did I nibble on the cake. The taste was there, and the delicious combination of frosting, creamy center, and cake. But I have to say that my inner grown up had squelched a bit of the inner child by approaching the grand moment as I did.

We might do the same thing when we re-read our journals, revisit old pictures, or try to get a sense of an historic venue or person. That is, what we remember might change a little, twist and bend a little, because we are approaching the memory not with the eyes of fresh experience, but with the years – and events – that have washed like waves on the sand. Something is bound to have faded or disappeared, but something new is in its place.

In a work of fiction, part of individualizing characters means understanding their present and their past – and what memories they carry with them that influence and inspire them. Another layer to this is to understand whether they remember things exactly as they happened, or do they skew them a bit because of who they are in the present?  Differences in memory can certainly flame conflict, especially if a character insists that someone did something or something happened one way, when it actually happened another.

The things a character remembers can tell much about who he or she is. Do they remember colors over shapes? Character over mannerisms?  Do they forget eye color, but remember how someone smiles or waves?

For many, the holidays, particularly Christmas, are rich with inspiration. Throughout these next few weeks, when you put on a writer’s “cap” and marvel at how many new elements you have to put into your work, think a bit, too, about how you will remember, and what you feel is most important, in your heart, to never forget.

Blessings and a very happy Thanksgiving!




Pieper1Almost-Thanksgiving greetings from Marti Pieper, posting today from Sevierville, Tenn. and the National Bible Bee. Through the magic of the Internet, author MaryAnn Diorio and I were able to set up today's interview in advance. I'm thankful to have met MaryAnn in person when we both taught at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. She has some wise words to share, so without further ado, enjoy our Q & A session.

MaryAnn, how did you get into writing? How many books do you have CAN MaryAnn Dioriopublished? What are a few of your latest titles?

  • I've been writing since I was a young teen. I started with poetry. When I won an award in a national poetry contest at the age of fifteen, I was hooked.  I did not, however, pursue writing in college. Instead, I majored in foreign languages.  At the age of thirty, I felt a distinct call by God to become a writer, but I needed confirmation. God confirmed the call by allowing one of my poems to be accepted for publication by The Saturday Evening Post. At the time, I had no idea of how difficult it was to be accepted by The Saturday Evening Post.  When I learned the odds of acceptance, I realized that God had ordained the acceptance to confirm His call on my life to write for Him. I have had five books published, and I have contributed to eight others.

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