Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Coffee Corner with Janet Sketchley

A Touch of Relaxation

Welcome back to the Coffee Corner! Janet Sketchley’s captivating the cafĂ© today. Come on in out of the cold. Who needs ice and snow when cappuccino and mocha awaits? Put in your order and huddle around the fire.

Join us while Janet talks about writing, fun, and her new release Heaven’s Prey.
So without further ado…here's Janet Sketchley.


Thank you for coming to the Coffee Corner today, Janet. Even with the bad weather outside, it’s a pleasure to have you.

Before we dig into the writing side of things, lots of people wonder if all I ever do is write and work. I like to do lots of different things. I even play the classical guitar (even if badly). Do you have any hobbies you would risk telling our readers and friends about?

Classical guitar has such a beautiful sound. I'd love to be able to play an instrument, but so far even I can't stand to hear me practice. Reading is my main hobby, but I knit and cross-stitch when I can. Not very risky stuff!

Oh Janet, you’re so funny! In reality, I would love to be able to knit. I can cross-stitch…a little. Knit, no. I would end up with a royal mess. I’ll leave projects like that to the experts, like you. How did you start writing and how long have you been doing it?

I've been writing haphazardly as an adult for over 20 years now, and I started because my husband knew I needed more than being an at-home mom (wonderful as that is). When a friend from church started a writing group, my husband told her, "Janet writes." I hadn't written anything in years, and with a toddler and another baby on the way, the last thing I had time for was another meeting! God, as they say, has a sense of humour. I went, and after a slow start, I'm still going – to the group, and with my writing.

Wow! That is so awesome. And familiar. Although I’m not a stay-at-home mom, I have a wonderful husband like yours who did something very similar two years ago. What an amazing story. Kind of like your new book. Talk about an amazing story. Could you tell us about it?

A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers.
Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that by destroying the one person who’d pray for him, he proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?

It sounds like a gripping tale. I can’t wait to read it. But it doesn’t sound like an easy book to write. I know you had to have good and bad times during its production. Which part of the book did you most enjoy writing?

Some parts of the story were pretty dark, and I didn't like to write them just before bed. I think my favourite parts were the racing scenes. I'm a fair driver, not very fast, but I love speed. When I had more time, I watched all the Formula 1 car races, and although Harry never drove in that series, I enjoyed climbing into the cockpit with him to race. It was one of our few "safe" connection points, since he's the villain.

I think I’m hooked already! Would you be willing to share a snippet of Heaven’s Prey with us?


     Another gust of wind pelted rain against the kitchen window. Ruth Warner sopped up the last of her homemade chili with a thick slice of sourdough bread. Too bad she didn't have time for a little more.
     The kitchen lights flickered, and her husband, Tony, groaned. "I hope the power holds. There's a ball game on later." He carried their cutlery and bowls to the sink and rinsed them more carefully than Ruth would have done. She'd wiped hers clean enough with the bread. It could have gone straight into the dishwasher.
     Tony turned from the sink, bowl in hand. "Why don't you stay home tonight? It's nasty out there."
     Halifax didn't often get storms this bad. If only she could avoid going back out in it. But since Harry Silver had escaped from prison, her weekly prayer meeting was more important than ever. Ruth grinned at her husband. "It's prayer, not baseball—they don't call rain delays. Don't worry, I won't melt." She tucked a pocket-sized Bible and notebook into her purse.
     Tony walked away from the sink, dripping water on the floor from the bowl he'd been rinsing. He blocked Ruth's way out of the kitchen, feet wide, other hand planted on his hip. His stare pushed her back a step. "This is about Silver's escape. Isn't it?"
     The flat accusation in his voice twisted Ruth's stomach into knots. She looked past him to the front entranceway. "I told Norma I'd pick her up. She's nervous driving when it's windy." She sidestepped around him but he caught her arm and drew her back toward the counter.
     "The truth, babe." His frown pulled his eyebrows into one, his mouth a thin line.

[To read the rest of chapter 1, visit the Heaven's Prey page on Janet's site and click the "free download" button.]

Is Heaven’s Prey the type of book you like to read? I mean, although I write romantic suspense, I read all kinds of books. My Library selection is pretty eclectic, although usually Christian. What fills the shelves in your home?

I guess I'm eclectic about it too. Action, suspense, mystery, science fiction and fantasy are my top picks, and if they have twist endings it's a bonus. I like stories that entertain and give hope, and I try to avoid anything with brutality or sex or profanity. Those ones make me uncomfortable.

I agree, Janet. Twisty endings, entertainment, and hope. I love that combination. Well, it looks like the fire’s dying down, but I have one last question before you leave. What’s next on your agenda?

Heaven's Prey is first in the Redemption's Edge series, so I have to get writing! Book 2, Secrets and Lies, is mostly ready but it definitely needs some revisions.

Thank you so much for dropping by today. It has been a true pleasure.

Thanks so much for having me, Renee!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ GIVEAWAY ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The winner receives an e-copy of her book, Heaven’s Prey. Leave a comment about the blog with your email address. In a week, I'll draw for the lucky winner.

About the Author: 
Janet Sketchley is a Canadian author with a passion for story. She’s also a wife, mom, daughter, and friend,
balancing relationships and responsibilities while learning how faith applies to real life. Combine all that with her quirky imagination to get inspiring novels about everyday women in suspenseful situations, who discover more strength within than they could have dreamed. 

Lead photo credit: HalasiZsolt via photopin cc

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Guest: Mary L. Hamilton's Evil Messages

When my daughter, Becky, was very young, she had a close friend with whom she played nearly every day. One day, Becky came to me with a hurt expression, saying her friend had called her selfish.
“Well, are you?” I asked.
My question caught Becky by surprise. Expecting sympathy, she was instead forced to think about her actions. But a moment later, she shook her head.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“I don’t think you are either,” I said, “but I wanted to make sure you know you’re not selfish.” I explained that her friend must be either ignorant or lying. If she was ignorant, Becky needed to act in ways that would show her friend how unselfish she was. But if she was lying, then she was purposely trying to make Becky look and feel bad, and the friendship would need to be re-evaluated.
Our adversary uses every method he can to plant his evil messages in our hearts and minds. Malicious, discouraging, and belittling words come at us through the media, entertainment, the office, and sometimes even our own home. The words can be subtle, like the beauty ads that make us believe we’re lacking in a particular area. Or they can be as obvious and damaging as any knife, cutting straight to our very heart and damaging our soul.
Just because we hear the enemy’s words doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. Like Becky, we need to ask ourselves if there’s any truth to the accusation. If the answer is yes, we must first deal with that. But if the answer is no, we need to recognize it as a lie and reject what it tells us. The enemy is a master at making us feel worthless, unimportant, and incompetent, but everything he says is a lie. In fact, lying is his native language. (John 8:44)
On the other hand, God wants us to know the truth. Take a look at what His word says.

I am God’s treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
I am fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in the womb by God himself. (Psalm 139:13-14)
My name is engraved on the palm of God’s hands. (Isaiah 49:16)
God has lavished His great love on me and called me His child. (1 John 3:1)
God showed His love for me in sending His son Jesus to die for me while I was living in sin. (Romans 5:8)
God chose me and I am holy and blameless in His sight. (Ephesians 1:4)
There is no condemnation for me because I am in Christ. (Romans 8:1)
God’s grace is enough for me because His power is displayed perfectly in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:8)
Because I look to the Lord, I am radiant and my face is never covered with shame. (Psalm 34:5)

The next time you’re hearing evil lies, counter them with these truths.


The winner receives a copy of her book, Hear No Evil. Would you like a Kindle copy? What about a paperback? It's winner's choice. Leave a comment about the blog with your email address. In a week, I'll draw for the lucky winner.

Anne Gooch is the WINNER!!!


About the Book:

“Hear No Evil” by Mary L. Hamilton is Book One of the ‘Rustic Knolls Bible Camp’ Series.  Release date: November 5, 2013
Summer camp is no fun for Brady McCaul. The girl with the cute dimples thinks he’s immature and childish. The camp bully targets him with cruel taunts and teasing, and flips Brady’s canoe to keep him from winning the race. But worst of all, his mom won’t let him come home. She doesn’t want him living with her anymore. Brady wonders if even God cares about him.
Can Brady figure out what he did to earn Mom’s rejection and change her mind by week’s end? Or will he have to live with his workaholic dad, the guy who left when Brady was seven?
All seems lost until a surprising secret changes everything.

About the Author:

Mary L. Hamilton is a graduate of two Long Ridge Writers Group courses, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her articles have been published in Seek, Discipleship Journal, The Christian Reader, Messenger and the previous print version of Today’s Christian Woman, as well as the Katy Times and the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune newspapers, both in Texas. Her Christmas play titled “Homespun Angel” was performed at the Evangelical Free Church of Naperville, Illinois before being published by Eldridge Publishing in 2000.  Mary grew up at a Christian youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her debut middle-grade novel, “Hear No Evil.”
Twitter: @mhamilton122

photo credit: Travis Isaacs via photopin cc

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Last Hour: A Poem

The last hour begins to near,
Coming so quick and fast.
Just when it’s beginning,
Soon it is the last.

The blare of the alarm clock;
Light breaking the windowsill.
Slowly begins to weaken
A strong and determined will.

The shoes and coat go on.
A glass of water to drink.
The suitcase by the door;
An aching heart starts to sink.

Fighting tears, a hug is now,
And strength starts to cower.
As the door closes behind him,
Tears fall in the last hour.

Written: by Renee Blare, Winter 1989
In dedication to my husband, James.

History of Poem:

     This poem was written in the early days of our marriage. My husband worked out of town. In the winter, we saw each other every other weekend for eighteen hours. He came home to wash his clothes, sleep, and pack again. Oh, and see me!

     We lived in Casper. James worked in Green River and Laramie. He went to class in Sundance on the other weekend as a part of his apprenticeship program. If he had time, he’d pop in and say “hi” before heading back to the jobsite but since that usually was around midnight, it didn’t happen very often.

     I lived day to day and, at times, minute to minute, counting the seconds until I saw him again. To say good-bye.

     Roads in Wyoming are treacherous, especially in the winter. He’d call and tell me he was leaving. I’d beg him not to come home then quietly rejoice when he’d ignore me, ending the call with “I love you.” If I was quick enough, I’d squeeze in “I love you more.” Dragging himself through the door, exhausted from the work week and the drive, he’d take me in his arms and whisper, “I love you mostest of all, Puddins.”

     With the Lord’s help, we survived this period of our marriage, only to face other trials and tribulations. Those we triumphed as well. A beautiful boy named Sean was born in Jackson after an almighty struggle. Numerous surgeries have been battled and conquered. Even financial trouble couldn't destroy this family.

     You see, I didn’t marry simply a man. I married my best friend and partner in life. When the Lord joined us, he became my other half. Twenty-four years ago, in this poem, you see agony. A woman’s heart ripped in half. After all, the other piece of it had just walked out the door. Unwillingly.

     For those who are curious. I would answer. “And I love you, Honey Bunny, to infinity and beyond.” And our love continues to grow each day.

     In Christ,

photo credit: photographer padawan *(xava du) via photopin cc

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pen to the Page: Advice

Rev 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

The future…opportunity for the taking…or is it? A little hard for these weary eyes to see, at least at this particular moment in time. Sorry to sound so melancholy, but really…do you blame me?
I strive each day to put my pen to the page. Sometimes, it feels like a losing battle. The people around me grow by leaps and bounds while I struggle every step of the way. When I ask for guidance, I’m offered well-intentioned but vague notions or advice. Such things as “keep writing,” “don’t give up,” or “find your voice.” Important for a writer? Yes. Constructive?
I love to write so “giving up” or “not writing” aren’t options for me. I’d do it even if I wasn’t pursuing publication. As far as my “voice,” I’ve noticed one thing about breaking into the scene, and this may get me into trouble. People tend to want conformity instead of voice. Now, I’m not talking about semantics, grammar, or writing rules. My voice doesn’t seem that important to anyone because all that’s ever wanted? Edit it out. I shake my head in disbelief. Is this really what’s expected of writers?
When I’m at my day job, I see life in the form of true heroism. Veterans, returning from war, piecing their lives back together again, with or without the help of their own bodies or families. It makes my struggles seem rather small, especially when I don’t have a jacket to my name.
I’m reminded that there are bigger battles out there than publication.
Live and learn is my philosophy. It always has been. I’ll continue to learn the intricacies of the writing and publishing world until I figure out what’s expected. Even if I have to do it by myself. But look out, world when I do!

In Christ,