Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Release day is here! Reconciliation by Amy Brock McNew is available!

My good friend and big 'sis' has her second book out! TODAY is the day! 
Check out Amy's cover below.

If you'd like to get in on the action make sure to order her book, Reconciliation, now! Link below:

Or if you haven't read her first book, Rebirth, yet, check it out as well: 

We hope you'll enjoy her books as much as we do!

Check out Amy's Facebook Page: 

Visit her Publisher, Love2ReadLove2Write, page as well:

Leave a comment below and tell us you're excited about Amy's book coming out!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Trusting God in the Hiatus

This is the place where I used to write. 

Not long ago it was warm and full of furniture. My chair in the corner, my bookcase, my favorite knickknacks here and there. Now it's harsh, bare, and blindingly white. The sound of our footsteps ricochet off the hard surfaces. It's a good visual metaphor for how my writing life, once rich and productive, has felt for the past 6 months or so.

I really wanted 2016 to be THE YEAR. The year I would finish tinkering with my manuscript and begin to query in earnest. The year I would go to conference. The year I would finally feel comfortable calling myself a writer.

It was not THE YEAR. Nothing I planned has come to fruition. It was not laziness or lack of passion, dedication, purpose, or prayer. It was a surprise; an unexpected and unwelcome interruption. Midway through 2016, while visiting family during our summer travels, sitting around the morning campfire with mugs of coffee in our hands, my husband received a message from his battalion back home: You're on orders to report to Korea in February, 2017.

It was still months away, but I could rarely think of anything else. The days were taken up entirely with doctor appointments, health screenings, vet appointments, transportation appointments, passport appointments, organizing, categorizing, disposing, packing, calling, emailing, researching, and preparing my extended family and my kids for our international move. If there were a couple hours left at the end of the day, I spent them brain dead in front of the tv, not writing. 

It's been overwhelming. Though I resisted it for a time, my writing life eventually screeched to a lurching stop.

Now writing just feels like something I used to do. A lump rises in my throat when I think of my crooked little flashdrive, that fragile keeper of my stories, which laid neglected on the desk so long there was a film of dust on it when I picked it up the day the movers came to box up the computer.

This interruption to my plans for 2016 is bitter. I thought I had all year to ping away at the keyboard in writing obscurity. I was so comfortable in that place, so hopeful God would do something with it eventually, if I just stayed faithful to the task.

Now that my world feels so upended, so chaotic, so riddled with uncertainty, it's difficult to foresee a time when it won't be. I know intellectually this part will pass. I can look at the calendar and count the days until we hand over the keys to our house, until we board the plane, until we arrive in Korea.

And when the days pass, what then? Will it be as simple as clicking on the monitor and loading the document? Will my affection for these characters I've created over 5 years come rushing back to me? Will my passion for the story I wish to tell drive me once again to do the work even when no one else sees what I'm doing?

God knows every answer to these questions and the ones I haven't even thought of, and yes, there is a measure of comfort in that. But it doesn't lessen the sting of having my perfectly good plans thwarted. It doesn't dull the ache that settles into my body during this time of treading water.

What keeps my churning legs from turning to lead and pulling me under? What keeps me thinking and writing--even now--when I'm tired and uncertain when a life preserver will be tossed out, or if I will even recognize it?

One word. One teeny little 3 letter word. Arguably the most important word in scripture.


We were sinners, Paul tells us in Ephesians, BUT Christ died for us.

We were by nature children of wrath, BUT God is rich in mercy.

We were dead in our trespasses, BUT we are alive together with Christ.

Solomon taught the same theme in Proverbs.

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, BUT it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." Proverbs 19:21

These scriptures are like honey which sweetens the bitterness of hiatus.

Don't you see? My 2016 didn't turn out how I planned, BUT GOD'S PLAN IS BETTER.

My writing work didn't come to fruition...again, BUT the freedom and fluidity of this writing life has allowed me to pause in my work and be all here for my family during this time of transition.

I won't get to attend conference for 2 more years while I'm out of the country, BUT there has never been an easier time to stay connected with writers all over the world.

There is something exhilarating about being swept up in plans not of your making and knowing this is God's doing. There is friction, I admit, as you accept the change in course, but friction can be a beautiful thing, as Sinclair Ferguson teaches.

So not only am I trusting God in this hiatus, I'm thanking Him for it, for all the ways I will grow in holiness when these days have passed, and life feels normal again, and the monitor has been clicked on, and, God-willing, my writing life resumes. 

2017 may not be THE YEAR for me either, and that's okay. I will do the work, and pray for fruit with open hands, praising God for his better plan which will prevail. 

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Deanna's Favorite Movie of 2016 - Opinion Piece

I really enjoyed Fantastic Beasts. I’m not even a Harry Potter fanatic. But I knew I wanted to see this movie, and I’m so glad I did. I didn’t know anything about it and barely anything about the Harry Potter universe yet I was in the movie theater on opening day. That rarely happens. I usually wait a few months until the movie goes to the cheapie theaters, or until it comes out on Redbox and rent it. But for whatever reason, I dragged my son with me that Friday morning. (He doesn’t have school on Friday’s. Don’t worry, we weren’t playing hooky) I couldn't get enough. A few weeks later I took my other son too.

I had absolutely no expectations for this movie and really didn’t know what it was going to be about. I just knew it had something to do with the Potterverse and the World of Wizarding. The funny thing is, I wasn’t even allowed to watch or read Harry Potter when I was growing up. Magic was limited to strictly Disney faerie tales, and even that was slightly frowned upon. I grew up in the early 80’s/late 90’s when conservative Christian families were quite legalistic about any and all things magic related. Thank God, now-a-days I can let my kids have an imagination without getting too much flak from church culture.

Back to the movie. My very favorite characters were Jacob the No-Mag and Credence. If anyone came away from watching Fantastic Beasts DIS-liking Jacob, I would be shocked. He’s an extremely likable guy. Seriously, every one of his scenes was a pleasure to behold. Throughout the movie it's very clear he’s supposed to be the likable guy. They never fail to deliver. You just want to pinch his cheeks, tuck him into your pocket and take him home. Delightful. He’s your Average Joe: hard worker, but wants to skip the daily grind, and aim for his passions instead. His dream is to be a baker. He likes donuts and pastries and --oh my word-- I wanted to reach out and eat the pastries he made right off the screen. Yummy. Every scene with him you knew there was going to be roaring laughter involved. And I’m talking the audience, not on screen.

Now on to Credence. Credence is not in many scenes with Jacob. He’s pretty much the opposite of him. He’s a sort of antagonist, but not exactly. Ezra Miller did an excellent job on this intriguing character. He was dark, moody, and you wanted to hug him and show compassion for him, but trip him on the playground too. I don’t know how to explain this character other than massively complicated.

J.K. Rowling is brilliant. And I know everyone else knew that, but I’m just discovering it. WOW is she great at character building. And world building, but that goes without saying. I mean, Harry Potter, come on.

Credence lives with a woman who you assume is his mother, (later you find out, she’s simply taken him in as an act of goodwill) who is what you might call a religious fanatic. This was the one and only part that bothered me in the movie. I can’t stand it when movies make fun of Christianity or other religions. However, in this case they made it ‘appear’ to be religious fanaticism, but ended up not really being about religion at all. Just a woman on a mission to eliminate witches. The Second Salemers, they were called. (Salem witch trials, anyone?)

Credence and his two younger ‘sisters’ lived under the abusive thumb of this woman. They probably felt they owed her because she provided shelter and food for them. She had managed to psychologically damage all the kids to such extent that they no longer had a sense of self and had to suppress who they really were. This of course leads to some very explosive behavior once Credence decides he’s not going to put up with it anymore. Out of respect for those who haven’t seen it, I won’t say any spoilers beyond that. But I can tell you that there is a very interesting lesson to be learned here. Suppressing who you really are can be massively damaging. I’m not saying this to promote sinful lifestyles at all.

But if you look at the heart of it, you’ll find such a heart-wrenching story. A story of a boy, who just wants to be loved and accepted, and sadly fails to find either. Even the one he trusts the most ends up turning him away and discarding him like a “nobody”. We should always reach out and help those in abusive situations and strive to make those around us feel loved and accepted. You’ll never know who needs it badly and who will remember you for it.

That being said, I want to end on a positive note. It was such a well done movie. I cannot stop thinking about it. Characters, dialogue, world-building, everything. So perfect. The humor balanced out the darkness. The angst balanced out the frivolity. It was a pure pleasure to watch. This is one I’ll be buying for sure. 

What was YOUR favorite movie of 2016? Tell us in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Expect Great Things

by Jebraun Clifford

2017 is here!
Another year. 
A fresh beginning. 
A clean start. 

To adapt a quote from Anne Shirley: isn't it nice to think we have 365 new days with no mistakes in them yet?


In many ways, 2016 was a good year for me. While I don't usually make resolutions, I've developed the habit of choosing one word to reflect my hopes and longings for the year. I don't see the full implications of the word until the year closes and--looking back--I'm usually amazed at the results. 

Last year's word was 'thrive' and it proved to be an apt description. Amazing things happened--many unexpected--and I witnessed firsthand the blessings of God in a way I've never experienced before. 

But I've also been challenged in the last few months, losing sight of many victories as an old enemy named Fear tried to dominate my thoughts. I became overwhelmed with mistakes (real and imagined) I've made and couldn't see a way forward. It was awful! I got so consumed with the things I'd done wrong, with my mistakes, with things I wished I'd done differently, that I lost motivation in many areas of my life. However, I finally feel like I'm starting to climb out of the paralyzing pit of despair that had gripped me.

I'd rather not dwell on what got me there in the first place but want to focus on what got me out.

The short version is I remembered the goodness of God. He's been soooo faithful to me through my whole life, but I somehow forgot that He will be in my future too. And not simply in my future as a passive bystander, but actively making it bigger and better and brighter.

One of my favourite verses from Psalm 27:13 reminds me of this exact truth.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
This tells me that God doesn't confine Himself to making things good somewhere out in the nebulous future we sometimes call 'heaven.' Nope. God is in the here and the now and is causing all things to work together for good and if it isn't good yet, well...it isn't over.

As I reflected on this bold declaration earlier this week, I had to tell myself (again!) that the future is not something to dread, but rather something to embrace.  

And so I've found my word for 2017:


This doesn't mean I'm projecting unrealistic expectations on myself or on others. No, I'm finished with that sort of thing. Instead it means I have a hopeful optimism for what will happen. I'm not going to live in fear of the future, I don't want my joy to be stolen away by the unknown. I'm going to expect the goodness of the Lord to go before me into the new year and beyond.

Happy New Year from all of us at Quills and Inkblotts. It's going to be a great one!

What about you? Do you make New Year's resolutions? Write down goals? Choose one word? Let us know in the comments below! We love hearing from you.