Vanessa’s Character Picks April 20, 2014

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Easter Joy

Cross

On occasion, reading about the crucifixion in one of the four gospels incites strong emotion. Sometimes I tend to side with Peter, when after Jesus tells his disciples how He must die, Peter says “Never, Lord!” But we know how Jesus responded to that.

 

“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?’ When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He’s calling Elijah.’ Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.’

 

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Matthew 27: 45-51.

 

Jesus suffered a horrible death. But when He died on the cross, we didn’t lose Him, we gained Him and all Heaven. In deed the curtain of the temple is torn, and we have complete access to God the Father.

 

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Vanessa’s Character Picks April 17, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks April 15, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks April 13, 2014

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Introducing Connie Almony, Author of “At the Edge of a Dark Forest”

Today, I want to introduce you to an author I’ve known, well, all her life—me! I’ve had the great fortune to interview many wonderful authors on this blog, inspiring my continued aspirations toward publication. Now, it’s my turn :o ). I’m on the hot seat. I hope the questions aren’t too hard. I hear Connie is a fierce interviewer :o ). Here we go …

Connie, please tell us a little about yourself.headshot1

I am trained as a mental health counselor and though I no longer see clients, I still work at a Christian counseling facility. I’ve been married over twenty years to a man who inspires the mischievous banter of my hero and heroine. I also have two children who model the quirkiness of my more colorful characters.

When did you first begin writing and why do you write still?

I’ve written off-and-on as long as I can remember. I tried my hand, in elementary school, at writing about a young, detective-type and her dog. Sometimes, in adulthood, I’d get ideas for stories or even just scenes of a story, and write them down, but never really did anything with them. I’d taken a correspondence class several years ago, but still did not pursue it seriously.

I really became inspired watching my prolific daughter write stories (from the minute she could sound out words) and make them sing. A few years ago I helped her brainstorm ideas for a school project, a Cinderella story set in Greece, and got the bug, myself. I watched her use some of our ideas to create a beautiful story, but most of all grieved the ideas she left behind. It was at that point I decided to write seriously, and I’ve never looked back!

Absolutely! Don’t leave all the fun to your children.

Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.

This book began from an idea to do a series with my critique partners, based on Fairytales without the magic. I’ve always been intrigued with the story of Beauty and the Beast because of the element of loving someone for their insides and not their looks. However, as a counselor who’s worked with young women who’ve chosen projects, as boyfriends, rather than soul mates, I’m always concerned about encouraging the idea that it is a woman’s job to change a man with her love. So, in At the Edge of a Dark Forest, it’s not Carly’s love that makes him whole.

We call this series “Fairwilde Reflections.” A new fairytale will be released each month by one of my critique partners. Check the schedule here.

Hey, I know those ladies, too.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

As I mentioned above, I’ve always loved the story of Beauty and the Beast. I had to figure out how this man would be a beast, and how could he be transformed without magic. After having done a Military Ministries Series on my blog LivingtheBodyofChrist.blogspot.com a couple of years ago, I’ve been particularly moved by the many ways our veterans have sacrificed so we could be free. That’s how the idea of a war-vet, amputee with PTSD came to mind. Carly, the female protagonist is a physical therapist who’s developed an innovative prosthetic socket design. I got the socket design from a youtube video showing how it worked, and spoke to someone from the company who manufactures it. If you want to learn more about this socket design, go to the BioDesigns.com website. It’s really quite amazing!

I’ve seen that socket design. It’s simply effective.

So, what are you working on right now?

I’m currently finishing the second novel in my Maryland State University series, featuring women who are resident directors for dorms at this fictionalized university. I wanted to tell about the clash Christians face in these environments, between their faith and the world view many universities push. The first of the series features a woman who lives alone in the hard-partying, all-male dorm where much of her prodigal past took place.

Such an important issue to address.

Yes, I thought so. Thank you for saying that :o ).

You’re welcome. Tell us something about yourself that would surprise your readers.

I once lived with hundreds of hard partying college guys in an all-male dorm. I was the resident director. Yes, that sounds like the novel I mentioned before. My experience is what inspired that story—except for the part of the prodigal past taking place in the dorm. My past was a little different from the main character! However, I did get hit-on by droopy-towel-wearing guys emerging from the public shower. And they did try to get my white t-shirt wet at the field day event. (Note: never wear white to college activities involving water. I don’t know WHAT I was thinking!). They also announced my initial arrival at hall meetings like I was going to do a strip tease. But at least it inspired my writing career ;o). Like they say, whatever doesn’t kill you … you can make into a really great novel.

At least I think that’s what they say.

What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done? Besides living in an all-male dorm, that is.

For me, quirky is a life-style so, really, it’s hard to choose. I even teach my children quirky. My daughter thinks we live in a musical and answers me in song—that is when she’s not talking in leprechaun language. My son is a non-verbal autistic boy who knows how to make us laugh (intentionally) with the few words he knows. My husband enjoys a good belly laugh more than anything and if he can give us reason for it, he’ll do his best. If laughter is good medicine, this family will live a very long time. Yes, quirky is good!

Hmmmmm.

What is your favorite genre to read?

Anything with romance in it! I often say it’s the mid-life crisis, but really, I’ve always been this way. It’s kind of funny because as a counselor I spent a lot of time helping women separate the real from the romantic in their relationships with potential husbands. I guess that’s why I also prefer a “romance” that is based on loving someone for real and tangible reasons, more than just a physical attraction. In At the Edge of a Dark Forest, Carly begins to fall for the man she knows is inside the hard shell. He seems to show it to everyone but her, shielding himself from potential rejection. Yet she sees it in his interactions with his long-time staff. He falls for her because she accepts him for who he is, but still challenges him to be better. Those are the kinds of romances I like.

Thank you for sharing your world with us today.

Anytime :o )!!!

Dark Forest--Final CoverAt the Edge of a Dark Forest

Cole Harrison, an Iraq war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in, a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.

Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become.

At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole.

*********

Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.

You can find Connie on the web, writing book reviews for Jesus Freak Hideout, and hosting the following blogs: InfiniteCharacters.com and LivingtheBodyofChrist.Blogspot.com.

You can also meet her on the following social media outlets:

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

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Vanessa’s Character Picks April 10, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks April 8, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks April 6, 2014

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Spiritual Armor

Roman Centurion

 

I’ve received a lot of feedback on Ryan’s Father, my novel which came out January 15 of this year. Ryan is a young Christian man who loves the Lord and wants to serve Him. But when he is forced to admit he has same sex attraction, he begins a journey he thought he’d never take.

Mostly I’ve received positive feedback about how this subject needs to be broached from a Christian worldview. I’ve heard from two gay men that said my book was an encouragement and brought hope. But another gay man who, I might add, is a precious Christian who loves God, told me he no longer believes a homosexual can change and is now living in a relationship with another man. My heart goes out to him.

One of the points he brought up was how he’d gone through ex-gay therapy which only drove him to depression. I looked up this reparative, so called “pray the gay away” therapy. Much of it is based on behavior modification such as spending time with heterosexual men and avoiding women unless it’s for romantic reasons.

What does all of this have to do with spiritual armor? I think reparative therapy is missing something. Ephesians 6: 14-17 says, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Romans One in the Word tells us that men committing indecent acts with other men is a perversion and a sin. But Romans 6 tells us we are no longer slaves to sin. God wouldn’t say we are no longer slaves to sin if He didn’t mean it.

It seems to me that the ex-gay therapy is lacking an important element. The sword of the Spirit. Prayer is mentioned at the end of the above Bible passage, but as important as prayer is, it’s not part of the armor. Hold God to His word. Seek change based on what the Bible says, not emotions or prayer alone. Utilize the Spiritual Armor of God.


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