Tuesday, April 2, 2019

April 2019 Writing Update

No, I've not yet fallen off the edge of the world, though I must admit that the view is pretty spectacular from the edge. J

Nonetheless, while I have been digitally silent for a while, silence does not equate with inactivity. Indeed, often when I’m hardest at work in life is when I’m the most inactive on-line. But I find myself with a breather, and I figured I was long overdue for another update. So what has been filling my days as a writer?

    Image result for 12 days at bleakly manor
  • The critiquing of other writers’ work. I have several friends for whom I read and critique their stories before they turn them in to their editors. The most significant of the projects has been the Christmas novella, The Old Lace Shop by Michelle Griep. A fun historical romance about a widow who inherits a lace factory run by an old flame, The Old Lace Shop releases next fall, just in time for the Christmas season. So make sure to check out this story along with Michelle’s previous two Christmas novellas, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor and The Tale of Two Hearts.

  • Teaching a writing course. The American Christian Fiction Writers, a professional group to which I belong, does monthly online writing courses for their membership. I had the honor of teaching February’s course, which was on creative ways to handle difficult material in fiction.

  • Preparing for home school conferences. Yes, it is that time of year again! I am once again knee-deep in books—quite literally!—as I sort, inventory, and prepare for vending. There are three conferences I am scheduled to attend this year: MACHE April 12-13 in St. Paul, MN; SECHE (CHCSD) May 10-11 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and NICHE June 6-8 in West Des Moines, Iowa. If you or someone you know will be in attendance, please stop by Imagination Investigation and say hi!

  • Recording workshops. Unlike in the past, I will not be teaching workshops at the conferences this year. But I have been hard at work recording the past six I’ve presented, and I’m compiling those for sale.

  • And of course, writing! Even within this busyness, I continue to work and make progress on my fiction. My current project is the first of a science-fiction/supernatural suspense trilogy, tentatively entitled Virtually True. I’ve completed most of a first draft last fall. Now I’m working through the exercises found in the Break-Out Novel Workbook by Donald Maass in order to add complexity to both the characters and the plot.

So that’s a snapshot of where I’m at and what I’m up to. With such a busy start to the year, I have to wonder what God has in store for the next nine months!

Dreaming bigger, growing deeper,
Chawna Schroeder

Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Christian Fiction January 2019

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

Seasons of an Amish Garden by Amy Clipston -- Enjoy a year of beautiful seasons in this new story collection, as young Amish couples manage a community garden and harvest friendships and love along the way. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Courting Her Prodigal Heart by Mary Davis -- Pregnant and alone, Dori Bontrager is sure her Amish kin won’t welcome her—or the child she’s carrying—into the community. And she’s determined that her return won’t be permanent. As soon as she finds work, she’ll leave again. But with her childhood friend Eli Hochstetler insisting she and her baby belong here, will Dori’s path lead back to the Englisher world…or into Eli’s arms? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance:

Her Hope Discovered by Cynthia Herron -- Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, Missouri, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery. Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Cozy Mystery:

Murderous Heart by Lynne Waite Chapman -- Freelance writer, Lauren Halloren pens popular magazine articles extoling the comfort and security of small town America. And Evelynton, Indiana treasures its wholesome small town values. Ask anyone. Streets are safe to walk. People look out for one another. Marriage vows are treasured. Murders are solved. In this third volume of the Evelynton Murder series, Lauren, along with friends, Clair and Anita stumble over another body. The partially mummified remains turn out to be an Evelynton resident. But how, in this close knit community, could a woman be deceased for over six months without being missed? (Cozy Mystery from Winged Publications)

Historical Romance:

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham -- Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Homeward Journey by Misty M. Beller -- Finally free from her dead husband’s addicted lifestyle, Rachel Gray and her young son set out for a new life in the wilderness of the Canadian territories. She is reluctant to accept help from another man, but after a bear threatens her son’s life, she agrees to accompany two God-fearing brothers who are traveling to the same area. Slowly, she begins to trust the one named Seth. Despite Rachel’s best efforts, she can’t seem to fight her attraction to Seth—until a secret from his past proves he had more in common with her husband than she thought. When a new peril threatens her son’s life, she must choose between trusting in what she can control, or the man who her heart says is trustworthy, no matter his previous sins. The path she chooses just may determine whether she can step into the new life God has in store for them all. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Stepping into the Light by Candee Fick -- With war looming and a madwoman in their midst, the only hope for a peaceful future may lie in a marriage alliance between a disfigured recluse of the Gunn clan and the overlooked second son of Clan Sinclair. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse -- Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska. The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated. The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Devotion by Olivia Rae -- Injured and unable to make his living by the sword, Sir Theo de Born needs to secure his keep by becoming an educated man. As he finds himself falling for his reluctant teacher, he learns of her plan to leave England before the winter sets in. How can he convince her to stay and fulfill her promise while protecting his heart? Denied her true love and sent away to a convent, Lady Rose de Payne has no choice but to accept to become Sir Theo’s teacher. However, she has a plan to escape the confines of her new prison and start fresh in a different country. As the chilly winds blow, her resolve begins to waver. Will she abandon Sir Theo to a miserable fate or will she give up her dreams to make his come true? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Some Christmas Reading

Christmas music and Christmas movies are a great way to get into the holiday mood, but nothing lets you immerse yourself in the season quite the same way as a good book. So here are seven fun tales with which to get your Christmas reading going this year:

  1. “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. A classic short to wet your appetite.
  2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. Nothing says “Christmas” like a green curmudgeon, right?
  3. 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep. A little mystery, a little romance, all set in 1850 England during the 12 days of Christmas—this is not your typical Christmas romance.
  4. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. We all can use a little Christmas magic at this time of year.
  5. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Because the book is always better, no matter how many different movie versions they make.
  6. Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep. ‘Tis the season for some scheming…
  7. The Prophet, the Shepherd, and the Star by Jenny L. Cote. Through the eyes of two cats, two dogs, a mouse and a lamb, rediscover the prophecies that foretold Christ’s first coming and then experience those prophecies coming true.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

December 2018 Writing Update

November saw a flurry of fiction writing as I decided to use NaNo WriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge to push myself. While I did not officially participate and I definitely didn’t shoot for the standard word goal, I did set a goal that I knew would force me to write much faster than my usual pace.

In the end I fell short of my goal by one chapter’s length, but I remain pleased with the progress made. I now have completed 25 chapters of a first draft, or what I estimate to be about two-thirds of a new book.

Of course, the draft is terribly messy. I already know of a couple of dozen things that will need to change and a dozen more scenes that will need to be added. But there are also many points which I loved, moments that have made me laugh or gasp or ache and which I suspect will end up in the final draft in some form. An overall structure to the story has also seemed to have emerged, strong and solid, on which I shall be able to build upon in coming months. Of course, only the coming months will be able to tell me if this is true or if this is only the euphoria of first draft speaking…

Due to this intense focus on my novel writing, I have made little progress on other areas of my writing. The one thing I can report is that I am officially registered as a vendor with MACHE (the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators). So you will be able to find my booth, Imagination Investigation, at the St. Paul RiverCentre during April 12-13, 2019. I hope I will see a few of you there!

Finally, since the Christmas season is here, my Facebook page (@ChawnaSchroederAuthor) will be taking a break from my normal posts to share twenty-five rarely sung Christmas carols. So come like my page and join the fun!

Monday, December 3, 2018

December 2018 New Christian Fiction

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

The Amish Sweet Shop by Laura Bradford, Mary Ellis, and Emma Miller -- It's almost Valentine's Day at Beechy's Sweets, where the Amish gifts of love and faith are even sweeter than the home-made candy. In The Sweetest Courtship by Emma Miller, bachelor Jacob Beechy is a master candy maker whose mother longs for grandchildren, so she sets out to find him an assistant confectioner during the Valentine’s holiday—and a wife. In The Sweetest Truth by Laura Bradford, Sadie Fischer can’t see beyond her scars from a barn fire, but there’s a young man who sees only sweetness when he looks at her, and he’s sending her Beechy’s chocolate and mysterious gifts leading up to Valentine’s Day. In Nothing Tastes So Sweet by Mary Ellis, Pregnant widow Hannah wants to buy her English employer’s hardware store, but ends up following a clue from Beechy’s to clear a man’s name—and finds a partnership in work, faith, and love. (Amish Romance from Kensington)

Amish Christmas Memories by Vannetta Chapman -- When a young Amish woman collapses in the snow shortly before Christmas, Caleb Wittmer rushes to her aid. Only, “Rachel” remembers nothing of who she is. Now his family has taken in the pretty stranger, disrupting Caleb’s ordered world. He’s determined to find out where she belongs…even if Rachel’s departure means saying goodbye to his old-fashioned heart forever. (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Quilt for Jenna (Apple Creek Dreams #1) by Patrick E. Craig -- On her way to win a quilting competition—and a ticket out of Amish life, Jerusha finds her God, her missing husband, and a lost little girl in the heart of the Storm of The Century. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

The Road Home (Apple Creek Dreams #2) by Patrick E. Craig -- Adopted into an Amish family as a child, local historian Jenny Springer is looking for the parents she never knew. When Jenny meets Jonathan Hershberger, a drifter from San Francisco who lands in Apple Creek fleeing a drug deal gone wrong, she is intrigued by this Englischer with an Amish name, and offers to help him discover his Amish roots. While Jonathan discovers his need for home, family, and a relationship with God, Jenny finds more than she hoped for—truth and love and the knowledge that you can go home again. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams #3) by Patrick E. Craig -- When Jenny’s husband disappears in a terrible boating accident, she returns home to Apple Creek, Ohio and her adoptive parents. Working through her grief, she pursues newfound writing dreams and is presented with a possible romance with a handsome young publisher, until the elders of her church confront her consideration of going outside her faith to pursue her dreams. At the same a faint hope that her husband might someday be found alive holds her heart in the past. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Minding the Amish Baby by Carrie Lighte -- Amish store clerk Tessa Fisher isn’t ready for marriage or a family—until a baby girl is abandoned on her doorstep. Now Tessa and her gruffly handsome landlord, Turner King, must mind the baby together. And soon Turner and the sweet-cheeked kind are burrowing into Tessa’s heart. But with secrets between them, can the temporary family find a way to stay together forever? (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:

Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher -- Jessica was pregnant and facing divorce when her husband and daughter were killed in a car accident. Withdrawing from friends and family, she feels far away from God. Then months later she receives her great-grandfather’s Bible at her grandmother’s funeral. Ridley has suffered his own loss. Bitter over disgrace at his job, an ended career, and subsequent breakup with is girlfriend, he retreats to a vacation property owned by his parents to lick his wounds and hide from the press. Thumbing through the Bible later, Jessica journeys through the aged margin notes, back to faith and wholeness. And the broken roads they have followed bring Jessica and Ridley to each other as well. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


Three Christmas Novellas by Mary Connealy -- Three Christmas Novellas in one volume: Long Horn Christmas, The Sweetest Gift and The Christmas Candle. (Historical, Independently Published)

The Making of Mrs. Hale by Carolyn Miller -- Can a runaway marriage ever be redeemed? Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn't turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn't know where—or if he's ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they'll forgive her.Along the way she will learn how relationship with God can bring restoration and hope, and find the answers she needs both for her husband and her future. (Historical, Kregel Publications)

Child of Light by Annette O’Hare -- While praying for her own Christmas miracle after five years in a childless marriage, Margaret offers aide to a destitute and expectant young woman during the holidays. She is condemned for her decision to help a woman of ill repute and must face the consequences of doing what is right. Will Margaret's prayers for a child of her own be answered this Christmas or does God have something else in store? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson -- Inspired by a Gripping True Story from World War II’s Daring Doolittle Raid--Japan, 1948: A prostitute seeks her revenge; a war hero finds his true mission. (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)

Historical Romance:

The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Kathleen E. Kovach, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Marjorie Vawter, and Kimberley Woodhouse -- Seven daring damsels refuse to let the cultural norms of their eras hold them back! Follow along as they trek the wilderness as a fur trapper; teach in the backwoods; campaign for women's rights; breed llamas; drive cross-country; become a hotel tour guide; and pursue art. Will they meet men who admire their bravery and determination? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Kiss Me Once Again by Gail Kittleson -- When Glenora Carson’s first love perishes along with the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941, she locks away her heart and her dreams of attending college on scholarship, instead choosing to hold down the home front by helping out the family business – Carson’s Garage. The grease-stained overalls don’t do much to compliment her female figure, but they cover her female heart well enough. That is, until Hank Anderson, a wounded warrior back from battle, walks into the garage and into Glenora’s life. Is an old maid’s future Glenora’s fate, or will Cupid throw a wrench in her plans? (Historical Romance from WordCrafts Press)

Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt -- Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: The Cupbearer and the Baker

 Scripture: Genesis 40:5-22

Background: After Joseph had his two dreams, his brothers’ hatred of him grew so extreme that they planned to murder him. At the last minute, though, they changed their minds and sold him as a slave to Egypt. There Joseph served an Egyptian official until the official’s wife unfairly accused Joseph of rape. So Joseph was thrown into jail. There he eventually met the cupbearer and baker of Pharaoh, imprisoned for making their lord angry. The servants each had a dream, and Joseph ended up interpreting for them.

Observations: Eleven years have passed since Joseph had his own dreams, and since then, he has gone from favored son to Egyptian slave to trusted steward to prisoner to jail supervisor. Hardly the path one would expect to take to reach the lord of one’s brothers. Yet this long, winding, and difficult road has not nullified Joseph’s dreams. Their fulfillment is still coming.

And the cupbearer and the baker are the next piece in that road, providing further insight into the realm of dreams:

1. Dreams are not the exclusive territory of God’s people. Even outsiders can have dreams, some of which may originate from God.

2. Dreams may need interpretation by others. Whereas the meaning of Joseph’s dreams was clear to all around him, both the baker and the cupbearer required outside interpretation. This need for outside interpretation may be necessary for a variety of reasons, but in this case it was especially necessary as neither dreamer knew the true God from whom the dream originated.

3. All true interpretation originates with God. A human agent may be needed to relay the interpretation, a position Joseph fills here, or the interpretation may be clear to the dreamer. Either way, God, as the source of the dream, is also the source of the dream’s meaning, and therefore, the true meaning cannot be discerned apart from Him.

4. Dreams have a variety of uses. God used Joseph’s dreams to get him to Egypt and possibly to provide encouragement through the subsequently difficult years. In other places in Scripture, dreams provide hope, promises, and warnings. Here they are used to establish Joseph’s credibility and honesty. His dark prediction concerning the baker’s future showed that Joseph told the truth—not what people wanted to hear—and the fulfillment of both dreams proved the accuracy of his interpretation. This would eventually earn Joseph an audience with Pharaoh himself.

5. So dreams can predict both good and bad outcomes. Sometimes we think of dreams as pleasant things, or at least something helpful. And often they are. But even more than that, a dream which comes from God is true, because God is a truth teller and cannot lie.

Significance: Whether or not we ever have a supernatural dream, this passage and the surrounding text reminds us of several helpful truths:

Sometimes we Christians become self-righteous, arrogant, and demeaning of non-Christians, because we have a “corner” on truth. In one sense that is true, in that we have the inerrant Word of God—the fully revealed Truth that is above all other truth—and the Holy Spirit to help us understand, apply, and guide us.

But both of these are a gift from God. We did not earn them. We did not buy them. We do not have exclusive rights to them. As a result, God is free to interact, use, employ, and even reveal glimpses of Himself even to those who do not follow Him. We should not dismiss some things only because they come from a non-Christian source—and for that matter, nor should we accept something only because it comes from a “Christian” source.

Likewise, we Christians think we can do everything ourselves—a “God and me alone” attitude. The truth is, sometimes we need help from others and especially help from other Christians, whether interpreting a dream, planning a church function, or caring for a family member.

But at all times, no matter what we are facing, we need to remember that the source of the true answers we need is God. Now He may use a variety of methods to provide those answers—books, stories, friends, even dreams—but real answers come from Him, and as such, we must ultimately square it with the Truth of Scripture.

Finally, most of all, this passage proves that God’s path is often unexpected but true. He is not a man that He should lie. But neither is God required to follow the path we think He should. He may take us on “detours.” He may lead us in a direction that seems opposite of that which we believe we are supposed to go. He may cause events that seem irrelevant, permit delayed outcomes (it would be two years before the cupbearer remembered Joseph!), and use happenings differently than anticipated. But God always keeps His promises—even if it is in the way least expected!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

November 2018 Writing Update

The world of a writer can move at a grindingly slow pace. As a result, I often don’t talk about what I’m up to as a writer because it could soon become tedious: I wrote a chapter. I revised a chapter. I revised the chapter again. I wrote another the chapter and revised it.

But in my attempt to avoid boredom, I may have gone from one extreme to another, never giving anything but the rarest glimpse into my work. So here is a little bit of what I am doing these days:

  • Over the summer I completed a major revision on the book I’ve been working on. Then at the end of September I submitted the manuscript to the publisher of Beast, and now I’m waiting to hear back from them.

  • I have started a new story, possibly the first of a science-fiction trilogy. Thus far I have done some prewriting—non-story writing that allows me to explore the world and characters—and written nine rough-draft chapters. I have no idea whether this story will go anywhere, but right now I’m enjoying the thrill of simply playing with words, worlds, and characters.

  • Beast continues to be available for purchase from a variety of places, including Amazon and my website. With Christmas less than two months away, why not consider purchasing a copy or two for Christmas gifts, exchanges, or giveaways? Of course, if you do purchase from me directly, you can always request I autograph and personalize the book in the “note to seller” portion of the order. (End of shameless plug)

  • I continue to read as well. Lately, I’ve been indulging in classic children’s literature, such as King of the Wind, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and The Wheel on the School. But as always, I have some science-fiction and fantasy mixed in. The newly re-released Shivering World by Kathy Tyers, and book two of Priscilla Shirer’s Prince Warriors are a couple of my recent reads.

  • Finally, I’m looking forward toward homeschool conferences for the spring of 2019. Those plans are still in flex, so keep your eyes open for more information, coming soon!