Year Without Fear

As we journey through 2016, it’s a good resolve to live the New Year without fear. There are 365 “fear not”s in the Bible, one for every day of the year.

When I arrived in Scotland from Texas four years ago I was told “Don’t talk about your Christian faith openly because UK folk are reserved and expect others to act with the same restraint. Advice I ignored.

Four years later I have told countless people, “God bless.” I have stopped to pray with complete strangers. I have exclaimed repeatedly, “Praise Jesus! A beautiful day!” I’ve suffered only two verbal rebukes, one from a woman who said she wished I hadn’t asked God to bless her, and one from a person who informed me, “We don’t want any of your American Fundamentalism over here.”

Had I blindly accepted the advice to keep quiet, I would have missed both blessings and opportunities to share God’s blessings with others. God has provided occasions to pray with others for healing; the healing of pets, recovery from alcoholism, rescue from depression, mending after the loss of a loved one.

Fearing what people might say or think above what God had directed would have robbed the past four years of meaning and blessing.

There are other ways to walk in God’s love. The Christian walk is a designer walk. Tell the maintenance person he or she is doing a good job. Thank the post person. Thank the folks who come to pick up the garbage. Compliment a person on his or her parenting skills. Commend a teacher for a job well done. Tell the cashier to have a lovely rest of the day. Smile. If words freeze between the brain and the lips…just smile.

Live the New Year without fear. Smile! A smile is the same in every language, easily given and almost always returned.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Waltzing Across Texas with Love & Murder

I don’t usually blog about my books unless a new one has just been released. I’m making an exception this week because my first in the Texas Miz Mike series – “Bridge to Nowhere” – is reduced in price. I’d like everyone to know so they can buy it, laugh at Miz Mike’s many “pickles,” and then move on to the other books in the series if they like it.

“Bridge to Nowhere” is a Christian mystery-romance-suspense sparkling with humor. “Forty-something” Miz Mike tries to mind her own business, really she does. But how could she turn down the pleas and tears of a lovely young girl who comes to her for help in solving her sister’s murder?

Solve it Miz Mike does, along with solving a few minor mysteries along the way, and breaking up a brutal dog fighting ring. But success sports a steep price tag. The killer comes after Mike.

Besides surviving attempts on her life, Mike survives the near-death of the romance of her dreams when ex-Hollywood actor Marty Richards (Marty and Mike, M&Ms in her mind just like her favorite chocolate candy) misinterprets her kindness to rescued “misfits” at her ranch as evidence of sexual promiscuity.

Then in an event that tests her Christian faith, Mike’s young grandson is kidnapped. Catching the kidnapper and getting the child back seems impossible – even with prayer.

Enter Clint Flavors who loves to fish and whose mind possesses the ability to follow hidden, serpentine paths that no one else can follow. Some mock Clint for not being the sharpest tack in the box – but this is Three Prongs, Texas, where the misfits fit and where strange events are near about as common as bucking Brahmas on the rodeo circuit. Clint solves a mystery that baffles the experts.

Will evil win? Will good win? Will Miz Mike ever get that first kiss from cowboy hero Marty? You’ll have to read “Bridge to Nowhere” to find out – and fortunately for you – it’s on sale!

Eleven 5-Star reviews can’t be wrong!

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http://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Nowhere-Miz-Mike-Book-ebook/dp/B00904MBS6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444824478&sr=1-1&keywords=bridge+to+nowhere+stephanie+parker+mckean

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Nowhere-Miz-Mike-Book-ebook/dp/B00904MBS6/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445070595&sr=1-1&keywords=bridge+to+nowhere+stephanie+parker+mckean

Beach Bully

Chest extended and head tilted back in a haughty matter, Beach Bully suddenly assaulted another early morning beach stroller.

The peace of still water and wet sand exploded as the two seagulls flew at one another with beating wings and sharp beaks. Beach Bully had picked on a young gull, still clothed in grey fluff. Squawking, the gull’s sibling flew into the fray. United in their efforts, the two family members sent Beach Bully stalking away.

Beach Bully, with ruffled feathers and chest still extended, attacked a lone crow. The crow, being smaller, quickly flew away from the fight. Beach Bully strolled into a gathering of gulls that were socializing and feeding along the shore. Again, he selected a young grey gull for his attack. This time it was the baby’s angry parents that shrieked and dove at him until he flapped off down the beach away from the crowd.

Beach Bully stood on wet sand surveying his lonely kingdom. His chest deflated. His head sank down on his shoulders. Even in the animal world, bullies are not liked or tolerated.

Sadly, I know some human bullies who live in a world of isolation that they have built with their cruel, angry words and actions. I felt a bit sorry for Beach Bully. How could he learn kindness and friendship? Did he have an example to follow? What had made him that way? Did his parents abandon him when he was still too young to fend or himself? I will never know the answer to those questions, but I do know the solution for human bullies.

As with all problems needing solutions, the Bible holds the cure for human bullies. To have friends, we are told in Proverbs 18:24, we must prove ourselves to be friendly and worthy of being a friend. A friend loves at all times.

Jesus set a timeless example of friendship. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Then Jesus proved His friendship by dying for us so we can go to Heaven to be with Him.

Jesus is the Lord God of all creation. He is God’s Son. Even Jesus was not immune to bullies. They cursed Him, spit on Him, nailed Him to a cross to die. Every day since sin entered the world and Adam and Eve’s son Cain killed his brother Abel, there have always been bullies.

We can’t change a bully. Bullies must want to exchange their world of isolation for one of friendship and love. When they make the decision to change, God gives them a way in the form of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22 records the results of bully transformation: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.”

We can bully-proof our worlds as much as possible by living the fruit of the Spirit and surrounding ourselves with Christian friends and praying for our enemies. Because sin still rules this world, that won’t be a one-hundred percent fix – but we will walk in love and joy and leave beach bullies behind to face their torment and make their decisions.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Injured

As I struggled to reach the top of a steep hill, a lovely tree captured my attention. It stood proudly straight and tall waving brightly green-clad arms against the sky. When I reached the crest of the hill, I saw the tree’s secret. Her trunk had been so badly cut, slashed and smashed at the bottom that a huge chunk of it had separated from the rest of the trunk and stood crumbling and decaying.

“How like us,” I thought. “Injured, severely injured with perhaps a part of us dead or in the process of dying. And, yet, like the tree – we keep standing. Like the tree – we keep growing. Like the tree – what doesn’t make us bitter makes us better and what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. We are just like that lovely tree with our injured damaged parts hidden from the world by the showy part we don to fool others.”

God loves us so much that He sent His own Son Jesus to die in our place. God does hear our prayers, He does answer our prayers. But God does not keep affliction from touching the lives of Christians. Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I keep Your word.” Sometimes it takes a trial or affliction to open our ears to God.

Sometimes the injuries and hidden hurts we suffer shine a beauty on our lives that make us attractive to others and useful to God.

Our part is to trust God and keep standing.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Is a book about a Serial Killer a good Valentines’s Day read?

Yikes! Why would someone equate a book about a serial killer to Valentine’s Day? I won’t answer that question. It’s better if the answer comes from readers of the Christian psychological suspense thriller, “Killer Conversations.”

Without argument, the Christian Bible contains the greatest love story ever told. No author could pen a more inspirational love story. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this – than a man lay down his life for his friends. I am your friends.” Then Jesus died.

God wrote a Love Card for all ages in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

No matter how many or how few Valentine’s Day cards you received on February 14, God has already given you a Love Card that is for today, every day, and all eternity. No human-crafted earthly creation can beat that!

Back to the serial killer question. A synopsis of “Killer Conversations:” He walks a lot and is a loner. She pegs him as a serial killer. People in the small Scottish village don’t believe her. They attribute her suspicions to a “writer’s imagination.”

Then there’s a new murder.

She stalks him looking for evidence. He stalks her to find out if she has evidence. When the two collide, it’s in a deadly life and death struggle.

Texan Kevyn Skye Lamar’s quest to find a story and write the “Great American Novel” may end up with her as the serial killer’s next victim. What a tragedy that would be after she has finally found love. And…she wonders…do serial killers go to Heaven?

No, I didn’t answer the question about why “Killer Conversations” is a good book for Valentine’s Day. To do that, I would have to add a spoiler. I never give away the twists and thrills that make for good reading.As encouragement, “Killer Conversations” made it to Amazon UK’s top 100 best sellers’ list within hours of its release!

U.S. http://goo.gl/HkXYc0 or U.K. http://goo.gl/Qua7H0

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Broken…

Broken, shattered, splintered, smashed, disintegrated, destroyed – my exploded world on November 17 last year when my son USMC Major Luke Parker died in a plane crash at age 37.

A newspaper reporter interviewed me about my newest Christian mystery-romance-suspense book, Bridge Beyond Betrayal. “I see that the book is dedicated to your son and includes the prophetic poem he wrote a year before his death. You seem to have been close to your son. How did you get over losing him?” she asked.

I haven’t. I didn’t. I won’t. Memories play over in my mind like a DVD with no off switch. His smile. He always had a smile – even in photos his buddies took of him in war zones.

His faith; praying for a truck as a four-year-old because we were without transportation and I lacked enough faith to pray – the Lord gave us a truck the next day. The time the truck got stranded in the Nevada desert and Luke prayed, then insisted that the man who came out of nowhere to help us was an angel. I disputed that. Until we attempted to take a thank you card and some home-baked cookies to our rescuer. We never found him, nor did we find a house, a driveway, or even a dirt trail that explained how he had reached us.

His kindness. Luke’s animal rescues included a one-legged raven; a three-legged dog; a one-eyed possum; and a mentally challenged possum that lived in the closet and used a litter box because it wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to get out the open door. His people rescues. The way Luke stood up to bigger and older students who bullied younger students.

His determination. From starting out in life with hearing loss, a speech impediment and learning disabilities, Luke went on to learn and excel at everything that he wanted to do; playing a trumpet, playing a piano, scuba diving, rock climbing, training horses, flying airplanes, restoring WWII jeeps. He got a college degree in spite of his weakness in math. He went into the US Marine Corps as enlisted and worked his way up to major.

I’m most proud of Luke because his men in Iraq wrote in the newsletter that they respected his Christian example and added, “No matter what we do, we can’t make Captain Parker curse – not even when we hide his gun.”

I’m most proud of Luke for refusing to drink with other recruits in basic training. Already drunk, they threatened him with a knife. He crawled into his bunk, pulled the sheet over his head and ignored them. When he woke up in the morning, his mattress was slashed all around his body.

I’m most proud of Luke for the worn, highlighted, underlined Bible that went everywhere with him.

I’m most proud of my son for walking with God. And because he walked with God, I know he is not dead. He left the USMC to report to duty in Heaven under his Commander for all eternity – Jesus.

So, no, newspaper lady – I’m not over losing my wonderful son. But I will not sorrow like those with no hope because I know Luke lives still and I will see him again. Jesus is in the business of fixing the broken and restoring wholeness to shattered lives and hearts.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Shell Decorating

A pub in our area is welcoming students back to university with shell decorating contests and cocktails.

Contest categories include best fingernails, most glitter, most unique tattoos, wildest hair, and most body art – all of which will be left behind when we die. Our bodies are mere shells to hold the part of us that really matters while we’re alive. When we die – the us that is really us – escapes into eternity. Shells are buried. What a sad waste of expense and energy is reflected in decorating shells that will return to dust when we die.

The Bible advises in 1 Peter 3:3, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward…rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make the best of the bodies that God gave us by taking care of them. It honors God when Christians set themselves apart from the rest of the world by separating our appearances from non-believers. But the Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 6:7, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” With that in mind, does it make sense to spend time and money decorating shells?

Shell decorating contests are vain, useless, empty events. As for the cocktails? Alcohol poisons the shells that we spend so much money decorating.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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What my Date with Willie Nelson Taught me about Writing

Before Willie Nelson became a household word, he worked as a wrangler at Lost Valley Dude Ranch, in Bandera, Texas, “Cowboy Capital of the World.”

Just out of high school and two years of college, I fell in love with Willie Nelson – at least with his songs. As a writer myself, the simple brilliance of his words resonated with me: Pretend I never happened, Erase me from your mind, You will not want to remember, Any love as cold as mine.

Not knowing it, I broke one of the first rules of writing: write about what you know. I was a 20-year-old kid. I didn’t know anything about anything, so if I wrote anything at all – it had to be about something I didn’t know anything about. My first full-length adult novel (thankfully still unpublished) featured a country-western singer as the protagonist. Not that I knew he was called a protagonist.

Willie Nelson wasn’t my only interview. Local celebrity and bar owner Arkey Blue, of Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar in Bandera, was kind enough to give me an interview. I’m sure I asked stupid questions. He patiently answered them without telling me how stupid the questions were.

When he was performing at Floore’s Country Store in Helotes, Willie Nelson gave me his phone number. For weeks, I called fruitlessly. Being a Texan, I never gave up. Finally, Willie answered and invited me on a date for an interview.

Willie was married to his third wife, but I was young and stupid – and not a Christian. I wanted to be a famous writer, and I wanted to do it the easy way. Willie Nelson was the ticket. He would fall in love with me, divorce Connie, marry me, promote my books – and I would soon be interviewed by Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

When Willie picked me up for the Menudo Festival in San Antonio, he was drunk. I didn’t realize how drunk he was until we hit the winding Texas Hill Country road to San Antonio in the middle or on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately we arrived safely, and I clutched a notebook with answers to my questions. Willie said that when he grew long hair, men with traditional haircuts hated him. When he cut his hair – the “longhairs” hated him even more. I asked, “Are you really as sad as the words to your songs make you sound?”

Willie looked at me with humor glinting from the depths of deeply brown eyes and said, “I don’t think anyone can be that sad. Do you?”

On the way back, Willie asked if I minded if he smoked marijuana. I said, “Yes.” He pulled the car off the road and tried to kiss me. I was shocked. In my dreams, we took long walks, talked, spent more and more time together until he proposed. Even young and inexperienced, I realized the sexual advance was fueled by lust, not love, and would be meaningless and demeaning. When I resisted, he was surprised. “You mean you really are writing a book?”

A few months later, I saw Willie at a restaurant. He was staring at me, so I said, “You probably don’t remember me…” He replied, “Sure I do. You’re the girl who really is writing a book.”

That date with Willie Nelson taught me more about writing than any writing course or writing book I’ve ever read.

Write about what you know. Make characters real. Don’t put them on a pedestal because no one – not even famous people like Willie Nelson – is perfect. Your characters need flaws as well as strengths. Persevere. Never give up. Don’t look for the easy way or try to ride someone else’s fame. Even if that works, it will only be temporary, and you will realize that you cheated. That will rob your sense of fulfillment.

As a Christian, let God write the script. Even if Willie had married me and pushed my writing to success, my life would have been all wrong. He is now 80, living with wife number four. He’s a liberal; I’m a conservative. He drinks. I hate alcohol. He’s an activist for marijuana; I hate drugs. God has His own plan and purpose for Willie Nelson and I am not part of that pattern.

Most of all, if my dream wedding to Willie Nelson had taken place, it would have denied me the joy of raising my wonderful son, Luke, who walked with God his entire life.

Instead, God has blessed me with author husband Alan T McKean (The Scent of Time, The Scent of Home, and the soon-to-be-released The Scent of Eternity). We live in the extraordinary Black Isle of Scotland with such vast and varied scenic beauty that one can look in any direction and never see blight.

It’s taken me 40 years and 150 rejection slips to do it the right way and the hard way, but I am now author of five Christian mystery-romance-suspense books, and one young adult pro-life adventure-romance.

Most importantly, I can stand before God and instead of echoing Frank Sinatra’s song, I did it my way, I can say to my Heavenly Father, “I did it Your way.”

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

http://goo.gl/o9In3J

http://goo.gl/uvGzRU

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Prophet on Fire!

Bible prophet Jeremiah faced constant ridicule, mocking, and cruel physical treatment including imprisonment and incarceration in a muddy dungeon for his faithful witness and warnings about how lifestyle choices earn God’s blessings or God’s wrath. Jeremiah became so fearful, bitter, and hurt by ill treatment that he decided to quit preaching God’s Word – but he couldn’t.

“His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones,” Jeremiah lamented. “I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.” (Jeremiah 20:9) So the weeping prophet kept preaching.

I feel somewhat like a prophet on fire! I’ve been holding back on introducing my newest Christian mystery-romance-suspense, Fear of Shadows, until it is actually released. But it should be released sometime this week and I simply can’t hold back. It’s like a burning fire shut up in my bones and it’s begging for release. Also, we will be gone and away from a computer for a week – so here’s a synopsis of Fear of Shadows.

I was about to loose my virginity against my will in a moldy smelling house with plaster falling off the walls, critters crawling up through holes in the floor—on a torn, stained bed with no sheets and rat droppings bouncing around me when I moved. I deserved better than this. I deserved the right of choice. I deserved the right to the joy of making love for the first time with someone I loved. I deserved to give myself to a man for the first time in a clean bed with clean sheets.

Self-sufficient Texas Eugenia Thornhill espouses many rebellions including giving a man—any man—authority over her heart, or her life. She hates the mother who named her “Texas” after her birth state instead of loving her enough to give her a real name. She hates the mother who ran off and left her young child with a cold, emotionless father.

Texas likes to brag that she’s not afraid of anything—not even spiders or snakes. Her boast proves empty when she meets childhood friend West Strom and realizes that she is deathly afraid of shadows, but clueless as to why. Time and again she shatters their nascent romance by mindlessly shrieking and running out of her childhood home, fleeing the shadows that terrify her.

Pranksters also seem intent on sabotaging the relationship. A dead raccoon is hung on the refrigerator, a rock is thrown through the window, furniture is trundled around the room in total disarray, then righted again before West arrives to investigate.

Texas is tricked into holding a séance. West, a strong Christian, is appalled that Texas is involved in witchcraft. That almost ends their friendship.

But the most destructive force entering her life proves to be the seemingly harmless fun of frequenting a Texas dancehall with Thornhill Ranch manager Jason Peace. She finds herself accused of murder and forced into hiding. When she escapes and clears her name, it only adds to the dystopia at the ranch.

Texas exhibits her paintings in a feminist art show in San Antonio and meets her mother. Her mother apologizes, but does not explain her abandonment. When they say goodbye, Texas is saying goodbye to a stranger.

West arrives to rescue her from what Texas has realized is a nefarious art exhibit revolving around hate and discord. But even though West gives Texas a kiss that stuns her with its passion, how many times can her childhood hero rescue her from her foolish choices and paralyzing fear of shadows?

When Texas finally solves the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and learns the truth about her fear of shadows, it is a truth that threatens to destroy every single person she loves.

So, hope Fear of Shadows makes it out this week and hope you’ll buy it and enjoy it! I’ll be sharing the link when we get back. Meantime, you can probably find it surfing the web. And – hey – thanks!

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Magic

When I was a child, I lived in a magical world where fireflies were fairies dancing across the night sky. Not even catching lightning bugs in jars and using them as lanterns dispelled the magic. Fed by romantic fairy tales, my mind peopled toadstools with little people resting from their wanderings, drinking crystal dew drops out of the chalice of upturned flower blossoms and vanishing into the grass out of sight as morning crept into the world stealing darkness and shadows.

When I outgrew those fiction stories, I rode my bicycle up and down Georgia red clay roads at dusk looking for flying saucers. I explored spooky “haunted” houses that my friends were afraid to enter. I devoured stories about the Bermuda Triangle. One of my dreams was to travel to Scotland to look for the Loch Ness Monster.

God has a sense of humor. Here I am living in Scotland now, within fifteen miles of Loch Ness. I’ve made three trips to Loch Ness looking for Nessie. I’ve found one female mallard duck, one family of mallard ducks, and some hungry seagulls that were delighted to share lunch with me. Does that mean that I don’t believe in Nessie? Oh, no! Just because I haven’t found Nessie doesn’t mean that she doesn’t exist! I am fascinated by the sonar echoes and “swishing” sounds that exploratory vessels have picked up from the bottom of Scotland’s deepest lake.

Authors with vivid imaginations have written enduring stories that enthrall generations of readers. How blessed I will be if my grandchildren discover some of my books without being told about them: Bridge to Nowhere, Love’s Beating Heart, Heart Shadows, Until the Shadows Flee, Shadow Chase, Fear of Shadows. Or my husband’s time-travel adventures The Scent of Time and The Scent of Home. I would never equate my Christian mystery-romance-suspense books with literary classics, but I would match my imagination with the best of them!

This world is full of mystery, magic and miracles. Finding them depends on raising the line of heart vision from toadstools to Heaven. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has touched my life with miraculous healing and provision numerous times. But even if Jesus had never performed those visible outward physical signs and wonders, my changed heart itself would be a miracle.

My journey from a bitter, spiteful, unhappy God-hating atheist to a joyful Christ-loving Christian involved supernatural travel on the wings of God’s Holy Spirit. That, my friends, is magic!

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