Missing the Click

Photographers know the feeling well. They miss the picture of a lifetime because they miss the click. One second sooner, one second later…Missing the click transforms what could have been an incredible capture into an average, okay picture.

Writing is the same. You can have written one of the greatest books of all times, yet if no one reads it…it sits in limbo with all the other millions of unread books. Promotion for the book can be off by a mere click in time. Promotion for my pro-life adventure Love’s Beating Heart hit one week too late to ride the tidal wave of public outrage when it was revealed that babies born alive at an abortion clinic had their spinal cords clipped with scissors to kill them.

Christian mystery-romance-suspense Bridge to Nowhere, published by Sunpenny Publishing, just missed the tidal wave of publicity that was generated when my husband Alan McKean – a Scottish minister – released his first book The Scent of Time, which was deemed by some as “too sexy to have been written by a pastor.” When press releases went out for Bridge to Nowhere, sales increased only slightly. I had missed the click. The fact that I had gone from living under a bridge to writing a book with bridge in the title; the fact that I was living under the bridge after fleeing childhood sex abuse; the fact that the abuse had produced two pregnancies when I was a teen – followed by two forced non-medical abortions that nearly killed me – none of those facts increased sales. It was almost as if no one cared about about what I had suffered or wanted to know how I had overcome and recovered so other victims could be encouraged. Really, it wasn’t that no one cared – it was that I missed the click.

Our Christian lives are like that. Sometimes we miss the click. Being a Christian does not prevent us from having problems. Living for Christ is hard. Even if there were no other trials, atheists can be rabid. Why they attack Christians and their beliefs and spend so much time and money fighting a God Whom they don’t believe exists, I cannot imagine. But because they do, they can cause problems, especially in the workplace. Remember, what doesn’t make you bitter, makes you better. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. All things work together for good to them that love the LORD. Pressure and criticism sometimes make us silent when we should speak. Constant attack on our beliefs can keep us from taking needed action. We miss the click.

Jesus forgives us for missing the clicks. Yet when we get it right, our life becomes the perfect symphony God orchestrated for us. So don’t miss the click!

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Prickles & Stickles

I relate to my tough Texan heroine in Bridge to Nowhere, released by Sunpenny Publishing. Miz Mike always minds her own business, but she can’t resist mystery – so she winds up in one pickle after another when she sets out to molest new adventures. Miz Mike is adamant, intransigent, and intractable – only about important things, of course!

Me? I’m just stubborn. Take the prickles and stickles incident. No, don’t. You don’t want to go there.

When we first got our rough collie Angel Joy, she would only catch and collect balls as long as they were easy to retrieve. If they went too far, went into the water, or into bushes – it was our job. Golfers along the golf course would holler, “Can you get your dog to find my ball?” To which we would reply, “She won’t even find her ball.”

Angel Joy now goes into the water – as long as it’s not too deep – and into tall bushes and grass to find her ball. Not prickles and stickles. She’s smart.

Yesterday the wind blew off Moray Firth at near gale force. Her ball whipped into a hedge of wild Scottish roses intertwined with blackberry vines and gorse – solid prickles and stickles and thorns.

Suddenly¬†Bridge to Nowhere‘s Miz Mike hijacked me. I body slammed those prickles and stickles and thorns and stickers and plowed a path into the impenetrable growth. Angel Joy nipped in, grabbed her ball and backed out again. It took me a bit longer since I was speared with thorns, stickers and vegetation with pickles, stickles and hooks.

Sometimes success demands that we plow into prickles and stickles. Staying in our comfort zone won’t get the job done. This is especially true in writing. It’s not enough to get a book published. After that comes the marketing – even if by pushing yourself forward you feel like you’re plowing into a rose bed and coming out with thorns rather than the fragrance, color and softness of rose petals.

Some readers will love you and everything you write. Others will hate you – not because what you’ve written is bad – but because they disagree with you. When that happens, you feel like you attempted to pluck a rose for your sweetheart and grabbed thorns instead.

If you’re a writer, I won’t encourage you to become like Miz Mike. For one thing, she and I are Texas born. It takes a while to learn how to be a Texan. For another thing – she’s my character! But I will encourage you to be stubborn. Get over your fear of prickles and stickles. They only hurt a little bit. Plow ahead with confidence and don’t let criticisms and discomfort steal your dream.

My newest book, Love’s Beating Heart, is the most stickery and prickery since it deals with issues like abortion, pro-life, adoption, homeschooling and the sanctity of marriage. It is also the most satisfying on the deepest level. Don’t get me wrong! I love stubborn, mystery-solving Miz Mike. She’s fun, funny and fun to write. Bridge to Nowhere is a great Christian mystery-romance-suspense, the first in a series of at least six.

But plowing into the stickles and prickles gave me a lasting gift to leave behind when I go home to be with the LORD. Love’s Beating Heart is more than a book. It’s a life-saving manual.

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Try a Bit Harder, Work a Bit Longer…

With a bit of weeding, digging and replanting, the garden looked nice…except for the dead branches and trunks of a tree along the fence. Our chainsaw will cut butter, but not much else and there are no repair or sharpening services in our area. The handsaw cuts a bit better, but the dead tree trunks were huge in circumference and grown too close together to allow the handsaw to get in between them. With our limited tools, cutting that dead, tangled mess looked impossible.

Enter determination. The same, “try a bit harder, work a bit longer,” that carried me past the agony and despair of receiving 150 rejection slips on different books over the years to eventual success. I now have five published Christian, mystery-romance-suspense books, Bridge to Nowhere (Rose & Crown/Sunpenny Publishing), Love’s Beating Heart, Heart Shadows, Until the Shadows Flee and Shadow Chase. I knew I was a writer. God had put that burning fire in my bones and I could not contain it. But every rejection slip made me quit and give up…briefly – before I remembered to try a bit harder, work a bit longer.

So, too, with the dead wood in the front yard. First the clippers to remove the smaller branches. With scratched and bleeding arms and facing those huge trunks, I started to give up. Then I looked again at the bright green garden tossed with blooming flowers and mocked by one clump of ugly dead tree. The butter-cutting chainsaw came out. The butter-cutting-plus handsaw came out. Then help arrived in the form of my gifted, talented husband (also an author, The Scent of Time & The Scent of Home). He had been out visiting folks in the parish. Still dressed in his clerical shirt and collar (he’s a Church of Scotland minister) Alan began helping. Between the two of us and the two butter and better than butter-cutting saws, the dead wood came out. Try a bit harder, work a bit longer.

Taking out the dead growth was the right thing to do. Besides looking better, the open space allows room to finish edging in front of the beds and trimming the shrubs.But it wasn’t easy. It took trying a bit harder, working a bit longer.

Having five published books was the right thing to do. Without preaching, the characters and action in the books point to God. It is my prayer that they will help readers find their way to the Cross of Jesus. Love’s Beating Heart sends two teens on a wild river adventure to save Baby. The fast-moving adventure upholds marriage, homeschooling and pro-life over abortion. If it saves the life of even one unborn child, I have fulfilled my purpose as a writer. But success wasn’t easy. It took years to achieve and a lot of trying a bit harder, working a bit longer.

When you have a dream or a task that seems impossible, don’t give up! Try a bit harder, work a bit longer.

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Broken Dreams

When it was completed sometime after 1893, Rosehaugh House in Avoch, Scotland, was a mansion built to glory. Hundreds of people were employed and provided with the best and highest quality materials to complete the three-story, 60-room mansion with 365 windows, marble floors, Persian rug carpeted walls, painted ceilings, carved wood, and a car-sized fireplace in the billiard room.

The fabulous mansion was demolished in 1959.

Broken dreams. It seems unbelievable that such a rich, historic, and glorious mansion could be razed. The foundation, steps, overgrown gardens and out buildings are all that remain of one man’s dream to build the most splendid mansion in the world. What went wrong?

Death went wrong. Rosehaugh was already a magnificent home when James Fletcher died in 1885. Son James Douglas Fletcher hired famed Scottish architect William Flockhart to take the mansion from splendor to unmatched glory. Then James Douglas Fletcher died. His widow sold the estate in 1953 – and by 1959 – James Douglas Fletcher’s dream mansion had been demolished.

People die. Dreams die. Sometimes we kill our own dreams by poisoning them with drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other risky and dangerous lifestyle choices. Sometimes they die of natural causes.

I am thankful that God has given me the blessing of leaving behind a shelf of dreams when I die: Christian mystery-romance-suspense books like Bridge to Nowhere, published by Sunpenny Publishing, and Love’s Beating Heart, Shadow Chase, Heart Shadows, Until the Shadows Flee and the soon-to-be-released Fear of Shadows. But the fact is, I will die. I will follow James Douglas Fletcher off the stage of life and slip into a shadowy memory.

Unlike Fletcher’s dream, my dream won’t break or die. My dream is eternal. It is simply to follow Jesus and live for Him. The Bible promises that whatever I do for Christ here on earth will follow me to Heaven. It will be stored and waiting for me in a treasure chest where no one else can steal it and where it will never rot, tear, tarnish or age. When I get to Heaven, I’ll be able to lay it at the feet of Jesus and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Rosehaugh Estate is still a lovely place where dreams shimmer in the shade of ancient trees. The current owners are restoring the buildings that are left and many of them are rented out as holiday homes. It’s a lovely place to take dogs on a walk and capture something lovely and unique through the lens of a camera. But it is also a sorrowful, haunting place of broken dreams and trampled glory. I’m so thankful that my glory doesn’t rest in even the finest, most glorious mansion built by human hands – but rather in Heaven – created by the Eternal Hands of Jesus, the Creator of the universe.

broken dream blog