Friday, June 28, 2013

Susan Diane Johnson: WE'RE ALL BEAUTIFUL!

Everyone's Story is pleased to host author Suzie Johnson this week. Ever feel as if you don't fit into a certain social circle because you're different from the rest? Or perhaps you are plagued with self-doubts? Do you know of someone like this that can use an uplifting word, but don't know how to help? Suzie blesses us this week with this special, lovely message. She starts off the segment with the public sharing of Mercy Me's Beautiful, followed by her special message. Plus, check out Suzie's Book Giveaway offer of NO SUBSTITUTE. How do you handle self-esteem issues? How do you offer a shoulder to lean on? We both look forward to hearing from you.


Suzie is offering to one randomly chosen commenter a print or ebook edition of her novel NO SUBSTITUE. The winner will be announced here on Friday, July 5th, between 4-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

You’re Beautiful by Suzie Johnson

There’s someone I know who is hurting in almost every area of her life. She’s so deep in the pit of poor self-esteem, that my heart is deeply troubled for her. God puts her on my heart almost daily and I pray for her. I think about her often and I’ve tried to be a mentor to her. I’ve never met her in person, but I’ve talked with her and texted with her and I see her Facebook posts.

Those posts trouble me.

All she’s ever wanted during her young life is love; the freedom to be herself and be loved unconditionally for who she really is. But does she really know who she is? I think she’s still finding her way.

And now she’s dealing with her broken heart.

My own heart breaks every time I encounter someone experiencing self-doubt, low self-esteem, self-dislike, heartbreak. I’m shy, and I have a tendency toward social anxiety, but dear friends and my faith in Jesus have combined to help me through the worst of it. Sadly, not everyone is as blessed as I have been in the friend department. But everyone can be blessed with Jesus and the promises he brings.

Sometimes I struggle with sharing God and the love of Christ with people like my young friend who are so troubled. My struggle isn’t that I’m ashamed to own my Lord, my struggle is that they won’t want to hear it. That they’ll think I’m offering them pat answers and spouting platitudes.

How then can we reach out to those who are hurting? The first step, of course, is prayer. And I think it’s okay to let them know that we’re praying for them. I think if we speak with a genuine heart, they’ll know we’re sincere.

To everyone struggling with self-doubt and self-esteem issues, you’re beautiful. He loves you.

“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” ~~ 1 Timothy 4:4

This is you. This is me. This is all of us. We are created by God. We are good. We are consecrated by Him.

When you feel alone, like no one cares, don’t lose hope.

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” ~~ Isaiah 53: 3

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” ~~ Isaiah 53:4

I’m praying that each of you who are suffering will remember these truths and take them into your heart.

Suzie's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Meet author Susan Diane Johnson on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Win Susan Diane Johnson’s novel, NO SUBSTITUTE. (Tweet This)

Susan Diane Johnson: you too can be blessed with Jesus and the promises he brings. (Tweet This)

Author Bio:

True North is Suzie Johnson’s second novel. Her first novel, No Substitute, a contemporary inspirational novel, is out now from White Rose Press of The Pelican Book Group. She is a regular contributor to the Inkwell Inspirations blog, a member of ACFW, RWA, and is the cancer registrar at her local hospital. Suzie and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest with their naughty little cat on an island that is definitely not tropical. Together, they are the parents of a wonderful grown son who makes them proud every day – even though he lives way too far away.

You can visit Suzie at the following places:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fay Lamb: Seeing God's Grace In Action

Everyone's Story welcomes back Fay Lamb as its new guest this week. Through the years of blogging I've had guests thank me for hosting them and viewers that have thanked me for featuring a specific guest. Before I publish each new blog I pray that each feature pleases God, as well as blesses my guest. Publishing Fay's present segment is no exception. However, I must share that each guest and viewer has been a blessing for me. Until I read Fay's words below, I had no idea how God was working His marvelous ways to connect me and Fay at a time that we could benefit each other. That's why I'm pleased that Fay's piece shows that we can forever count on our mighty and ever-knowing God. So, heartfelt thanks, Fay, for this beautiful gift you've given me. Viewers, take a moment to view Fay's take on seeing His grace in action. And leave a comment to take a chance on winning Fay's current release, STALKING WILLOW. We both look forward to hearing from you!

Book Giveaway:
Fay is offering to one randomly chosen commenter a print or  ebook edition of her novel STALKING WILLOW, book 
#1 in the Amazing Grace series. The winner will be announced here on Friday, June 28th, between 4-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms by Fay Lamb

You’ve written a manuscript. The editor loved the story, and contracted the work. Preliminary edits and galley edits have been completed. The story has gone to print, and you’re holding a copy of your baby in your hand.

Now, the real work begins.

Maybe you haven’t planned ahead and prepared for the marketing aspect of your career, or perhaps, while living in the pages of your novel, you failed to realize that publishers depend upon its authors to market their work. Could be, like me, you did think about promoting your story, but you’ve been busy working on other projects.

Recently, when my writing track intersected with marketing, I realized I didn’t have time to seek for and find avenues to tell others about the stories I’ve written. I couldn’t plan a launch party. I had no time to contact fellow writers seeking a chance to guest on their blog, and forget setting up book signings.

Guilt wrapped a heavy blanket around me. Stress sat on my shoulders like a herd of elephants. The weight pushed me to my knees and while there, I found that my strength lies not in myself, but in the arms of the One who gave me the desire to write and the stories to tell. I begged God to help me. I asked Him to send opportunities for me to connect with potential readers. With a boldness born from my desperation, I asked God to further my career. Only then did I realize if He isn’t ahead of me on the path I’ve chosen, I shouldn’t be on it. In other words, my marketing plan became very simplified: a daily conversation with God, down on my knees, where I request His guidance through the doors He opens.

Instant relief.

Instant results.

My wonderful guest host for this blog, Elaine Stock, was one of the first of many contacts that came my way prior to the release of my current novel, Stalking Willow. My editor announced an opportunity to attend the International Christian Retailer’s Show in St. Louis at the end of the month. She has also arranged radio and face-to-face interviews, and other events are in the works. My fellow authors and friends have interviewed me for their blogs and allowed me to guest post. From several of those venues, I’ve had readers ask to review the book.

Since I’m daily on my knees, leaning on God’s everlasting arms, when opportunities come my way, I don’t have to weigh them or worry that they aren’t right for me. I can take on the interview, the blog, the travel, and any other unique opportunities God sends my way, with the assurance it is in His strength that I move forward. I also have the joy of knowing as I work to promote my stories, God is allowing me to minister to others. That knowledge makes the marketing track of my chosen career just as exciting as the writing track.

Fay's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Meet author & editor Fay Lamb on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Authors: does your writing time clash with marketing time? See what Fay Lamb did. (Tweet This)

God helps author Fay Lamb balance writing & life. He can help you too. (Tweet This)

Author Bio
Fay Lamb is an acquisition editor for Pelican Book Group. She also provides freelance fiction edits.

Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has recently contracted with Write Integrity Press for two four-book series. Stalking Willow, the first in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series is currently available for purchase, and Charisse, the first release in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series will be available in July, 2013. The second story in the Amazing Grace series, Better than Revenge, is set for release in September 2013.

Fay is a past-secretary for American Christian Fiction Writers. She served for four years as the moderator for ACFW’s critique group, Scribes. For her volunteer efforts for ACFW, she received the Service Members Award in 2010. She was also a semi-finalist that year in the ACFW Genesis Contest.

Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and five grandchildren (with the sixth on the way).

Connect with Fay at: (Fay’s website and blog: On the Ledge) (personal FB page) (Fay’s fan page) (Fay is the Tactical Editor, sharing self-editing tips) (Fay’s Twitter address) (Publisher)  (Amazon for print book)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Celeste Vaughan: Sharing Her Miracle So You Can Have One Too

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes Celeste Vaughan. When I first came across Celeste's personal story and triumph, and how she gave the credit all to God's glory, I had to ask her to be my guest. And, here she is. I hope that her story moves you as it has me, lifting you  in spirit and heart. Celeste shares her story, answers a few questions, and now awaits to hear from you.

                               An Unexpected Friend
by Celeste Vaughan

Addiction is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Nine years ago, when addiction unleashed The Beast in my brain, I’d never have uttered those words.

When this Southern-Baptist-sheltered-only-child-goody-two-shoes girl grew into a successful pharmacist, wife, and mom of three, life was perfect.

Until it wasn't.

The words, “Celeste, are you okay?” became my last memory. I'm told that I fell, wiping out the "P" through the "T" sections of the pharmacy shelves, leaving me with a badly broken nose, a broken tailbone, and quite a few bruises.

I’d had a grand mal seizure.

After a confusing ambulance ride and visit to the E.R., the hospital released me with a prescription for Keppra to prevent seizures, Lortab for pain, and a referral to a surgeon for my broken nose.

During the two months following, Lortab became my “friend.” The soreness slowly dissipated from my muscles, and the bruises on my body faded away. The bruises on my soul, however, were growing.

Once my nasal nightmare ended, I stopped taking the Lortab. Within a day, I started throwing up constantly. My body ached and I couldn’t remove the ice pick that was apparently lodged in my head. “Stomach flu?” I thought, "Well, I have this Lortab. I'll just take it for the aching while I'm getting over this." Within an hour I stopped throwing up. My heart fell to my stomach when I realized narcotic addiction had unleashed The Beast within, constantly wanting to be fed. My "friend" had now become my enemy and the key to my normal.

The Beast that morphed from my brain was relentless. It ravaged my body with constant nausea, migraine headaches, insomnia, and The Great Depression.

For the fourteen years I’d worked as a pharmacist, I dispensed medications for pain, sleep, depression, and anxiety every day, and could never understand the desperation people felt for these drugs. I now found myself in their shoes.

It took seven years, nineteen seizures, three head gashes, one split top lip, two slipped discs, a twice broken tailbone, a twice broken nose, one broken eye socket, constant headaches, insomnia, and The Great Depression for me to get it.  

God was working on my soul.

I’m pretty hardheaded, but after seizure nineteen, something clicked. I stopped praying for healing. I stopped praying for the rapture. I started praying for God to show me his purpose for my life.

Seven weeks later, on Saturday, September 25, 2010, I woke up happy, excited, and energetic for the first time in seven years.

God had given me a miracle.

My need for any pill vanished right along with my seizures. Unbeknownst to anyone, I weaned off my seizure mediation. By January 1, 2011, freedom was my new best friend.

Modern medicine could have healed my body, but only God could heal my soul. Addiction was hell; but without it, I’d never have experienced the slaying of The Beast by my Savior. I can now say, “Addiction saved my life.”

Questions for Celeste:

Your story, despite a grueling illness, is nothing short of miraculous. Have you had to deal with naysayers?

Unfortunately, there are always people that want to see you fall. It's mostly those who are not believers and don't believe a miracle from God is possible. Last year we had a carbon monoxide alarm go off in our house and ended up with a fire truck and ambulance in our driveway. Neighbors flocked over, assuming I'd had another seizure. Most were obviously relieved, but there were some that seemed to want to have the satisfaction of saying, "I told you so." People also always ask me how I know it was a miracle. Waking up that Saturday morning feeling the energy and joy I hadn't experienced in seven years was miracle enough for me. And it stuck. My children and my husband are probably better qualified to answer that question since they actually enjoyed living with me again! Lastly, I'm pretty much a sap. I cry if something is sad, happy, sensitive...whatever, and can't get a word out without getting choked up. But since God intervened in my life on that Saturday in September, I've told this story time and time again without shedding a tear. That, in itself, is a miracle! 

Any tips on how family and friends can offer help during a crisis such as yours?

That's probably one of the most frustrating questions to answer, because every addict is different. For me, support was what I needed the most. Addiction is not something I chose. I was not seeking a "high." I was trapped in it before I knew it. That being said, it did change who I was, and my family and friends could clearly see that I wasn't myself, but they could not understand. In my opinion, family and friends who have not been through addiction can offer little help other than support, and try to get the addict to seek help. Get them in contact with someone who has been there and has overcome, so they can see that it's possible to beat addiction.

With your returned health, do you want to try anything new that you hadn't dared to do previously?

My number one priority is to be the mom and wife that I couldn't be during the seven years I was sick. My youngest daughter was born shortly before that first seizure, so she only knew me as sick and depressed. I am doing everything I can to create memories for them that don't relate to my illness. However, I don't ever want them to forget the miracle God gave me and the transformation they saw because their faith skyrocketed. As far as me personally, I've been running for almost 2 years now—something I'd never before done. Also, after not wanting to leave my house for seven years, in two weeks I'm going on a trip out of the country for the first time in my life. I'm headed to Prague, Switzerland, and Germany with a friend to see a mutual friend who is a missionary in Prague. The freedom of not being tied to pills or the fear or having a seizure is amazing. 

Celeste's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Celeste Vaughan shares her path to addiction recovery on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Celeste Vaughan: Can addiction recovery be a miracle? (Tweet This)

Celeste Vaughan: “…only God could heal my soul.” (Tweet This)

Author Bio:
Celest Vaughn graduated from the USC College of Pharmacy and settled comfortably into her life as a pharmacist, wife, and mom of three children. After 14 years working as a pharmacist, she found herself on the other side of the counter and suffered for 7 years with seizures, depression, and prescriptions drug addiction. On September 25, 2010 God intervened in her life and changed her forever. He has now called her into a ministry of writing and speaking using her story to reach others for Christ by sharing Heavenly prescriptions written by the one physician who can truly save your life.

You can find Celeste on:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Elizabeth Ludwig: God Is Always Faithful

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes author Elizabeth Ludwig. I became acquainted with Elizabeth a few years ago through her fabulous blog, The Borrowed Book. Elizabeth is not only a fine author, but a woman of patience when it comes to answering my how-to blogging questions. Thanks again, Elizabeth! Please join Elizabeth Ludwig, an author whose career is growing by bookshelves, as she answers a few questions and shares plenty. Also, check out the video and the nice book giveaway Elizabeth is offering.

Book Giveaway:
Elizabeth is offering to one randomly chosen commenter a paperback edition of her novel NO SAFE HARBOR, book 
#1 of the Edge of Freedom series. The winner will be announced here on Friday, June 14th, between 7-9 AM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

                          Check out Elizabeth's video:

Questions for Elizabeth Ludwig:
Elizabeth, I’ve watched you blossom as a debut author writing cozy mysteries and novellas to a multi-book author for Bethany House. Congratulations! Has your publishing journey been as easy for you as it looks to us?

Oh, my…no. Writing is never easy. There have been many pitfalls along the way, some of which made me question if I was really doing what God intended! For example, I wrote for nearly 7 years before I landed my first contract. Then, there was a long stretch from 2009 to the early part of 2011 during which I was unable to land any new contracts. God carried me through those months and years with bits of encouragement planted along the way, but the main thing I had to keep going back to was His initial command and His promise, which came to me long before I sold my first book. It’s from Habakkuk and it says:
Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
God’s plan for my writing did tarry, but in the end, He proved He is faithful!

Why the switch from contemporary to historical fiction?

Actually, I started out writing historicals (seven manuscripts total) but I was unable to sell them, because publishing—like so many other industries—follows trends. I was told repeatedly by different publishing houses and editors that historical fiction just wasn’t selling well. Faced with this dilemma, I had to reevaluate what I was doing and whether or not I was willing to write for the current market. Shortly after, I learned that Barbour Publishing would be venturing into the cozy mystery market, and that a friend and colleague of mine would be stepping into the role of acquisitions editor. Now, there may be differing opinions on this, but I believe publishing it just too competitive not to take advantage of every opportunity. I saw this new cozy mystery line as a chance to get my foot through the publishing door, and I jumped at it! Though it wasn’t my first love, writing the cozy mysteries taught me a lot about plotting—something which I wasn’t familiar with and never really enjoyed—but something I needed to learn in order to write longer, more complexly developed novels. This is just my opinion, but I believe nothing is ever wasted, so long as I learn from the experience.

You also do speaking engagements. Peeking at the topics listed on your website, one has me curious: overcoming page fright. Can you share what page fright is?

LOL! Page fright is just another term for writer’s block—something I think afflicts every author at one time or another. But since I also do a lot of drama and theater, I couldn’t resist the urge to use a play on words.

I enjoyed NO SAFE HARBOR, Book 1 of the Edge of Freedom Series. Does this historical novel have any links to your own family’s history or did the impetus to write it come from your love of the era?

Hmm...I think I would have to say both. To start with, family members on both my side and my husband’s emigrated from Europe in the early 1900’s. Some of my ancestors were from Spain. My husband’s ancestors were from Holland, Ireland, and Germany. These brave men and women who risked everything in search of a better life were the initial inspiration for this story, but aligned with that was a love for the period, the history, even the city and setting.

Did you originally write the first book of the Edge series as a stand-alone, followed by cultivating it as a series with Book 2, or did you sell it as a series to begin with?

It’s funny that you ask this, because initially, Edge of Freedom was a two book series. It was only after some in-depth conversations with David Long, the Senior Acquisitions Editor at Bethany House, that I expanded the idea into a three book series. I’m so glad I did, because of the three, TIDE AND TEMPEST, the third and final book, was the most fun to write!

Will there be a Book 3 that follows DARK ROAD HOME, the 2nd Edge series book releasing this August?

Oops…I think I answered that in the previous question. LOL! Book three is titled TIDE AND TEMPEST, and it follows the story of Tillie McGrath, the youngest boarding house resident. Along with telling her story, TIDE AND TEMPEST finally resolves all of the unanswered questions regarding the mysterious Celt, and brings to a close the conflict between the Turners and the Hamiltons.

Now that you are a multi-book author, do you approach your writing and promoting from a different perspective compared to a debut author? Any advice to share from that hindsight knowledge?

I absolutely do. In fact, I would say changing my perspective on marketing and promotion has been a must! I really had no idea how much work was involved in marketing a new book, or that all of that had to be done while I was working on other things. For me, discipline has been the key. I’ve had to approach my writing responsibilities much like I would any other career—with dedication, commitment, and ingenuity. While there are many things that are outside my control—like sales numbers or book reviews—some things are not. I made a decision, therefore, that while I can’t control sales number, no book of mine would ever fail because I didn’t work hard enough. There may be other authors out there more talented or more creative, but I can’t control that. What I can say is nobody out there is willing to work harder.

In addition to writing you’re also a freelance editor, host a successful blog, The Borrowed Book, speaker—and all this on top of family responsibilities. What’s your balancing trick?

Are you ready for this?

I wake up around 6:00 or 6:30. I feed my dogs, and get ready for work all within an hour. If I have time, I throw in a load of laundry before heading out the door.

From 8:00-4:00, I work as a superintendent’s secretary at a public school. I have an hour off for lunch, so I try and answer email, write blog articles, and make changes to my website during that time.

Once I get home, I usually have two or three chapters to critique. I try and do those before starting supper, unless I’m on a deadline. In that case, I work on my own stuff first. After that, I clean up in a hurry and either cook (or buy) something for the family to eat. Then it’s back to the computer for an hour or two more. Usually, I try and split that time between writing and marketing/promotional obligations.

Bottom line: housekeeping doesn’t carry the same urgency it used to.

For fun: want to share what you enjoy the most during downtimes?

Well, let’s see…aside from reading and writing, I love to ski and I have a ridiculous number of dogs. Someday, I’ll write a book about my life and call it Downhill Dachshunds: Keeping up with the Pack.

Thank you so much for hosting me, Elaine! Readers can find me at:

I’m also on Facebook and on Twitter. Stop on by! I’d love to have you visit.

Elizabeth's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Meet author Elizabeth Ludwig on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

God’s plans for your writing? Elizabeth Ludwig wondered too. See what happened. (Tweet This)

The key to writing, promo, outside job, and Life 101? Elizabeth Ludwig shares on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Author Bio:
Elizabeth Ludwig is the award-winning author of No Safe Harbor, Book One in the Edge of Freedom series. Her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoys a wide readership. Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. 

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