Friday, September 27, 2013

Murray Pura: Creating Characters That Readers Want To Emulate In Life

Everyone's Story welcomes multi-published and award-winning author Murray Pura. For some time I've seen Murray buzzing around on the web, awed at the array of novels and devotionals he has written. I'm honored that he accepted the invitation to guest appear this week. Both readers and writers will benefit from his perspective on writing a historic-based character that resonates a kindred heart to the contemporary soul. And, check out the amazing Book Giveaway that Murray is offering to 6 commenters. Murray is looking forward to replying o your comments.

Book Giveaway:
Murray is offering 6 commenters their choice of 1 PDF format of either these novels: THE LAST WALTZ or SWEET CHILD OF MINE or A ROAD CALLED LOVE or THE ROSE OF LANCASTER COUNTY or either devotionals ROOTED or STREAMS. Each is for personal use only and cannot be loaned or distributed. Details of each book are found either on Murray's website (see below for link) or on Amazon. The winner will be announced here on Friday, October 4th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks! 

WHY I WRITE by Murray Pura

I have served as a pastor for 25 years and also done missions work in nations as diverse as Ireland, Italy, Colombia, and Nepal. All during those years I was writing when I had free time.  I used the stories in the pulpit in Canada and the United States, I used them on the mission field, reworked them as dramas and acted them out in churches and in the streets. Whatever kind of story I wrote one thing had to be consistent – fiction or nonfiction they all had to be stories that were carriers of truth.

In 2010, in God’s timing and not mine, doors began to open for writing contracts with publishers I never dreamed would be interested in me. Some wanted devotional and theological books but most wanted fiction for the millions of readers who were hungry for well-written stories that would inspire, challenge, motivate, and, yes, delight. So I set out to do those very things with the tales that began to fill my imagination.

I have always loved historical fiction because while technology and clothing and cultural norms may change, people do not. The human in the 21st century can connect with the human in the 17th century because both are living souls made in the image of God, both are broken, both seek redemption and restoration and wholeness, and both are trying to find their way in a world and a life and a faith that is not always easy to understand or embrace.

In the same way that contemporary fiction allows readers to see themselves in the stories of other people in the world of 2013 and 2014, historical fiction permits them to see themselves in the stories of people of decades or centuries before. What I like to do is take ordinary men and women, the same sort of persons that my readers are, and plunge them into extraordinary circumstances – the outbreak of World War One, the battle lines at Gettysburg, the deck of the USS Arizona on the morning of December 7th, 1941, the witness stand at a witches trial in Colonial America, a prison camp in Nazi Germany in 1945. I want my readers to get totally involved in the drama of the moment and all its difficulties and dangers and grace.

How will the men and women in my stories pray? How will the Bible help them through peril and outright disaster? How will they help one another when a loved one is lost in combat or to a terrible disease? What words will come to their lips when it is time to speak out and save a human life? When will they fight? When will they lay down their swords?

What begins to happen with my readers is they take on the same struggles and decisions and wonder what they would pray, what passage they would seek out in the Bible, how they would bear up under the loss of a child or spouse, what words they would find to speak truth at a trial where everything was lies. They choose to emulate the faith of characters that never gave up and never stopped believing. They too choose to live and love and overcome, finding God and his grace during the darkest moments of their lives. And by doing so, and living out the story in their own hearts and souls, they begin to grow.

For the day comes when for many what was once fiction becomes fact. Some are thrown into the extraordinary circumstances of 9/11. Some open the door to two uniformed officers with hard news about their son. Some must somehow survive the ravages of a hurricane that has destroyed their home and is threatening to destroy their life. Many have only the Bible and prayer to turn to when everything in their world is turned upside down and inside out.

That is why I write.

Murray's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Author Murray Pura on Everyone’s Story: Why contemporary readers enjoy historical fiction. (Tweet This)

How does story serve an author and author serve story? Visit with Murray Pura for insights. (Tweet This)

Murray Pura: Creating characters that readers want to emulate in life. (Tweet This)

#ChristianFiction #BookGiveaway of Murray Pura to 6 commenters. Be one! (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Murray Pura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, just north of the Dakotas and Minnesota. His first novel was released in Toronto in 1988 and was a finalist for the Dartmouth Book Award. Since that time he has published a number of novels, two collections of short stories, and several nonfiction titles including the Zondervan books Rooted and Streams and the Baker devotional Majestic & Wild. He has been a finalist for several awards in the US and Canada and in 2012 won the Word Award of Toronto for Best Historical Novel. His book The Wings of Morning has been nominated for several literary awards in the United States including Best Inspirational Romance and Best Historical Romance. Murray lives and writes in southwestern Alberta and is currently published by Barbour, Baker, Harper One, Zondervan, and Harvest House as well as several other publishing houses. His releases for 2013 include: Ashton Park, The Rose of Lancaster County, A Road Called Love, Seven Oaks, The Painted Sky, Whispers of a New Dawn, Beneath the Dover Sky, and An Amish Family Christmas.

Connect With Murray At:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ian Acheson: An Author's and Character's Take On Spiritual Warfare

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes author Ian Acheson. It was a pleasure to introduce Ian here earlier this year (see below for February link) as a debut author and equally great to have him back. Even more, peeking at his website, he's working on the 2nd book of the ANGELGUARD Chronicles, so fans of supernatural fiction with the battle between God's army of angels vs. demons, as well as the gripping theme of engaging heaven's army on one's behalf (imagine!), start getting excited now for Ian's next great read! Check out Ian's Giveaway of his present novel, ANGELGUARD, his amazing book trailer, and his interview with Jack, a character from the novel. Ian is looking forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Ian is offering to one randomly chosen commenter either a print or e-version edition of his novel ANGELGUARD. The winner will be announced here on Friday, September 27th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks! 

        An Author Interview A Character by Ian Acheson

Author's NoteIf you’re not familiar with Jack Haines, his story can be found in ANGELGUARD, the first novel in the Chronicles of the Angelguard.

ANGELGUARD reveals the timeless supernatural war that continues unabated and it’s intersection with our physical world. In bringing the warring angels and demons to the forefront of a rollicking tale that crosses the globe, it highlights the ferocity of this conflict. The physical story focuses on three survivors of separate acts of terrorism that occur within weeks of each other. 

The power of prayer in engaging heaven is a second prominent theme of the novel. 

Ian Acheson had the opportunity to sit down with Jack Haines, the hero of Angelguard. In a long wide-ranging interview that covered various topics including Jack’s faith, dealing with grief and the loss of loved ones, to his passion for ball sports and a hidden talent, Ian was able to share an excerpt of the exchange with us on Everyone’s Story.

Thanks Jack for your time today. Perhaps fill us in with what occupies most of your days.

Ian, it’s my pleasure. I spend most of my weeks during the academic year teaching organisational design, leadership and entrepreneurship to students at the Australian Graduate School of Management and University of NSW. I also run my own consultancy business where I share my learning’s as a student of business with a small number of global clients.

And what about when you’re not working?

Running around being exhausted by two daughters, two-year-old twins. As a single dad it can be a lot of work. I’m blessed that my dear mum, Louise, moved into my home after Sarah, my wife, passed away last year. Mum cares for the girls while I’m working. I’m fortunate that I’m able to do a lot of preparation work at home so I can be within earshot of the family on most days.

Last year was a traumatic time for you. Are you able to share a little about how this impacted your walk with the Lord?

As you can imagine it was really tough at first. We were living the life, busy work and enjoying being a family of six, and part of a wonderfully caring church community. Then bang, tragedy struck, that family was halved and all of a sudden I felt terribly alone having to care for my two little ones. It was a real test of my faith. At first, I blamed God, but through His gentle reassuring touch He ministered to my broken heart. It’s still healing but what I’ve come to appreciate is that God wants us to depend on Him. Not just for the biiig things in life, but the everyday. So each day when I rise I seek Him out and ask for His help in everything I’m doing that day: caring for Gracey and Catie, teaching my students, being a son, friend and brother.

You confronted real evil last year on a few occasions. What was that like?

Fortunately, I can now only remember the joy I felt when we were together on the train heading towards Circular Quay. What happened after we crashed has now become a blur, until I woke in the hospital to be told Sarah and my two eldest had perished at the hands of a terrorist. Those first moments on hearing that news I expect I’ll never forget even though I was on heavy painkillers.

We’re all familiar with the Bible verses that tell us about what Satan and his workers are all about. John 10:10, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;” well I’ve seen the results of his handiwork firsthand. All the atrocities that occur in this world should remind us that evil does exist and as far as the enemy is concerned it’s a full-bloodied assault for our souls.

But the second half of that verse tells us we have the ultimate warrior on our side: Jesus. He has come that we may have life and have it to the full.

Even though there’s still sadness, I know God’s in charge, He’s crazy about me and as I mentioned before I’m learning to give over more of myself to Him. My prayer life has become such an important part of my day. Even days’ that are incredibly busy I make sure I give time to be in His presence and thank Him for all that He has blessed me with.

From Elaine:
Jack, I'm truly sorry you experienced the events that no man should. I applaud how, by seeking God, you've risen from the quicksand of despair. Do you have any suggestions for my viewers to take in seeking out the Lord for help? For instance, when I'm in need of not only talking with God but also hearing what He has to say, I go on long walks, cleansing my mind and heart with prayer and then listening for what He may say or show me. Also, God has an interesting way of working out my woes--He often leads me to others who are experiencing similar circumstances and we end up supporting each other. How about you, Jack?

Elaine, thank you for your kindness and for allowing me to share a little with you and your readers. Your question is a tough one as I feel far from adequate in being able to answer it well. I do struggle with hearing His voice but what I found worked well for me was crying out to Him with how I was feeling. Knowing that He was always present listening was some comfort. I take great solace from the Psalms especially those of David. Take 63:8 - "My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me." At my lowest moments I would just repeat a verse like that over and over. What I found was the gloom over my heart and mind would dissipate somewhat allowing me to receive the Lord's still voice. I came to recognise that He's always hanging onto me, and I'm the one that lets go when I choose to deal with the grief on my own. 

I've also discovered the importance of gratitude. By simply thanking God for His many blessings, whether it was the magnificent sunrise or my daughter's sweet gurgle as she sleeps, my heart would open and then I'd be able to receive His peace.

I hope that helps to answer your question. Keep hanging on to Him.

Check out Ian's awesome book trailer:


Ian's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Author Ian Acheson on Everyone’s Story: Imagine God’s army of angels battling evil. (Tweet This)

Ian Acheson’s character tells of a full-bloodied assault for our souls. Can you relate? (Tweet This)

#BookGiveaway of ANGELGUARD by Ian Acheson, a story of warring angels and demons. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:

Ian’s debut novel, Angelguard, was released a few months ago in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. It’s been 10 years in the making and he’s very pleased it’s made the light of day.

When Ian’s not writing he’s a professional strategy consultant having been in the Corporate world for the past 25 years. He brings some of this experience into his stories. He’s lived in Sydney, Australia, all of his life. Ian shares life with his wife, Fiona and they try to keep up with two almost-twenty something young men who give them much joy and you know what else if you’re a parent.

Connect With Ian:

Ian's first guest appearance on Everyone's Story--here

A Note From Elaine:

In following professionals' advice, I've started an Author's Page on Facebook. I'd love for you to Like it at :

Thanks ♥

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wanda Winters-Gutierrez: The Search For Peace

Everyone's Story is blessed this week to host author Wanda Winters-Gutierrez. You know how you just hop from one thing to another on the web? Coincidence or is there Something more behind the scenes where you land? I believe whole-heartedly that God brought me to Wanda's website, especially when I read about her brother and then purchased the moving tribute to him, THE MOUNTAIN MAN. When I invite guests to appear on this blog I ask that they contribute a piece that will help to uplift  one's spirits and show hope since I don't believe we can ever get too much of it these days. What Wanda sent is another prime example of God working and I hope it lifts you up as much as it has for me. Plus, check out Wanda's special Giveaway and an excerpt from THE SEARCH FOR PEACE: A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO SPIRITUAL WHOLENESS. She looks forward to seeing your comments.

Book Giveaway:Wanda is offering to two randomly chosen commenters a printed edition of THE SEARCH FOR PEACE and to one commenter, a copy of MOVING ON: AFTER A STORM. The winners will be announced here on Friday, September 20th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks! 

 An Excerpt from THE SEARCH FOR PEACE:


As we move toward A Place Called Peace, or Wholeness, the people in our lives will be at a loss to figure us out. They will hardly recognize the ‘out of the box ‘ us. ‘What on earth has happened to them?’ is a common response to the new and different way we are handling our life and them.

What happen? It is quiet simple…the ‘hope’ in our spirit began to manifest in our soul and we became intolerant of our ‘present’ and decided to create our ‘future’. We got tired of living on the edge of everything and decided to jump smack dab in the middle and claim our best life. We got tired of ‘ lack’ and went after ‘more than enough’. Being tired of almost… we left…we may not have arrived yet…but we did leave.

We stopped thinking ‘I can’t’ and began to proclaim to the world, the universe, the angels in Heaven and all the demons in hell that, ‘Yes, I can! And Yes, I will! Furthermore, whatever any of you guys have to do to allow full access to the Plan of God or me…get it done! Either get out of my way, or start bringing the resources to me, because I WILL walk out my Assignment on this earth.’ And by the way, with these ‘positive core beliefs’ in place and fully realized, nothing and nobody will be able to stop you or even slow you down. You will be walking in The Dream, Girlfriend…with a Soul Set Free.

Some days, you will be so full of this revelation that you won’t even know yourself. Just who is that woman in the mirror whose eyes reflect the deep tranquil pools of peace in her soul and whose words radiate vision? Who is that full-of-confidence-creature who walks into a room and her very presence demands respect? Although she can speak ever so softly, her laughter is spontaneous and full of joy. Who is that? She has an aura of Royalty and yet at the same time love motivates her to ‘be kind to all people.’ Who on earth is that?

Answer: That’s you and that’s me…. ‘ That’ is our Father’s Daughter (or Son)… healed, whole and free…right here on this earth.

Now multiply ‘that’ woman by the hundreds, and thousands, and you will see millions of Women walking out the Call of God upon their lives. These women will bring healing and wholeness where ever they turn. They will come from every walk of life and touch every social and economic level of society. We are on our way girls and the world is about to take notice.

As this transformation transpires, some of the on lookers will not fully appreciate the changes they see in you. There are a number of reasons, but all of them basically boil down to the fact that since you ‘got out of your box’, ‘their box’ is not as comfortable as it use to be. You’re not predictable any more. You seem just ‘too full of yourself’ for their comfort. After all …up until now your life had been ‘all about ‘them’.

Their wounded souls can’t count on you to re-act like you use to. Once upon a time they could set the climate for your day by just a word, but now no matter what ‘agenda’ their wounded souls come up with, you just don’t buy into it.

As much grief as they try to give you about the changes, they are also jealous. They wouldn't mind having your freedom, but the price you paid seems just too strange. (Getting up in the middle of the night to write words from Father in your journal…paraphrasing the Bible and putting your name in it… strange indeed.)

Since their own box is still a fortified stronghold, they sometimes hide in it and turn into ‘snipers’. Snipers try to wound you just enough so you can be dragged back into the box they helped you create. You, back in your box, makes it easier for them to stay in their box. The thing we do if we are the least bit co-dependent is put our box inside their box so we can keep house for them. Makes things real handy… for them. Our best defense for the ‘snipers’ in our lives is no defense. Nothing we can say will change anything for them. ‘They’ are the deciding factor in their own lives, just as we were.

I remember as clearly as it were last week, the day one of my past ‘personal snipers’ turned from ‘aggressive’ to ‘passive aggressive’ and tried to hook me up one more time with feeling sorry for them. With tears they said, “Oh, I know I make your life miserable”. My answer surprised even me, “No,” I said in a calm clear voice, “No, you don’t, my days of misery are over”. And so they were.

I had better things to do than get back into that co-dependent box of trying to make ‘them’ okay. God had a Plan and I was determined to move my Hope of walking in that Plan into the Reality of my everyday life. I had a mind to renew…I had a Journey to take…and fooling around with ‘what-others-thought about me’ was, as they say, wasting daylight.

KEEPING IT REAL... MY STORY by Wanda Winters-Gutierrez  

When Elaine kindly offered me the honor of being a guest on Everyone’s Story I wanted to share a bit of my personal journey in hope that might inspire others to make quality decisions and learn to flow with freedom past boundaries and limitations into their own life of endless possibilities.

I began writing a half a century ago as a young teen because I needed to process my life into some semblance of order. Yet, I was near 60 years old, 58 to be exact, before my first book was published ... followed by an average of a book a year for the last nine years. All of them are well accepted and selling internationally. Along the way I have won awards, received fan mail, spoken to crowds and autographed more books that I can count. Looking back it seems that every book I write holds elements of how to move from a life of unmet needs, unhealed hurts, and unresolved issues into who God created you to be. Strangely enough even the two books co-written with my kitten Blessed Mickey Parker touches to survive the worse and come out into a good-good place.  
I had a dream...I saw a woman in a basement room. She was very well taken care of, in need of no material possession, but seemed to be under house arrest. I saw her look wistfully through her high window to a bit of sky where a bird sailed full of grace and beauty. As she turned away from the window I could feel her painful loneliness for something she could not define.

I continued to watch from a distance, feeling sad for the woman, when suddenly I realized she was me. That's when I heard a voice saying, "The door is locked from the inside."

"The door is locked from the inside." So why didn't I walk out?

I was a dyed-in-the-wool people pleaser. My training began early. First with my family, then teachers, society, church, relationships, each sent messages, or outright told me, that certain actions, thoughts, jobs, attitudes, opinions, use of time, and certain clothes were unacceptable. In unmistakable terms I was given to know that stepping outside the 'tank' of 'our' value system was a risky and dangerous business.

I learned my lessons well. In trying to make other people happy I continued to shrink my world until I lived in a self imposed captivity... especially in my gift as a writer. Over the years I had jumped out of the tank now and then to create beauty and touch lives, but I had been unable to stay free and productive for any length of time. I was always second-guessing myself.

The tape of my 'training' about my writing ran like a river through my soul...."You only have an 8th grade education you can't be a writer... You have a learning disability... Who would want to read anything you wrote?...  all spoken by people I loved and who said they loved me. In essence my mind had become a bus and I was letting others drive it.

Because of the endless negative comments over the years about other areas of my life I learned to feel I should stop all unacceptable behavior such as having my own taste in clothes...make-up...hairstyle etc. My early years had laid the groundwork in my soul that created a magnet in me that drew narcissistic controllers. It was all I had ever known and it became a comfort zone from hell.

All I ever wanted was someone who would validate who I am.. to see past my limitations into my heart. What I saw in their eyes was none of this...the light I mistook for approval and validation was the narcissistic/controlling glow of how I could make their life work better, and how they can use me to further their agenda. One day, much like the prodigal son, I came to myself and knew it was time to start living the life my Heavenly Father planned for me.

In retrospect, I am not complaining. I have traveled this path to soul healing long enough to know that, as an adult I had helped create the mess I found myself in with my freewill, and I would have to cooperate with God to get me out of it by using the same freewill. Not an easy trip, but one I documented in simple to follow steps in my first book The Search for Peace:A Woman's Guide to Spiritual Wholeness.

As I set out to learn I soon discovered that there is no quick, painless fixes. But as usual even the decision to learn caused a great light to appear on my path as books, articles, FB Blogs, people and insights apparently' just happened' my way. A particular article by Merrill Markoe opened my eyes about narcissist/controller relationships: you walk a fine need to 'SHINE" but "ONLY' in a way that cast a favorable light on them. Do not under any circumstance shine so bright that the attention is directed toward you and not them.

I was considered selfish and self-centered if I made a decision that is different from theirs. Over the years I have turned a huge amount of my money and life over to them just to prove my love and keep the peace. I learned that narcissist are people who cover up feelings of shame and worthlessness inflicted during their messed up childhood by doing whatever it takes to maintain the false sense that they are very special and therefore not bound by ordinary rules. This requires them to surround themselves with people who will constantly pump them up by agreeing with them about everything.

I had a serious 'wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee-moment' and realized that, I too, had..."spent most of my life as an admiring audience, acting as a vent for their anger, as a Fan Club President, or an incompetent maid for the narcissist around me. If I was not mirroring them, or praising them I was proving I was a separate person and thus threaten a narcissist fragile worldview. When I demonstrate that I have ideas they tend to totally reject them and take it as a personal affront."

As a Christian, the death of expectations removed the fuel that had propelled me forward for years. Gone forever was the dream that by treating them with kid gloves and loving them unconditionally would transform them. I had to face the brutal fact I wrote about in The Search for Peace: A Woman's Guide to Spiritual Wholeness.."I was not their Savior... Jesus was and I needed to let go." All those years what I wanted to think was 'compassion and long suffering' was codependency cleverly wrapped in a cloak of piety.

According to Ms. Markoe the ONLY practical method for coping with a narcissist is ...

#1 Change your expectations.
#2 Maintain emotional distance.
#3 Stop trying to please un-pleasable people.

With all these insights tucked into my soul the journey continues and clarity comes. As I made changes low and behold a prolific writer stepped forth and embraced who she was created to be. Let me assure you it is the ONLY way to write...actually it is the ONLY way to live.

I am now 67 and these days I am freshly inspired to go beyond the boundaries of my weaknesses, to challenge the walls of my limitations, and believe in the endless possibilities that God promised me in... Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I promise you... it is never too late.

Wanda's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Everyone’s Story: Wanda Winters-Gutierrez, helping hearts and souls of the wounded (Tweet This)

Peace in a narcissistic-co-dependent relationship? See what author Wanda Winters-Gutierrez says (Tweet This)

#Giveaway for you or a loved one: The Search for Peace: A Woman's Guide to Spiritual Wholeness. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Wanda Winters-Gutierrez specializes in creative non-fiction, inspiration, and memoirs.

She is known as a writer with a unique ability to draw the reader into the emotion of the moment. Because of her insight and spiritual understanding she has been able to touch the hearts and souls of wounded people all over the world.

She leads workshops, seminars, retreats, teaching meditation, meditative journaling, artistic and other creative classes. Her various endeavors are all geared toward setting people free from the un-met needs, un-healed hurts and un-resolved issues of their past and take them beyond to healing.

Her first book The Search for Peace: A Women's Guide to Spiritual Wholeness is being used in women's prisons, halfway houses, and shelters for abused women as well as a study book in churches and other organizations.

You can connect with Wanda at:
Wanda's website

A Note From Elaine:

In following professionals' advice, I've started an Author's Page on Facebook. I'd love for you to Like it at :

Thanks ♥

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