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First Line Friday #25

The book I’m featuring today on First Line Friday is a nonfiction book that a friend recently recommended to me. It’s called Praying For Strangers by River Jordan. The title itself drew me in.

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The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer. ~F.B. Meyer

My sons are marching off to war.

First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. Then check out the books other readers have featured in the comments on this blog and on the Hoarding Books link at the end of this post. You might find a book you would like to read simply by reading the first line. You can also click on the title of the book above and it will take you to Amazon so you can see what the book is about, read the reviews other readers have shared, and purchase it if it interests you.

 

First Line Friday #24

The book I’m featuring today on First Line Friday is The Healer from the series called Hillbrooke, by Beverly Joy Roberts. This is an incredibly captivating book that takes placed in a small town in Michigan and centers around a church. Anyone who attends church regularly and tries living a godly life knows that there are spiritual forces that work against believers individually and the church as a whole.

Beverly Joy Roberts takes you into the lives of the sincere believers in this church, as well as the lost in the community. You see their hurts and struggles, and the obstacles they are facing. You observe how both good and evil are reaching out to them, one to draw them to God and the other to draw them away and into deeper turmoil. At the same time, you see the struggles that believers face and how evil wants to bring them down.

By the end of the book, tears were streaming down my face. I wanted to do a victory dance, but didn’t dare since I was sitting in a airplane thousands of feet above the ground and I didn’t think the other passengers would understand.

I highly recommend this book. Your heart will beat in rhythm with the characters of the story.

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“Deer Lake was a beautiful backdrop for the al fresco anniversary gathering of the Brown’s small group.”

First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. Then check out the books other readers have featured in the comments on this blog and on the Hoarding Books link at the end of this post. You might find a book you would like to read simply by reading the first line. You can also click on the title of the book above and it will take you to Amazon so you can see what the book is about, read the reviews other readers have shared, and purchase it if it interests you.

 

First Line Friday #23

The book I’m featuring today on First Line Friday is probably one of my all time favorite novels. It’s part of a wonderful series, but each novel can stand alone. The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick is a beautiful Christian historical romance where love comes after the marriage vows have been spoken.

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Prologue

Windsor Castle

1531

“What of Vincent of Stone Lake? He’s a loyal lord.”

The king commands Bracken to take Megan of Stone Lake as his wife. He is captivated with her right away, but he’s unskilled in love and isn’t used to sharing his thoughts and feelings. He’s more used to giving commands and expecting immediate obedience.

Megan is rather independent and used to being pushed away because of the dysfunctional home she grew up in. She spent more time away from her family than with them.

They marry because the King commanded it, but now they must find a way to understand and get to know each other. Love slowly grows in both main characters. She tries to please him by finding ways to help make his castle more efficient, which only causes him to think she doesn’t believe he knows how to run his castle. On the other hand, he tries to protect her by taking some of her freedoms, but doesn’t bother explaining why he is doing so. Lack of communication leads to misunderstandings until he almost loses her.

There are fascinating side characters in this novel. I loved Bracken’s family. Where Megan’s family is a sad situation that causes her no end of heartache, his is warm and wonderful. They welcome her with open arms and she experiences the warmth of family her heart has always longed for.

This is a beautiful story that was worth every moment of my time. Loved it!

First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. Then check out the books other readers have featured in the comments on this blog and on the Hoarding Books link at the end of this post. You might find a book you would like to read simply by reading the first line. You can also click on the title of the book above and it will take you to Amazon so you can see what the book is about, read the reviews other readers have shared, and purchase it if it interests you.

 

The Antagonist is a Hero

swearing-294391_1280One of the most helpful things I learned about writing a captivating novel is that the antagonist is a hero in his own story. If I can show that the antagonist in my story truly believes he is justified in what he is doing, it adds depth to that character. I must be careful not to focus more on the antagonist than the main characters of the story, but that villain needs to be interesting, believable, and have a good reason for why he is the way that he is. He must also be absolutely convinced that his way of thinking is correct — no matter how wrong he may be.

As I contemplated this, I realized this is true in real life, too, not just in novels. Even the most difficult person we ever have the misfortune to meet, usually is absolutely convinced he is justified in his incorrect behavior. For example, didn’t Timothy McVeigh see himself as a hero? Didn’t the men who flew the airplanes into the World Trade Center on 9/11 see themselves as heroes? Of course they did.

Think about a story you recently read. Who was the antagonist? Did they see themselves as the hero? Let’s take a moment to look at Pride and Prejudice. One of the antagonists in that story is Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Here is a quote that she said to Elizabeth Bennett:

Screenshot 2018-02-25 22.03.12“Not so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged, I have still another to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sister’s infamous elopement. I know it all; that the young man’s marrying her was a patched-up business, at the expense of your father and uncles. And is such a girl to be my nephew’s sister? Is her husband, is the son of his late father’s steward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth! —of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?”

Lady Catherine de Bourgh definitely saw herself as the hero in her own story. She was saving Darcy from having his lineage polluted by bad blood, namely the Bennett family, and Elizabeth in particular. She felt justified in putting Elizabeth in her place and keeping her there.

Creating a character who sees himself as the hero in a Christian fiction, may cause the reader to hope that somehow or other, the bad guy will recognize his error and become a better person. After all, even the worst of sinners will receive redemption from God if he will only repent and stop sinning. If your antagonist can recognize the error of his ways, he can actually become the hero in your next novel. I’ve seen authors do that very thing in books that are part of  a series. In the one book, you can’t stand the antagonist, but in the next, they have changed to such an extent that you find yourself rooting for them.

Understanding this concept has not only helped me in writing, but it has also caused me to try to look more deeply at the motives of difficult people in real life. How do they see the situation? What motivates them to do what they do? Sometimes, they are only partially wrong. They do have some valid points, but their methods of trying to correct the situation may be all wrong.

Bear with me as I take this one step further. I, too, am the hero in my own story. I have my opinions and, at the end of the day, I think I’m right. I’ve looked at all sides, taking my experiences into consideration as well as the things I’ve read, and I have come to a conclusion. However, my neighbor may be of a different opinion. How should I handle this? We certainly can’t both be right. (Can you feel the tension rising here? Life is complicated, isn’t it?)

This brings to mind the Bible verse in Ephesians 4:2 NLT, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” I’m certainly not saying we should make allowances for the faults of people like Timothy McVeigh and simply allow them off the hook. No prison sentence for him. Just a slap on his hands. No, that is not what I’m saying. But if you are a believer and his prison guard or a trusted friend, should you still try to reach out to him for the sake of his soul even though he had no compassion on the many people he killed? Should you try to show him Christ’s love? As difficult as it is to say, I have to answer; Yes, you should.

Why? Because Jesus has compassion on even the worst of sinners. In comparison to God, we all fall short. Not one of us was good enough to be welcomed into heaven. But if Jesus was willing to save us, who are we to say He should not save this person or that person. It isn’t our call. It is our responsibility to reach out to all people and to tell them about the love of Christ. The rest is up to God. He will judge each person. Look at Jeremiah 17:10 NASB, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” God is a just God and will look into every heart before pronouncing judgment. One thing we see clearly in the Word of God: Salvation is for everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, asks Him to forgive them of their sins, and then welcomes Him into their hearts and lives. 

Now, let’s get back to fiction. Think about the antagonist in a novel you’ve read. Have you ever longed for the bad guy to see the error of his ways because you kind of liked him? The writer caused you to see things from the antagonist’s perspective and, although he is wrong, you wish he would change before he goes too far.

Do any of you remember Little House on the Prairie? Nellie was a real stinker. She thought she was better than everyone else because her family was the wealthiest in Walnut Grove. As she grew older, I often wished she would grow up and see herself as equal to everyone else. Interestingly enough, when she finally marries in later episodes, her husband helps her to change, and my wish comes true. Her mother, however, is another story. I don’t think she ever changed. But, really, how fun would Little House on the Prairie have been without that awful Harriet Olson? Which just goes to show that the antagonist is as important to the story as the hero and heroine.

 

First Line Friday #22

The book I’m featuring today on First Line Friday is A Worthy Pursuit by one of my favorite authors, Karen Witemeyer.

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February 1891

Austin, Texas, Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths

“I’m closing the school, Miss Atherton, and that’s my final word on the subject.”

Charlotte Atherton is a teacher on the run. A wealthy railroad investor hires bounty hunter, Stone Hammond, to return his abductor granddaughter to him. Stone never comes home empty-handed, and he has no intention of doing so this time either. However, when Miss Atherton produces documentation stating she is Lily’s legal guardian, Stone must decide whether the teacher is a villain or a victim. Being forced to spend time together causes him to see Charlotte Atherton in a new light and his heart doesn’t remain untouched.

Anytime you pick up a Karen Witemeyer novel, you will not be disappointed.

First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. Then check out the books other readers have featured in the comments on this blog and on the Hoarding Books link at the end of this post. You might find a book you would like to read simply by reading the first line. You can also click on the title of the book above and it will take you to Amazon so you can see what the book is about, read the reviews other readers have shared, and purchase it if it interests you.

First Line Friday #21

The book I’m featuring today on First Line Friday is Rumors and Promises by Kathleen Rouser.

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Stone Creek, Michigan

1900

“Sophia Bidershem jerked awake as the train whistle blew.”

I haven’t finished reading this book yet. I’m about halfway through it, so I can give a little glimpse as to what you can expect. What is unique about this book is the subject of single girls who found themselves in the most uncomfortable position of being with child. Some through promiscuous living, while other were seduced into believing this is how you show true love, while other’s were forced to submit. The pastor of the town feels burdened to start a home that will house these ladies and allow them the opportunity to keep their children or, if they prefer, give them up for adoption. Sophie arrives in town with a two-year-old child she claims is her sister, but you realize right away it’s actually her daughter. She feels terrible about the lie, but fears for her illegitimate child and how she might be treated hold her back from admitting the truth. The pastor and Sophie feel drawn to each other, but how will he react when he finds out Sophie has been lying? What will he do when the people in town find out the truth about Sophie? He’s still new in town and likes his new position. Will he choose to stand with Sophie and her child, and risk losing his job? The thing I wonder most about is, how will the ladies in such a home be treated by the town’s people? Will they truly be accepted or always looked down upon by many of their neighbors. How will their children be treated once they begin attending school? If you consider society’s frame of mind on this subject back in 1900, this is a situation that has countless obstacles to overcome. I will keep reading to see how the author brings about a happy ever after.

First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. Then check out the books other readers have featured in the comments on this blog and on the Hoarding Books link at the end of this post. You might find a book you would like to read simply by reading the first line. You can also click on the title of the book above and it will take you to Amazon so you can see what the book is about, read the reviews other readers have shared, and purchase it if it interests you.

 

Which is Your Favorite Genre?

When you are on Amazon or browsing through a bookstore, which is the genre or type of book you are most drawn to? I mean as far as fiction is concerned, which genre do you gravitate toward?

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Mine is most certainly the genre I’m writing in. I love Christian Historical Romance. It doesn’t necessarily need to be filled with a bunch of facts about a different time period. I just need enough information to place my mind in the appropriate setting. Correct word usage is important, as well as the proper clothing the characters wear, tools they use, transport they use, etc. I don’t need a history lesson, since, after all, this is a fiction. I just want to feel like I’m living through those characters and facing their challenges and the limitations of that time period.

Personally, I love books in variety of historical settings, but I seem to gravitate toward Regency England (Napoleonic Era and into the early 1800s), Pioneer, and Westerns. I have been known to read Colonial, Civil War, Victorian, Medieval, and several others. Very rarely, but on occasion, I read a contemporary fiction. For me it’s more about the people than the location. If the book has a great description, I’ll try something outside of my favorite genre.

How about you?

Which fiction genre do you enjoy reading the most?

First Line Friday #20

First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. Then check out the books other readers have featured in the comments on this blog or on the Hoarding Books link at the end of the post. You might find a book you would like to read simply by reading the first line. You can also click on the title of the book below and it will take you to Amazon so you can see what the book is about and the reviews other readers of shared.

The book I’m featuring today is Wilted Dandelions by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield.

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Buffalo, New York

1837

“Spinster Rachael picks weeds, hoping someone will pick her.” 

I met this author at our ACFW Great Lakes Chapter meeting in January and decided to read one of her novels. It was time well spent. The characters are well developed and believable. I love that the heroine is strong and self-sufficient, yet vulnerable. The hero is brave and desires to obey God, while dealing with his inner weaknesses in a way that do not diminish him as a man. This novel was hard to put down.

The story takes you on an adventure through the heart of Indian country in the 1800s. Rachael Rothburn’s one desire is to be a missionary and share the love of Jesus with people who have never heard of Him. She sees herself as a spinster and has given up on marriage. Dr. Jonathan Wheaton desires the adventure of going west and, as a believer, would like to use his skill to help people as well as tell them about Jesus. Unfortunately, anyone desiring to join in the expedition must be married, so they agree to a marriage of convenience. On the journey, they battle raging rivers, hostile Indians, and treacherous mountains, while having to deal with ungodly men and women, yet the greatest battles are the ones within themselves. How long will pride and feelings of jealously keep these two from surrendering to God’s perfect plan?

Now it’s your turn. Place your first line in the comments and then check out other bloggers who participate in First Line Friday. Just click on the link below.