A NEW HANDBAG
BY KELLI HUGHETT
There’s nothing in the world like a new handbag! It’s a new beginning. I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but my old purse gets bogged down with gum wrappers, receipts, bank envelopes (they’re empty of course), and loose change. Getting a new one is my chance to start fresh. I trash all the wrappers and papers I don’t need, toss the coins in our meager vacation fund and move all the important items to the new handbag. It’s so nice to be able to find what I want again!
I had neck surgery in 2013 and afterward my therapist recommended I carry a smaller, lighter purse. For almost a year, I ignored the advice while dealing with chronic discomfort, even though the problem had been fixed by the surgery.
I wasn’t ready to give up my larger handbag for a small one. I mean, can you carry two shades of lipstick, a mascara, a hand lotion, nail kit, travel Bible, 12 Band-Aids, and an oversized wallet in a teensy-tiny little purse? No, ma’am you cannot!
When my neck ached, I applied heat and ice. I stretched and had chiropractic treatments. When it was really uncomfortable, I’d take Advil or Tylenol. Nothing really helped long term, but it was manageable—most of the time.
Finally, I decided to try the “small purse” advice. The therapist even recommended I never carry a shoulder bag. Ouch. That really limits the cuteness options! But I was willing to try anything to get back to a place of no discomfort and pain.
Guess what? It worked! As soon as I started carrying a small, hand-held style handbag, my neck discomfort disappeared! I’ll never carry a shoulder bag again!
Do you ever feel discomfort from the sin you’re carrying? Lots of us are lugging around a load of guilt and consequences like a woman with purse fetish.
Take my therapist’s advice: Ditch it for good.
When your sins are feeling heavy remember this verse: Isaiah 44:22:
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.
Return to your redeemer: Don’t carry your guilt and sins around in a shoulder bag. God wipes them away like a mist! No sins = no discomfort!
Tell us about The Ticket
Tray Dunaway longs to be part of the popular set at school, but she's growing too fast and her clothes no longer fit right. When she wears Gram's hand-sewn clothes to school, the kids make fun of her tall, boney appearance. Tray's luck improves when Pee Wee Johnson, a down-and-out friend of her father's, buys two lottery tickets and gives one to Mr. Dunaway as a thank-you for driving him to Hazard, Illinois. When her father's ticket turns out to be the winner, Johnson demands his cut of the proceeds, but Tray's dad refuses. What seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly becomes a disturbing turn of events as Johnson threatens to cause problems for the family and Tray. To learn more, view the book trailer: https://vimeo.com/50187275
What prompted you to write this novel?
First, I wanted to write something to show of how little importance wealth really is, though we often spend way too much time thinking about money. Once I decided to write about a family with financial troubles winning the lottery, then I thought it might be interesting if someone else bought the ticket and gave it to them ... which leads to a lot of the twists in my plot.
Is there one particular message or “moral of the story” you hope readers walk away with?
There are actually two important messages. One is that wealth might not bring all the good things we sometimes envision and might create more problems than it solves. The second message is to treasure the moments with your loved ones; we never know how long we will have them in our lives.
What is your current work in progress?
I have two adult novels almost ready to go; they are set in the fictional town of Sugar Sands, Alabama, a small Southern beach town. I am also currently writing an ambitious saga about my grandmother’s life, which is based on the facts that I know, but fictionalized. I start when she is twelve and cover fifty years of her life.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I prefer to set my novels in places I can see vividly, having experienced something similar in my own life. So I typically write about small southern towns: Paradise, Kentucky, in The Ticket, patterned after the small towns of Mayfield, Murray, or Benton, in western Kentucky, where I grew up; Sugar Sands, Alabama, patterned after Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama, where my family has vacationed regularly for years; Bell City, Kentucky, where my grandmother grew up with eight brothers and sisters. I’ve spent a month each year in New Zealand for about 12 years, so eventually I plan to set a novel there.
What three things about you would surprise readers?
I start to dry out like a fish if I’m away from water too long. I’m a world- class (or least LA, as in lower Alabama, class) boogie boarder. I’ve done a fair amount of stage acting, including several of Shakespeare’s plays (Ariel in The Tempest was a favorite—I also played the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz).
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
I have a colleague at Vanderbilt whose signature on his emails reads “Never, never, never give up.” I think this is what I would tell writers. That, and write what you care deeply about, rather than what you think the market is ripe for.
How do you see yourself in your character’s story, if at all?
I think there’s always a piece of me in every character I create, from the most sympathetic to the least. In The Ticket, I see myself most clearly in Tray and in her relationship with her grandmother.
What is your favorite scripture?
1st Corinthians 13: 12-13: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Where do you like to write?
When I’m writing, I get so immersed in my characters and their lives I can write almost anywhere. As a part-time writer with lots of other demands on my time, I have learned to scribble thoughts on anything and everything whenever a sentence, a phrase, or an idea strikes. It might be on a napkin in the middle of a business lunch, or on a scrap of paper in my handbag during my commute (not a recommended strategy, from a safety perspective), or even on an order of worship during a sermon. I can’t always explain where or why an idea comes to me when it does, but I try to take advantage of every one if at all possible. If I wait, thinking, “I couldn’t possibly forget this one,” I may surprise myself with my capacity to forget.
When you’re working on a project, how do you keep the immensity of it from getting you down?
I often rely on Robert J. Ray’s book on writing, The Weekend Novelist, to provide a structure. In it Ray describes a fifty-two week program designed to produce a finished novel writing only on weekends, though I never follow his plan exactly. For one thing, there are often weekends that don’t lend themselves to any extensive writing. Stuff comes up. Fortunately, my hours as a professor are fairly flexible. This allows me to start the day on certain weekdays by writing at least a couple of pages, although I aim for five pages. I can make up for this by doing my class preparation late at night, right before I go to bed.
Could you share the first paragraph of The Ticket?
I am content, curled on the sofa with the afternoon light streaming in through the picture windows, warming me as I allow myself to be carried away to Egypt, where I am a beautiful, dark-skinned, blue-eyed spy deeply in love with a dashing adventurer. But, even more, I am deeply committed to my cause and uncertain on which side of the political fracas my love’s true allegiance lies. I must not—I cannot—be swept totally by the passion that threatens to consume my soul … So when my father charges through the door, reeking of stale coffee and fatigue, I momentarily forget who or where I am and am taken by surprise.
Where can readers find you online?
Website and Blog: www.debracolemanjeter.com
Book trailer: https://vimeo.com/50187275 or Youtube: https://youtu.be/FYTKJdd7Gqw
I am honored to have Nan Jones as my guest today.
Welcome, Nan. Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina (Ashe County) about 10 minutes from Virginia and about 20 minutes from Tennessee. My home is a farmhouse built in 1895 with a much loved wrap-around porch, complete with rocking chairs and porch swing, that replenishes my spirit when I feel worn. I have three adult children in their late 20s and one grandchild. Talk about joy! I love the dynamics that occur in a parent-adult child relationship. Watching the fruit of my labor sweeten the world around them is a delight of my heart. My simple country home wouldn't be complete without my Mastiff, Blue - a 125 lb. hunk of love and two country cats. When I'm not writing or preparing messages for my speaking ministry, you'll find me gardening, crocheting, reading or sharing a cup of coffee with a friend.
How and when did you begin to write?
As a child I was an avid reader and have always enjoyed the power of story. I am also an artist. Around age 10 or so, I realized that I could put my two passions together and paint with my words. That's when I fell in love with words! I wrote poems and short stories. I made designs with random words. I experimented with rhythms created by different sequences of words. This love of words seemed to ooze out of me. When I was 12 I made a list of my life goals. Writing a book was number one.
Throughout my life, writing was a hobby. I used my talent to help with church newsletters. I wrote poems and made cards as gifts. Occasionally I'd write a small piece for publication in an anthology, but writing was still something I did, not something I was. About five years ago my husband and I went through an extensive period of unemployment. It was at that time that my husband encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing full-time. And I did. I created my blog, Morning Glory, began networking with other writers and professionals in the industry, and studied the craft of writing diligently. I still do.
How did you first become a published writer?
I am with a small, traditional publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Lighthouse delights in giving new voices a chance to be heard—I love that. How many great voices, messages, and stories have been neglected because the author didn't have an agent or couldn't afford to attend a large writer's conference to meet face to face? Lighthouse is a branch of Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us). They host a small conference in Black Mountain, NC at Billy Graham's, The Cove every February called Writer's Advance Boot Camp. It's a great place to begin a publishing journey. The conference averages 100 people and costs less than $250 for lodging, food, and conference fees. That's where I met Eddie Jones, my publisher. I was actually the first recipient of their Badge of Honor book writing contest. I'll never forget the day I signed that first contract. I had waited and dreamed for so long, and now it was really happening.
Can you give our readers a short description of The Perils of a Pastor's Wife?
In The Perils of a Pastor's Wife, I offer a hand to hold, aha moments of healing, and soul-strengthening biblical insight. If you're a pastor's wife struggling with your calling, this book presents a lifeline of hope and encouragement. You will be empowered to fight spiritual battles with God's grace and love, protected by His armor. Learn creative ways to stand up for yourself while standing by your man. Feel the blessing of your calling—as a ministry helper, marriage partner, and mother. Discover how to respond when all hell breaks loose. The Perils of a Pastor's Wife will guide you through the calamities of life and restore your confidence in God's purpose and plan for your life and ministry.
Most important of all, the reader will realize that somewhere, somehow, someone knows and understands.
What led you to write The Perils of a Pastor's Wife?
I served as a pastor's wife for 31 years. These were some of the most fulfilling and rewarding years of my life. These years were also some of the most trying—not necessarily because of the people, but because of the spiritual battle that raged. Our lives could be turned upside down as quickly as the wind changes in a storm. A pastor's wife knows what it is to feel completely alone in the middle of a crowd. We are known to have trust issues—wondering who we can really be ourselves with and share our hearts with when we're troubled. Rejection is another deep-seeded hurt that most folks don’t think about when they consider the lives of pastors and their wives. We love our church people like they are family. When we are asked to leave or voted out because of the annual confidence vote (a rural mountain tradition) it's like going through a divorce. The pain is unbearable. But most people don't think about that. I knew that other pastors' wives needed to know that they were not alone in their struggles and that someone understood what they were going through.
The Lord has taught me so much through this journey of service to Him—lessons of His faithfulness, lessons of His pleasure in obedient hearts, and lessons of finding shelter beneath the shadow of His Wing. I am so thankful He asked me to share this with His girls.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on another non-fiction piece tentatively called SEEING BEYOND THE VEIL: Finding the Nearness of God When You Need Him the Most. It's all about learning to look for the evidence of God in our lives. You know, we tend to think that when we're going through a difficult time God has abandoned us. Through my own sorrows I've learned deep in my knower that during my darkest moments, that's when the Lord is closest—He is drawn to our pain. But I must open my eyes to see Him. That's the veil I'm referring to, not the veil in the temple that separated God's people from Him—the one that was torn in two when Jesus died. No, I'm referring to the veil that separates our physical world from the spiritual world. The Lord promised to be with us always, but we often fail to see Him, especially when we need Him the most. Seeing Beyond the Veil will teach the reader how to open her eyes to see Him, and in the seeing, the child of God learns the very essence of who He is. I've recently started a facebook community page by the same name, Seeing Beyond the Veil. I get carried away when I speak about this because I love to share lessons learned, so I'm sorry I rambled. Suffice it to say that I'm very excited about sharing what the Lord has shown me about His faithfulness and His Presence surrounding us always. There will be a bible study for small groups by the same name to follow, so stay tuned.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
The word that comes to mind is diligence. Be diligent in all things and write for an audience of One. I found it is imperative to be diligent as unto the Lord. When we offer our labor to Him it makes all the difference because, as writers, it's our responsibility to plant His love through our work and then leave the harvest up to Him. Frustration will easily set in without this mindset because if we think success is only measured in reaching thousands of readers, but the Lord intends our message to reach just a handful, it's easy to think we have failed. But that's not true at all. God's ways are not our ways. Our job is to be obedient to Him and take each step as He leads us and then leave the results up to Him. If only one person reads our blog, have we done it in vain? No, not if we have done it as an offering to the Lord. I've learned that if only one person reads something I've written it's because that person is the one the Lord designated to receive that word. In that knowledge I can cease striving, but remain diligent.
I highly recommend Marlene Bagnull's book, Write His Answer. It was the first book on writing I read and I still refer to her wisdom often. Also, like it or not, we must be engaged on social media. Edie Melson has an awesome blog, The Write Conversation, that will teach you everything you need to know.
Please give us the first page of The Perils of a Pastor's Wife.
AFTER THE FIRE,
A GENTLE WHISPER
ONLY GOD KNEW where my husband was. I had run from
the business meeting before its completion. Tempers
flared. Tongues were unleashed, and nearly three years
of fruitful ministry were all but destroyed. My heart beat
madly within my chest, fighting desperately not to break
from the pain of rejection. Angry tears stung my cheeks
as I bolted from the sanctuary. I didn’t know if I could
continue in this thing called ministry. God was asking too
much of me.
My husband, David, and I had been ministering in the
small rural church for three years. Under his leadership
and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the church had experienced
exponential growth. God’s mercy and grace flowed into
the lives of our people. Church had become a place of joy,
restoration, and refuge.
Then evil reared its ugly head.
How can my readers find out more about you and your work?
I can be reached by following any of the links listed below. I would love to hear from you.
Facebook: Nan Trammell Jones
Facebook Community Page: Seeing Beyond the Veil
(a place to find the nearness of God when you need Him the most)
Pinterest: Nan Jones, Author
To contact Nan about a speaking event or prayer retreat, please visit her website or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nan Jones is an author/speaker who uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the Presence of God in their darkest hour. Her devotional blog, Morning Glory, has become a place of community for Christians to find encouragement in God’s Word and comfort in His Presence. She has been published in several anthologies as well as the online inspirational sites Christian Devotions, and Inspire a Fire. Nan has also had the honor of being featured as a guest blogger on several sites. She is thrilled to announce her debut book, The Perils of a Pastor's Wife released June 30, 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When Nan is not writing, she enjoys leading prayer retreats, bible studies or sharing God’s love as keynote speaker for special events. She is becoming known by her brand: "Even so, I walk in the Presence of the Lord" as she teaches her audience to go beyond the veil to find God's Presence
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