April McGowan

Hello Again

Jasmine saleHi. You probably thought I forgot all about you. I know it’s been ages. I’m sorry. Let’s recap:

My novel launch went spectacular. Huge THANKS to Alexa Mason from Portland Rescue Mission and Sally Faddis from Door to Grace for coming and speaking about their ministry outreach programs for hurting women and children. It’s incredible what those two groups are doing to get women and children off the streets and love them for Christ.April Reading

 

We had a great turnout, ate lots of cookies, drank some wonderful coffee and tea and were safe and cozy away from the storm raging outside. I mean, what could be better than a good book and yummy treats? I know! If you were able to attend, thanks so much for being there sharing in a huge pinnacle moment for me. You made it extra special.

Snacks

 

Well, then came the crash. My physical crash. It took a full week to really recover from the excitement and tension of the event–thanks chronic illness! And then the family got head colds. Now I have a head cold. You see the pattern? So, really, I didn’t forget you, I’ve just been bogged down.

Now you’re thinking, but what about the contest? Who won? Without further delay:

CONGRATULATIONS to Jessica G. for winning the autographed copy of Jasmine!  WHOOP.  (I actually let her know via FB right after the contest ended–but I feel it’s important to make a public announcement!). Thanks to everyone who shared about my novel launch and the paperback release. I couldn’t have done that without you! You were great!

Amazing and humbling reviews are coming in for Jasmine. If you’ll permit, I’m going to share a few here, and then I’ll let you go. Thanks again for all the support and love. You really are the best!

What readers are saying about Jasmine:

“Jasmine is an incredibly well-written tale – one of those stories that makes me feel as though I truly know the characters.”

“Authentic.”

“Couldn’t put it down.”

“A beautiful story of rescue and redemption.”

“Jasmine is a deep, poignant story which provides hope and help for any who’ve suffered from abuse.”

“Jasmine was a raw look at the life of a survivor.”

“A captivating read with passages that melt your heart with the pain of Jasmine’s past and the struggle to find normalcy when her life has suffered from the deviant behavior of others.”

 

Have you read Jasmine? I’d really appreciate a review at your favorite online retailer or Goodreads. Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing, and thanks for all your encouragement!

 

 

 

 

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Peace of Mind

An email from a relative reminded me today that life is fragile. After watching his wife lay gravely ill in the hospital for the past week, its tenuous nature is more apparent than ever. He’s openly sharing struggles and triumphs. And their appreciation for prayer is apparent. In the midst of their trials, which are tremendous, he’s finding things to rejoice about.

Oftentimes, though, it’s just the opposite. In talking with some whom I know are hurting, there seems a pervasive attitude that if they admit they have difficulties, this would cast some sort of shadow on God. They feel pressured to put on a happy face, not be sad, not grieve. I, myself, have been told this. Try as I may, it’s been hard for me to understand. But I think I’m finally glimpsing where it’s coming from.

We live in a sales orientated society. What can that product do for me? Watch out—if it doesn’t do what I expect, then I won’t buy it again.

I openly admit that my prayers haven’t always been answered. God is not a magic genie. He’s not my God because I can manipulate Him by saying certain words (seriously, do you want to worship a God you can manipulate?). I can pray, and if it’s not in God’s greater plan, whatever the reason, I won’t have my prayers answered the way I want. Does that mean God doesn’t love me? That I shouldn’t tell people about it, because then, when we’re sharing about God, they might not buy it?

Well, there’s the problem. God is not for sale. The relationship He offers through belief in Christ is free. In fact, Christianity is the only free religion. Free of guilt, free of doubt, freedom of forgiveness—you don’t have to work for it and you can’t pay for it. Grace is given to all who ask.

My God is mighty. Jesus came to save the sinner, the frail and the poor, the weak and the sick. He did not come to save us out of our circumstances, but in the midst of them. And in those trials, thanks be to Him, we can have great peace.

Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Full text here

Philippians 4: 4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Full text here)

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Everyday I Write The Book

Upon hearing I’m going to have my novel, Jasmine, published (releases in June 2013), just about one in seven people tell me they’ve always wanted to write a book. And then I’m asked, hope filling their eyes, how long it took.

I’ve always had one story or another rolling around in my head for as long as I can remember. But, the actual writing process was difficult for me when I was younger, so I took turned to fine arts and carried that through college. I don’t regret it a bit, because studying fine arts helped me be a better watcher and analyzer of people and spaces around me.

About the time I had my daughter, I put away my paints and drawing equipment. My dear girl didn’t like to nap, and loved getting into my colorful things. By the time I’d set up an area and start on a project, she’d wake up and grab my brushes and pens. This frustration for me, though, forced me to turn to a media that could be cleaned up rather quickly—and one I could go back to easily. Writing. My world opened!

I started writing short stories and my first novel about fourteen years ago. That novel turned into a huge learning and proving ground for me. It was at that point I started to attend writer’s conferences. And my world opened even further! I started taking classes, networking and buying up books on writing. I couldn’t wait for the next conference to submit things and get feedback. I wanted to be better at my craft. I was hungry for it.

I’ve now completed three novels, and am in process of writing my next. There’s no easy way to publishing, even if you self-publish (you want it to be perfect, right?). Here’s some advice I followed, and if you want to write, I think it’d do well for you, too:

Show up at the computer (or notepad) as often as you can and write. Write something!

Read. A lot. Read books in the genre you want to write in, and then read everything else. Fiction, non-fiction, magazines, what have you. Study books on writing and the creative process.

Attend writer’s conferences, take classes, listen to veterans in the field, and take advice humbly. Submit, submit, submit your stuff when you have opportunity. Connect with other writers, share and encourage each other.

Have a fire in your heart to become better—strive for it. Take those classes where you have to write something and share it aloud (scary? You bet, but invaluable). Join a critique group. Get feedback as often as you can from people you respect. If you write in a bubble, you’ll never improve. Trust me.

If you have a story in you, and you’re serious about getting it out of you, then do everything you can to do it.

I love hearing from you! Are you writing, or do you want to write? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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You’ve Got A Friend

I might have mentioned once or twice that we homeschool. There are many reasons we’ve chosen to do so, and I won’t take the time to list them now. But I have to say, the evidence we saw last week solidified our certainty in our choice even more so.

We’ve had doubters in our lives. People that thought we were nuts to take on the job of teaching the kids. And more so, people that were worried about how they were being socialized. For some reason, folks outside the homeschooling environment have the idea that the best way to socialize kids is to throw them into a room with forty students, one teacher and an aid, and hope all will work out for the best. Coming from that environment, I can say that didn’t work out so well for me.

Back to last week: My children were invited to a friend’s birthday party. In attendance were a number of homeschooled children, ages sixteen down to nine (I’m not including the nineteen year old in this, because, legally he’s not a child, and he’s a college student now-you know who you are and you can thank me later). We were at a family-fun center, playing mini-golf, video games, laser tag and the like. In the package, they had the choice of a virtual ride or go-karts. Of course, they all rushed to the go-karts and got in line.

The two youngest (one being my son) were tall enough to ride in the go-karts, but unbeknownst to us, if they were under a certain age, they couldn’t ride alone, and that the other person had to be an adult. The adults didn’t have tickets. So, out of the line came two teary-eyed kids, leaving the rest behind. We walked away, deciding to try and look on the brighter side and comfort those who were left out of the fun.

Here’s the neat part: Quite suddenly all the rest of the kids (six of them) showed up around us. They’d, as a group, decided it wasn’t fair that they went on the go-karts when the younger two couldn’t go and instead opted for the virtual ride where they could all take part. Now, let me be clear—those six WANTED to go on the go-karts. Those six were mostly teens. And no adults tried to encourage them in any way, shape or form. In fact, we adults were heading inside with the younger ones.

I can’t tell you how good that made my son feel. His friends (one of them, his sister) had sacrificed their fun time out of a sense of fair-play and togetherness. They said, “It wouldn’t be right us getting to go and them feeling badly at a party.”

I can honestly say it’s been NEVER since I’d seen a mixed peer group give up something they wanted to do just so two little kids wouldn’t feel badly. I don’t know about you, but my heart warmed at the selflessness of those older ones. Yes, it was just a ride, and they went on to have fun on another ride—but it’s those little things that solidify relationships, reveal kindness and build us up. I was so glad to witness it.

 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (Full text here.)

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Dream Weaver

I’ve been dreaming, hoping, praying about getting a publishing contract for a long time. A long, long time. So, about two weeks ago I got the email every writer hopes to get, the one that said, “Good news! We’re going to publish your book.” (Although, it was probably more articulate than that).

After re-reading the email about five times, it sunk in. I proceeded to try and tell everyone I could think of—by the way, those of you that weren’t home…where were you??!! And then, it really sunk in. All my hard work, all my hopes and dreams were going to be out there for everyone to see. You might guess what follows: fear. Will I be able to keep up, will my health hold, what about all those unknowns?

Now, I know I’m not alone in this. I immediately went and panicked to my new author group and they reassured me they knew exactly what I felt like. My editor was very supportive (cool…my editor), and other writer friends were encouraging. All those things helped. But, it wasn’t until I turned to the One who planted the seed of this dream in my heart all those years ago that my fears subsided. I won’t say disappeared, because self-doubt looms over my shoulder (it’s rather black and fuzzy with green eyes..no wait, that’s my cat). But, when that self-doubt arises, I’m doing my best to remember the dream weaver, the original Author of life, has it all in hand.

I’d love to hear if you’ve ever had a dream come true—and what you did with those nagging doubts!

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Full text here.)

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