Trusting God in the Deep Waters

I admit, I’m a terrible swimmer. I still hold my nose and if shoved under, I will surface choking and coughing. I might be able to save my life and I’d hope one of my kids if necessary, but anyone my size or bigger…you’re just not gonna make it. 

The shallow end was my preferred territory as a kid. While my siblings jumped off docks and into deep water, I was content to sit near the shore and play in the sand. Okay, that’s a lie. I wasn’t content. I pretended to be content. In the marrow of my bones, I longed to run and jump off the dock and into deep waters. I dreamed of diving off the diving board with friends at camp. Instead, I lied (yes at church camp, clearly I needed it) and said I wasn’t following the herd. I talked people out of diving off the diving board with some of my words. I held others back from the deep waters…because I was too afraid to take the plunge.

In my relationship with Jesus, I’ve played too many years in the shallow end and watched too many friends enjoy the deep waters. 

The deep waters are a place where you can’t see beneath you. Can’t touch. Can’t see land. Without markers, how will you find your way back to shore? Deep waters contain vicious beast that want to devour you like sharks, jelly fish–okay not devour but definitely sting–among many other freaky creatures.

But Jesus call us to deep places.

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.'” Luke 5:4 NLT

It’s in the deep places, if we’re obedient, we find our truest calling and passion. It’s where our lives become a testimony. Where we can walk over waves. Where we drown in grace and are buoyed by faith.

Simon Peter didn’t want to go out into the deep. But because he did, they hauled a major load of fish. So much the boat nearly sank. NEARLY.

“Then Peter called to him, ‘Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.’

‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” Matthew 14:28-29 NLT

It was in the deep waters where Peter walked with Jesus.

Fear is a hindrance from launching into the deep.

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of (fill in the blank). 

In my new release, Deep Waters, my heroine is terrified to trust God due to past hurt and failure. She’s watched too many people suffer and refuses to suffer too. Maybe you can relate to Caley.

It’s easy to say we trust God in the shallow waters where our feet touch and we’re delusional enough to believe we have full control of our lives, our situations, and our circumstances. 

“The truth is we’ll never know until we launch out and allow our faith to be tested. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:3 MSG

Question: Is there an area in your life that God is calling you into deep waters? Would you be bold enough to share it? I’ll be praying for you.

I’m giving away a copy of Deep Waters. Paperback for U.S. citizens and e-book for those of you abroad! 



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Win 1 of 2 Prize Packages!

Drum roll…

Through the month of January, my good friend, Jodie Bailey, and I have teamed up to give away TWO super cool prize packages which includes a signed copy of each of our January releases: Dead Run by Jodie and Concealed Identity by moi! (Must be 18 or older. U.S. only.)

Using Rafflecopter, we’ll draw two winners on Tuesday, January 31st and announce them on Wednesday, February 1st! 

Check out the prize packages:

Jodie’s Prize Package

Wake up to THE good book with a journal for notes, a cup of pumpkin spice coffee in a sweet Fort Brag mug, and a two good books! And hey, don’t forget sweet treats, more coffee (or tea) from Starbucks ($10)!  

Jess’s Prize Package

On a cold night, stop by Starbucks ($10) for your favorite hot drink (or sweet treat), come home and curl up in some warm fuzzy socks (emoji heart eyes because, hellooo, you’re reading romance!), pop some popcorn, and enjoy signed copies of Dead Run and Concealed Identity… and don’t forget before bed, a little moment with God, some Burts Bees to soften those lips (xoxoxo) and a journal to keep notes!
Ya’ll just don’t know how cool it is to have a book releasing with Jodie! We met during a pre-published excerpt competition and have been fast friends since. 

Tell me, have you made a life long friend through a chance encounter? Share the deets in the comments!

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I SOLD A BOOK! The story with a little help from Miley Cyrus

Sometimes songs help
tell a story.

Today, “The Climb” by
Miley Cyrus is going to help me. Just like Kutless helped me tell one in 2011. READ IT HERE!
I can almost see it.
That dream I’m dreaming…
I wrote my first book in
August 2008. I had no idea where it was going to go, but I felt compelled to
write. I gave that manuscript to my mom that Christmas. She cried, but not
because it sucked. Though, I think it might have.
I kept writing. One story.
Another. Another.
I met and pitched to my
dream agent in Feb. 2011. She offered me representation in September of 2011.
She submitted my book
(not my first but 12th) in November 2011. I thought in about a month
or two I’d have a contract, after all this was a God-given dream (insert maniacal
laughter here). I kept working. Revising. We kept pitching. Rejections came.
And came. And came.
There’s a voice inside my head saying
You’ll never reach it
Every step I’m takin’
Every move I make
Feels lost with no direction,
My faith is shakin’
But I, I gotta keep tryin’
Gotta keep my head held high
But I couldn’t quit. Because
no matter how shaken I felt. No matter how discouraged, how frustrated, how
physically painful it was, I couldn’t deny this was what I was born to do. This
is part of who I am.
Twelve manuscripts
turned into twenty.
I met amazing people.
Authors. Unpublished writers. Industry professionals. They sowed into my life.
They taught me. They corrected me. Friendships were bonded. Some of my best
friends live states away and yet a day doesn’t go by that we don’t text or talk on
the phone. A prayer team, I call the Triple Ps formed. These women pray for me
with such intensity and passion, I can honestly feel it when I sit down to
I’ve learned what true
patience, endurance, and perseverance mean. I’ve had years to hone my craft
(though I haven’t “arrived” I’m always growing and learning). I’ve had years to
discover areas where my pride is Nebuchadnezzar kind of scary. I’ve had years
to nail it to the cross. I do it daily. I’ve had years to learn how to fight fear
with the Truth of God’s word. To battle doubt and confusion.

New stories bring new
obstacles and struggles. It’s a slow climb. It’s a lesson in waiting, in a
culture where we don’t have to wait for anything. It’s a stretch where I’ve
learned balance. Balancing being a wife, mom, ministry leader, friend,
daughter. I asked, “Why so long? When, Lord? I’m doing everything you’ve asked
me to do! How much longer? I’m hanging on but…”
And I’ve cried. I’ve
been exhausted physically, emotionally, spiritually. Worn slap out and feeling
too tired to press on. Too tired to write something new. Too tired to revise what
I already have. Too tired for one more blog post. Too tired for one more
rejection. Too tired for one more person asking me when I was going to get published.
Too tired to roll my eyes when someone mentioned writing was easy. Just type up
a story and slap it on Amazon. Too tired to slap them for saying that. Too.
Too. Too. Tired. I’ve lost the fight.

But God.
Always: But God. He
never failed me. Never let me down. He presented amazing opportunities out of
the blue, right when I needed the encouragement. Every step of the way. He’s
been with me. For me. Beside me. He’s gone before me. And He’s pushed me from
behind…straight up the mountain. Not the mountain of publishing per se, but the
mountain of self-discovery. The mountain where I’m pruned. Grown. Matured.
 There’s always gonna
be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb
And then halfway up the
mountain, God gave me a new vision. A new direction. One I hadn’t jumped on
before. But I obeyed. Because if I’ve learned anything in 7 years, it’s trust and
obey. I wrote one more book. And you know what? I had it in me to do. Because in my weakness, He is strong. And His grace is sufficient for me.
Price of Betrayal was
born. I sent the proposal to my agent on February 27th, 2014. On
March 19th, the editor requested the full manuscript.
On March 26th,
my agent sent it to her.
And guess what? I
And waited.
And waited.
I wrote two more books
for this line while waiting in 2014.
On October 10th,
2014, the editor sent back a request for revisions. So I went to work. Again.
We sent those revisions back on November 3rd, 2014.
And guess what? We
waited. I waited. I revised. I put out a free Christmas novella to subscribers.
I decided to create a series of novellas. I shopped for presents. I checked my
email like a freak of nature.
On January 29, 2015, I
got THE CALL. My amazing, wonderful, encouraging agent sat on the other end of
the phone while I hit my knees sobbing. A week after that I had the chance to
talk with my editor from Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense. She’s super nice and
fun to talk to. And her revision requests were insightful and spot-on.
Price of Betrayal
(tentative title) will hit shelves in early 2016. Yeah, another year of waiting
while I’m working. But I’ve learned waiting is worth it.
New struggles will come.
New challenges. More mountains to climb. To make move.
The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down, but
No I’m not breaking

I may not know it, but
These are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep goin’,
And I, I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on, ’cause
Maybe you’re trying to
make a mountain move. Take the steps. You move. And God will move the mountain.
Keep on movin’
Keep climbin’
Keep the faith baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith…
Never ever stop
dreaming. Never ever give up. Keep reaching. Keep climbing. Keep stepping.
Climb tired. Climb when it hurts. Climb when you feel rejected. Climb when you’re
discouraged. Climb when you can’t see. Climb through the tears. Climb when you
want to quit.
Push on. Press in. Pray
When you reach the summit,
you’ll look back and see God’s fingerprints all over the journey. 

It’s not
about fast. It’s about faith.

If God is in it, you can’t
Thank you to everyone
who has stuck by me and encouraged me. It ain’t over yet! And listen to the song. You’ll be glad you did. 

What are you dreaming for?

Faith Readers Group Review and Sugar Cream Pie!

I haven’t posted a
group review in awhile. Not because we’ve hated the books, just…I don’t know.
Point is, we’re here today.
In March we read,
Poison by Jordyn Redwood. She wrote a really cool post on poisons, and I admit
that I never want to be on her bad side, as she knows way to many creepy ways
to kill me. 🙂 You can read it HERE!
We met in the café
with coffee and Jan Kerley’s fabulous sugar cream pie. Now ya’ll say that real
southern like. It was bite after bite of deliciousness and it went super well
with the fudge pie Gayle Adams brought. We chatted about life, the book and then
we Skyped with the fabulous, Jordyn Redwood.
She was super nice
and answered all of our questions. She even shared some real life experiences
that inspired some of her suspenseful and medical scenes. We all enjoyed that.
And she was ready with some fun questions of her own! What was our favorite scene?
What scene would we like to erase from the book? Which characters did we like
most and why?
It was so good, I didn’t think to
take a photo till it was half gone!
Sugah Creem Pah!
Like a Snicker Doodle topping over
a vanilla-like custard center.
It was thirty
minutes of laughs and fun. We wish Jordyn could have had some of that pie–we
even discussed it with her!
So here are some
things the ladies had to say: (I don’t think
there are any SPOILERS!)
“I loved the
book! It kept me up reading all night.”
“I felt like
creepy crawlies were on me while I slept!”
“I liked seeing
some of the characters from her first book show up in the story, but I felt
like if I hadn’t read the first book, I’d still be okay.”
“I had to skim
a lot of it because I have a terrible fear of spiders. If it wasn’t a book club
read, I may have put it down just for that reason.”
“I thought
everything was resolved but one thing and I’d like to know who caused that
problem.” (I adapted this statement to keep spoilers out.)
of 5 stars.
Visit Jordyn at her
Five years ago,
Keelyn Blake’s armed, mentally ill stepfather took her family hostage in their
house in rural Colorado. She and her half-sister Raven made it out alive, but
others did not. Authorities blamed the father’s frequent hallucinations about a
being named Lucent, but in the end, even the best of the FBI’s hostage
negotiators failed to overcome the man’s delusions and end the standoff
Now, Lucent is back,
and he’s no hallucination. In fact, he is a very real person with dangerous
motives. He has kidnapped Raven’s daughter, and–Keelyn worries–maybe has hurt
Raven as well. Though she is estranged from her sister, Keelyn feels the immediate
need to find Raven and save what family she has left. But when others who were
involved in that fateful day start dying, some by mysterious circumstances,
Keelyn wonders if she can emerge unscathed a second time.
Let’s go out on Friday all creepy-like! Since Jordyn’s book
had poison and guns… Would you rather die by a poison or a gunshot
wound?  I know I said creepy! Just answer
*I say gunshot. I’d
bleed out faster and maybe even go unconscious. I don’t want to writhe in pain
due to some kind of poison messing with my nervous system.

The Duality of Toxins with Jordyn Redwood

I want to welcome one of my favorite authors to my blog today! Jordyn Redwood. Not only is she an amazing writer, but she’s a really sweet person. I had the chance to meet and chat with her at ACFW this past year. I gushed. I’m trying really hard not to right now. 
Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense
novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical
authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two novels, Proof and Poison, garnered starred
reviews from Library Journal and
have been endorsed by the likes of Dr. Richard Mabry, Lynette Eason, and Mike
Dellosso to name a few. You can connect with Jordyn via her website at
  Thanks for coming, Jordyn, and take it away!
I like book titles with double meaning. My first published
book was titled, Proof.
There were two types of proof the heroine needed. Proof to convict her
assailant of his horrific crimes and proof of God in her life.

Poison, the
second book in the Bloodline Trilogy, is releasing this month and in this
instance—there is an actual nefarious agent (not giving away too much) and a
side meaning as well.
poisons your life?
Is it a bad relationship? Is it believing a
lie? Is it an actual toxin like drinking too much liquor, using illegal drugs
or prescription drugs in ways they weren’t intended?
Writing suspense, particularly with a heavy medical edge, I
think requires something unusual to be found. I’m a research hound. I love to
learn about new things. And for 
I read a lot on different types of toxins.
Aren’t toxins interesting? How minute substances can make a
person ill or end up killing? This is the stuff suspense novels are made from
and the lure for every author—finding that one poison—undetectable,
fast-acting, easily transmittable or ingested without the victim knowing.
I remember as a youngster hearing the story of how a
long-dead great uncle had passed. According to my grandfather, he’d served in
the military during WWI and had died as the result of complications from
mustard gas exposure.
So lately, in thinking about toxins, I began to wonder what
exactly mustard gas was and how did it kill.
Interestingly, I discovered that term “gas” can mean more than just a vaporous substance and can be any
chemical substance.

: Lead
to disablement or death.
Disrupt enemy soldiers.
: Gases
encountered during war that are not related to a chemical agent like excessive
gases from gunpowder during a fight.
Mustard gas falls into the first group—lethal gases. Tear
gas, for instance, would fall into the second category.
But how does mustard gas kill?

gas is also called sulfur mustard and
its name is derived from its foggy yellow appearance and mustard like smell.
It’s a
blistering agent/alkylating agent and comes in many forms: vapor, liquid or
solid. When a person comes into contact with the agent, it damages the skin and
mucous membranes inside. The chemical liquefies tissue.
Since it freezes at a high temperature, it’s not very
effective when it’s cold. It doesn’t spread easily and would fall to the ground
before soldiers could be exposed. This property also made it a good weapon
because it could stay low on the ground for weeks depending on the temperature
and expose unsuspecting troops going into the area. Another factor that made it
a good weapon—people adjusted to the smell quickly.
Mustard gas was used first by the Germans in 1917 and was
born out of the trench warfare era where new military strategies had to be
devised to get men out of their bunkers. The agent was fitted onto artillery
shells which were then shot to toward the enemy lines without the accompanying
explosion which I’m sure seemed strange to the soldiers at the time.
Hey, why didn’t that thing blow up? What exactly is that
yellow fog?
Unfortunately, mustard gas doesn’t often kill expediently.
The first symptom was generally red blisters to the skin that developed within 2-24
hours. If the gas was inhaled, these blisters would slowly develop and seal off
the airway.
Other symptoms:
  •    Eyes: Irritation, redness, burning, inflammation and even
  •   Skin: Itchy redness that is replaced
    with yellow blisters

  • Respiratory system: Runny or bloody
    nose, sneezing, hoarse throat, shortness of breath, coughing, sinus pain

  •   Digestive system: abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, nausea and

It was possible for the body to heal if there was a short,
brief encounter. Longer, more frequent exposures proved to be more deadly.
By the end of WWI, chemical agents inured 1 million soldiers
and civilians and killed 100,000 people.
Likely, mustard gas wouldn’t be considered favorable to use
in chemical warfare these days because of its prolonged activity.
This link goes to a very
powerful article on mustard gas and its effects and was used heavily in the
writing of this piece—the italicized areas are from the article. It is
definitely worth the read.

about you? What interesting things have you researched that have ended up in a

(Jess) like to know, if you’re a reader, what interesting thing have you read
about in a novel that was used by the villain?

Here’s a peek at Poison!
Poison synopsis: Five years ago, Keelyn
Blake’s armed, mentally ill stepfather took her family hostage in their house
in rural Colorado. She and her half-sister Raven made it out alive, but others
did not. Authorities blamed the father’s frequent hallucinations about a being
named Lucent, but in the end, even the best of the FBI’s hostage negotiators
failed to overcome the man’s delusions and end the standoff peacefully.
Lucent is back, and he’s no hallucination. In fact, he is a very real person
with dangerous motives. He has kidnapped Raven’s daughter, and–Keelyn
worries–maybe has hurt Raven as well. Though she is estranged from her sister,
Keelyn feels the immediate need to find Raven and save what family she has
left. But when others who were involved in that fateful day start dying, some
by mysterious circumstances, Keelyn wonders if she can emerge unscathed a
second time.
You tube video link for Poison book trailer:
Link to the first five chapters of Poison:

Frivolous Friday: A story with no rhyme or reason


“She couldn’t see anything. The moon was teasing her, playing in the sick game, by hiding behind thick pasty gray clouds. She ran until her stomach burned. Her legs threatened to betray her as they buckled underneath her.

 She dared not look back for fear she’d trip on logs or underbrush. The bitter, stale, acidy smells assaulted her nose and lodged in her throat, signaling he wasn’t far behind. 

The blindfold he’d kept on her had only been off long enough to reveal the dense forest–his hunting ground.Where he’d found her two days or maybe two months before. She’d lost track of time.

 Barren trees reached out to trap her. Their bony branches, acting like jagged nails, taunted her cheeks as they scratched and peeled her smooth complexion away from her face, but she pushed through, ignoring the sting and the sticky substance oozing from her wounds.

The taste of earth, iron, and salt saturated her dry tongue. Her throat coiled in response. She gagged, but pressed on.  She begged for death, but not at his hands. Not again.

‘Here, kitty, kitty’ he called.”

My friend, we’ll call her Jane again, as once more she’s humilated herself, clutched the steering wheel  as we headed back from dropping a friend off at a conference. It was late and we were unfamiliar with our surroundings. I’d been sharing the story rolling around in my head. (you only got a snippet of it)

 I became engrossed in telling it, and though her eyes were on the road, her mind was immersed in the  woman escaping a psychopath.

“Hey did we miss our turn?” She turned the radio down. (Why do we do that?)

Slightly irritated that I had to come out of character, I looked around. “No. I thought you were paying attention.”

“Well I wasn’t,” she snipped. “I’m turning around.” She hopped off the interstate and began pulling over onto the shoulder of the road. Neither of us spoke. The silence hung in the air. We were surrounded by ominous looking woods. The night was similar to the one I had been describing. The moon was full.

As she slowed down, a shimmer caught my eye in front of us. What–what is that? “Oh no! Stop, Jane! It’s a man!” 

He was in the middle of nowhere. In the pitch of night. Holding a white plastic sack. I couldn’t make out his face, but as she slammed on the brakes he moved toward us.

I threw my hands in the air. “Lock the doors! Roll up the windows! Roll up the windows! He’s coming!” My soprano voice turned shrill.

That’s when my friend Jane, lost all ability to function. Her hand frantically raced up and down the car door looking for buttons to lock and secure us.

“Jane, do something!”


She did. A heinous word that had obviously been forming on the tip of her tongue forced its way out of her mouth. My precious friend’s mouth. She screamed it to the top of her lungs and once it was out it repeated like a stuck record. I stopped shrieking out of shock. My head seemed to turn in slow motion. The abominable word rang out in a slurred slow motion as well. Over and over.

She cut a hard right and threw dust and rocks on the shadowed man standing alone on the shoulder near the woods. A hitchhiker? Maybe. A psychotic maniac with a switchblade and ropes? Possibly.

We shook with fear, turned into the wrong lane, dodged oncoming traffic and finally found our way into the city again. Jane pulled over at a movie rental store near the friend’s house we were staying at. We sat there staring straight ahead. Numb. Trembling.

Jane spoke in a hoarse whisper, “I want to tell you something.”

I looked at her then reached over and took her hand. It was still clammy. “It’s okay. You were scared. I forgive you.”

She pulled her brows together, pursed her lips and slipped her hand out of mine. “I was going to say you are never, ever, under any circumstances allowed to tell scary stories after dark.”

I stared at her a moment with surprise. “Oh…okay.” I scratched my head, sighed and paused a few seconds before I asked, “So you wanna rent a scary movie?”

“I hate you,” she whispered and started the car.

Have a fun and SAFE weekend! 🙂
* Jane did feel bad about her foul words… later.