Christian author Linda (Cassells) Bello-Ruiz has written an award-winning memoir called From Tears to Triumph, My Journey to The House of Hope. Originally from Redwood Valley, CA she co-founded and directed The House of Hope in San Jose, Costa Rica. After returning to the United States Linda earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and a master’s degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California.
Linda worked as a bilingual vocational rehabilitation counselor in Santa Rosa, California for twenty-six years and consulted as a vocational expert on disability in litigation for five of those years. The mother of four grown children, she is now retired and divides her time between Lincoln, California and Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico. She is active in Rotary, the Sun City Authors & Writers Resource Group, Inspire Christian Writers, and the Northern California Publishers and Authors Association.
I recently asked Linda when she first began writing this memoir.
The story percolated within me for over thirty years, but I didn’t have time in my busy family/professional life to sit down and put my memories onto paper. I finally retired and started writing my memoir in June 2010. From Tears to Triumph was published in August, 2013, resulting in a three year, two month journey of continual writing, editing, polishing and preparing for publishing.
Tell me about the award your memoir has won.
From Tears to Triumph just received the gold medal in the national 2013 Illuminations Book Awards (biography/memoir category). This particular annual book competition is for Christian-themed books. It’s quite an honor and I still haven’t come down from “Cloud Nine,” and from praising the Lord for this. Below is a bit about the awards:
The 2013 Illumination Awards are intended to celebrate and recognize the exemplary books produced by the ever-growing Christian branch of publishing and bookselling. A vast array of new titles is released from this thriving sector each year, bringing inspiration and answers to millions of readers exploring their faith.
“Our world is filled with anger and selfishness, and people are looking for something to have faith in, something beyond themselves,” says Awards Director Jim Barnes. “The Bible was the first ‘self-help’ book, filled with stories meant to show us how to live together in peace. These awards are dedicated to that spirit, and to books that help answer the simple question: ‘What Would Jesus Do?’”
Where did you get the idea for this book?
Every time I shared my personal story with people, they’d say, “Your story sounds like a book or movie!” I knew they were right. I’d never met anybody who had been abused, sat on a beach contemplating suicide, joined a religious commune, gone to jail while preaching the gospel, called by God to move to Costa Rica, called to set up a Christian halfway house for street girls, runaways and underage prostitutes…and who’d been “gifted” a young girl by her desperate father. Most people have never had even one of those life experiences and I had them ALL! And I had five years worth of letters I’d written home to my parents during my adventures, letters that helped me recall details.
Do you have your next book in mind?
My next book, Love Thy Neighbor, Omar, is about a drug dealer in Mexico who God encouraged me to love and reach out to. Although afraid, I did just that, enveloping him, his wife and children into my life. My heart broke when he was gunned down last year. This next book is “based on a true-story” and explores his early life and our friendship. He was only twenty-six-years old when killed.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
After considering all of my publishing options (and there are many!) I chose to start my own publishing company – Mariah Publishing. Doing so allowed me to keep ownership of my book(s) and make all major decisions. The royalties are higher than going other routes, but the marketing responsibility remains the same. It doesn’t matter “who” publishes your book. YOU must put your time, energy and resources into marketing.
What do you read and what writers have influenced you?
Mid-stream in my writing journey I hired a writing coach: Linda Joy Myers, President of the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW). An important piece of advice she gave me was: “Read what you write.” Since I was writing a memoir, I filled my office with other people’s memoirs and read only memoirs for nearly a year. From that experience I learned what I liked and didn’t like in how others wrote. For example, many memoirs are “dark” with the author pouring out her/his soul and all the bad things that happened to them. I would end the book feeling depressed.
I didn’t want my readers to have that experience, so my book is full of faith and hope. Yes, bad things happen to good people, and bad things happened to me…but my story is about determination and hope and the power of God in my life and the lives of the girls who came through the doors of The House of Hope.
You can follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Connect with Linda on her website: www.lindabelloruiz.com and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out her book trailer for From Tears to Triumph and the awards announcement!
Interview by: Katheryn Mattingly, Inspire member and author of Benjamin and Fractured Hearts.
Kathryn Mattingly has always had a passion for writing. Her short fiction pieces have received recognition for excellence in Writer’s Digest Award Winning Stories, Mind Trips Unlimited, Beacons of Tomorrow and Internationally Yours: Prize Winning Stories. Her work has appeared in 8 different anthologies, Dark Discoveries magazine, and The Possibility Place. Kathryn’s debut novel, Benjamin, was a New Century Quarterly Finalist. Ms. Mattingly’s short story collection, Fractured Hearts, was released this January 2014. Her second novel, Journey, will be out in November. She currently teaches Creative Writing at a local college and is a reader/judge for the Pacific NW Writer’s annual literary contest. Kathryn is inspired by real-life events and places she has lived or traveled. She currently resides in Northern California.
Promises—as children we banter them about like candy. Then we grow up. We give oaths, bear witness, and make vows. There is power in promises. The Scriptures are full of God’s promises.
What can you share about promises?
Do you have stories of how God has fulfilled promises in your life?
Has someone you trusted given and broken a promise to you?
What has God taught you during this time?
Have you ever given a promise and needed God’s help to fulfilled it?
This is your opportunity to share your stories. Inspire Christian Writers is accepting personal experience and fiction stories, poems and devotionals on the topic of promises for the Inspire Promises 2014 Anthology.
All Inspire Christian Writer members are welcome to submit one or more pieces. Submissions will be accepted between March 1st and June 1st, 2014.
We promise you could be part of another fabulous Inspire publication.
by Jim Denney
“Almighty God, bestow upon us the meaning of words, the light of understanding, the nobility of diction, and the faith of the true nature. And grant that what we believe, we may also speak.”
—Hilary of Poitiers (A.D. 315-368)
“Blank pages inspire me with terror,” confessed novelist Margaret Atwood. “The scariest moment,” observed frightmaster Stephen King, “is always just before you start.” And John Steinbeck, the Pulitzer- and Nobel-winning author of The Grapes of Wrath, once admitted in his journal, “I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line. It is amazing the terrors, the magics, the prayers, the straightening shyness that assails one.”[i]
Terror of the blank page is as old as literature itself. In 1295, Dante Alighieri wrote in The New Life (Vita Nuova), “It seemed to me that I had undertaken a theme too lofty for myself, so that I did not dare to begin writing, and I remained for several days with the desire to write and the fear of beginning.”[ii]
Anne Lamott, in Bird by Bird, reveals her solution to the fear of the blank page: Prayer. She writes, “I sit for a moment and then say a small prayer — ‘please help me get out of the way so I can write what wants to be written.’ Sometimes ritual quiets the racket. Try it.”[iii]
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was famed for his literary criticism, theological essays, and his mystery tales featuring the priest-detective Father Brown. Like Anne Lamott, Chesterton approached every writing project with an attitude of prayer. He once wrote:
You say grace before meals.
But I say grace before the concert and the opera,
And grace before the play and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.[iv]
What should you pray for? Pray for inspiration. Pray for a mind that is open and receptive to new ideas. Pray for a heart that is open and sensitive to the hurts, hopes, drives, and dreams of your readers. (I prayed for you—my reader—as I was writing these words.)
Pray for wisdom and courage to write truthfully. Pray for an opening line. Pray for the determination to continue writing, even if the opening line doesn’t come. Pray for the courage to begin. Then, after you have prayed—begin.
A story is told about Sir Winston Churchill, who was not only one of England’s greatest prime ministers, but also an author and a painter. Whether the story is true or not, I don’t know. According to this account, Churchill was in his garden, confronting an easel and a blank canvas—and he found himself blocked and unable to begin painting. He was afraid to put the first brush-stroke on the virgin canvas. He would daub his brush with paint and raise it—pause—then lower it without leaving a mark.
A neighbor lady watched Churchill go through these motions several times until finally, in exasperation, she strode into his garden, took the brush from his hand, and flung a splotch of paint onto the canvas.
“Now, paint!” she said.
And Churchill began to paint.
As you face the blank canvas—the blank page of your story or novel—don’t hesitate, don’t be afraid to leave your mark. Instead, breathe a prayer to the Author of Creation, the Source of Creativity. Ask for inspiration. Then throw some words onto your white screen, your blank page.
Write! Make your mark!
Once you’ve begun, don’t stop. Write on.
Let the words you write, the work you perform, be God’s answer to your own prayer.
Jim Denney is a writer with more than 100 published books to his credit, including the Timebenders science-fantasy series. He is the author of several books on writing, including Writing in Overdrive: Write Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly and Write Fearelessly: Conquer Fear, Eliminate Self-Doubt, Write with Confidence. He has written books with supermodel Kim Alexis, Star Trek actress Grace Lee Whitney, and two Super Bowl champions, quarterback Bob Griese and “The Minister of Defense,” Reggie White. He has co-written many books with Pat Williams (co-founder of the Orlando Magic), including Leadership Excellence and The Difference You Make. Jim is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Follow Jim on Twitter at @WriterJimDenney and follow his blog at http://jimdenney.tumblr.com/.
[i] John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (New York: Penguin, 1990), Kindle edition, Entry for February 13, 1951.
[ii] Dante Alighieri, Vita Nuova (1295), in The Portable Dante (New York: Penguin, 2003), 610.
[iii] Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New York: Anchor, 1995), 117.
[iv] G. K. Chesterton, ed. by Aidan Mackey, Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton: Collected Poetry (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), 43.
by David Hyde
Interior, Living Room Rio Linda, Ca -Night
Pan Left into Hitchcock Zoom: A blank page stares back at our lonely writer. Pencil tapping on his temple he sits up, and then lays back. UP! Then back. He reaches for the page, but stops. Looking about the room: A bookshelf, a globe, a cat sleeps on the window sill. Back to the globe, to the window, rain splashes on the glass. Pencil reaches the paper. The lead breaks…
Screenwriting and composing stage drama are uniquely visual in our world of writing. While fiction, poetry, and other genres strive to communicate to a reader’s mind’s-eye so that they are able to TELL others about the story, screenwriters and playwrights must write to communicate their vision in a way that others can then take it and SHOW their story to others.
For drama, as in fiction, story is king. Without story, no one will sit through 90 minutes in a dark theater or two hours in front of a stage. There, however, is where similarity to other writing forms ends. With that in mind, Inspire Christian Writers is forming a new critique group just for this genre of writers. The Faith-Based film industry is exploding in America. Following the success of the Kendrick Brothers (Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous) and others, independent Christian production companies are seeing successes like never before. And this means writing opportunities for writers such as ourselves like never before.
Instead of the starry-eyed dreams of acceptance speeches and golden statues on the mantle, our goal is to hone our craft so God can use our stories in ways never before possible. To grow our craft and learn from each other on this journey into the nether land of film and stage shall surely be an adventure unto itself.
So, if you have ever had a vision so grand that it simply wouldn’t fit on the page, or words that just must be spoken instead of read, maybe screen or stage is for you. Please join us, on-line monthly, or in person on the first Thursday each month 7pm in Rio Linda, California. Passion, vision, and a willingness to learn is all that is needed.
Please email the leader at DavidHyde@inspirewriters.com for more information or to sign up for this group.
Susy Flory will serve as the keynote speaker for the upcoming Christian Writers Seminar. This year’s seminar theme is Writing to Change the World.
I caught up with Susy recently and interviewed her about the seminar and what you can expect to learn when you attend. Here’s our conversation:
How can a 2-day seminar help writers change the world?
Anytime a new writer takes up a pen (or a keyboard), most likely with hands trembling and knees feeling like rubber chicken bones, then there is great potential for change. The world is not a static place. It’s always changing, dying, living, growing, and everything in between all at the same time. And it’s starving for truth and light and beauty. The world needs YOUR voice and YOUR message. God has gifted you with something to say. Our job, at Christian Writers Seminar, is to help encourage and equip you to say it.
Who should attend the Christian Writers Seminar this year?
Anyone who has something to say in writing, or who wants to say something in a little different way that what has been said before. The amazing working writers who will be teaching workshops represent all genres, too, from fiction to poetry to articles to blogging to nonfiction of every kind, including memoir, ministry-related books, self-help, devotionals, children’s, and more. There’s something for every one.
What can writers expect to learn at the seminar?
First and foremost, writers will learn that they are not alone. There are other people who love words and books as much as they do, and who have dedicated their lives to helping others learn the craft of writing and the business of publishing. Second, writers will find out that finishing a piece of writing and getting published are doable. Things are constantly changing and there are so many ways now to be published and to find your readers. It does take commitment and elbow grease, however. That’s why you need other writers to cheer you on!
How do you see your words making a difference in the world?
I have a current project helping a young woman named Megan, 27 years old, who is doing an incredible work with the lowliest and most vulnerable children of Haiti. She’s battled corruption, discouragement, and even voodoo to rescue trafficked children, and children being used as slaves in the most despicable of ways. My hope is that our book, coming out in January of 2015, will shed light on these practices and bring hope and freedom to more of these children. Books can and do change the world. (By the way, if you’d like to learn more about Megan, go to RespireHaiti.org.)
Why is this a passion for you?
At my core, I’m a nerdy, introverted bookworm. I can’t do the kind of work Megan is doing, but I CAN write about it. I’m not good at much but I am curious, I can string words together, and I get excited about what God is doing in the world through his people. So I’m lending my pen, when and where I can, to help others discover these things, too. I’m hoping that seeing God at work will encourage people that anyone can be used by God, just like Megan, because we serve the same God.
You’ll speak about fear and the writing life at this year’s Christian Writers Seminar. How has fear impacted your own writing journey?
Every book or article or blog post I write involves a struggle with fear. Name a writing-related fear and I’ve battled it. I’ve learned that the fear of writing and publishing isn’t going to go away completely. Instead I have to become comfortable at writing through the fear. Fear and writing seem to go together…at least for me. I recently read a great quote from Ethel Herr in her book, An Introduction to Christian Writing. She was talking about some of the challenges a writer can face, including challenges from your own family. Here’s the quote: “We can pray for our families to be understanding, but never expect them to understand. Only another writer can understand the dreams and strange behavior of a writer.” Most writers understand about facing down fear.
How would you encourage a writer who struggles with fear?
Fear is something you can climb over, step around, or knock back, with help. And the struggle is SO worth it. Here’s a great quote from James Baldwin on why we do what we do: “You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world…The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way…people look at reality, then you can change it.” If fear is the price, I’m willing to pay it, and I’m not going to let it stop me.
You’ll be sharing “Becoming a Good Storyteller” with us this year. Some people are natural-born storytellers. Does this mean there’s hope for those of us? Can we grow our storytelling skills?
Yes. Being a writer means always growing in our storytelling skills. You can grow by learning at the feet of the best storytellers, whether they are still alive in front of you or alive only on the page. A great technique for doing this is to take favorite passages and copy them out word-for-word. You will soak in the craft, little by little. Another way is to go to conferences and drink it all in, then buy the recordings, and drink it all in again. And read. Always read.
What are “Moments of Light and Grace?” What can we look forward to learning about them?
Moments of light and grace are moments of surprise, where all of a sudden a writer (or artist or musician or pastor) offers a different way of looking at the world, leading to an epiphany–a moment of understanding truth in a new way. Mary Pipher says epiphanies cannot be scheduled, but they can be invited. I will be talking about how to infuse your writing with that something more and how to invite your reader to experience a powerful emotional turning when they read your work.
I hope Susy’s answers encourage you to sign up for the Christian Writers Seminar. If you have more questions about the event, leave them (along with any comments) in the comments section below.
Come and become a world-changing writer. Here’s the information you’ll need:
Dates: February 21-22
Location: Redwood Chapel, 19300 Redwood Road, Castro Valley, CA 94546
Price: $109, $89 for teens (prior to 2/14/14) or $139 adults/ $109 teens at the door. Mail your registration fee along with your name, email address, phone, and mailing address to Jon Drury, c/o Redwood Chapel 19300 Redwood Road, Castro Valley, CA 94546.
Join us for a TweetChat with Susy Flory (@SusyFlory) on Thursday, February 13 at 4:30 PST. Be sure to use #WritetoInspire to join the conversation. See you there!
Valentine’s Day will be upon us before you know it. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a friend or loved one who likes to read, how about a gift that will pierce the heart and move the soul–a copy of Fractured Hearts, by Kathryn Mattingly, an Inspire Christian Writers member and award winning author.
Not for the faint of heart, this collection of short stories deals with every type of love that drives us to do what we do—for better or for worse. Whether whimsical ghosts in love with art or cats transformed by the full moon, you’ll wonder if even the most unbelievable is somehow true. From a gypsy child in Rome to a widow in Aruba, the stories transport you to faraway places. Fractured Hearts includes five pieces recognized nationally for excellence as outstanding literature.
Kathryn Mattingly will sign copies on Saturday, February 8th from 4-6PM at
4359 Town Center Blvd.
El Dorado Hills, CA
In honor of Valentine’s Day, decadent chocolates will be served throughout the afternoon.
More information, including reviews of stories featured in the book, can be found on the author’s website, www.penpublishpromote.com. To arrange an interview with Kathryn Mattingly, or request a review copy of Fractured Hearts, contact Rachel M. Anderson, Publicist, at 952-240-2513 or email@example.com.
Do you remember Susy Flory who spoke at our Publishing Smackdown and at the 2012 Write to Inspire Conference? Susy is this year’s keynote speaker.
She’s passionate about equipping writers for ministry and I know you’ll enjoy her warm, down-to-earth speaking style. She’s also a brilliant and very accomplished author. I’ll post an interview with Susy on this blog very soon so you can get a taste of what she’s teaching and the heart behind it.
In addition to a great keynote speaker, the Christian Writers Seminar offers 40 (forty!) workshops on a variety of topics so you can tailor the seminar to your own writing goals and needs.Workshops are taught by a faculty, hand selected by the seminar’s founder, Jon Drury, to help equip you for world-changing writing ministry.
I’ll be teaching two workshops this year: Critique Groups that Work (along with Pat Sikora) and Preparing for Mount Hermon.
CDs are available for order for those workshops you can’t fit into your schedule, and those you want to hear again.
Registration is only $109 if you sign up by February 14th. The price increases to $139 at the door. Teens pay only $89 in advance or $109 at the door.
The Christian Writers Seminar is held at Redwood Chapel, 19300 Redwood Rd, Castro Valley, CA 94546
Would you like to receive feedback on your article, poetry, devotional or book proposal? If so, be sure to take advantage of the Manuscript Critique services.
Do you have any questions or comments about the upcoming Christian Writers Seminar?
It’s January, which means you’ve probably established writing goals for the year, right? We’d like to work with you to help you achieve your goals. The Inspire training team is planning a year full of opportunities to improve your craft, develop your marketing skills and learn more about publishing. This year’s training will also provide networking events. You’ll meet and grow with other Inspire writers, gaining from their insights and sharing what you’ve learned in your own writing journey.
Your input is essential to our planning. This brief survey will help us prioritize topics so you can learn what matters most to you in 2014. And once you submit it, you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate for Amazon.com. We’re clearly not above bribing you!
Gift certificate will be awarded on Tuesday, January 28th. One entry per person.
A writer’s journey is filled with growth opportunities which can strengthen our faith, improve our craft, encourage those around us, and broaden our perspective.
Jeanette Hanscome has been using her unique perspective for over 20 years in her writing career.
She is the author of three Focus on the Family books and a regular contributor to the Girls, God, and the Good Life blog, Walk Thru the Bible’s Tapestry devotional magazine, and ENCOUNTER-The Magazine, a Sunday School take-home distributed through Standard Publishing. Her work has also been featured in Guidepost and the book Rescue Dogs, Firefighting Heroes and Science Facts.
She inspires people through her blog, equips writers through her teaching and editing services, and encourages many through her diverse writing experiences.
She teaches annually at the Christian Writers Seminar in Castro Valley, California, and is the fearless leader of Mount Hermon’s Buddy System.
Jeanette’s newest book, Running with Roselle, is co-authored with Michael Hingson, author of Thunder Dog, a #1 New York Times Bestseller.
Please join me in welcoming Jeanette Hanscome as we celebrate the release of Running with Roselle: How a Blind Boy and a Puppy Grew Up, Became Friends, and Together Survived One of America’s Darkest Days.
Jeanette: Thanks so much for having me, and for helping me celebrate this book release.
Xochi: Please share more about this exciting new project, Jeanette.
Jeanette: Running with Roselle, written for ages 8 to 12, is the story of blind 9/11 survivor, Michael Hingson, and his guide dog, Roselle. The story follows Mike as he grows up and Roselle as she goes through guide dog training. We then bring the two together and take them through the ultimate test of their partnership, which is September 11.
Xochi: It’s an amazing story of overcoming challenges! What has been your greatest physical challenge as a writer?
Jeanette: I guess you could say my biggest physical challenge is my limited vision. I was born with a rare vision problem called Achromatopsia, which causes total color blindness, extreme light sensitivity, and low visual acuity, so I am considered legally blind. The fact that God chose to gift a visually impaired girl to be a writer reveals His incredible sense of humor.
God has used my supposed limitation in incredible ways. He has brought out strengths that I might not have discovered otherwise and equipped me to encourage others to look past the things that could hold them back.
Xochi: Please tell us a little bit about the unique multiple point of view approach of this book.
Jeanette: Running with Roselle alternates between Mike’s point-of-view and Roselle’s. I had the fun challenge of getting into the heads of a guy (from age 4 into adulthood) and a dog. I found it easier to write Mike’s character because 1) he’s human, and 2) I understand what it is like to grow up with limited vision.
But the more I got to know Roselle, the more I enjoyed playing the part of an energetic guide-dog-in-training who liked stealing slippers and constantly fought the desire to play with other dogs and eat food off the floor when he should be working.
Xochi: How can writers create authentic voices for different POV characters?
Jeanette: If you are basing these characters on real people, get to know them well. Interview people who have spent time with them so you can gain other perspectives.
If the characters are completely made up, study people who are like them. As hard as it is, remember that these people are not you, so they cannot sound or act like you.
If you took any acting classes, revisit what you learned and think of it as playing a part.
Xochi: Thank you for joining us, Jeanette. I’m excited to see what God has in store for you next!
Jeanette: Thank you, Xochi! I look forward to what God has in store next, too J.
You can connect with Jeanette by visiting her blog, friending her on Facebook, and following her on Twitter.
If you’re going to Mount Hermon in 2014, I encourage you to sign up for the Buddy System, as a buddy or a first-timer. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to serve with Jeanette and enter the fellowship of an amazing writing community.
How has God used challenges to broaden your perspective during your writing journey?
Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon loves Jesus and lives in Northern California with her husband, Alan, their teenage son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy. She has a passion for teaching God’s Word and writes contemporary fiction, articles and devotions for women and teens. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER – The Magazine and Devo ‘Zine. You can connect with Xochi through her blog, Facebook and Twitter.
Stop by Face in a Book
this Saturday to meet author Chris Pedersen
. Chris will be reading from The Prisoner of Carrot Castle
and signing books!
Here are the details:
What: Book signing of The Prisoner of Carrot Castle
Where: Face in a Book
When: Saturday, January 11
11AM – 1PM
Author Chris Pedersen has always had a passion for living. When a genetic defect caused a cancer diagnosis in 2008, Chris armed herself with good nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. She has been cancer-free for several years! She now educates others about optimum wellness, making mindful and life-promoting decisions about diet, sleep, exercise and attitude—the roots of health. Her short quips of wisdom, delicious plant-based recipes, steps to a healthier, disease-free life are dished out at heatlhyjourneycafe.com. Her story, The Prisoner of Carrot Castle encourages children to make nutritious food choices–to set them on a path to great health!