One More Song To Sing

Today I’d like to introduce you to a new author friend of mine, Lindsay Harrel. I met Lindsay through a Facebook friend who liked her post about her new book, One More Song to Sing, and after reading the blurb, I was hooked! So without further ado, I’d like to welcome Lindsay to you.

Lindsay, please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, Dawn. Thanks so much for having me! I am the 30-something stay-at-home mom of a toddler boy, with another little blessing on the way. I’ve worked in education, marketing, and editing, and still do some freelance work during my son’s naptime. My husband and I have been married for 10 years and live in Arizona. We’ve got a busy life and I wouldn’t trade a moment.

What inspired you to become an author?

I’m one of those people who loved reading and writing as a child. You could always find me with someone else’s book in my hands or with a stack of stapled-together papers writing my own. Somewhere along the line, I kind of lost my zeal for writing fiction and decided to pursue journalism instead. But when I was working on my master’s degree, I took a fiction writing class as an elective, and my love for fiction came careening back into my life.

Do you have a favorite food that you could eat all of the time and not get tired of it?

I know I sound like a little kid, but pizza. Buffalo wings are the bomb too. LOL.

Preference: small towns or big cities? Why?

I’ve lived in the suburbs of Phoenix almost all my life, so that’s a hard one! There is so much to admire about small-town living—the intimacy, the simplicity, the quirkiness (if Gilmore Girls is to be believed). But I’m not sure I could go very long without immediate access to some of my favorite stores and restaurants, so I suppose I’d probably be more on the side of favoring big cities.

Are you a coffee drinker or a tea person?

I despise coffee and tolerate flavored iced tea. I didn’t even like that until I was trying to kick my soda habit and needed some caffeine to conquer headaches!

When you write characters, do you put yourself in any of the roles?

(such as I see myself as the protagonist, or I’m more like my antagonist.) I think I can usually see a bit of myself in every character. I like to dive into a character’s motivations, and so many times, they come from a place of hurt or fear. I can relate very well to both of those emotions.

onemoresongtosing-cover-finalHow did you come up with the idea for your newest novel, One More Song to Sing?

I love music (I’m a singer) and I love stories about redemption. Still, I don’t know if there was one “aha” moment when coming up with the story. But the first scene I envisioned is now the third scene in the book, when Ellie—a young performer struggling to make ends meet—is singing and playing guitar in a somewhat seedy joint in Nashville. She is dejected and hopeless, and I immediately asked myself why. The fun part was figuring it out, and the story unfolded slowly from there.

What is the most fulfilling part of being an author?

For me, it’s just such a privilege to get to share God’s message of hope, redemption, and love with others. It’s also satisfying to do something that makes use of my passions and abilities. I love doing something I feel like I was made to do, you know? Even during the hard days, that sustains me. Well, that and God.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about One More Song to Sing?

I would share more specifics about the story itself, but I don’t want to give too much away! What I can say is this—I hope that every person who picks up the book will come away with a little more hope, a little more love, and a little more belief in God’s power to redeem our lives.

Thanks so much for having me, Dawn! It’s been fun chatting with you.

You, too! We wish you great success on One More Song to Sing.

To purchase One More Song to Sing: Amazon and B&N

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with degrees in Journalism and English who has worked in both education and marketing. She lives in Arizona with her young family, and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Besides writing, singing, and hanging out with family and friends, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Lindsay loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com.

The Scar Jesus Bore

Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by SCapture
Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by SCapture

Scars. They no longer hurt, but remind of us the pain we once endured. Some are thin and shallow, others thick and deep. The deeper the pain the more prevalent the scar. While Jesus has three major scars, one on each hand and one on his feet, I have many. Most of mine run deep and a couple was life threatening, but I can’t imagine how deep the scars of Christ run.

His scars carry the pain of everyone in the world. His scars have a name for each and every person his sacrifice bore.

His scars carry my name. And yours.

As I think about the scars and pain Jesus endured for you and me I can’t help but think about finally seeing Him face to face. I imagine a quiet cove somewhere in Heaven where He and I just sit and talk.

The cool breeze ruffles our hair and the sun’s rays warm our skin. He shows me the scars on his back and points to the one with my name. My eyes gaze upon the surface of his skin as I follow the length of the scar with my finger. Tears stream from my face as the reality of my sin becomes clear.

He reaches up and wipes away my tears and says, “You were worth it.”

I can’t imagine a more tender loving conversation with my father, my friend and savior. Remember the scars He bore for you as you walk through life. Remember we each have a scar with our name on it. Remember He loves you…no matter what.

 

Question: Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you accepted His scar for you?

A Redemption Story

When I was in fifth grade I attended an old elementary school in Magnolia, Iowa. It was at this school that I daydreamed about my first real story. The janitor there was a family acquaintance, and grandfather to several of my friends – he would joke and tease me whenever he saw me around the hallways, making me smile and laugh. There also, during my first attempt at playing basketball, I painfully jammed my middle ring finger. Coming to my aid, the basketball coach yanked it, dislocating the finger. It took almost two weeks to heal and ended any thoughts of me being a star basketball player. The picture above is what’s left of that old school building now.

Bingo CardOne of my most cringe-worthy memories, though, was an incident that involved my fifth grade teacher. She was a great teacher who held bingo games as a fun way to treat us students at the end of the week. The prizes were candy treats that she kept in her teacher’s closet. Because our school was consolidated with Logan, Iowa, a town seven miles away, we had town bus kids and country bus kids. The town kids would be loaded up on buses first, while the country kids waited in the school rooms for their buses to come around. It was during this waiting time when our teacher left the classroom for bus duty that I and a couple of other country kids snuck into the teacher’s closet and stole some of the bingo candy.

The next morning our teacher figured out that someone had been snitching her prizes and confronted the class about it. Being the bright teacher she was, she narrowed it down to the only time she wasn’t in the room—bus duty. We were caught. Not all of us country bus kids had trespassed and stolen the candy, but loyalty to one another won out and nobody tattled on anyone. We were  punished by staying in during recesses that day until the culprits confessed.

I wasn’t normally a child who did bad things, nor did I ever get into much trouble. I should have taken the punishment like I deserved, but I was a coward. It was a beautiful day and my friends were doing something I really, really wanted to do also. I can remember sitting on the end of my seat and fidgeting. The other kids sat at their desks, hunched over. We were a sorry looking bunch! Guilt churned in my gut, but I couldn’t stand having to sit there. I wanted out. Tears streaked my face as I got up from my desk and swore to the teacher I had nothing to do with the crime. I begged to go out to recess, and because I had always been such a good student, she believed me and let me go.

I had gotten away with it! I ran outside happier than you can imagine. Going back to class after recess, however, was a different story. My fellow country bus kids knew that not only had I partaken in stealing the candy, but I turned yellow and lied about it, leaving them to face the consequences without me. I will tell you some of them never thought about me in the same way. I never thought of myself the same way. Remorse from this incident haunts me to this day. How could I do that? But I did, and it had been surprisingly easy for me to do. My delayed shame changed me. I never again stole anything, nor did I ever knowingly desert others to pay the price when I was part of something. It was a hard lesson learned.

Photo by Waiting For The Word
Photo by Waiting For The Word

Judas Iscariot did much the same thing. He betrayed his teacher, allowing personal gain to trump common sense and decency. Instead of candy, it was thirty coins. Instead of a tear filled plead, he gave a kiss. I Wonder if Judas, like me, thought his crime wouldn’t really hurt anyone. Jesus had been able to get away from other crowds that wanted to harm him before, right? For Judas’s part, there was a bigger plan at play. For me, I believe God had a bigger plan in play also. Had I paid the price for my sin by staying in at recess, it wouldn’t have remained in my heart with as great detail as my treachery did. I never forgot. Judas couldn’t forget either. But, in his shame over what he had put into action, he gave up the coins and killed himself. He remains a traitor to this day as I’m sure I do in minds of my fellow country bus kids. I, however, learned from my mistake, using my remorse to never do that again. Judas, probably fearing public humiliation and retaliation, never gave himself the opportunity to redeem himself.

All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All of our sins were taken upon Jesus that day on the cross. Praise God that Jesus did it and rose victorious.

What a shame, to go down in history as one of the greatest traitors who ever lived. Had Judas stuck around a little bit, maybe he would’ve witnessed Jesus’ resurrection. Wouldn’t that have been a great witness for Jesus if Judas had been able to turn that mistake into a redemption story?

Redeemed

Anyone who knows me knows I love Francine Rivers. Okay, so we’ve never actually met. I’ve heard she’s a lovely woman. What I really love is her writing. Her characters are multi-dimensional, full of passion, “real.” But while I have been deeply touched by many of her stories (especially Mark of the Lion), the one that continues to stay with me is her first inspirational book, “Redeeming Love.

As an ABA author, she was multi-published, award-winning with a solid career. But then God got hold of her and, well…we know what happens when God moves in our lives. “Redeeming Love” tells the story of Michael Hosea, a pioneer farmer in 1850 and Sarah, the woman God calls him to marry. One minor detail – she’s a prostitute going by the name “Angel.”

This epic story draws you in to not just the battle between them, but the battle they each have with God. Michael strives to serve God faithfully and obediently, even if the calling to love and accept “Angel” kills him. Angel believes God is an angry, vindictive, hateful creature that stole all that mattered to her. Both have much to learn on their journey together.

Based on the Old Testament story of the prophet Hosea and his wayward wife, Gomer, it’s a story of sin, obedience, deliverance and redemption. It’s my story and all of humanity’s, as well. And I believe that’s why this book continues to resonate within me.

The first time I read “Redeeming Love” I was convinced Michael and Sarah were real people. Their stories were that vivid. I’ve read it about 800 million more times and still find something new every time – a new way to create a deeper character, a better method for creating tension, the importance of secondary characters.

I have much to learn about the craft of writing. I have even more to learn about the God who loves me, calls me to obedience, delivers me from my daily (minute by minute?) bad decisions and choices, and redeems me with an everlasting love.

I’m thankful for the amazing writers who have gone before me, sharing their knowledge, experience and expertise to help me to the next level, and who write amazing characters and storylines that never grow old. I’m thankful for a God who puts these people in my path.

Did I mention I love Francine Rivers?

How Stephen King Inspired Me

Things that go bump in the night. The shadows that make you wonder what’s really out there. An event that leaves you wondering what goes on beyond the physical world that you can’t see. Here’s a trip into my world of books that have touched me spiritually. Warning: these books are not for the faint of heart.

I’m a Stephen King fan. In reading his biography on wikipedia, King states that when he found his father’s book, THE LURKER IN THE SHADOWS, he states, “I knew that I’d found home when I read that book.” King is also asked why he writes such terrifying stories to which he replies, “Why do you assume I have a choice.”

After I became a new Christian, two books grabbed me, and to this day their message has not let me go. The first book that had just come out was Frank E. Peretti’s THIS PRESENT DARKNESS. Much like King’s statement where he’d found a home with the book mentioned above, Peretti’s book changed how I viewed life, both physical and spiritual. The paradigm shift was one of the biggest of my life. I had found a sort of home within the message of this book.

Why? It opened up a new understanding of the good vs. evil that is mentioned in the bible, but that no one wants to actually see because it is too terrifying to imagine. I believed in Satan and the spiritual war going on behind the veil, but after reading Peretti’s book I BELIEVED. I would never view the power of prayer, faith and the influence of evil the same again.

The second book I read was the non-fiction SEEING THE UNSEEN by Joe Beam. It is a look at demons and angels from a biblical perspective. Both Peretti’s and Beam’s books opened my eyes to the spiritual battles going on around us.

Fast forward to five years ago. The first book I ever finished was completely influenced by King, Peretti, and Beam. It is a tale of an angel and a demon fighting over the soul of one girl. It is a dark tale of the temptation that lured one angel onto the dark side becoming a demon, and almost claimed another angel in the process. They both war over the soul of an innocent girl caught in the middle. The story ends on a note of redemption. Filled with action fight scenes, and terrifying glances into the spiritual world, it sits in the recesses of my computer unpublished.

However, I have not given up. I continue to work on a real spiritual  struggle where you will find biblical truths in a fictional setting. Without King first, then later Peretti paving the way for these types of fictional books, I may never have been influenced to write what I feel at home in, dark fantasy with a spiritual message.

If you ever wonder why I write what I do, choosing not to follow the norm, I’ll give you the same answer King did—why do you assume I have a choice? If you ask me the biggest influence in my writing, with the bible being first—of course, it would be the work of these three authors. The stuff that nightmares are made of. The noises that make you jump and give you goose bumps. The darker side of life that draws me in like a moth to a light.

Yes, I love a good spiritual fight.