Abscond with Joy - Excerpt from Running From a Crazy Man by Lori Roeleveld

Today I'm tickled pink to feature an excerpt from the new novel of one of my favorite bloggers, Lori Roeleveld.  Lori's writing is like biting into the most delicious pure milk chocolate you've ever eaten, and then realizing that the center is filled with life-giving medicine that you didn't even know you needed!

Here's a sneak-peak into Lori's new book, Running From a Crazy Man

Abscond with Joy

Following Jesus into Refreshment

Imagine receiving a wonderful gift and leaving it unopened on a shelf day after day after day.

Christians do that.

Most of us don’t even realize we’ve done it because the world, like a cruel stepmother in a fairy tale, has lied about the gift our Father has bestowed on us. Have you ever had days when you felt like Cinderella? You know you have a place in this world. The father you lost was a nobleman. But right now, you’re stuck cleaning ashes off the hearth.

Life on this planet can be ugly, demanding, soul-crushing, disheartening, and cruel. It hurts to be human. We’re soft and breakable. We lose heart. We live without joy.

The world believes joy is a product of optimal circumstances.

The world believes we can be joyful only when we have everything we need and life is going right.

That’s a lie.

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Every Jesus-follower has access to that fruit. It’s a gift from our Father. This gift can be a source of refreshment and restoration in the midst of tribulations.

Jesus-followers can be joyful amid destruction, devastation, dashed hopes, destroyed dreams, and even death. Joy is like a juicy pomegranate we can rip apart and feast upon when our souls are famished for beauty, hope, or encouragement.

But, like a hot item in an infomercial, joy is “even more”! Joy is also a tool at our fingertips. It can build bridges between lost souls. It can repair broken relationships. It can restore hope and heart.

Even more than a source of refreshment and a powerful tool, joy is also a weapon against the darkness. Satan seeks to destroy us—his revenge against a God who has left him out of the plan of redemption. When our laughter emerges from concentration camps, courtrooms, hospitals, shelters, or flood-ravaged towns, his plan is foiled, his power diminished, his imminent destruction re-proclaimed on the waves of our merriment.

Joy is a silver stake in Satan’s lifeless heart.

Joy is no frivolous add-on to our lives. Joy is a source of strength:

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our LORD. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9-11)

So, this is my word to you, loved ones, you hearth-cleaning, ash-sweeping displaced children longing for your Father’s return. Remove the gift from the shelf. Tear off the wrapping and break the seal.

Appropriate joy.

Access joy.

Abscond with joy.

Let it be your refreshment, your restoration, your rebellion against the world. Dare to be joyful even for just a moment in the midst of adversity and pain. Let joy be your raised fist against the powers of darkness.

Dance. Laugh. Smile. Snatch the fruit of joy from the open hand of the Holy Spirit and let the juice of that fruit flow down your face and pool at your feet. Guzzle joy today and feel the strength of Jesus Christ ripple through the muscles of your faith.

Ponder the Perplexities:

This chapter isn’t something you ponder. It’s something to try and see for yourself.

Watch a funny or uplifting movie or video clip. Go fishing. Play with the grandkids. Sit by the lake with God. Turn on the kind of music you used to listen to when life was easier and dance for ten minutes. Don’t just seize joy, abscond with it.

Remember: Abscond with joy.

 Lori Roeleveld
Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored a disturbing blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Lori has published newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, and plays. Her novels, short stories, and Bible studies have won awards but are, as yet, unpublished. Besides degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori earned her Masters in Motherhood homeschooling her two children through graduation. Now, she draws amazing energy from helping writers find their voice and see God’s vision for their work. In her day job, Lori writes the stories of real families in crisis so others see their strengths and values, not just their problems. You’ll find Lori at her website www.loriroeleveld.com or on her front porch writing. If not, know she’s somewhere slaying dragons.

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Roadside Diner - Flash Fiction

I love to start with a writing prompt and let my imagination run wild.

Today’s writing prompt from Wake Up Your Muse: “Don’t order the Blue Plate Special,” whispered the waitress.

2:00 AM, somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma. I pulled into Henry's 24-hour Eatin' Hole, praying hard that Henry served high-octane coffee. Two days on the road had left me red-eyed and worn out. Still, I wasn’t ready to stop for the night. I wanted to put as many miles between me and that conniving snake, Luke Amari as I could.

How is it possible that two entirely different men could occupy one body? One was my sweet and considerate fiancee and the other…I shuddered to think of it…a member of the infamous New Jersey crime family. I can’t believe that Luke and I had sat together every week watching The Sopranos-me unaware that the series was based on his real life mafia relatives.

The diner was nearly deserted except for one guy, sitting on a stool at the counter, shoveling what looked like a pile of slop, smothered in gravy into his mouth.

I grabbed a seat several stools from him and ordered a cup of black coffee from the gum-chewing waitress wearing a stained, uniform. Her name tag read Mitzi.  “Anything else, sweetie?” she asked, “We have a couple pieces of Boston cream pie left. It’ll go great with your coff…”

A strange gurgling sound interrupted her sales pitch. I looked over in time to see the guy to my left face down in his plate of slop.

“Henry, call 911,” the waitress yelled through window behind her that served as a pass through for orders.

“Now, what?” called a husky voice from the kitchen.

“Well, I don’t know, Henry. I’m not a doctor, but from the looks of this guy passed out in his plate, I'd say it's an emergency, so for pity’s sake, would you please dial 911 and tell them to get out here?”

She turned to me again, order pad poised in her hand and said, “Now, what would you like to go with your coffee, dearie?”  Then she leaned over and whispered, “Don’t order the Blue Plate Special.”

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Free on Kindle: The Wedding Caper

Welcome author Janice Thompson. Janice is the author of over 100 books for the Christian market, (mostly inspirational romantic comedies). She’s joining us today to share about her mother-of-the-bride cozy mysteries, “The Bridal Mayhem” series.

Janice, can you tell us a little about this series?

Sure! The Bridal Mayhem series was birthed (partly) out of my own experience! I have four daughters and they all got married within four years of each other. The first two weddings (in 2004) were only four and a half months apart! What a crazy period! Shortly after that one of my editors approached me and asked if I’d ever written cozy mysteries. I had not, but was perfectly willing to give it a try! In the writing biz they tell us to “write what you know” and I knew weddings! I’d been mother of the bride twice in a row, after all. So, I mapped out my story ideas with Annie Peterson, mother-of-the-bride, as the reluctant sleuth, solving crimes on her way to the wedding(s).

Sounds like fun! So, these books released a few years back? If so, why are you just now talking about them?

They released in print form between 2005 and 2007 and then released in eBook form with Spyglass Lane. Recently, the rights reverted back to me (the author) and I was given the opportunity to create new covers and upload them to kindle. I’m offering the first book free for a week to stir up interest in the whole series.

Can you tell us about the first book? 

Of course! The first book is The Wedding Caper. It’s free on kindle this week (September 9th – 13th). In that story, both of Annie’s daughters get engaged, one right after the other. So, it’s weddings times two! At about that same time, $25,000 goes missing at the bank where Annie’s husband, Warren, works. She begins to suspect him of stealing the money to pay for their daughters’ weddings! Of course, she knows nothing about crime solving, but sets out to figure out whodunit before daughter #1’s big day. Did Warren take the money to pay for the weddings? Read The Wedding Caper to find out: http://amzn.to/1rUUI9T!

So, this is a series? What are the other books about?

Book two (Gone with the Groom) offers readers a rollicking good time! In this story, Annie’s future son-in-law goes missing two weeks before the big day. Does he have cold feet, or are there more sinister forces at work? In book three (Pushing up Daisies) a local florist passes away shortly before daughter Candy’s big day. Can Annie figure out who would want to murder a florist before her daughter’s wedding day? In book four (The Perfect Match) the local dating service goes up in flames. Annie’s in the thick of it, trying to figure out whodunit. In book five (Catering to Disaster) over 120 wedding guests end up with food poisoning after a wedding. Did the caterer slip up have they all been sabotaged?

There are five books in the series?

So far! Book six (Don’t Rock the Boat) is currently being written. In this story, Annie and her best friend Sheila are on a Caribbean cruise. An onboard bride goes missing just before her big day. Does she have cold feet? Has someone thrown her overboard? Did she re-board the ship after a recent excursion ashore? Annie has to figure this out so that the bride can have her big day!

You used your personal life experiences for this story?

In part! As I said, I was mother of the bride four times over, so I know what it is to be in that frenzied state of mind in the weeks leading up to your daughter’s wedding day. And though I’ve never solved a crime (to my knowledge) I enjoyed doing so through my characters. And speaking of characters: Annie’s best friend Sheila (wacky, crazy, colorful, fun) was based on my own BFF, Kay Malone. My sweet Kay passed away in May of 2013 from pancreatic cancer. The Wedding Caper is dedicated to her memory. As I mentioned above, The Wedding Caper was written in 2005, long before Kay’s cancer diagnosis. I was stunned—when reading back through the story—to see that one of the characters is battling pancreatic cancer. I’d forgotten all about that. Ironic and bittersweet, for sure.

Thanks for being with us, Janice. Any last thoughts?

Don’t forget to laugh. Life is hard, but laughter brings healing. I try to remember that when I’m having a tough day: there’s always something to laugh at, even if it’s through the tears.

Facebook: Janice Hanna Thompson
Twitter: @booksbyjanice

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Phoenix Rattler Writing Contest

Does your story have bite?

Christian Writers of the West (the Phoenix chapter of ACFW that I belong to) is holding their annual Rattler writing contest.  It's open to all unpublished fiction writers or those who have not published in the last five years. 

Enter the FIRST FIFTEEN PAGES of your novel. (completed manuscript is not required for entry).  We have lined up 90 preliminary judges and the following final judges, so you will be getting some really good feedback on your writing.

ContemporaryMichelle GrawkowskiAgent, 3 Seas Literary Agency
Mystery/ThrillerElizabeth MazurEditor, Harlequin Love Inspired
Fantasy/SciFi/SpeculativeSteve LaubePresident, The Steve Laube Literary Agency & Editor, Enclave Publishing
Young AdultRachel KentAgent, Books & Such Literary Management
HistoricalSusan BrowerNatasha Kern Literary Agency

Contest is open for entries from
August 1, 2014 to August 29, 2014
(5:00pm Arizona Time)

For more information, pop over to the CWOW website @ http://www.christianwritersofthewest.com , where you can download Submission Guidelines, Contest Rules, Entry Forms and a Sample Score Sheet.

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Knee Deep in Dirty Laundry - Writing Prompt

My friend, Joy and I used to have fun speed writing from prompts, then sharing our stories with each other. We hadn't done that in a long time, so today, we picked a prompt from my book, Wake Up Your Muse - 1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers (JUST .99 CENTS FOR THE KINDLE VERSION TODAY) and wrote for about 15 minutes.

The Prompt - "Knee deep in dirty laundry, she wondered why _______________."

Here's my story... (Joy's story follows mine.)
Dirty Laundry Mission Field

I was knee deep in dirty laundry, wondering why or when or how my  life had been reduced to sorting, washing, drying, ironing and putting away twenty loads of laundry a week.  This was not my dream life, but I’m sure I am Tide’s dream customer.

Once, so very long ago, I’d dreamed of being a missionary. Of going to far off lands to teach children about the love of Jesus. To tell them about the heroes of the Bible. To make a difference.

The ringing phone snapped me out of my daydreaming. I jumped over a pile of whites sorted on the floor, then hurdled a load of darks to reach the phone by the third ring so it wouldn’t go to voice mail.


“Oh, good. I caught you at home. This is Sue.”

“Hi Sue, I was just doing laundry. What’s up?”

“I was wondering if you can teach the 3rd grade Sunday School class for the next 4 weeks. Wanda is on vacation.”

I rolled my eyes.  Why would Sue call me? Doesn’t she realize I have 5 kids at home to take care of? “Sure, I’ll teach the class.”

We hung up and tears filled my eyes. I was tired, worn out. I dropped to my knees. “Lord, what happened to my life. You know the dreams I had to be a missionary. My life has turned out so much different than I’d imagined. I really thought that was your calling for me. Why would you call me and then not open the doors for me to be a missionary?

And then I heard that still small voice within me. “I did call you, I did open the door and you have been on the mission field since the birth of your first child. You’ve done such a good job, I’m expanding your mission field with a group of 3rd graders. Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

I went back to my laundry with renewed vigor…still knee deep in dirty clothes, but seeing it as a ministry, not a drudgery.

 And here's Joy's story...

She was knee deep in dirty laundry and she wondered “why” ….. Caroline looked around. It was grey outside, no sound of the birds singing. The dishes were piled high in BOTH sinks and there were dirty clothes strewn from the entryway to the bedroom. She was tired, just plain tired. Why … ? She wondered why?

Why had she thought that marriage consisted of a white knight carrying her off to his castle? Why had she imagined she would be the “Martha Stewart” of White Creek? Why was there more to do than there was day to do it in?

She sank onto the overstuffed sofa and dropped the bowl of leftover popcorn to the floor. Why … she mused as she settled back to a place of refuge, into her own thoughts. Why was she here? Why wasn’t she out with her girlfriends? Why not going shopping or out to lunch or over to Wonder Nails for a manicure well deserved? Why did her life seem so useless? Why did each dreary day dissolve into night and then repeat itself with utter abandon? Why … as she drifted off to sleep?

She must have been dreaming when the doorbell rang. She woke with a start to hear pounding on the front door. She jumped up and tried to “quick arrange” her disheveled hair and walked to the door with the best composure she could come up with. When she opened the door, the delivery driver had left, but on the front porch table she saw the biggest bouquet of roses she had ever seen in her life in a beautiful crystal vase.

She walked slowly over and plucked out the card. As she read it her eyes started to sparkle with thankful tears. The card read, “Sweet Caroline! I love you soooo……!!! Words can’t always convey what flowers can, so I hope these roses say to you what my heart knows to be true. I love you! I love the way you are so patient with me. I love the way you greet me with a smile every day when I come home from work. I love the way you take care of me, feeding me with delicious, healthy meals, washing my filthy work clothes, cleaning my dirty tub and making my life beautiful with your presence. I know it’s not always easy to love me, but I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate all you do in love, just like the Bible says to do “Do everything in love”. Thank you! Your soiled “Knight” Jeremy

Okay, then she started crying. Why had she lost sight of what she was there for? Why had the doubts and disappointments taken over her very life, dragging her down to the pits.

Up went her hands praising the Lord! Thank you Lord for dirty dishes. You provide so much for us! Thank you Lord for a husband who loves me and works hard to take such good care of us! Thank you Lord for loving me in the middle of the puddle of my self-pity. Thank you Lord for being God! Thank you Lord!!!

So, what do you think? What would you write from that prompt? Feel free to share your story or story idea in the comments.

If you like to write fiction, pick up a copy of my book - just .99 cents for the Kindle version TODAY!

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Jumping to Conclusions - Flash Fiction

A couple of my friends and I met at a local coffee shop today for a little writing. We picked a prompt from my book, Wake Up Your Muse and gave ourselves 15-20 minutes to come up with a story, inspired by the prompt. Here's what I came up with...

Jumping to Conclusions

Susan stared at the receipt in her hand. Blue Moon Motel  $57.50. Why would David have a receipt from a motel in his jacket pocket? It was dated last night. They’d gone to dinner last night to celebrate her birthday a day early. Shrimp. It had made her sick and David had taken her home early, tucked her in bed, then said he was going home to get a little work done.

He’d called this morning to check on her. He’d been so loving, seemed so concerned.

She wadded the receipt and threw it across the room. Sneaking into his apartment to clean it for him had sounded like a good idea this morning.  Her mind whirled, wondering what other clues she might find if she just poked around a bit.

She checked his other coat pockets. Nothing.  Rummaged through his desk, but found no incriminating evidence. A quick check of his dresser drawers was more productive, agonizingly so. The top 2 drawers were filled with women’s clothing!  She pulled open the closet door and found several dresses and other women’s garments.

Her mind was swirling! She felt like she’d just eaten a double portion of the shrimp that had made her so sick. David, trustworthy, honest-as-the-day-is-long, David.  Seeing someone else?  She didn’t want to believe it, but the slippers that peeked out from under his bed told a different story.

She heard a key turn in the door and turned to see a woman letting herself into the apartment. Well, not just any women – it was her mother.

They stood there, mouths agape staring at each other.

It took just a few minutes to sort things out. Mother had snuck into town to surprise Susan for her birthday. She’d called David to let him know she was staying at the Blue Moon Motel, but David being the sweetheart that he was had picked her up, paid for her night at the motel and insisted she stay at his apartment until her surprise party – which they had planned for tonight.

“Be sure to act surprised,” mother said.

“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m more surprised than you can possibly know.”

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