I’m fascinated with names. Maybe all of us writers are.

I like creative names and creative spellings. I’m intrigued with old-fashioned names that come back in style, and I like unique names I’ve never heard of.

I’ve chuckled at names, like one of my college friends, whose first name was “Holly” and she married a gentleman with the surname “Wood.” She said she had trouble cashing checks with the signature “Holly Wood,” so she eventually stuck her maiden-name initial between the two words.

My brother had a friend named William Williams, but at least he went by the name “Bill.”

A convenient store in my hometown was owned by Billy Joe Deal who married a woman named Billie Jo.

When I became pregnant with our first child, David and I decided we liked the name “Jeremy.” I told my husband I thought it would be fun to give him a “J” name for me and a “D” name for him, so child number one became “Jeremy David.”

We stuck with the plan for child number two, and she became “Jenifer DeeAnn.” Yes, only one “n,” because my husband likes creative spellings, too.

Child number three answers to the name “Jeb Daniel.”

And then when God said there would be four, my husband and I pondered briefly abandoning our nomenclature method for fear of giggles from our new west coast friends.

“Julie, we’re not in Georgia anymore,” fretted my Navy officer husband, who was serving a billet in California.

“Well, everyone out here thinks we’re tacky rednecks, so let’s do it anyway,” I joked. And our dear, California friends welcomed “Jessica Danae” to the mix, shortened to “Jessi” on occasion.

What my husband and I hadn’t thought about was that all of our kids would have the exact same initials, so their water bottles or snacks or other belongings were often labeled J1, J2, J3, and J4. We feared they’d grow up to tell a therapist: “We were just a number in my house.”

My favorite thoughts about a given name, however, come from Acts 4:12 (ESV) and says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

I am so thankful for that Name.

Lavender FieldOh, and I did forget to mention – my parents named me Julie Anita Bland when I was born. So, when I married, my name changed from Julie Bland to Julie Lavender. My husband loves it when I say, “I went from dull to colorful when I got married.”

 

365 Ways to Love

BIO: Julie’s favorite color as a child was purple, so she loved adding “Lavender” to her name when she married. Julie Lavender’s newest book, 365Ways To Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories (Revell), releases this month. It’s on sale right now, 40% discount, at Baker Book House with no shipping cost and is also offered as a giveaway at Goodreads.com.

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Linore Rose Burkard

Linore Rose Burkard

Proof of God’s power and sense of humor are both evident in my story of getting published.    Readers would probably be surprised to learn that despite majoring in English Literature and graduating magna cum laude, I was too afraid to take a Creative Writing class. It wasn’t that I didn’t have story ideas—I just lacked the confidence and, I believed, the time, to write them.  (I worked full time and was convinced it would take an enormous amount of time to do it well, if I could indeed even do it.)

But story ideas wouldn’t go away. And after waiting years for someone to write a Christian Regency romance, I realized it wasn’t going to happen.  So I wrote the book I wanted to read. Knowing nothing about the publishing industry, I only queried two publishers. One was interested (a major house), but then passed. With my usual ultra-confidence, I accepted that I wasn’t good enough to be published.

But God wouldn’t let it go! He kept nudging me. But I kept procrastinating. And here’s the humorous part. He used a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to do it. Whenever I thought about it, he would remind me of “thine almost blunted purpose.”   Finally, I self-published the book—I thought I had no other choice—which led to  Nick Harrison, then a Senior Editor with Harvest House Publishers, contacting me, which led to HHP publishing it (Before the Season Ends), and then two more regencies.

Why that line? Why from Hamlet? I often wondered. It took years for me to understand. Like the troubled prince in the play, I was being a great procrastinator! God nudged me to action in time for Nick to find the book and ask to see it.  And thus began my career.

Forever, Lately by Linore Rose Burkard

Forever, Lately by Linore Rose Burkard

Bio: Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite and hopeless romantic.  She writes heartwarming historical romance and YA/Suspense (as L.R. Burkard). Raised in NY, she now lives with her husband and five children in southwestern Ohio.

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Like finding Easter eggs in each novel, I include unique places the reader probably has not visited, adventures my reader most likely has not experienced, and unique facts about our zany world that were not in our textbooks.

In suspense novel, Chasing Sunrise, I take the reader scuba diving along the wall off the coast of St. Croix. Much like an elevator shaft, the majestic formation drops some 3000 feet below the ocean surface.

With the island as the setting, I included the historic sugar mills, rum production, the seven flags that flew over St. Croix, World War II sonobuoys, sea glass, how to crack open a fresh coconut, mocho jumbies, Alexander Hamilton, and crab races.

Native to the island, the manchineel tree is deadly to everyone except a species of land crabs. St. Croix is the only United States-owned soil where Columbus landed, and he quickly discovered the danger of the manchineel after several of his men ate the fruit and died.

Michael examined the extent of the damage. “If it’s so dangerous, why not get rid of the tree?”

“That’s just as dangerous.” Jake shook his head. “Maybe more. Standing beneath the tree during rain may cause blistering. Cutting the tree gets the poisonous sap everywhere. Burning the tree causes blindness if the smoke reaches the eyes. Inhaling the smoke blisters the nose, mouth, and respiratory system.”

“Nuisance,” Michael groused.

Discovering the tree and its parts contain strong toxins, what’s an author to do? Of course, I let our military pararescueman leverage the tree as a weapon against the unsavory bad guys.

Exploring, learning, and researching are perks of being an author. The fun is multiplied by sharing the adventures, discoveries, and places with my readers.

 

PeggySue Wells

PeggySue Wells

History buff, and tropical island votary, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, PeggySue is the bestselling author of 29 books, translated into eight languages, including The What To Do series, The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, Chasing Sunrise, and The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make. Radio talk show host, author, and speaker, she interviews industry experts, entrepreneurs, and exceptional voices to help people live better, together. Connect with PeggySue on Facebook, Linked In, and at  www.PeggySueWells.com

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I’ve never been a police chief—but I spent many years of my career in public education serving as a high school superintendent. The day I realized the overlap between those two positions was the day Jo Oliver was born.

In the early years, I interviewed women and men (mostly men) police officers and had the privilege of participating in a few ride-alongs. As a member of the International Thriller Writers Association, I enthusiastically joined in on the FBI workshops hosted by the Manhattan FBI during our annual summer conference. It wasn’t until I heard a dear friend and local police chief describe his day-to-day activities as being mainly concerned with politics and personnel that I realized I could write from that seat authentically.

School superintendents also spend a good deal of their time addressing politics and personnel—sans badge and gun. Layering on the details of a series of crimes fell into place once I knew how my police chief would spend her time on the job when not chasing bad guys/girls. In addition to trying out cool new technologies in their efforts to protect and serve, my characters spend much of their waking time at work. Understanding that leadership in the police arena is not all that different from leadership in other arenas added confidence and an air of authority to my writing.

In crafting my current novel, I am drawing on my world of education to form the background of my protagonist. Grounding her in a world I know so well frees me up to create bridges into the bold new future world we are creating and sharing on the page together. Weaving in the ancient truths of human development, character, and consequences of our choices laid out in the Bible adds the final layer of intrigue and fuel for reflection I strive to include in my work.

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates opportunities to contribute to the wellbeing of others as a coach, writer, and friend. She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends. www.catherinefinger.com

 

 

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Dianne Neal Matthews

Just before I moved to Salt Lake City in 2011, a librarian friend of a friend asked me to be the featured author at her small Christian school’s Book Fair. After I emailed her my photo and book cover images, she met with the principal and got really excited about the promotional ideas the two of them had planned. But I was not prepared for what she accomplished while waiting for me to fly in.

The school sat at the top of a high hill. As we turned in the driveway at the bottom, a huge sign with my face and name greeted me. At the top, a large easel held a similar poster. Smaller signs dotted the walls in the hallway highlighting my books. As I washed my hands in the bathroom, I looked up and saw my face on the paper towel dispenser. Suddenly, I felt like a rock star.

Book Fair

At the Book Fair

Although many people passed through the halls, book sales were slow the second morning. But after all, it was the day for women’s Bible studies; also, the building was serving as a polling place. After a few hours, I saw a woman walking toward me, obviously intending to talk. Did she want to buy an autographed book? Or maybe tell me how much she loved the one she got yesterday? I eagerly leaned across the table. “Where do I go to vote?” she asked.

You know, pride is a sneaky thing. It can slip into our attitudes without us even realizing it. But on that day, I realized something: When you’re a writer, sooner or later someone or something will give you a wake-up call if your head starts to get too big.

On This Day by Dianne Neal Matthews

Dianne Neal Matthews is the author of five daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook or Twitter.

 

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