November 25, 2013

What Would You Do for $2 Million? A Guest Post {and Giveaway} by Amy Matayo

Sometimes you meet those awesome people in life whose Facebook status updates you really care about ... and look forward to. Amy Matayo is one of those people. I met Amy at an ACFW conference recently. She's sweet, funny, and real. And even cooler...her debut novel, The Wedding Game, just released.

I asked Amy to visit today on the blog, and she agreed. She's also doing a giveaway of her book, so check out the details and enter below!

Here's a bit about Amy:
Amy Matayo is a graduate of John Brown University and holds a degree in journalism. After graduation, she went to work at DaySpring Cards, where she worked for seven years as Senior Writer and Editor. After the birth of her first child, she became a freelance writer for David C. Cook before pursuing novel writing full time. Her newest book finaled in the 2012 ACFW Genesis contest. Two of her other books semi-finaled in the 2011 Genesis. As the mother of four children with a husband immersed in political life, Amy has very little free time. She prefers to spend that time enjoying intellectual pursuits such as watching television with her feet propped up, watching movies with a bucket of popcorn, and watching her laundry pile high--with no desire to do anything about it. Connect with her at amymatayo.com

Sometimes in life we have to make split decisions. Like whether or not to let your teenager catch a ride home with another kid who hasn't been driving all that long because you're stuck in traffic across town. Or whether to buy the cute skinny blank pants you found at Banana Republic or the wide leg ones at Old Navy that don't exactly look as great but are a whole lot cheapter. Or whether to stick with the creamy peanut butter you've trusted for years or venture into the unknown world of crunchy and organic.

Or whether or not to sell your soul for money.

Now, I haven't exactly been faced with this last dilemma, but I know people who have been. Good people. Kind people. Smart people. Well-intentioned people.

Fake people, but that's beside the point.

In my new book, The Wedding Game, the main characters sign up for a reality show with one goal in mind: to win the competition and walk away two million dollars richer. All they have to do to win: marry a complete stranger and stay that way for six months while working hard to convince the viewers they're in love. Simple, right?

Not so much.

But it got me thinking--what would you do for that kind of money? Sure, it's easy to say "nothing that bad," but is the answer really that simple? What if you needed money for medical bills or your child's education or to pay off your home or to fund the Botox injections you've been waiting on for the past decade (hey--don't judge).

What would you do? I, for one, would never marry a stranger for money. Ever. Not in a million years. No way, no how, no chance it's gonna happen.

Unless a personal chef/housekeeper/masseuse/gardener is involved. In that case, sign me up yesterday. I only hope my husband doesn't mind...

Cannon James has a plan: Sign on as a contestant for his father's new reality show, marry a blonde hand-picked by the producers, and walk away two million dollars richer. It's all been arranged. Easy. Clean. No regrets. Until Ellie McAllister ruins everything by winning the viewer's vote. Now he has to convince America that he's head over heels in love with her. Not easy to do since she's a walking disaster. 

Ellie McAllister has her own problems. She needs money, and she needs it now. Despite her parents' objections and her belief that marriage is sacred, she signs on to The Wedding Game...and wins. Now she's married to a guy she can't stand, and if she wants her hands on the money, she has six months to make voters believe she loves him. Not easy to do since he's the most arrogant man in America. 

It doesn't take long for Ellie and Cannon to realize they've made a mess of things...even less time for their feelings for one another to change. But is it too late for them? More importantly, can the worst decision they've ever made actually become one of the best?

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:
Amy's offering up a copy (Kindle or print) of The Wedding Game, and there are lots of ways to enter! Use the Rafflecopter box below to enter by
  • Liking Amy's Facebook author page
  • Liking my Facebook author page
  • Tweeting about the giveaway
  • Sharing about the giveaway via Facebook
  • Leaving a blog post comment
The contest is open to U.S. residents only and ends at midnight on November 30. There must be at least 10 entries for the contest to be valid.

Your Turn: What would you do for $2 million? What would you NOT do? Or, what would you do with $2 million if you had it?

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November 18, 2013

Three Reasons My Marriage Has Survived

Today is my seventh wedding anniversary.

I am so incredibly blessed to be married to a wonderful man who cherishes me and treats me as a partner in life. I know not everyone has that. Believe me, I'm grateful.

I sat down to think about the hard things we've been through together: law school, grad school, disappointments, health issues, disagreements about our future, and more. I wanted to pinpoint what it was that allowed our marriage to survive -- and thrive -- for the last seven years, despite the trials.*

Here's what I came up with.

1. We remember we're on the same team. It is so incredibly easy to start to feel like a marriage is a me vs. him thing. Like I need to fight for what I want. Like he's just out for himself. But when I stop to think about it, I remember: he's a good-willed person. He really does want what's best for us, even if it's not exactly what I want all the time. We are a team and need to work together. The hard part is that we are both selfish beings, since we're human. But God has given us the ability to be selfless, and when we focus on what we can bring to a marriage instead of what we can get from it, everyone "wins."

2. Love and respect. Ephesians 5:33 says, "However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." When we were first married, we read Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Changed our marriage! Its premise is that most women need love above anything else (other than God, of course), and most men need respect above anything else. When we can give our spouse the thing he or she needs most -- and we give it unconditionally -- we speak to them in their love language. I try to focus on respecting my husband, since that's what God has called me to do. He wants me to do this regardless of whether my husband loves me. That's not always easy. I fail at it a lot of times. But thankfully, forgiveness is a part of loving and respecting.

3. God. I really should have put this first, because the Number 1 reason my husband and I are still together is God. We came into marriage with the same foundational beliefs, and were able to build our marriage on something other than our own whims, desires, and what not. Not only that, but God has given us forgiveness, selflessness, and grace when we needed it. When we're both following after Him, we are able to see the bigger picture and remember that our marriage represents the union between Christ and the Church.

Your Turn: If you're married, what's been something that has helped your marriage survive and thrive over the years? If you're not, what is something you admire about a married couple you know? Or, for fun, who is your favorite married couple in a book or movie and why?

*I in no way mean this as a bragging post. I give God all the glory for our marriage. I know there are a lot of believers out there who tried to do these things and it didn't work out for whatever reason. My heart goes out to you. I'm only speaking to what has worked in my own marriage.

November 11, 2013

The Real Reason We Get Jealous...and How to Have Joy Instead


Last week, I guest posted on the American Christian Fiction Writers blog. I forgot to link to it here on my blog, and it's a post that really came from my heart: it's about jealousy...and how to choose joy instead. So, I thought I'd direct you to it today. You can come back here to comment or leave a comment there if you'd prefer.

The cool thing is, the topic of jealousy and joy doesn't just apply to my writing life, but my life as a whole.

Here's a snippet from the post:

I'm pretty sure we've all been there. It's that emotion no one wants to feel, because it makes us feel icky inside. Plus, only terrible people have such tendencies, right? Unfortunately, no. As a writer, it's a feeling that will most likely strike at some point in your career.

Jealousy.

I was recently doing a Beth Moore Bible study on King David and one lesson focused on jealousy -- specifically, that which King Saul had toward David. Beth pointed something out that really struck me. She said that jealousy initially coms because we perceive a threat -- and from that threat comes fear, which leads to jealousy.

It make sense, right? When a guy is dating a girl and she's friends with another guy, it's easy for the boyfriend to become jealous. But why? Because he perceives that other male as a threat, and he fears his girlfriend leaving him for this other dude.

But even more than that, he fears that in comparison -- at the core of who he is -- he isn't enough.

Click here to read the entire post and share your thoughts!

November 4, 2013

The Heart of a Lonely Writer: Guest Post by Wendy Paine Miller {and Giveaway!}

Sometimes in life, you're blessed to meet people who instantly make you feel welcome. Wendy Paine Miller is one of those people in my life. When I was new to blogging and writing, and commented on her blog, not only did she welcome me, but made me feel like I belong. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Wendy in person, but I can't wait for the day I do!

Wendy just released her first novella, The Disappearing Key. I can't wait to finish reading it myself! Today, we're offering up a copy to one lucky winner. See details below.

Here's a bit about Wendy:
Wendy lives with her husband, their three girls, and a skunk-dodging Samoyed. She feels most alive when she's laughing, speeding on a boat, reading, writing, refurbishing furniture or taking risks. She's authored ten novels and is currently writing what she hopes will be your future book club pick. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and online sites. Wendy graduated with a BA in English from Wittenberg University, where she earned an Honor of Distinction for her accrued knowledge of literature. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency. 

Visit http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com or connect with Wendy on Facebook or Twitter (@wendypmiller).

Take it away, Wendy! And thanks for being here today.

Sometimes I swear I'm masochistic -- committing to a career fraught with rejection, with anonymous spews disguised as reviews, and a wait that rivals the time it took to build the Great Wall.

Still.

I'm here.

I'm in this.

And I'll be the first to admit it can get insanely lonely. Yes, social media has provided wonderful opporrtunities to connect with fellow writers. And yes, more than ever before, writers seem to be supporting one another rather than exhibiting cutthroat competition.

However, in all this literary love there's still the grind.

There's the blank page and the exacerbated bouts of jealousy because of overabundant access to fellow authors' platforms, etc., and the scrunched up faces of everyone who's ever told you you're not good enough bleating your life of failures whenever you sit to write.

It's combat, this BIC (butt in chair) stuff. Bushwhacking through the lies for the sake of getting at the story.

Because for writers who are truly called, this is what it will always come back to -- the story.

The story pulses the lonely writer heart. Immersed in the story, characters provide company. Word flow unblocks the dams of defeat, despair, and dried up prose. The story quickens the lonely heart, pitter-pattering, reminding the writer the benefits of remaining committed.

Writers are cursed, you know. We're given the uncomfortable task of entertaining you as we tell the truth. Sometimes the truth looks like the planter's wart on the bottom of your foot. This is a lonely vocation. No one likes pointing out planter's warts (except maybe podiatrists...they may get into doing that).  

It's only when the reader embraces that we're all ridden with warts, able to see truth for what it is, that the bloody beat of a story is made beautiful.

Lonely as it is, it becomes less so the moment a reader connects with the mess of our hearts poured out on the page.

The heart of a lonely writer gets a little less lonely the instant a reader is infected by the story. This is where the curse gives way to blessing.

This is what it's all about.


Gabrielle Bivane never expected parenting a teenager would be this hard, but she never expected stillborn Oriana to live to see fourteen, either. The night of Oriana's birth, Gabrielle and her husband Roy fused their genetic and engineering geniuses to bring back all that was lost to them -- at a cost.

The secret must be kept.

Oriana Bivane senses she's not like the other girls her age, but the time has come for her to change all that. She's tired of secrets, but does she confide in the wrong person?

The life-giving key, suddenly missing, must be found.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:
I'm offering up a free copy of The Disappearing Key (winner's choice of Kindle or print version), and there are lots of ways to be entered to win! Use the Rafflecopter box below to enter by
  • Liking Wendy's Facebook page
  • Liking my Facebook page
  • Sharing via Twitter
  • Sharing via Facebook
  • Leaving a blog comment
The contest is open to U.S. residents only, and ends November 10 at midnight. There must be at least 10 entries for the contest to be valid.

Your Turn: Have you ever considered how your role as a reader influences the heart of a lonely writer?
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