Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Pump Up Your Book: You Can't Buy Love Excerpt #3

Author: Marie Drake  
Publisher: RedBird Books
Pages: 286  
Genre: Realistic Fiction

“A battered butterfly, he’d build Kimberly up, nurture her strength and watch her return to flight. He repressed the visions dancing in the back of his mind; her naked body brandished red flags and spurred him to stampede. Bulls and butterflies did not mix.”

Jordan Fry’s obsession is born in “You Can’t Force Love” by Marie Drake, Book I in the Locked Hearts Series.

From different towns and social backgrounds, Jordan Fry and Kimberly Orvine experience life-altering abuse, lose a parent and land in the same foster home. Angry, and self-deprecating, fiery redheaded Kimberly is deadset on lousy behavior and suffering the consequences, punishing herself for former sins. Scared by his inner darkness, pyromaniac Jordan has vowed to change for the better. He focuses on Kimberly as the key to his success, but she intends to make him break his promises. Unaware of Jordan’s atrocious actions in the past, she’s dangerously close to unleashing the evil he struggles to contain during their epic battle of wills. Can they both survive?



Book Excerpt #3 -

Chapter 2

July 1988
Gloucester City, NJ

“How do I look?” Jordan asked his mother.

Debbie tidied his long, blonde hair and tucked the ends into his collar, squeezed his face and studied his blue eyes. “I don’t understand why you wanted a piercing. Please remove the earring for Church.” She swatted Jordan’s butt and nudged him down the trailer’s narrow hall. He extracted the sapphire-blue stone from his ear and gripped it in his palm; it broke his skin, and a blood drop formed; he cleaned the red spot and deposited his keepsake beneath his pillow.

Debbie brushed her strawberry-blonde hair in her bedroom mirror, swiveled, twisted, and tugged her dress over her developing baby bump. The blue fabric complimented her eyes, and her face glowed.  She applied pink lipstick; her diamond engagement ring coruscated light; she frowned at him in the glass. “What is it?” she asked.

“I miss going to church alone together.”

“Don’t be like that,” she said. “Paul loves me.”

“He doesn’t like me; why do we have to move?”

“Paul’s job brings him here occasionally, but he doesn’t live here; a wife follows her husband,” she said. She rubbed her belly and sighed. “He’ll let me stay home when the baby comes.”

“Okay,” Jordan agreed. His stomach churned; he mindlessly rubbed his side where Paul’s fist had thumped a few days ago. Jordan had run off his mother’s previous boyfriend using attitude, but Paul mastered delivering misery, and Jordan wouldn’t force his departure with sass and antics.

“Don’t forget, I’ll drop you off at Rhonda’s house after work tonight,” Debbie said.
“I don’t want to go,” Jordan answered.

“Paul thinks it’ll be good for you to get out; you shouldn’t skulk in the house,” she said.
“Paul shouldn’t skulk in the house,” he mumbled.



“You’ll make friends; don’t worry. Let’s go.”


Follow rest of tour here!

Award-winning author, Marie Drake lives in a small town near Lake Ontario with her husband, four sons, and three rescue pups. With many years of experience in the Foster Care community and advocating for other victims and survivors, she specializes in realistic and psychological fiction depicting the lives of abuse sufferers; their obstacles, their triumphs, and their downfalls.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Book Feature: Lydie of Peruwelz by Richard Burack, Sr., MD

Title: Lydie of Peruwelz
Author: Richard Burack, Sr., MD
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Ebook
In 1839, Lydie Fougnies, 20 years old, is attractive, refined, and educated. Her father is a well-to-do businessman. She meets Felippe Van Hendryk, single child of wealthy aristocrats. They fall in love and a two-year chaste affair leads to talk of marriage. However, his class-conscious, bigoted mother severs their relationship because Lydie is not from high society. Unhappy Felippe is sent to university in Switzerland where he marries, and divorces, the wanton daughter of a wealthy Swiss banker. Lydie is angry and resentful. She is a victim of emotion and, bent on revenge, she cannot think rationally. Believing she can wreak revenge on Mme Van Hendryk by proving her worth only if she belongs to the aristocracy, she directs her attention to Count Hippolyte de Bocarmé, a farmer who lives in a dreary, desolate 16th century chateau. Unschooled and crude, his size and strength seduce her. Certain that the rustic, prodigal son of a fine family can easily be led to the altar, she mentors him in reading, writing, and manners. Never does she suspect that he’s a conscienceless psychopathic felon. He conceals his craving to know her sexually, and plans to steal her family’s fortune.

Richard Burack has a BA from the University of Wisconsin and an MD from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He served as a Medical Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard in the Pacific Theater during the Korean War. In 1960 he was appointed to the pharmacology faculty at Harvard Medical School, and later practiced internal medicine before embarking on a career as a medical director for two U.S. non-pharmaceutical corporations. In retirement, he was a part-time physician at a charity hospital in St. Lucia and has devoted himself to writing. In 1967, Dr. Burack published The Handbook of Prescription Drugs, alerting doctors and the public to the availability of less costly generic medications. Fifty years later, the public buys the majority of its prescription drugs as “generics.” He and his wife, Mary, reside in New Hampshire. They have five children and ten grandchildren.

Character Interview: Preston Howard of Preston Howard's 'The Sheltering Palms'

Our guest character today is Preston Howard from Preston Howard's fictional autobiography/historical fiction/satire, The Sheltering Palms. Enjoy the interview!
What is your name?

Preston Howard

What do you look like?

A lady friend of mine once described me as a fetchin’ guy, whatever that meant! Plus, she had some kind of serious eyesight issue.  But really, other than the Roman nose, somewhat bald head, and deep blue eyes, nothing else to mention.

Where are you today and what are you doing?

I am out on the back deck of my condo, overlooking beautiful Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, AR, and doing what I always do here: write, write, write! Will the IRS let me take the deck as a business deduction for my office?

You come face to face with your worse enemy. How do you react?

Ignore him or her. I won’t expend one whit of energy on execrable human beings, I always wanted to use the word “execrable”------not sure it’s the exact fit, but what the hell.

You keep a photo album of memories from your lifetime. If you could only keep one photo, which one would that be?

A picture of my grandfather Buster-----a major figure in my book-------holding my hand at around four years old, circa 1948. Buster’s Volkswagen Bug sits in the background; likely one of the first in the U.S.

A police officer stops you for a minor violation. What violation is that and how do you react?                                               

Probably a speeding violation, which I have happily avoided for years. I would be polite to the officer------my book centers around cops, who were a passion for my entire career.
Do you have any phobias? What are they and how intense are they? How have they impacted your life?

A terrifying encounter with heights, and intense doesn’t even begin to describe my fear. When I was hiking up Mount Rainier the first time with my oldest son, we were walking right by a crevice and I completely froze up. My son gently put his hand on my right arm and said “Don’t look down, Dad,” and I got through it. But I have stayed away from Rainier ever since!

How do you feel about mortality?

Years ago, I worried about death, but not any longer. At seventy-four years old, I realize several things: I have almost made it to the average mortality rate for men; my life has been blessed many times over; and the Grim Reaper is right around the corner ready to take me off to some other place. I no longer fear the Grim Reaper or death…all part of the cycle of life.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?

Read, read, read! Right now, I am reading “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler, a gripping tale about the decline of our country in the 2020’s----more poverty and crime, and lack of food and water. I sadly believe this prediction is way too likely.

Who is your best friend?

My two best friends have both died, one from cancer and the other from Alzheimer’s. I cared for both men, and they show up in fictional form in my book “The Sheltering Palms,” both in the dedication and the chapters titled “Journeys across America” and “Chris.”

Are you faith-oriented? 

Not in the religious sense but maybe in the sense that there is a universal force beyond our understanding. My current beliefs can be best explained in the book’s chapter titled “How I Became a Truly Ignorant Man.”

Are you married or in a relationship?

Married, and how my wife has put up with all my bullshit for forty-two years is beyond my comprehension.

Do you have children?

Six: yours, mine and ours. All of them lead productive lives, which is the best you can ever hope for.

You are at the zoo. What is your favorite animal?

The apes, because they are a gene or two away from humans, and they sometimes remind me of some of my more clownish friends.

You just woke up to find that war has been declared. What’s the first thing you would do?

Pour a glass of expensive brandy, smoke one of my good cigars, and hope the bomb centers right over my head so I don’t have to endure the aftermath.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to play first base for the old New York Giants, but back in the fifties I believe that Whitey Lockman would not have appreciated me poaching on his position. Besides, in my chapter titled “Fire Ballin’ Lefty,” you will discover that my abilities on the baseball field never endeared me to the major leagues.

If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would that be?

Patience has never been one of my virtues. In fact, I have been going nuts trying to hurry up and finish this damn questionnaire! LOL

About the Author

Preston Howard spent his entire career working on behalf of police officers, representing them under adverse circumstances, negotiating contracts to improve officers’ benefits and working conditions, and training police union officials in the art of leadership. He has written numerous books and lectured not only in this country but abroad as well.
His latest book is the fictional autobiography/historical fiction/satire, The Sheltering Palms.
Website Address:  http://www.prestonhowardauthor.com   
Facebook Address: Preston Howard - Author

About the Book:

Preston Howard
Preston Howard Press
Pages: 519
Fictional Autobiography/Historical Fiction/Satire

Renowned police labor lawyer, Preston Howard, reached a watershed in his life—a forced retirement from the firm he built from the ground up and a cancer diagnosis. These two events made him take a step back and reflect over a life that had at times been hilarious, irreverent, self-mocking, eerie and even a bit, make that, quite lewd.
A family of unique characters guided the lawyer’s formative years: a bourbon-swilling, brilliant yet flawed grandfather who mentored the young lad in matters of religion, politics and the quest for knowledge; a psychic mother; an oversexed nanny; an aunt and uncle who fought on the front lines of integration; and a fire-balling uncle who got his fifteen minutes of fame in The Show.
Preston Howard first made his mark as a crime-fighting attorney representing the Tucson Police Department. Then he spent over forty illustrious years as a labor lawyer working with police officers and union leaders and handling the gamut of fascinating, high-profile cases across the country and even in other countries.
His many tall yarns might be viewed by some with the greatest suspicion, but his story-telling is undeniably first-class, witty, and absorbing.

“The best book I’ve ever read about lawyers, cops, and unions.” Bob Helpert, Tucson, Arizona


Friday, November 16, 2018

Interview with Motivational Author Juliet Huck

Juliet Huck is an expert in persuasive communications with 25 years of experience. She was born in Marietta, Ohio, and holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. During her career, she has worked with the US Department of Justice for the Enron litigation, Exxon Mobil, Boeing, and law firms, such as O’Melveny and Myers, Kirkland and Ellis, and King and Spalding, among other high-profile clients. Juliet is the author of 50 Ways to Get Your Way and The Equation of Persuasion: Securing Decisions in Your Favor.
Her latest book, 50 Ways to Get Your Way, offers insights for skillfully using persuasion in work and in life by forming meaningful relationships. It is the first book in a series that will teach readers how to get what they want in all facets of their lives.



About the Book:

Author: Juliet Huck
Publisher: The Huck Group
Pages: 120
Genre: Motivational/Nonfiction

50 Ways to Get Your Way by Juliet Huck Promotes the Art of Persuading Others Using the Simple Power of Commonsense Values
In 50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY, Juliet Huck shares the lessons she learned while growing up on her family’s farm in rural Ohio—values such as being grateful, nurturing relationships, and listening intently, which she used to build a successful career as a persuasion strategist working with corporate clients and on high-profile legal cases. Huck teaches readers how to be persuasive in a manner that is honorable and respectful, while making genuine human connections.
The tools Huck shares in 50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY are familiar, but the author notes that many of these values are missing in the current social climate. Using beautiful images (many photographed by the author) and conversational prose, Huck encourages readers to commit to a practice of awareness—of self and others—and guides them through the dance of building relationships that will help them achieve their goals. While all of the pearls of wisdom presented in 50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY are essential ingredients for developing into a solid human being, several offer the building blocks for becoming an exceptional person who gets what he or she wants. Being empathetic by learning what other people find meaningful, paying attention to the effect that one’s tone can have on others, telling a compelling story, letting go of expectations to minimize disappointment, and understanding the importance of clarity when asking for assistance or sharing plans are just a few of the gems that Huck examines in her book.

Huck acknowledges that the principles outlined in 50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY are not “rocket science”; however, she believes they are timely. “Observing the current environment, I could not sit back and be silent about how we are treating each other—especially when we need something from someone else. I felt instead of fighting with others, it is time to remind us of the beautiful things that can connect us,” Huck said.
50 WAYS TO GET YOUR WAY was written with the intention of helping people fulfill their personal and professional needs by mastering the art of making genuine connections.



Thanks for this interview, Juliet.  Congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?

This is my second book that have self-published.  The writing and design came easy but promoting and selling books is always the hardest task.

Can you tell us about your journey?

Observing the current environment in our world, I could not sit back and be silent on how we are treating each other – especially when we need something from someone else. I felt instead of fighting with others it is time to remind us of the beautiful things that can connect us. I know this book can help you stop and look at how we ask others for something we need.  Enjoy!

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

My book contains thought provoking photos with each of the 50 ways as we are such a visual society.  Plus retention levels go up to 90% when words and pictures are combined. 

Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?

The Declaration of Persuasion
Persuasion in NOT a call to action – it is a directed action
It is time to break up the myth that persuasion is
a call to action. To “call” is to “invite.” This puts all
the power in someone else’s hands. While to “direct”
is to “control.” This is the ultimate way to give you
the power you need to get what you want. Inviting
someone to do something allows them to say no. You
must lead or direct them to what you want in simple
words, statistics and/or visuals proportional to the
magnitude of your need. Think of a traffic cop. They
are not inviting you to take their direction. You are
clearly persuaded to do what they want you to do
as they are in control. Moving someone to decide
in your favor is not always easy but there are steps
which you can take that will get you what you want.
Carry on!

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

Yes. I have been considering the book become a series for lawyers, sales people, negotiators etc.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No, I was not a big reader because I was a visual learner.  I never thought I would have author added to my title but once I wrote my first book I find it coming though me without a lot of effort.  But again I am a big believer that audio and visuals must come together. To me putting visuals to the word is my favorite part. 

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

Yes, both books were rejected.  I had many people try to talk me into things like size, color and not fitting into the norm.  But I could not give my original ideas so I took a chunk of my retirement and made them happen. 

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

I don’t see that in my future.

What’s next for you?

My next plan is to speak and pass on the message that we all have commonalities that can bring up together; we just need to use these commonsense tools to give each other a chance.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Interview with Women's Fiction Author Sheila Roberts

USA Today best-selling author Sheila Roberts has seen over fifty books, both fiction and non-fiction in print. Her novels have appeared in many different languages and been made into movies for both the Lifetime and Hallmark Channels. She writes about things near and dear to women’s hearts – love, friendship, family and chocolate.
Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Winter at the Beach.


Jenna Jones, manager of the Driftwood Inn, a vintage motel in the Washington beach town of Moonlight Harbor, is convinced that a winter festival would be a great way to draw visitors (and
tourist business) to town during those off-season months. Everyone in the local chamber of commerce is on board with her Seaside with Santa festival idea except one naysayer, local sour lemon, Susan Frank, who owns a women’s clothing boutique in town. The beach gets hit with storms in the winter, no one will come, too close to Christmas. Blah, blah. What does Susan know?

It turns out that Susan knows a lot. A big storm hits during the weekend of the festival, wreaking havoc with the parade and producing power outages all over town. Including at the Driftwood Inn.

Jenna finds herself with a motel filled with people, all with no power. What to do? Enlist the help of friends, of course. Her friends take in many of the stranded visitors, and Jenna and her Aunt Edie take in the others, stuffing them into Aunt Edie’s house next door to the Driftwood.

All the guests come with their own unique stories. The last thing Taylor Marsh wanted was a getaway with her husband. His refusal to give up on his dying business is taking them down financially and killing their marriage. But her sister Sarah (she who has her financial act together and never lets her sister forget it) insists this will be fun for both their families. It will only be fun for Taylor if her husband gets eaten by a giant squid. Then there’s Darrel Wilson, who planned the perfect anniversary getaway for his wife, who’s been undergoing chemo. So much for the perfect anniversary. And the sisters, Lisa and Karen, who can’t seem to go on a sister outing without it turning into a Lucy and Ethel adventure. Unlikely roommates, all of them. But perhaps each one has a valuable lesson to share with the others. And perhaps, what looked like a disaster will prove to be the best holiday adventure of all. 



Thanks for this interview, Sheila. Congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

I’ve been on this publishing road for so many years that I think I’ve pretty much already tripped over most of the rocks. This particular book was a pleasant journey and I enjoyed the whole process – the writing, the edits, working with my editor on back cover copy and seeing my gorgeous cover. There are a lot of ups and downs in this business (and believe me, I’ve had my share), so it’s good to enjoy the fun when you’re in an up phase.

If you were to pen your own autobiography, what might the title be?

It’s a Wonderful Life (Sorry, Frank Capra, you can’t copyright a title.)

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

I am big on fun. I line dance, drag my husband out dancing once a week, play tennis, read, have girlfriend parties, play a ton of games (Charades, anyone?), and gorge myself on episodes of House Hunters International.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

That’s a hard question to answer. There are so many wonderful authors putting books on the shelves. So, why should a reader part with her hard earned dollars for one of mine? For the fun of it. I love books that incorporate humor and I try to do that in mine. I’m big on encouragement and happy endings, so even though my characters may struggle, they always find their way to a good place by the end of the book. And recipes. This book has some yummy ones and I spent a lot of time wiping drool off my chin as I typed.

Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?
Life at the beach was good. It was even better when you ran a motel and had people staying in it.
Lately life at the beach hadn’t been quite so good for Jenna Jones, manager of the Driftwood Inn in the beach town of Moonlight Harbor, Washington. Her great-aunt, Edie Patterson, the current owner, had offered Jenna both a home with her and a job after her divorce. Jenna had been grateful for the new start and Aunt Edie had been grateful for the help as the place had fallen into disrepair after the death of her husband, Ralph. Jenna would eventually inherit the motel, which offered her financial security.
It had been a win-win deal, and Jenna had whipped the place into shape, decorating on a shoestring, giving the rooms a different theme, depending on what color bargain carpet and what kind of thrift store décor she’d been able to find. The Driftwood Inn was now, if she did say so herself, a charming beach retreat. But she needed more heads in beds.
After Labor Day, when summer fun ended and families got busy with school and football season, reservations became scarce. Now, in October, well, if you were looking for a cute vintage motel to stay in, the Drift- wood Inn had plenty of vacancies.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, and almost every year I try to bring out a Christmas tale. This book starts a little before and extends a little beyond, but there’s still plenty of holiday fun in it, including Jenna’s Seaside with Santa festival… which is going to turn out to be something that Santa and anyone with a brain will want to avoid.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

This is the second book in the Moonlight Harbor series. The first book was Welcome to Moonlight Harbor.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No. I wrote stories and made “books” when I was a kid (usually about horses since I was horse mad at the time). Took a ton of lit and writing classes in college and sold some articles when I was a newlywed but I never really saw myself as a published author. I wanted to be a songwriter. Funny how, sometimes, what you want isn’t what you’re supposed to be doing.

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

My very first book never saw the light of day, but my second, which I wrote on a fluke, did get published. Of course, I had my share of frustration after that. I’ve crashed my writing career twice and had to reinvent myself. But I’ve always kept on going because I love to tell stories.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

If you find a good working partnership then I say go for it. I’m about to try and co-write a book with my husband. Hopefully, we’ll still be speaking to each other by the time we’re done.

What’s next for you?

This spring The Beach Retreat will hit the shelves. And little Sheila will hit the beach. Unless, of course, Dancing with the Stars calls. J

Monday, November 12, 2018

Book Feature: Going For Broke: How to Suffer Well by Shannon Medisky

Author: Shannon Medisky
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 61
Genre: Christian Nonfiction/Devotional

Hardship hurts and suffering sucks.
But there’s very important work—and rewards—we need to be occupied with in the middle of it all.
Suffering has a way of stretching us beyond ourselves. It prompts us to stretch outside of our current comfort zones. But no matter how we feel, we don’t have to be buried by our challenges and circumstances. Instead, we can recognize that God has planted us right where we are for a reason: It’s time to get growing.
Here’s how.


Amazon / B&N

Einstein once said, "God doesn't play dice." He also made it very clear that he didn't believe in a personal God, but rather he trusted that there were underlying laws of nature that made perfect sense of some of the science (mainly quantum mechanics) that even he couldn't wrap his brilliant mind around.
Einstein was an incredible man of science, but he also appreciated that he couldn't make sense of everything. Yet, even in the midst of this, Einstein professed that there still had to be a rhyme and reason to it all. Even if he or current science couldn't make sense of it, Einstein held the belief that there was still a structure, an order behind it all.
I believe the same is true for suffering. I believe this because I've seen evidence of it firsthand.
To put it bluntly, I watch my son die a slow, painful death daily. He suffers terribly, and my heart suffers, too. My heart breaks each time he cries out to me for comfort and relief, and there's nothing I can do.
My head is weary of keeping tabs of his daily intake of protein. Too little and he becomes catabolic, metabolizing his own muscle tissue. Too much, and ammonia levels rise in his blood stream causing debilitating headaches and irreversible cognitive loss. There's no cure, and that's just the tip of the medical and genetic iceberg.
There's also the GRIN2B genetic mutation that causes my son debilitating joint pain, short and long-term memory loss and yet more metabolic issues. His specific mutation causes his body to convert the amino acid called arginine to histidine. This poor kid can't seem to eat enough food to ever really feel full because he can't eat more than about 15 grams of protein per day.
Think about that for a moment.
Imagine being underweight with low muscle tone, experiencing constant headaches and joint pain and then never feeling fully satiated…and that's when he actually feels up to eating at all.
It's hard enough to watch Mark suffer, to walk through all of this with him. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be him.
Mark’s physical suffering alone is staggering to imagine. Prior to joining our family through adoption, Mark was subject to severe abuse and neglect. Deprived of basic nutrition, physical touch and comfort as an infant, it's not surprising that he suffered cognitively, developmentally and behaviorally as a result.
I share all of this because I've heard it said that one should write about what one knows. The last ten years have taught me quite a bit about suffering: how it feels, the toll it takes, and just how unsettling it is when looking ahead holds no promise of relief or respite. I know how it feels to not be able to quite catch your breath, to feel completely and utterly helpless, to vacillate between wondering if you're (really) strong enough to keep going or when exactly you're going to fall apart.
It's from this place that I write about suffering, an open, raw place of complete transparency, because frankly I don't think there's enough out there about it. Everyone experiences hardship at some point. Christ even told us to expect it (John 16:33). Yet most every blog post, podcast and article I’ve come across covers how to get out of it, how to avoid it or—even worse—does a tremendous disservice by quickly trying to sugarcoat it. Suffering is rarely if ever a choice. It’s a natural part of the human experience. So, why isn’t there more help out there on how to do it well?
I believe in the power of prayer. I know God can—and still does—move mountains. I also know that God allows suffering, too. Suffering is a part of His plan. If it weren't, Noah would've never been stuck on that big boat after watching everything he’d ever known be engulfed in water. Joseph never would've been thrown into a pit, sold into slavery and imprisoned. Jesus Himself would never have been ridiculed, tortured and crucified.
During my prayers for Mark's relief and the easing of my own emotional burden, none of this escapes me.
We don't have to relish suffering. We don't have to run after it. It's completely natural to want to avoid it. Even Christ prayed to the Father and asked that suffering be taken from Him if it was within God's will (Mark 14:36). But sometimes suffering is a part of the plan, a piece of the story that God is weaving together in our lives. If we know this is true, that sometimes suffering is a part of the Lord’s greater plan, then doesn't it make sense to prepare for it as best we can?
It has been said that misery loves company, so I took the hint. I dove into Scripture and surrounded myself with what felt like old friends, but I visited with them in different ways. While their stories were nothing new, I connected with what their emotional experiences must have been in brand new and very personal ways. I noted what they did and how God responded to their thoughts, words and actions. I found patterns and parallels. In my searching, I discovered evidence time and time again that God truly does meet us in our mess.
Jesus said, "What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops" (Matthew 10:27 ESV).
Jesus will tell us things in the dark when we're unsure and insecure. It is in this darkness where He whispers to us, sharing things that are only accessible when we're willing, able and waiting to hear.
Suffering is often the place of this darkness.
During suffering we're broken enough to stop listening to ourselves, and instead tune in more carefully to His whispers. Ironically enough, it's usually in the middle of hardship where our relationship with Jesus can truly grow the most. Whether we like it or not, hardship often pushes us out of our comfort zones. Suffering enables us to grow through what we go through.
From this perspective, what a tremendous opportunity suffering can be!
Yes, hardship hurts.
Yes, suffering sucks.
But there's very important work—and rewards—we need to be occupied with in the middle of it all. That's exactly how this book is different. In the pages that follow, you won't discover how to pray your way out of challenges and pain. Quite the opposite, actually. You'll be encouraged to go for broke, to face suffering head on in anticipation of meeting God personally in brand new ways. Suffering has a way of stretching us beyond ourselves. It prompts us to reach outside of our current comfort zones.
This book has been designed to help you take full advantage of this, to essentially help you not waste your pain. If God allows us to suffer, then we can rest assured that it isn't and won't be for not (Romans 8:28).
Suffering isn't just an experience or state we're in. It's a skill, too.
We can squander our experiences and energy trying to spin our wheels to get out of suffering as soon as we can (and sometimes futilely so) or we can choose to suffer well. We can be intentional about how we respond to suffering. We can work on ourselves, actively seeking to grow into all that God wants us to be. We can work on our listening skills, discovering how to quiet ourselves and the chaos around us. We can practice and grow in patience as we wait on God, His will, and His timing. In short, we can recognize with our choices and our actions that, yes, suffering is in God's plan for us, too.
If you're suffering now, I hope this book serves as a tool to help you feel less helpless. I hope that it helps you discover new opportunities to grow closer to and experience God in ways you've never known before. I hope that it helps you realize that you are not buried by your current circumstance or hardship even if that's exactly how you feel, but rather God has planted you right where you are for a reason: It's just time to get growing.


“Shannon’s writing is infused with an abiding passion, a marked sensitivity to the needs of her readers and a tangible wisdom gleaned from real life experience,” Danielle D.
Shannon Medisky is a leading expert in struggling with stress, screwing up and seeking God in the midst of it all. Sometimes funny but always real, Shannon’s writing is infused with practical ideas designed to help others create positive, real change in their daily lives. In short, Shannon writes about how to intentional move from simply “going on” to growing on—by God’s grace.
Shannon’s articles, insights and ideas have been featured in Exceptional Parents, Adoptive Families, Hybrid Mom, Mothering and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. For the past nine years, Shannon’s also worked as contributing writer and curriculum designer for OneHope, a global nonprofit ministry devoted to sharing the life-changing message of the Gospel with youth and children worldwide. To learn more, visit GraceToGrowOn.com.