Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What's Up With Marlo's Writing...

Hi Friends,

Just wanted to give y'all a little update about what's going on with my writing so you can pray! So, here's the scoop:

1) I've completed the rough draft of the proposal for the nonfiction book I've been wanting to write -- the book that takes a close look at the life of Mary to talk about how to face hard times and be transformed. So far, the working title is HIGHLY FAVORED: Living the Life You Never Dreamed. Of course, it will probably be retitled a few times before making it into print! The proposal is on my agent's desk now. If he gives me the go-ahead, I'll write some sample chapters and then we'll start looking for the right publisher. Prayers appreciated for all of those steps!!

2) In the meantime, I'm starting work on a new fiction proposal. This week on my Facebook page I asked readers whether they preferred romantic suspense or straight romance. So far, the votes are leaning more heavily toward suspense (feel free to weigh in on your preference if you haven't done so already!). I have some preliminary ideas stirring, and I'm hoping a few will gel and I'll be able to get a proposal done soon for a new fiction project as well (wouldn't that be fun?!).

3) I'll be speaking about writing at the Castro Valley writers' seminar on Feb. 18th. I'm also the speaker for the Carmel Presbyterian Church's upcoming women's retreat on March 16-18. I'll be speaking on the topic of ... HIGHLY FAVORED: Recapturing Wonder When Life Goes Awry. The retreat will be at Mount Hermon, and it's looking like it will be a great time.

So, that's the latest. Please be praying for me when God brings me to mind!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thoughts on Walking in the Dark

Hi Friends,

A number of my friends and family are walking through the darkness in their lives right now. As I've been thinking about them and praying for them, I've also been thinking about the three alternatives for walking through the dark. I believe that everyone has to face the darkness at times in their lives. But what we do in those times, our choices about how to respond make a huge difference in where we end up. So, here are a few quick thoughts on those three options:

1) There are those who deny the darkness, clai
m it doesn't exist, put on a happy face and believe that faith is just saying "God is good, all the time" as a way to run from the pain of dark times. They don't want to face doubts, to ask the hard questions, to allow their hearts to be broken by sorrow. Deep down, they fear their faith will be broken, too, if they allow any doubts or questions to surface. The only problem is that those who don't face the darkness, those who try to skirt around it, also skirt around God's efforts to help them grow deep with Him. They stick with their comfortable cliched faith, and that’s pretty much where they’ll stay.

2) There are those who God calls deeper, but in the face of the pain and darkness they turn away. They try to lessen the discomfort by turning to other things, distracting themselves to try to protect themselves … perfectly reasonable, except it results in a hardened heart, and they end up enduring the pain without gaining its rewards.

3) Then, there are those who God calls deeper, and they beat their fists bloody on His chest as they fight, struggle, doubt, hurt, w
restle, complain, cry out, accuse, rant, rave, rage, weep … these are the Jobs and Davids, the Habakkuks … they are the ones who say the wildest things, express their hearts with shocking honesty, they lay bare the wounds and face God will all the confusion, hurt, and doubt in their souls. But that’s the difference, they face Him. Always facing Him. And in time, they are changed forever. They glimpse the wonder, they put their hands over their mouths … they see God as they never could have before, and somehow they’re glad of it. And, when they say “God is good” it’s no longer a cliché, it’s a statement born out of the darkness, and it means something completely different than the same words spoken by those who have never come through that dark night. It’s a deep and profound thing. They have come through the darkness and discovered incredible light.

And that, I think, is the hope offered to all who walk in the dark. That’s why we keep fighting on even when we can't see … because there is no other way to get to that other side, there is no other way to come to that place where we’ll see Him as we never could have before.

So, for everyone who now finds themselves facing a time of darkness, hang on, hang in there, and keep facing Him through it all. There is light on the other side ... I promise, and so does He.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Christmas Gifts by Gail Gaymer Martin

Hi Friends,

Here's the new novel I have to tell you about this week:

including Small Town Christmas
Love Inspired Duet - November 2011
Mini-Matchmakers And An Old Fashion Christmas
When the new second grade teacher, Amy Carroll, meets the precocious twin sisters, she knows she has her hands full, but when she learns they live on the street where she is staying with her grandmother and they have a single father who is handsome and needs help, Amy’s hands are beyond full. But Amy’s from Chicago and falling in love with a small town man is not part of her plan. Can God waylay Amy’s desire to return to the big city? Can Mike Russett open his heart to love?
Martin’s story contains strong characters and touching scenes - Romantic Times
Multi-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin writes Christian fiction for Love Inspired and Barbour Publishing, where she was honored by Heartsong readers as their Favorite Author of 2008. Gail has forty-nine contracted novels with over three million books in print. She is the author of Writers Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers, a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and civic organizations and presents workshops at conference across the US. She was recently named one of the four best novelists in the Detroit area by CBS local news.
This duet novel also includes Brenda Minton's Her Christmas Cowboy
Excerpt Chapter 1
“Mrs. Fredericks.” The office secretary leaned into the room. “Mr. Russet is here to see you.”
“The twins father.” A heavy sigh whisked the air. “Ask him to wait a moment.”
Amy took another step toward the door. No doubt the sigh signaled trouble.
“Please wait a moment, Miss Carroll. “The twins will be in your class. It might help you to meet the girls. They have a propensity for getting into trouble.” She motioned.
“They’re right across the hall in the cafeteria. It’ll give you a heads-up for Monday.”
Trouble. Amy swallowed. “I suppose that would be. . .practical.”
“Yes, and you’ll keep an eye on them while I talk with their father.” She chuckled and motioned her to follow.
Amy followed her across the hall and spotted the girls seated on each side of a cafeteria bench, cuter and sweeter looking than she’d imagined. Though not identical twins, their features were similar with bright Caribbean blue eyes.
The child with a tawny ponytail swung her legs over the bench. “It wasn’t me, Mrs. Fredericks.”
“Yes, it was.” The blonder twin slipped from her seat, her hair gathered into a ponytail on each side of her head. “Holly tore up my drawing in art class.”
“Please sit for a moment.” She gestured to the benches. “I want you to meet someone.”
They scrutinized Amy with a mix of speculation and determination. “Miss Carroll. This young lady is Holly.” She rested her hand on the one with honey brown hair and the deep frown. “And this is Ivy.”
Ivy gazed at her, curiosity written on her face.
Holly and Ivy? Amy wondered. She stepped closer. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Neither responded.
Mrs. Fredericks eyed them. “Miss Carroll will be your new teacher on Monday.”
Holly’s ponytail flipped as she swivelled toward Amy while Ivy stared at her wide-eyed.
“I’ll leave you with Miss Carroll, and you can have a nice talk.” She turned to Amy. “I’ll be back shortly.” She strode away but paused before exiting. “When I return, I’ll introduce you to the girl’s father. I’m sure you’d like that.”
“Our dad?” Two voices rang in unison.
Amy wasn’t sure she wanted her first parental contact to be with an irritated father, but she offered a nod. When she turned, the twins were peering at her again, Holly with her arms crossed at her chest and Ivy with her fist jammed into her waist.
She slipped around the end of the bench and sat at the table. Behind those sweet faces, Amy sensed sadness. She looked from one girl to the other. “What are you doing in the cafeteria.”
Holly looked away. “Mrs. Fredericks made us sit here.”
“Hmm?” Amy tapped her finger against her cheek. “I wonder why?”
Ivy bit her lip. “Kids who misbehave have to sit in here and wait.”
Holly’s frown deepened. “I didn’t do anything bad.”
Ivy pressed her face closer to Holly’s, her look searing through her sister. “You tore up my drawing.”
“But you said it wasn’t any good.”
Ivy fell back to her seat. “If I wanted to tear it up, I would have done it.”
“That’s right, Ivy.” Amy focused on Holly, monitoring her tone. “What kind of pictures were you drawing?”
Holly’s shoulders relaxed. “Pictures of Pilgrims and Indians for our social studies.”
Amy nodded. “For Thanksgiving.” Blending learning with fun was good classroom planning.
“Uh-huh, and. . .” A movement by the door caught her attention.
“Daddy.” The girls shot from the bench and ran to a harried looking man who stood inside the doorway, his hands tucked in his jacket pockets.
Amy’s heart gave a twinge. A five o’clock shadow encompassed his lean jaw, his chestnut hair tousled as if he’d run his fingers through it many times. His straight eyebrows stretched above his caramel brown eyes, flashing with emotion.
He rocked on his heels. “You must be Miss Carroll, the new teacher.” He strode toward her. “I’m the girls’ father, Mr. Russet. It’s nice to met you.” Frustration winked behind his pleasant grin.
Amy met him halfway while the twins hovered at his side. She dropped her palm into his, aware of his warm grip. “Good to meet you, too.”
Behind him Mrs. Fredericks grinned. “I’ll see you on Monday, Miss Carroll.” She gave her a wave and vanished.
When she looked back, the man studied her with curiosity. “I’m sure we’ve met.”
Amy drew back. “Met?”
“Years ago at Ellie Carroll on Lake Street.”
“Yes, that’s it.” Amy’s memory gave a tug.
“We live across the street.” The twins voices melded together.
“She stood bewildered.
His grin widened. “Maybe eleven years ago.”
“I don’t think so.” Yet a memory shimmered in her mind. “I was eighteen then.”
“I was twenty-three, working as a handyman.” He grinned. “Maybe you’ll remember me as Mike.”
“Mike?” The recollection jarred her. “You dug out Grams old shrubbery and planted new ones.” She pictured him in the summer sun, his muscles flexing while his shirt hung on a deer ornament in the tree-sheltered yard.
“The same.”
Amy studied his face. His unruly hair hadn’t changed. She remembered how it ruffled in the breeze, his lean handsome face taut with concentration. She’d flirted with him. But when she went inside, her grandmother notified her he was newly married. Heat rose up Amy’s neck with the recollection. She hoped he didn’t remember she’d toyed with him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When God Seems Late...

Hi Friends,

I enjoyed these thoughts from author friend Jennifer Slattery today:

Have you ever felt like God forgot about you? Like when you’re caught in an impossible situation with nowhere to go, searching for the life line that never seems to come? Maybe your rope got stuck in the parcel post or passed through a few too many hands along the way. But it doesn’t matter. You’re in a bind and you need God. Now. But then, when you least expect it, God does show up, and contrary to your panicked thoughts, the world didn’t end. In fact, once the storm passes and you take a step back, you realize God was there all the time. And He really did know what He was doing.

I’m always in a hurry. I’m about as far from a procrastinator as you can can get, unless of course we’re talking about errands. But other than that, I’m on constant overdrive. Not because I’m terribly ambitious, but because I can’t let go of the reigns. I expect things to get done a certain way and in a certain period of time. When they don’t I hit panic mode. And I could rationalize it a million ways, but ultimately it comes down to lack of trust. It’s like I forget that God is bigger than His creation, which includes my tiny little role in it.

Which is why I love the Bible passage about Martha and Lazarus. Martha and I would have been great friends. Or at least a highly efficient team. Although I’m sure our anxious thoughts and frantic behaviors would have given us both a migraine.

In John chapter eleven, we are told that Martha’s brother is sick. And what did you do in first century Palestine when someone you loved fell ill? You sought out the Healer, of course. And I imagine if He was a close friend of the family, as Jesus was to Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, you’d expect a rather quick response. But what does Jesus do when he learns of Lazarus’ illness? He tarried, on purpose. Didn’t He love Lazarus? Verses five and six say He did: “So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, He stayed where He was for the next two days.”

When He finally arrives at Lazarus’ home in Bethany, it’s too late. Lazarus is dead. Martha is distraught, and even accusatory.

John 11:21 “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would not have died.’”

Translation: God, You’re too late.

Lazarus had been dead for three days. Martha’s faith and hope had come and gone. She’d gone from fervent prayers to mourning.

Jesus’ response? I’m bigger than that, Martha.

John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life.”

And we know the rest of the story. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and God’s power was revealed. And I’m sure when it was done Martha could have kicked herself for her lack of faith. Just like I frequently kick myself for mine. But the account of Lazarus has a way of bringing me back to reality. The God that made me, that saved me, is bigger than anything I could face. And His timing is always perfect.

So what happens when God is late? Now that is a question without a logical answer, my friend. The more rational question would be, when is God late? And my response would be never, even if it appears things have regressed to the point of decay.

Find out more about Jennifer at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Adopting Mugsy ...

Hi Friends,

Well, if you haven't heard, we did something crazy this week. On Saturday, the Christian Cowgirl (youth) group went to the Valley View Ranch Equine Rescue adoption event at the rodeo grounds. There, we learned about how they rescue horses from being shipped out of the country to slaughter and saw about 30 horses that were ready for adoption. (Find out more at www.valleyviewranchequinerescue.org)

On Sunday, our family went back to see which horses were adopted so we could let the cowgirl group know. AND ... that's when the crazy happened. [NOTE: If you're the parent of one the Cowgirls, don't tell what we did - Bethany wants to surprise her friends! :-))

Yep, you guessed it, we brought home a cute little solid Paint gelding named Mugsy, age 1 1/2. How could I resist when the girls huddled together to see if they had enough money saved up, all together, to adopt the sweet little guy. And even Bria, age 6, whose been
saving for a bike for months and months and months, went up to her Daddy and said, "Daddy, I don't need a bike. I want to get the horsie." So, they went into his pen, brushed him, petted him, handled him, and he loved it.

And that's how I lost my mind! And found a new horse.

But it was a good reminder of what God did for us ... we were alone, abandoned, headed for slaughter. But God adopted us into His family ... but not for free, we were bought for a price! Jesus gave everything He had to save us. And now, we are HIS!

So this week, we're giving Mugsy what he needs - wormer that he thinks is nasty but it made him clean, food, water, and today the vet comes out for his vaccines (which he also won't like, but it will help him grow and be healthy).

So it is with God. Once we are His, he cleans us up and cleans us out (and that ain't always pretty, easy, or pleasant!). And He gives us what we need to grow.

As you go about your week, I hope you'll think of Mugsy ... and remember, God loves you not only enough to pay everything to rescue you, but also to give you what you need to become who you need to be - no matter how yucky that medicine may be!