Thursday, June 11, 2015

"The Ministry of Fiction Unleashed"

Ministry according to
1.the service, functions, or profession of a minister of religion.
2.the body or class of ministers of religion; clergy.

3.the service, function, or office of a minister of state.

Good morning, Seekerville! Ruthy here, taking a somewhat rare, serious look at another facet of writing Christian fiction: The ministry of the written word. 

If you've ever been touched by a lyric or a series of notes... 


If you've ever been inspired by a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul... if you've ever been drawn to the altar by a call, then you've experienced ministry of the word. This doesn't have to be Biblically based, but it can be. This is about your heart stretching open to welcome light into your soul. Those moments can be orchestrated and planned or come as a complete surprise, a candle in the darkness.

We are blessed to work in a faction of fiction that tends body and soul! I love romance, I love God, I love the blessing of commitment, but those sweet stories often come on the heels of tragedy, the broken road 

I love traveling broken roads in my work. I rejoice in a character's success to overcome! When I read a LaVyrle Spencer book, I cheer for the underdog. I want truth and justice and true love to win out. As Vince has noted a time or two, I'm not big on unbridled passion... I like a heavy dose of reality with my romance! 

Ruthy Romance Salad:

2 Broken Hearts
3 Opportunities Lost
1 Really Good Song
1 Dash of Hope
4 Pints of Optimism
3 Jiggers of Faith, shaken
2 Lessons Learned
Add a small child or two (optional)

Mix carefully and serve in measured doses!

I am over-the-moon excited to show you this cover, my first release from Franciscan Media, "Refuge of the Heart" coming out September 2015:

Okay, first, before I go to "story", l have to say how much I love this cover!!!!

It's a perfect snapshot of this story, caught in time. The snow, the trees, the family, walking to the light. Absolutely beautiful symbolism. Oh my stars, it's a treasure, isn't it?

Take one war-torn region, atrocities of every nature, an accomplished young woman, evil-minded men, a newborn child and an innate love of freedom. Add time, place elements in close proximity and allow to steep.

This is a recipe for redemption. A chance for forgiveness. An opportunity to heal. As the author, we take that leap of faith to weave the elements of emotion and healing and self-awareness in a faith-drenched story that allows the reader into places they might not see as options.

Franciscan Media is taking that leap of faith: 

They are launching a Christian fiction line starting this summer, and I am thrilled to be one of their launch authors along with Myra Johnson, Davis Bunn and several others. They took a story I loved and helped me get it into peoples' hands and hearts. I had already had Kim Killion design a cover for "Refuge" when I got the call...

And decided to take a chance in a new direction.

And that's where the ministry comes in. Like "Running on Empty", my best-selling indie book, "Refuge" deals with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and how difficult it is to put the past behind you... But with God's help, all things are possible.

A book doesn't have to be overtly Christian to touch hearts and souls. I bet you can think of a book or two that has had a profound impact on your life. When I read "Mrs. Mike" in high school, the courage of that romance touched my heart. I still remember lines from that story, forty years later. Now that's something.

One of the books Missy Tippens credits with inspiring her is the autobiography of Joni Eareckson Tada "Joni: An Unforgettable Story". Joni was injured in a diving accident and went from an active young woman to life in a wheelchair. Missy said the courage of Joni's story stuck with her.

My friend and former critique partner Sandra Smith, said that "Refuge of the Heart" was one of the books she always remembered, and I didn't make her say that! Sandra had been working with immigrants in Arizona when she first read this story, and she identified with the struggles refugees and immigrants face in a new land. 

For best-selling author Mary Connealy, "A Lantern in her Hand" by Bess Streeter Aldrich is a tender storty that spoke to her. The heroine's struggles reflect those of many mothers as they pass through stages of their lives, using sacrificial love to help their children achieve their dreams.

Authors have the amazing opportunity to influence how others see the world. To help mold character or expand horizons. 

That is our ministry. It is an awesome power. We can use it for good or it can be turned for evil or it can travel fifty shades in between.

It is up to us, the author, to decide how to tell our stories.

I've posted this link before, because I love this song by Francesca Battistelli "He Knows My Name", it speaks to worrying less about ourselves and what we get out of our God-given talent and more of how we bless others. I love that distinction!

Your ministry is unique. It is a God-given instrument. We can share it with humor...

Mary Connealy's "Now and Forever"

We can share it by building a sense of empowerment:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

We can share it by showing strength in adversity:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 

Part of writing the best book you can is by identifying the emotion and moral premise of the story... 

"Revenge will provide temporary and selfish gratification while self-sacrifice will bring happiness and contentment."

So what do you think? What is your ministry and how can you best achieve it?

Coffee's on in the cafe and I've brought Beignets and cake in honor of "Les Mis".... Come in, leave a comment and I'll put your name in the cat dish for copies of our "With This Kiss" Contemporary and Historical Collections. Let me know that you want it.... or if you've already got them (and if you do, thank you!) And, as always, thanks so much for stopping by!

Multi-published, best-selling author Ruth Logan Herne is the author of nearly 30 novels and novellas. She lives on a small farm in upstate New York where it is not snowing NOW, and loves God, her family, her country, chocolate and dogs. She's a people person so feel free to contact Ruthy through her website or friend her on facebook! 


  1. Oh, Ruthy. What deep thoughts for a Thirsday morning. But it resonated with me. Love your novels...and specially those about real issues like PSTD. Thanks.

  2. Ruthy, you've given me a great deal to ponder. I want my writing to be a ministry, for the stories to bring people closer to Christ.

    I have a friend at work who tells me fiction helps her more than nonfiction. Fiction shows her how change impact lives.

  3. Marianne, good morning! I'm glad it resonated, sweet lady! I like real issues, too... those are the stories I never forget!

    And Terri!!! I agree with your friend! I tend to be more influenced by stories than self-help because I love to see people overcome adversity! The beautiful (and long) video from Francesca Battistelli's "He Knows My Name" is the kind of thing that just grabs me... Women helping women. Women standing strong. Women, seeing a new chance and taking it.

    In these modern times, Americans don't always see how the plights of old still plague most women in the world, even here. So I love to ease that scarring, to show folks that you can rise above... and that can be done in serious prose or humor! And everything in between.

    Oh, God is good!!!

  4. Very interesting thank you.

    Count me in thanks.

  5. Morning, Mary! (well, not on your side of the world!!!) You're in, sweet thing!

  6. Good morning Ruthy! What a great post...thank you. I was told once that my ministry was in whatever I did to lift someone up and let God's light shine on them. I appreciate it when I hold an author's book in my hands and it speaks to me and touches my heart. That is an author I will read again and again. So I do agree, that it is your ministry.

    I would love to be entered for the giveaway.

    Have a blessed day!

    Cindy W.

  7. The books that speak to me are about underdogs who persevere quietly and then TRIUMPH!!! Must go have Cara Lynn James inspired Gevalia Cappucino and mull the titles so I can share.

  8. Cindy, I agree one hundred percent! Remember Mother Teresa's saying: "Peace begins with a smile."

    How something so simple can be so powerful! An understanding smile or offer of help when a young mother is overwhelmed... a listening ear. So wonderful!

    And then that can be magnified in the written word. Stories that touch hearts and souls. And all within the framework of our choices!


    And it doesn't have to be serious... Tina Radcliffe's story in "With This Kiss" contemporary is a perfect example of a sweet, funny, embracing story that brings light into the world without being overtly Christian... but being totally inspirational! Debra Clopton inspires with smiles. And our own Mary Connealy is like the queen of funny inspiration.

    I love that we have the power in our hands, hearts and souls to have a good effect! SWEET!!!

  9. Tina, yes!

    "A Lantern in Her Hand" is like that. So is "Sweet Hush" (a Ruthy favorite by Deb Smith)... she quietly moves on, without hanging her dirty laundry, all to protect her beautiful son from small-town gossip... and done in such a skillful way, that you can't help but cheer for Hush Thackery, hoping she'll have her happy ending somehow, some way. Anne Tyler's "Saint Maybe" is like that, too... Watching Ian rise to the occasion, to take on what he needed to do to atone for a grievous mistake. Great examples of quietly hanging on until the time is right.

  10. This is a wonderful post, Ruthy. I was just having a discussion with some friends the other day about learning to view our writing as a ministry. Sometimes you have to get over yourself and your doubts and your fears and believe that if God called you to this ministry, He will lead you through it - in His time and in His way.

    On a different note - Mary C!!! I loved "A Lantern in her Hand" by Bess Streeter Aldrich. I remember, as a teenager, studying my hands to see if I had long slender fingers that tapered at the ends like Abbie's do. I wanted that sign of gentility. (Yes, that is what stuck with me from the book all these years later.)

  11. Ruthy, thank you for sharing your heart this morning and reminding all of us why we write inspirational books. When darkness in life closes in on a reader, a book allows them to escape for awhile and find that God is always walking by their side.

    You're such a gift!

    Now pass the coffee and the beignets. I got up at 5:15 a.m. No reason. Just. Woke. Up. Seekerville and Unpubbed Island are my first stops every morning to get my day started right. :)

    Love you, girl!!

  12. Love the cover, Ruthy! And I'm a total believer in the ministry God can deliver through the written word. I'm so amazed at reader readers draw from one of my stories something I didn't even realize was there. How each reader brings something of their own to the reading of a story that enables them to "see" something God wants them to see.

  13. Thanks Ruthy. My writing ministry has involved writing plays and musicals for our small congregation. It was difficult to find something that matched our numbers and talents....not to mention the money issue. We've had a great time performing and sharing with the church.
    Please enter me for the contemporary collection. I have the historic one.

  14. Mary Curry/Cate Nolan, good morning! What a wonderful job you did here this week, you rocked the place, Mary Cate!!! :)

    True words, my friend.

    Step back and let God go. I love that Toby Mac song STEAL MY SHOW

    That idea of letting God use us... and giving him the credit... LOVE IT! That's grace upon grace right there. If you go to this youtube video, it's total toe-tapping music with a great message!

  15. Barbara Scott, I am so thrilled to see you back at the keyboard!!! That makes me grin every single day!

    Remember Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water"? The gift of words to heal hearts is as old as scripture... and God still uses his people today! Why not us? Why not now?

    Sendin' the love right back to you!

  16. Glynna, isn't that a total gift back to us? To see how words affect others. We are so blessed by that!

  17. And that cover.... Franciscan did a wonderful job of designing that, it just makes me happy each time I see it...

    Enough shadow to clue the reader that life happens within, but the beauty of light in the darkness.

    I hope folks love the story as much as the cover!

  18. Morning Ruthy, Yes, yes, Refuge of the Heart has always stuck with me. It is one of my favorites of yours. You do get down to the brass tacks of those emotions and that is what I've always admired about your writing.

    Love the cover and thrilled about the launch of Franciscan Media.

    Pass some beignets and coffee. I'll have a cup with you and Barbara.

  19. Bettie, you're in! And I love that our ministry can often be in our own back yard... our own congregation... or a stadium of 50,000 for some!

    Bless you for sharing that gift of yours, that beautiful talent, and on a budget! That's when we tend to get the most creative! Out of necessity!

  20. What a touching post for this Thursday morning, Ruthy! Thinking of writing romance journeys as my ministry is so powerful, it makes me dig deep in my character's soul and mine out the tender spots of life that need healing.

    Yes, our characters are people, too.

    Love your recipe for a romance. THAT is going up on the cork board beside my computer : )

  21. Sandra, thank you for your words! I'm passing the beignets (melt-in-your-mouth good!) and I even brought chocolate velvet coffee for you!

  22. Hi Glynna, I have had those letters and comments also. That is when you know that your writing is a ministry even when you didn't think of it as one. Like you, they've said things that I didn't even know were in the story so that shows its a God thing doesn't it?

  23. Bettie, good for you! I tried writing a Christmas program for our Sunday School one year and it absolutely boggled my mind. I congratulate your talent and effort, my friend.

  24. Wowza. Chocolate Velvet coffee. I'm sooooo happy. Thank you.

    Now that's a ministry too. smile

  25. Terri, when I think of non-fiction books, I always think of weight-loss self help -- and really, it's failed miserably, LOL!

    Fiction transforms lives. Isn't that something we all want in our world?

  26. I so agree with your comment Ruthy, that humor can be a healing ministry as well. I've had moments of stress, where reading something light and humorous brought me some relief and reminded me that there is a bigger picture and we can laugh about our situation. Maybe not now, but some day. Does that make sense?

  27. Mary Curry its way too early in the morning to be so wise. I'm impressed. smile

    But I so agree with you. God uses us always. Kind of scary, but I've seen it too manny times not to believe that.

  28. I'm running out of cell reception as we head across the desert. I'll try and check in later. Great topic.

  29. I love Francesca Battistelli. I just started listening to her music not long ago. She has such a wonderful message in her songs. Just like you do, Ruthy, with your books. Writing is a ministry. Write the words God has given you and see where He takes them. That is my motto. When I go back through what I've written, most of the time I don't remember writing that, or can't believe I wrote that lol. If I never get published, the time I've spent talking to God and listening to the words He wants me to write will still be worth it. For now, they are for me. Later, who knows. Thanks for a great post!

  30. Sandra, that makes incredible sense. I loved Erma Bombeck. She was so down-to-earth and practical and found humor in every situation. One day she got a letter from an inmate in a women's prison, a letter from a young mother who had done the unthinkable... she'd taken the lives of her children. Now older and wiser she wrote to Erma and said, "If only I'd known it was okay to laugh at those things..."

    Laughter can be the best medicine! Reader's Digest says so, and of course they know! :)

  31. Sandra, safe travels!

    Desert... (Ruthy envisions camels and endless sand and runs outside and KISSES the green trees of upstate!)

  32. Wonderful post. Sometimes I have no idea how God will/is using what I write, but I know it will happen. The only scary part of that is making sure I write the words He gives me instead of what might come out of my own not-so-inspired head. Well, onward and forward, friends. Not knowing all of the bigger Plan is part of the fun of this writing game. I love being surprised out of my socks when I catch a glimpse of what He is doing.
    I already have With This Kiss . Whoever wins them will LOVE them!

  33. What a wonderfully encouraging post to read this morning! I'm definitely someone who learns from story. I go cross-eyed trying to read most non-fiction. I like the way Terri's friend put it "Fiction shows her how change impacts lives." So glad other readers feel the same way.

    I can't tell you how many times I've been impacted by a story. Most every time I pick one up and often there seems to be some divine guidance going on with my reading selection process.

    An Unexpected Match by Gayle Roper saw me through a really tough night this week. I'm not often plagued with pain-filled nights now that I'm not working, but for some reason my wonky nerves went into overdrive Tuesday night and I couldn't sleep. Reading is my go-to coping strategy so I reached for a book and it happened to be An Unexpected Match. Totally grabbed my attention from the first page -- the kind of emotional rollercoaster ride of a read that proved to be the perfect distraction. The heroine is facing an impossible choice and I wanted her to have it all but, of course, she couldn't so I was in turmoil right along with her. Right to the very end. Yes, I read the whole book that night. And what a blessing it was to have that kind of bibliotherapy on hand.

    I so identified with the heroine -- ultimately she has to take a leap of faith and trust herself enough to know that she is really following God's leading. In her finite mind (and mine) trust means risk and that's scary. I found myself contemplating that aspect in my own life -- especially concerning my writing. I like to think God used that author to teach me something deep and meaningful that I might not have heard no matter how many sermons I listened to on the subject.

    Sorry for being long winded. But I love book talk! Oh -- and I have the contemp collection so no need to enter me in the draw.

  34. Ruthy, great post! We writers are blessed to be part of something bigger than ourselves as we partner with God to tell stories that inspire, comfort, nudge. Your books take characters from broken to whole, giving hope to others with similar struggles.

    Love the cover of Refuge of the Heart and that a new line of Christian Fiction will launch this summer. How fun to be part of it!


  35. Great post, Ruthy!:-)

    My favorite reading is a great story with romance softening the edges. I loved Running On Empty!

    The cover on your new book is beautiful—inspiring just to look at it. :-)

  36. Hi Ruthy,
    What an inspiring post today. I love you quote about ministry of the word, "Its about the heart opening to welcome light into the soul".

    BARBARA had another great quote, "When darkness in life closes in on a reader, a book allows them to escape for awhile and find that God is always walking by their side". Love that and so true!

    Both your WTK novellas were awesome. I loved Second Chance Sheriff, and your first suspense! Reviewed it on Amazon along with Mary's and Tina's books. You're right about Tina's book too, great inspirational message delivered with her trademark humor, as was Mary's.

    And The Beloved Bride! Loved everything about it, but this unusual thing happened as I read it, because I "know" you I could hear your voice as I read it. It overflowed with your common sense and personality. I was smiling the whole way through thinking, yep, that's exactly what a Ruthy character would do. Wonderful.

    Thanks to all the "Ministers of the Word" for their touching, heart opening and light bringing stories, truly a Calling and a God given gift.

  37. Sally Shupe, that is brilliant! So beautifully put, and I've always felt the same way.

    Now, that didn't mean I didn't want to get published... and want to grow readership, because I think that's a beautiful side effect! And I loved using contests to meet other authors (SEEKERS!!!!) and editors and agents, and I've been so blessed by all of that. And then, in God's time, the rest opened up!


    But the best part is knowing we touch hearts and souls. I'm not a person who hungers for money or fame, but I do hunger to be loved. And I think that's okay!

    (of course I hunger to be LOVED because I'm a SNARK! Snarks are not always cuddly!)

  38. Cindy, I think that all comes out in the re-write, LOL! Those first words of mine don't look all that inspired!!! They look kind of GARBLED!!!!

    But then when I re-read, I see what I was trying to say and the fixing begins!

    I think God loves that about us, that we're willing to try, try again!

  39. I so agree, Ruthy. For me, writing is a ministry. No, I don't need to hit folks over the head with the faith elements in my stories, but I need my characters to change and grow and realize God's love and mercy. If my characters come to the right decisions about their need for the Lord, hopefully, readers will be touched as well.

    It's all in the character arc and the internal conflict! They go hand-in-hand!

    I'd love coffee and a beignet. Takes me back to Cafe du Monde, along the Mississippi!

  40. Kav, do you have the historical? I should have posted pics of both, my bad!

    Kav, your words are a balm to any author's spirit. In this time when slipping sales are on everyone's tongues, it's so much more important to realize that we might need to embrace change and get our work out to people at reasonable prices... because we have the technology to do just that!

    So why not, right?

    I love your testimony about the story. And I love that you're taking that amazing talent of yours seriously. What a blessing you are to so many and I bet you don't realize it! Thank heavens we do!!!

  41. Janet, thank you! I'm thrilled to be part of the Franciscan Media team and even though "Refuge" won't debut for two months, I had to share this beautiful cover... and my thoughts, of course!

    When does a day with Ruthy mean NOT SHARING THOUGHTS, LOL????

  42. Congratulations to you and Myra with your launch novels for Franciscan Media!!! So proud of you!!!

    Love your covers and your stories!!!

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. Tracey Hagwood, you got me teary-eyed, you brat!

    I'm so glad you loved both novellas. Honestly, we have so much fun doing those collections because we all believe that readers should be able to access great stories at reasonable prices! And it's so fun for us to be able to jump in and out of collections as time allows.

    "His Beloved Bride" is one of my favorites and you know why. It's a heart-wrenching story of love and life and how courage and bravery and faith formed this nation.

    I long for that same courage, Tracey!!!

    And wasn't Second Chance Sheriff so stinkin' fun? I stole the nuns from a book that hasn't sold because I know sisters who run refuge homes for children and for women and it's such an amazing ministry!

    I'm so glad you liked them, sweet friend! I hope every reader knows how much their words back inspire us. It's huge. Truly.

  45. Mary Hicks, thank you for loving "Running on Empty"! That book got so close to traditional publishing multiple times and each time... like on the brink of contract... something happened. And I'm not even sure it was the subject matter, although it might have been. And when the rest of the series was bought by Love Inspired, that one wasn't.... But here's the blessing in that!

    I was able to put it out independently and keep it at .99 so that everyone could afford it... and it has ministered to so many people! If it had come out at 10.99, what a difference that would have made! Think of all the folks who can't afford 10.99 for a book... all the people who wouldn't have given it a second glance! So the weirdest things often evolve into true blessings!

  46. Wow. This was a very moving post. An affirmation of what we do as authors who show Christ in our corner of the literary world. The letters I get from readers show me that over and over and encourage me to keep writing.

    I also agree that a novel need not be overtly Christian to still let Christ shine through and to show grace in unexpected places. I believe that this world belongs to God and He will use what He will to show his face. We just have to be open to see it. In the meantime, love the cover and the story behind it. Look forward to reading it. Blessings on your writing journey.

    And now I'll stop talking, grab a beignet - whatever that is, it still sounds good - and maybe bother you for some tea!

  47. Deb, I've got your coffee and the beignet right here!

    I've never been to Louisiana, and I'm kind of witchy when I get hot (should I say "witchier????") so I might have to pretend I'm that far south! But I loved Les Mis and New Orleans was about as close as I could get on this side of the ocean... although I could have done Quebec! I hope to get there in the next year or two, see old Quebec... I would love that!

    You and I are on the same page, and I'm so glad you're part of the summer collection "Coffee Shop Romances"... I'm totally psyched about that!

    We are blessed!

  48. Debby, thank you!!! I'll thank you for Myra too, because I know she's been crazy busy.

    What an honor this is, to launch with them, to see books that embrace some Catholic elements come into play.

    I love writing ecumenical stories, I don't have to have Catholic characters in my books, but I'm so happy to see the realm of Christian fiction opening up. A lot of publishing houses don't allow authors to use the words "Catholic", Mass or priest, even if it's correct for the time, so that's always been a little weird.... but on the other hand, I want people to see stories through non-denominational eyes because that way we embrace the example. We all love that Christ welcomed all to his side, that he went out of the way to find all kinds of people! And that's the joy of ecumenism: God wants all his lambs home!

  49. This really struck a cord. As a pastor it was my responsibility to remind everyone that they were ALL ministers using their gifts and graces to reach out to others. I used secular books in my sermons because there were so many good messages of faith and perseverance that connected with people.

    I think some folks are scared to write faith themes because of the "who am I to...?" Well, who are you not as a God-created writer? Now that I am writing full-time, I have to bash myself over the head sometimes with that very message.

    And I am thrilled you have found yet another niche with Franciscan.

    Peace, Julie

  50. Ruthy, I've found that sometimes readers find a message in my books that I never thought of before. That's wonderful!

    I don't believe a writer has to hit the reader over the head with a spiritual message. It can often come through on its own.

  51. Carolyne, good morning my friend! I'm so happy to see you here! Thank you on the sweet words about "Refuge".... I hope folks love it!

    And those sweet e-mails, facebook messages and tweets are sometimes heart-stopping, aren't they?

  52. Tina, glad you like the cappuccino. A long time ago my husband bought a Pavoni cappuccino machine in Italy and we used it a lot. The coffee was to die for, but it was time consuming to make. Gevalia takes the work out of it.

  53. RUTHY SAID: "Ruthy Romance Salad:

    2 Broken Hearts
    3 Opportunities Lost
    1 Really Good Song
    1 Dash of Hope
    4 Pints of Optimism
    3 Jiggers of Faith, shaken
    2 Lessons Learned
    Add a small child or two (optional)

    Mix carefully and serve in measured doses!

    LOL ... this is ADORABLE, and soooo you!! But I noticed you're missing the hot sauce ... ;)

    Great post, my friend, and a reallllly important reminder as to Whom we are actually writing for!

    To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the top books that moved me as a young girl, clearly drawing the lines between good and evil and just plain human without nary a mention of religion as I recall.


  54. Julie, true words! We get shy about sharing our gifts, our thoughts, but then we should look at those humble twelve! Fishermen! Workers! Common Laborers! Gentiles and women and tax collectors...

    Gosh, if we took Christ's example to heart completely, we'd feel so much more convinced of our genteel worth. We're so silly!

    And thanks for the congrats! It's amazing how things happen, and I got the initial phone call while heading to North Carolina last fall... A new bend in the road.

    Me and Robert Frost, two roads diverging! I love that poem.

  55. Julie, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a perfect one to add to this list! And I'm laughing at the lack of red hot sauce, that's so funny and true. I'm barely a pink sauce, LOL!

    I will laugh about that all day!

  56. Cara Lynn, that cappuccino mix was so fun! I didn't even realize it existed. Happy dancing for quick coffee fix on the road!

  57. Ruthy, what a great post. Thank you for the reminder that our words are a ministry. How we craft story can affect how others see the world. Love this. As I work through the process of completing my book, I'm caught up in the nitty-gritty, and its easy to forget that God has plans for this book. It's hard to see beyond the scene that needs serious work right now. But God already sees how He's going to use this story in others' lives.

    One book that inspired me and stayed with me is The Debt, by Angela Hunt. It really challenged me to think about how I reach out to others with Jesus' love.

    LOVE your cover!

  58. Sorry Ruthy to get you teary-eyed but you do that to me all the time so turn about is fair play :).

    Well, I messed up both the title, His Beloved Bride and the quote, that's what happens when my 59 yr old mind tries to quote from memory, haha. But the quote was so profound, "This is about the heart stretching open to welcome light into your soul", this is so important because sometimes a heart opens but it's in the stretching that we grow, so I just had to fix that.

    I started Healing the Lawmans Heart last night and you had me at the opening verse, "I will betroth you to me forever.." from Hosea, one of my favorite verses. So happy Julia is finally getting her story told, yay!

  59. Thanks for the great post, Ruthy. As one who considers my writing my ministry, I was nodding my head as I read.

    I'm a Francesca Battistelli fan. Her songs are so real and uplifting. My favorite is "Write Your Story." If it comes on while I'm driving, I belt it out right along with her. I even add some steering wheel percussion if I encounter a stop light while that song is playing.

    Congratulations on being one of the launch authors for Franciscan Media!

  60. Keli, you are such a blessing to me! (Keli e-mailed me privately to tell me that I'd made a mistake in the blog... now she could have called me out here, and she DIDN'T... Oh, Lord above, she is a true sister in Christ in so many ways! I've fixed it, Keli!!!!)

    And you and I are on such a same page with so many things, even though I started off by throwing darts at Keli's name (I didn't even have a picture of her back then!!!)...

    Okay, maybe I didn't throw darts, but God sure gave me a smack upside the head when Keli and I first crossed paths. Since then, I've been so stinkin' blessed to know her. She makes me want to be nicer.

    This is NOT EASY.

    As you all know. :)

  61. Hey, Ruthy! What a wonderful post! I love your enthusiasm and optimism! I think if you want your words to be a ministry, you have to be an optimist. Yes, we can touch hearts with our words. It is amazing. My ministry, according to all the emails I get from teen girls, is to encourage them to believe in God's love and His good plan and purpose for their lives, and to believe in godly romantic love. That's a pretty awesome privilege. I love it. I love what I get to do. Thanks for the reminder, Ruthy!!! Now I gotta hurry up and finish this book before my deadline!!!!!!!!!

  62. Hi Ruthy,
    Great post! Congratulations on your latest endeavor! What a beautiful cover!

    I recently had an experience that showed me how much of a ministry we have with our writing. While taking my mom to an appointment at the hospital, an acquaintance of my husband stopped me in the hall, hugged me, and told me she'd read my book (didn't know which one she meant!) She gushed about it, saying it was exactly the message she needed to hear at that time. Wow! I was so surprised. She was the last person I ever thought would read my books! Who knew!
    Isn't that awesome??

    Okay, Ruthy, you have me asking why would you being aiming darts at sweet little Keli?? Hmm... Glad to know you got over it!


  63. Melanie!!! I think blessing young people with words of hope, romance and redemption is AWESOME!!!!


    There is no time like puberty and adolescence, the miracle of "coming of age" that offers us a better opportunity to offer new roads or old comfort!

    You go finish your story and I'm going to brag to Mary that you called me an optimist!!! YAY!!!!!!!!

  64. Oh, Susan, what a wonderful story! That just makes me smile because those rewards are so much more important than others!

    Although I don't mind getting paid because I've got a mortgage, we all know how that goes!

    But those sweet words are the best!

    Oh, I might have exaggerated SLIGHTLY about meeting Keli.... and it might have had to do with a certain CONTEST that I never finaled in... Did I mention the word NEVER???? As in with 5 entries, I couldn't buy my way to a final in the Golden Heart????


    It was the best lesson ever! Because I wanted to say I'd finaled in the GH at least once.





    Too funny!

  65. Jeanne, so nice to see you!

    I haven't read that one of Angela's... what was it about the story that grabbed you?

    I know in Sweet Hush I was touched by how well the heroine kept her secret to protect her family. In a time where everyone and their brother is hangin' dirty laundry on Facebook and picturing it on Instagram, it's refreshing to see old-fashioned restraint.

    Because we really don't have to share everything!!!! :)

    I'd love to hear how The Debt affected you!

  66. Can't begin to express how timely this is, Ruthy. Much to think about ...

    Nancy C

  67. P.S. Congrats on Refuge of the Heart!! A stunner of a cover, and I mean that in the best of ways :-)

    Nancy C

  68. Tracey... Julia's story.... Oh Mylanta, I am so blessed to know the two young women who inspired that side of the story, Angela and Kim.... and then to have too much experience on the other side of the story, Tanner's backstory...

    So putting that together was a total God-thing and I'm thrilled with how it's already touching people. Honestly, I hope you love it, and yes, tissues are good and possibly required and when I was writing that story, a character just appeared out of nowhere... and I knew who she was and why she was there, but I didn't PLAN ON HER... she just appeared and her contribution to the story is just beautiful.

    I know folks talk of muses...

    I blame those beautiful moments on the Holy Spirit! Who else has the power to nudge us in that way????

    I'd much rather blame/credit him than some unknown apparition. :) EEEEEK!

    Tell me if you love it when you're done!!!!!

  69. Good morning, Ruthy! What a great post, and a great reminder of the privilege we have as authors!

    Every time I start getting "preachy" in a story, I hear this quiet voice in the back of my head - whose story do I think this is, anyway? I need to let the story preach the message, to show God working in the characters' lives.

    And you do that so well, my friend. I'm looking forward to "Refuge of the Heart."

    You can leave my name out of the drawing for "With This Kiss." I have both collections on my Kindle :)

  70. Hey, hey, hey!!!! We'll put this in the weekend edition too, but NPR BOOKS is holding a contest on best summer romance reads, and I'd sure like to see some inspies make the grade!

    Head over here NPR BOOKS SUMMER ROMANCES!!!! and there's a little form you fill out (book title/author/your name/e-mail and that's it! You get to vote FIVE TIMES!


    Honest to Pete, I'd love to see something that isn't shades of anything show up in the finals!!!!

  71. Such a thought provoking post, and something I've pondered more than once. It's a bit hard for me to tick off what I expect readers to take away from my stories, but I can recognize the similarities in my favorite authors works.

    Seems like a sense of hope, redemption, forgiveness seems to weave itself into my stories, and sometimes a strong sense of place. I'm always amazed and humbled when a reader points out something profound that they took from the story, something that speaks to them, then another reader points out another truth, something that resonated with them. Some encouragement or truth that I didn't even recognize myself, but wrote instinctively.

    When I hear those stories, then I know I've done my job. :)

  72. Bettie, our church is small as well, and my husband's grandmother wrote (and rewrote) many a play to fit the number of kids she had to fill the slots. Definitely a challenge! lol

  73. Okay, people, if you can't share Cara's cappuccino recipe, don't talk about it!!! lol

    Yes, I'm officially on the NEED TO KNOW LIST! :)

  74. Hi Ruth:

    Wow! I've never seen that video of "The Dance". I never liked that song. I always thought is was the current generation's version of "Teen Angel".

    The video I've always found most moving is "Eighties Ladies" because that is my generation.

    As for your "Ruthy Romance Salad{" recipe I'd add,

    The quest for justice fulfilled
    Adorable pet dressing served on the side.

    As for the below quote:

    "Revenge will provide temporary and selfish gratification while self-sacrifice will bring happiness and contentment."

    I say that sometimes revenge requires a great deal of self-sacrifice as when God had His revenge for the Devil's infamy in the Garden of Eden by the sacrifice made on Calvary. It's said that the greatest revenge is living well. And I believe that is well said.

    My idea of a great Christian romance would be one that takes place in the Athens of 400 BC. The hero and heroine live what would be ideal Christian lives and achieve the good life that comes from such moral behavior and yet they feel they are missing something. They look up at the stars for answers and wish they could find those answers. Of course, Christian readers today will know that those answers will come 433 years later and they will realize how lucky they are to be living in a time when the knowledge of salvation is a reality.

    In short, make the reader, in her mind, supply the Christian message to the story rather than having the author supply it to the reader.

    About your "Romantic Realism", my review of "Healing the Lawman's Heart" went live on Amazon this morning and I as I read it in my email, I was so moved I went to Amazon to buy another copy! But it would not let me. It said I already bought a copy. Oy vey!

    BTW: my question at the end of that review was: "When are you going to write a Romantic Comedy to give your fans a breather from 'Romantic Realism'"?


    "Pax et bonum"

  75. I love the romance salad recipe :) I haven't really thought of a mission for my stories before.

    I'd love to be in for either/both of the With this Kiss collections.

  76. Nancy C., thank you! And you know me, I'm happiest when making you think!!! Or work.... Or edit.... Or write.... :)

    And I love that cover!!!!!!!!

  77. Jan Drexler, I do the same thing. Thank heavens for re-writes/edits and editors! I get so darned know-it-all preachy....



    And then I have to tone down the Ruthy-lecture. Sigh. Bossy women.

    But still cute!

    Now there's a book for ya'!

  78. Pam, I like what you said!

    And it's so totally and wonderfully human that folks will take different things from a story, I expect those are the things reflective of their own lives/histories or emotions. How wonderful when we hit that mark!

    And if you go to Yankee Belle, I've put the homemade recipe for making frothed coffees there.... Cara brought us Gevalia Cappuccino for the Keurig with frothing packets, so we could have fancy coffee! I didn't even realize there was such a thing, and they were delicious!

    We were happy.

  79. How about a fresh pot of coffee for the afternoon.

    Thanks for sharing, Ruthie. It's always fun to read your posts. :)

  80. Vince! Peace and goodness to you, too!

    Where do I begin, my friend?

    I love The Dance, but I think I show the reason why in my books, right? I'm always causing those poor people pain... but then, so does life, and we hang on until the goodness and mercy flows!

    Now what will you think of Refuge????? Hmmmm......... I will send you a copy when mine come and you will have time to THINK IT THROUGH!!!!

    I can add those delicious components to the Ruthy Romance Salad! They are often tossed in with the rest, LOL!

    Healing the Lawman's Heart... Well, not since Winter's End has a book gotten me this much attention, it's touching nerves in a good way... and on so many levels. God bless Melissa Endlich for allowing the topics to intertwine the way they did, and for understanding completely when she wanted Julia's story last year and I said it was too soon... I'm not a proponent of rebound marriages and this way Julia got her two years and growth... and it was the perfect way to wind up Kirkwood Lake! (Although I have a novella coming out with Mia Ross this fall, and I'm doing a Kirkwood story)

    I've finished my edits for this week and I'm working on the second Franciscan book, Vince, which has a lot of laughs in it, a total turn-around. Let's hope they like it!!!! And I just went and read your beautiful review, gosh... I honestly don't know what to say. You make me want to do better because of your sweet and kindly faith in me.

    Thank you, Vince. God sure did bless me when he put our paths together. He absolutely, positively knew what he was doing!

    I'm blushing but smiling!

  81. Becky, you're in!

    You know, I never started out with a "mission" in mind, except that I knew I wanted to write about women who experience the real problems of the world... and heroes whose strength is not honed by finances, but by sacrifice.

    So everything evolved from there. And how blessed am I that it has continued so nicely?

    I'm crazy excited about the new bends in the road, and that I can take more than one path. ISN'T THAT AMAZING???? For a long time, that wasn't true.

    And now it is! Yayayayaya!

  82. Ruthy, to be part of the launch of a new line is so exciting! I was blessed to have a slot during the first year of LIH's launch in 2008. Hope Franciscan Media is a huge success!


  83. Julie, leave it to you to notice Ruthy's recipe didn't have hot sauce. :-) Proof that each of us can create her own recipe.


  84. Love the cover of your new book! I can get pretty critical of book covers but from the title font to the photograph, it's well-put together.

    My ministry right now is caring for children- my own two blessings, a little boy I daycare a few times a week, and my 4 year old Sunday School class at church. They take a lot of energy but there is so much joy in serving these sweet spirits.

    Please put my name in the dish for the historical collection :) Thank you!

  85. Janet, I remember that! Isn't it cool to be at the gate? Kind of like American Pharoah!!! I was so crazy excited to see that horse win!!!!!

    So yes, it's wonderful and the folks at Franciscan... the editors, the art team, the production, even the president have made me feel so welcome. They're genuinely nice and crazy hard-working.

    And you know I love that!!! On both counts!

  86. Janet said it's good to know we can all "make our own recipe"!!!

    True words, sage!!!!

  87. Heidi, you're in and I totally understand, respect and love that ministry.

    Children are such miracles, such blessings, and it's a-okay to put them first. Gosh I wish more folks felt like that!

    You go, girl!!!

  88. HELEN GRAY!!!!

    I'm loving the fresh coffee, thank you!!!!!

  89. Ruthy, I love the cover of your book. It is beautiful. Thanks for your post that reminds us why we write Christian fiction. I have already won With this Kiss so you can leave me out of the cat dish!

  90. To kill a mockingbird. Finally thought of one that is not romance.

  91. Sandy Smith, thank you! And I'm glad you've got With This Kiss!!! Clearly that was a TERRIBLE CHOICE for me to make to give away today!!!! :)

  92. Tina, I don't know how I forgot that one, it's one of my favorites!!!!

    Thanks for the reminder!

  93. RUTHY, The Debt really challenged me to think about how I live out my faith and how I treat the people around me. Especially those who live very different lifestyles from my own. She did a great job contrasting grace and legalism through the various characters. I still think about that tory. I might just need to read it again. :)

  94. Beautifully written heartfelt post. I know the feeling when a non-fiction piece I wrote for Chicken Soup or an article blesses someone. I've been many times inspired by the characters in a favorite inspirational novel. Even though not published with a novel, I strive hard like each of you to write the story on my heart and in a way that will best honors His name. The cover on your latest book is a memorable one, Ruthy. I'm so happy for you in your latest venture.

  95. Ruthy, great deep-thought post! I will need to think about my writing ministry....and as an inspirational writer, I need to know the answer to your question.

    Your new cover is PERFECT! Can't wait to read this one, too! :)

    Thanks for making me think even harder today.....I need more coffee, tea, and chocolate!

  96. Ruthy, I feel that writing is difficult and I don't think it would be worth it if you removed the ministry. It is what pushes me when I feel like quitting.

    Your new cover is absolutely Beautiful!

    Thank you for making us ponder. : ) And please enter me.

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  100. Pat Jeanne, what beautiful insight. Thank you for adding that today. And thank you for loving the cover.... I do, too.

    Like you, I've been inspired by characters. I know they're fictional... but that doesn't mean the character's arc isn't real. And doable!

    So glad you were here today!

  101. Jeanne, I love how that story touched you. The sincerity is wonderful.

  102. Well, Sherida, my pretty, I like to make folks think hard!!! :)

    You know, no matter what kind of story we write... Y/A, romance, women's fiction, etc.... humorous, poignant, serious.... Parts of that story can resonate with people we may never hear from. But that doesn't make the message any less powerful.

    Glad you're thinking!!! :)

  103. Wow, way to be deeply meaningful and serious, dude.

  104. Donna, you're in! And I have to agree, I love that aspect of what we do. It's what helps me "see" or visualize the emotion of a story.

    It keeps us going!

  105. I'm a sage! Not just the kind in stuffing/dressing. :-) Thanks Ruthy!


  106. Cindy I love that definition of ministry.

    Ruthy, what a wonderful post. I've had a good many books that have touched me. They're the ones that stick with me. And I think God has put them in my life right when I needed that particular word (or Word).

  107. I rooted American Pharaoh on. Such fun to once again have a Triple Crown winner! What a great horse and a generous jockey who donated his winnings to charity.


  108. Weird, Ruthy. I don't know where my comment went but I came back to say that Agnes Sligh Turnbull was one who blessed me with her books early in my life. I devoured The Bishop's Mantle, The Gown of Glory, and her other books.

  109. Ruthy, you are definitely an optimist. Mary and me? Not so much. LOL! Although I am becoming more and more of an optimist. It's one of my life goals. Unlike Mary, who pretty much embraces her eeyore-ness. But it works for her. :-)

    Yes, I love me some teen girls. Love them. And I love the emails they send me. Love love love. I have the best job in the world. And then I have two teenage daughters of my own right now to keep me grounded and give me hugs. :-) Love love love those girls of mine. Some people say girls are harder and more complicated than boys, but to me they are the best. If they only realized how awesome they were--all teen girls--they could do anything, absolutely anything. So it's my mission to tell them.

  110. Melanie, I've got FOUR daughters and I love girls.
    I hear lots of woman talk about how much 'easier' boys are than girls.

    But then they usually start on the speeding tickets and the wrecked cars and the occasional ARREST!!!

    And I end up thinking yeah, they don't cry and such, but the boys come with their own challenges.

    (Which honestly, doesn't mean my girls never wrecked a car!)

  111. Mary, right???!!! Boys are louder, rougher, get hurt more often, play more sports . . . okay, I don't have boys, but it just seems to me that girls are more fun. :-) I will take the crying over the wrecked cars any day.

  112. Oh Ruthy....what a powerful post.
    And "Ruthy's Romance Salad" is going into my "recipe/writing" file for sure!
    I know it's already Friday, so I'm LATE in commenting - - but still wanted to thank you for sharing this.
    CONGRATS on your newest book - - oh my, what a great cover!
    Hugs for my favorite New Yorker, Patti Jo :)

  113. Connealy. I had to up the intelligence ante after you DISSED ABOUT EVERY CLASSICAL AUTHOR on earth.

    I'm all about balance.

  114. Missy, I agree and I don't know how that happens, but I blame God... or thank him!!! :)

  115. PATTI JO!!!!! I'm really your FAVORITE NEW YORKER??????

    Happy dancing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  116. I have 4 boys and 2 girls.

    They're different.

    Boys are rougher on stationary objects.

    Girls are rougher on emotions.

    My naughty boys make me laugh because they don't over-analyze.

    Girls want to fix you after they take psych-101.

    And they all wreck cars, but that's okay as long as everyone walks away!!!!! :)

    But I wouldn't trade my boys for anything, they're so flippin' funny.


    And they send me nice presents.

  117. Mary Curry, I've never read her!!!!! How can that be? And I had comments pop in out of order today, so maybe Google/Blogger is behind the scenes, doing stuff. I'd come back in after torturing a small child with cookies and there would be new comments tucked in above.


    But it's all good and now I have to go look Agnes up because I remember the name but not the books!

  118. Janet, I'm laughing because you spelled his name right and wrong. That's the writer in us. His name is misspelled because they had a "Name that Colt" contest and the winning name was American Pharoah but nobody caught the mis-spelled word until after he'd been named. And then they left it.

    What an amazing horse. Aya Caramba, that was a pleasure to watch!!!! And did you see that the stable doctors who've made a living examining horse organs for size and stability told the owner "Sell your house. Not this horse." when he was having money issues three years ago?

    AP's heart and spleen are larger than average. They figured that made his capacity for speed and endurance unusually high.

    They were right.

  119. good gravy, I missed Seekerville for one day and it was a Ruthy post!!!! AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!

    Great post. I've never considered my writing separate from "ministry" because I guess my mom always told us to do EVERYTHING with the goal of glorifying God and adding to His Kingdom with our talents. Of course, the child unit doesn't always actually DO or follow the sage advice from mom, but we try.

    I am thankful for God giving me a little boy. As a grown-up tom-boy who hated playing "house" or dress up, I shudder to think of all the "girly" stuff I would have had to do if I'd birthed a girl. Boys? All over that. Thank the Lord!

    Already have the With This Kiss collections, btw. But still shaking head over not getting to Seekerville yesterday. *heavy sigh*

  120. p.s. I ADORE your newest book cover. It's really, really, really, really neat.

  121. I enjoyed your post today.. The comments were fun to read too!
    I'd love to own With This Kiss Contemporary Collection as I have the Historical collection :)
    toss me in please...
    Your new cover is beautiful!

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  123. Lovely cover, Ruthy! And the recipes are hilarious ;) oh, please toss my name in the dish!

    My version of ministry includes my writing (creative, professional, etc.), my tutoring and encouragement of others, and the servant event I am currently coordinating in my hometown, as well as the works I do for others.

    I'm going to strive to up the ministry factor in my writing; thanks for the great post!

    By the way, is it threatening to rain kitties and pooches in any of y'all's corners of the world, or just in mine? Better grab a hat and maybe a canoe!