Have you ever read a book or seen a movie that you connected with in a profound way? Did it give you a new perspective or change your direction in life? Did it touch a deep place in your soul that lingered long after the end of the story?
I've read several such books in my lifetime. As a child, it was the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis that I connected with, and I would say, planted the seed of a writer inside my heart. I was fascinated by that other world the author created.
Three years ago, I attended a workshop at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference in Asheville, NC. It was all about marketing and branding for writers. I needed that information, but I was impressed by the presenter, James L. Rubart. I found out that he was also an author and it wasn't long before I ordered his book, Rooms. The next year, I returned to the conference, attended another of his workshops, and scheduled a 15 minute one-on-one appointment with Jim. Reading Rooms had touched my soul and confirmed to me that I wanted to write books that did the same for others. Jim helped me that day with many things concerning the "business of writing," but spent extra time to help me figure out my "brand." I had recently released the first book in my Tresia series, and he encouraged me to keep writing and make it my brand. I was happy about that because it was the story I had wanted to write, even though I dabbled in historical fiction and memoir first.
A few months later, I signed up for his newsletter and found out that Jim and his son, Taylor, were starting the Rubart Writing Academy. It was held in the Pacific Northwest where they lived. I knew going cross-country was more than I could do, so I was thrilled to learn that they were working on an online version. I signed up to receive the announcement as soon as it was ready to go. But before that happened, I learned that they were having the first Academy on my side of the country, and it was to be held in Blairsville, GA, only a little over an hour away. I had no excuse. I prayed and discussed with Dennis and we both knew the Holy Spirit was leading me to attend.
It was a fantastic and BLESSED four days. I am now a graduate of the sixth Rubart Writing Academy, along with all these amazing new writer friends from all over the country (and some pretty close!) So many Divine Connections were made, which was one of my reasons for wanting to go. But the best thing I learned was the direction that I am supposed to take my writing. I have been on sabbatical since the third Tresia book came out in November of 2018, and because of Den's retirement and getting settled in our new home (campground!) in Franklin, NC. But after RWA, I am so ready to begin the next project. One of the things I learned about myself is that I need to find my own space to write. I've always had that---my writing nook that became my Kingdom Corner. But we've been living in our camper since last July and space and time are limited!, I may need to find a coffee shop or a quiet corner in the library until I can establish a new Kingdom Corner when we build. And I will. Because I am called to write. I love sharing stories of adventure and mystery, and especially when the Holy Spirit helps me thread in the Gospel.
Thank you to Jim and Taylor Rubart for a wonderful experience at the Academy, and special thanks to all the God-loving women who spoke into my life while I was there. We had a funny name for our group because Taylor had never been to the South before, but as I pray for all of us, I call our group, "Warriors Writing." That name comes from the Well Spring series that Jim wrote. The group in the books were called "Warriors Riding," and that series is my favorite so far of all Jim's books. However, he has a new one coming out this month. Pages of Her Life may go to the top of my list. We shall see. I will let you know.
If you are called to do something, and we all are, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, and take every opportunity you can to make connections and receive direction on your God-given assignment. Allow others to share their knowledge and speak wisdom into your life. Love and support those with the same calling. We need each other.
I'd love to hear from you about connections and direction you've received lately...or that you would like to receive. I'm always available to pray. That's what else Kingdom Corners are for.
Remember. God has a plan and assignment just for you. Don't doubt it. Embrace who He made you to be.
Be Blessed! JA
Do you sometimes feel like you are living in a combat zone? Are enemies of this life attacking you from every direction at the same time? One thing happens and before that is fixed or taken care of, something else slams you over the head?
I admit that some days feel that way. Living in an RV could get me down quick if I let it, waiting for God's timing for the next step of our new "re-firement" assignment. Even writing this monthly blog is not the easiest thing to do. When I had a house, I would enter my quiet writing nook (after Dennis left for school…) where I was surrounded by all my favorite books and "library and bookish" things. I could sit down in my comfy office chair before my nice big PC monitor, have my "Kingdom Corner" time, and then the writing would flow. I now have to retrieve my laptop from behind the wooden box that contains all the necessary things that used to be in and on my desk in the dining room, set up the laptop, mouse and mouse pad, plug it all in, and try to fit myself behind the one corner of our small kitchen table that is free of other stuff, and beside the "desk box" on the other end of the bench seat! I've learned to be very creative as far as space is concerned. The process can feel like a battle when I know a blog or piece of writing is due. But because I love to write, share with you what the Lord has put on my heart, and I know that writing is my calling at this season in my life, I will fight to make it happen…sooner or later anyway.
I record the titles of the books I am reading in the "Reading Nook" section of my website. (Click on the picture of the little girl sitting in the big Tresia-colors chair at the bottom of my homepage.) I try to read a variety of books. Last year I read 47. I list my favorites on this page. I just finished reading a book by Rick Renner, titled "Life in the Combat Zone." In writing the "Trinity Tales of Tresia" series, I used another of his books, "Dressed to Kill," and this was a great follow-up to that one, both on the Armor of God. If you want an in-depth study on the weapons of spiritual warfare that are ours, I highly recommend both these books. Rick also gave me a boost as a writer who has dealt with rejection from publishers and even tougher, readers. These two paragraphs from "Combat Zone" give hope to anyone who has experienced rejection and doubt about what God has called and anointed them to do:
"When rejection has hit you over the over on many different occasions, the temptation for you might be to withdraw. But this is Satan's strategy to keep you out of the field! He wants to keep you and the anointing of God on your life away from the saints.
There is nothing more powerful than the anointing being passed to others through our lives. Regardless of the spiritual climate or the difficulty of the hour, we must be directly, personally involved when it comes to planting the Gospel seed into the hearts of men."
The scripture about the Armor of God is found in Ephesians 6: 11-18. I've heard those verses since I was a kid in Sunday School. I memorized that passage early, but I wish I had realized as a child, how important they are. It is my desire and prayer that the children (and parents, grandparents, and other adults,) who read these books will have a better understanding of how a "most remarkable hat," a "quite extraordinary umbrella," and a "perfectly magnificent cane," are transformed through story into God's Helmet of Salvation, Shield of Faith, and Sword of the Spirit. And how even a child has been given the authority to use this armor as they grow up in the Combat Zone of life.
We moved many boxes of books from that KS storage unit to our first home in NC. It was like Christmas to finally unpack and shelve my books! Since Dennis retired from teaching last July, and we have moved to our temporary "camper home," so my books are once again boxed, stacked, and stored. Along with my books are my collection of statues of people and animals reading books. I miss them, too. Now I collect photos and memes of books and all things literary, store them on in my "phone scrapbook," and share those with you.
I took quite of few of my books to our church and started a library, so I can borrow my own books from there. I satisfy my "librarian" side by sharing them with others, which I love to do. Books are meant to be shared.
Since my last Tresia book came out in November, I have taken a break from writing, (though I'm brainstorming and making notes on my next project.) The fact that my current writing desk is one quarter of our camper kitchen table also has something to do with that choice. But in lieu of reading and writing my books, there are always the public library and my favorite used book store to frequent. I admit that I have already added another box of newly acquired and already read books to our storage unit. I've even read a couple books on my iPad, though that is from desperation.
There is one good thing about my lack of books on hand at this time. For the past nine years I have prayed about and then chosen a "Word of the Year." This year's word is PRACTICE. I write my goals with my yearly word in mind so one of my goals this year is to practice studying my Bible, the one Book I always have with me. Instead of a read-through program or random reading, the Lord led me to choose three books to study this year. I need practice on how to dig out the hidden treasures and mysteries He has in those precious pages and then applying them to my life. I take it slow, digest, and meditate on each verse. I've found that studying is much different than just reading the Word. I look forward this year to receiving more insight, instruction, and developing an even greater love for the Word and spending time in God's presence.
After we moved to NC, I wrote an article in our local newspaper about the boxes and boxes of books that our movers had to load and unload. They had quite a few comments about it. I wanted to include a photo of that article here, but my article scrapbook is also in storage. So, I will do my best to find other sources for my literary endeavors while I wait to unpack my books and such. My cabin and Christmas are coming.
Some of our dear friends from KS, Dave and Kathy Barkes, who also have a daughter in Heaven, honored her memory by helping her friends establish a foundation. You can read Jamie Barkes Pursley's story, order her book, and find out about the wonderful things her Jamie's Wish Foundation has done at www.jamieswish.org. Jamie and our Stacie were six months apart in age, and I talk a little about Jamie in the book I wrote about Stacie, "I Will Not Fear: A Chosen Life."
I recently visited the newly expanded library at New Dimensions Charter School in Morganton, NC, where Stacie was the Exceptional Children's Coordinator for many years. Because of her love for her students, and due to her love of books, gained from growing up at Silver Lake Library where I was the director for over a decade, when Stacie followed Jamie to Heaven, we designated her memorial to the school library. At that time it was housed in half a classroom with mostly donated books. Thanks to those who gave to the memorial, the matching grant from Modern Woodman, and the support of the school since then, the library has grown into a spacious area full of books and all things media. The new librarian this year is Stacie's former "right-hand woman" and dear friend, and also one of our "adopted" daughters, Jennifier Auton. (She and her daughter, Jenna, were the inspiration for two characters in Book II of my Tresia series, which is available for check out in the NDS library!)
Jenn gave me a tour of the new library and the school. I was amazed at how they have grown over the past six years, and was brought to tears when I stepped outside the library door. In the hall by the library entrance hangs a large photo of Stacie wearing the same favorite hat she wore in her last school staff photo. Beside it is a plaque that reads, "Library Dedicated to Stacie McPhail." Thank you, NDS and Jenn, for honoring in such a beautiful way, Stacie's love for her "kids," her school, and a library full of books.
This week has especially brought my dad to mind. He was an Air Force veteran, so I always think about him on Veteran's Day. November 13 would have been his 92nd Birthday. He's been in Heaven now for over 25 years. That is hard for me to imagine. This is one of my favorite photos of the two of us. It was taken on the train in the park in Lawrence, KS, a favorite family picnic spot. He took his Sunday School classes there every year, too. That may be why I still like to count train cars as they go by, or why one of my next writing projects will center around an old train depot.
I was always a Daddy's Girl. It was Daddy who took me to the library and concerts and museums when I was a girl, all things I still enjoy. Planes, trains, and police and ham radios were some of his passions. When we moved this last time, I found his old ham radio. Maybe someday I will crank it up again. He loved to read and when I was young, many hours were spent in his lap reading my favorite books. When I was old enough to read on my own, he was always ready to head to the library with me in tow. I don't ever remember Daddy getting mad when I was discovered with my flashlight reading under the covers after bedtime! He probably smiled. I know he was pleased when I became a library director. More than that, I know he would be proud of the writer I have become. Sometimes I wonder if somehow my books have found their way to Heaven and he gathered the family around the mansion porch to read my books to all my loved ones who are already there, my precious daughter Stacie included. She loved to read, too. Guess it runs in the family.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for my heritage of a loving and caring family. I am thankful for the years we had with them. I treasure memories of Thanksgivings past when grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins gathered together to share the day. Make some memories of your own this Thanksgiving Day with your loved ones. And know whether you are part of a huge family gathering, or all alone, that your Heavenly Father loves you and is there with you always. He loves to hear us tell Him how thankful we are for every BLESSING He had given.
Trinity Tales of Tresia, Book III: A Perfectly Magnificent Cane, is available for preorder! Official release date is November 1, in plenty of time for Christmas ordering for all the Young Ones (and Vanguards) in your life. One of my favorite things about this last installment in the Tresia series is that the short allegory, "A Glimpse: The Truly Excellent Scepter," released last year as an ebook only, is included at the beginning of Book III. This short story is the transition between Book II and Book III, so I wanted it in print, especially for those who don't read ebooks.
This is the illustration for that story. My illustrator, Traci Osborn, did a fantastic job on all three of the Tale illustrations. I'll post Tale #1 below, and will be sharing the last two on Facebook as the release date draws near. (Trinity Tales means three tales in each book! Three stories for the price of one.)
Go to my website, www.jamcphail.com. The preorder info is on the homepage. Just click! Also, a new edition of our newsletter, MountainView Moments, will be out soon. If you aren't already receiving it, subscribe on the newsletter page on the website and it will be delivered to your inbox.
Enjoy God's beautiful fall weather and colors, and make some memories for your scrapbook!
Hey, Clan! Great news to share with you. Book III in my Trinity Tales of Tresia series will be released on November 1! This is the final book in the Trinity Tales series, A Perfectly Magnificent Cane. And it includes the print version of the short ebook based on the series that was released last year, The Truly Excellent Scepter. It will be available for pre-order soon. I will keep you posted. In the mean time, check my website Book Page for more info.
Also announcing that this blog now has a new name, though I'm keeping the alliteration theme. Welcome to the first post on Jewels for the Journey. I will continue to post once a month and I hope you will subscribe so we can keep in touch. I will share to Facebook, but you never know when that may slip by you. Subscribe, and every "Jewel" will be delivered to your inbox. Thanks to everyone to who has already subscribed. I appreciate it.
I will post again next month with more info on the new book and a new Jewel for the Journey. I just couldn't wait to share the cover of A Perfectly Magnificent Cane. My illustrator, Traci Osborn did a perfectly magnificent job! Have a BLESSED September!
This week Dennis and I celebrated our 44th Anniversary. Since we recently moved and most of our "stuff" is packed away in our storage unit, I have no idea where our wedding album is. Thanks to Facebook memories, this photo popped up for my use. We were both 18 that day, high school sweethearts embarking on a new life together. Now we are receiving Social Security. Oh, how far we've come.
Along with such days, comes looking back at the memories, and looking forward to the future. It's good to remember and thank God for all His Blessings on our life together. And his love and mercy through the tough times. But at this point in our lives, rather than dwell on the past, we are excited to look forward to new assignments in our "refirement." We chose to call it that, because it's how we want this time to be. And we are fired up and ready to begin a new season.
After almost 40 years of coaching, tonight Dennis is at his first official volleyball game as a referee, and I am home in our camper writing this post. When I'm done, I will get back to editing the final book in my Trinity Tales of Tresia series. Though I've been writing since I retired from my post as a library director almost 18 years ago, I feel a new energy to finish well with this project and begin to plan for the next. Den's world has changed a lot this summer. It was strange to not have to be there for the first day of school. But he will enjoy officiating, at least until he sets up his recording studio. And we have lots of building to do on our land. So far we have a storage barn! We will keep busy.
I hope you've had a Blessed summer and are looking forward to God's beautiful fall colors and cooler temps. Take some time to enjoy your family and share memories of how far you've come. Then take a deep breath, jump into the next journey and see how far you'll go. No matter your age, God has so much more for you to do. Embrace it.
I'll post again on the Fourth Friday of September. Be Blessed.
Hi, Clan! It's been a while since I posted, but for good reason and lots of new pics in the scrapbook. If you want to know why things have changed, click on the Summer Edition of our newsletter on the website! "Mountainview Moments" will fill you in on what's been happening. For those of you on Facebook, you can now sign up to have our newsletters and this blog delivered to your inbox. That way you won't miss out on any posts. Have a great summer and I will post again on the Third Thursday of August. Blessings! www.jamcphail.com
When I was a child, one of my favorite things was to sit on Daddy's lap and have him read to me. It was one of his favorite things, too. At the end of every book, he would close it with a snap, and declare "And that's the end of the story!" To this day, when I read to a child, I do the same thing.
This month will begin a new schedule for this blog. For the next five months, I will only post here on my website blog, once a month instead of once a week. Two things brought me to that decision: 1) Dennis retires this month and we are moving to Franklin, NC. 2) I am working on the last chapter of Book III in my Tresia series and it needs to be finished before we leave! Later this month, we will send out (and post on the website,) a new edition of MountainView Moments, our ministry newsletter. If you aren't on our mailing list, please go to that tab and sign up. Then you won't miss it.
We are taking loads of furniture to our storage unit in Franklin and I'm figuring out how to go from the smallest home I've ever lived in, to an even smaller camper. It's been a challenge, especially with finishing the book, and this month will be the culmination of all of that. So, the next post will be Second Saturday in July, and I will also update the website with new photos and publishing info. For those of you on Facebook, I will send updates periodically on how things are going. We are still working on our internet logistics, so it won't be on a regular schedule.
Have a great summer and keep reading - clear to the end of the story!
J.A. McPhail is the author of five books, has been married to Dennis since 1974, enjoys living in the North Carolina mountains. and is an avid collector of books and book related stuff.