Tag Archives: Writing

Dreams of the Heart

Standard

 

When I was little, I thought about being a teacher some day. I liked the idea of helping others learn about subjects important to them.

Then I read some non-fiction books that helped me better understand God and His plan for me, and I thought how amazing it would be to write books that helped others.

Later, when I heard a speaker at my high school, I wondered if I could ever impact the lives of others through speaking.

I didn’t know anything about these careers or how to begin, so it’s no wonder that my college studies took me in a different (and more safe) direction of risk management. Sure, I could teach, speak, and write about my knowledge of business, insurance, and risk, but I gave up the idea of turning these childish fantasies into careers.

Boy was I wrong!

I had no idea that those fantasies were actually part of a bigger dream—a dream that God placed in my heart. That’s how He works, you know:

“Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NAS).

This Scripture is two-fold. It means that God puts the desires in our heart and then He fulfills them.

Unbelievable Dreams

At first, I didn’t think my dreams held any meaning. That’s because of two issues.

1. I didn’t fully understand my dreams. They seemed distinct and disconnected; how could I have three different careers? But I’ve learned over the past few years in the writing world that speaking and teaching are integral parts of writing non-fiction. If I didn’t have a desire to do all three, then I wouldn’t be as successful as God apparently wants me to be.

2. I didn’t understand God’s long-term vision. I was looking for short-term wins, but God was focused on the long-term goal. It wasn’t His will for me to get published in my twenties, but maybe my books will come out in my thirties. Even if it takes longer, I am now content that God’s will is perfected on His time and in His way. All I can do is work diligently; He’ll handle the rest.

Celebrating Wins

Nowadays, I rejoice in the place God has me, and I celebrate every little win. This month, I have several things to be grateful for.

1. A Win for Writing – A few weeks ago, I shared with you that one of my articles was included in the anthology Faith and Freedom, which makes me a “published author.” As if that weren’t cool enough, I now have my own author page on Amazon, which includes my bio, links to my blog posts, and a list of upcoming events. Folks can even follow me on Amazon to know when my next book comes out.

2. A Win for Teaching – In July, I’ll be teaching a five-week class at the Tallahassee Christian College and Training Center called “Begin with Blogging.” I look forward to helping others start their blogs from scratch so they can get their message out there. I was recently interviewed on Wave94 about this upcoming class. If you’re interested, click below to hear the recording. You can also learn more and register at www.TCCTC.org.

3. A Win for Speaking – This year, I got serious about making my dream of speaking a reality. I’ve been working with a coach to solidify my messages and learn how to reach out to churches and conference hosts. Take a look at my Speaking Topics here and let me know if you’re interested in booking me for your next event.

4. An Awesome Opportunity – Next week, I’ll be joining my mentor Michelle Medlock Adams in New York, NY! We’re going to the Book Expo of America, the largest book expo in the US. Not only does this make the book nerd in me very, very happy, but it will be a great time to meet with publishers and this year’s hottest authors. I certainly didn’t expect God’s path to take me in this direction, which makes me all the more excited to see where it leads!

Your Dreams

What’s your dream? I know you have one because God puts desires in each of us. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what that dream was…or maybe you’ve been waiting so long that you think God has forgotten you.

Earlier, we looked at Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Do you know what the next verse says?

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it” (Psalm 37:5 NAS).

This week, I encourage you to write down what’s in your heart, even if it seems like a “childish fantasy” at first. Ask God for clarity and guidance, and then write down whatever He gives you. The more you seek God’s will for your life, the clearer it will be. And the more willing you are to take a leap of faith in God’s direction, the stronger your faith will become. Commit your way to God, and He will bring about the dreams of your heart in ways you never imagined.


Need prayer? Leave a comment below with your dream list, and I’ll agree with you in prayer this week that God will give you the knowledge, favor, and wisdom to move forward. God bless you as you live (and dream) for Him!

The Revisionary: Q&A with Author Kristen Hogrefe

Standard
Revisionary_Cover

The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe.

I recently had the great pleasure of reading an advance copy of The Revisionary, the first book in the young adult trilogy The Rogues by Kristen Hogrefe. Personally, I found this to be an excellent book that delivers a message of hope and integrity in the midst of extreme challenges.

Hogrefe (a guest blogger on BigSisterKnows.com), agreed to share with us the following inside scoop on The Revisionary and The Rogues trilogy.

  1. This is your first dystopian novel. Was this genre important to the message?

Yes, I chose this genre for a few reasons. One reason is that it naturally lends itself to a suspenseful story. The main reason is that much dystopian literature tends toward a fatalistic or hopeless outlook (even if the “good guys” win). I wanted to present a dystopia of a different kind, one that looks backward to find the wisdom to move forward. There will always be dire circumstances in a dystopia, but I want my characters to discover the spark of hope that might just have the power to change their world.

  1. Can you tell us what the primary theme is for The Revisionary?

A quest for truth. Portia discovers that most of her world is a lie and must decide what she’s going to do about it. Stepping out to confront the truth is going to involve risk and sacrifice—but it’s going to be worth it.

  1. Several scenes feature realistic accounts from American history. Have you always been drawn to American history?

Yes and no. Funny story … In college, I minored in history somewhat out of convenience. I just had to take a few extra classes to count history a minor, so I went for it. In the process, I discovered how much I love the subject (even though I’m quite terrible with dates). Then, when I started teaching in a private Christian school, I had the opportunity to teach an American history class, which reminded me again how powerful history is. I truly believe studying our nation’s heritage and history are vital for America’s future.

  1. Your first trilogy, Wings of the Dawn, was a faith-based adventure series. However, in The Revisionary, the worship of God is essentially forbidden. Is there a Christian message buried within the story?

My burden for this novel was to write clean, compelling fiction that could reach both Christian and mainstream readers. That said, there is an underlying message of discovering who God is and what faith means. As of book one, my heroine is just beginning this journey. For example, she puzzles why the cross, a barbaric method of execution, would serve as the centerpiece for a cemetery. She admires Washington’s faith but then must face Professor Mortimer who mocks it. She wants to know more but has no idea where her search for answers will lead her.

  1. By definition, dystopian novels depict a fictional future in crisis. While The Revisionary is a dystopian, it also has an underlying thread of hope. Is that an important message for you?

Absolutely. Throughout the story, Portia grasps for hope that she might reunite her family and ultimately, rescue her nation. One of my favorite scenes is when Portia witnesses Washington praying at Valley Forge.

Though chilled to the bone, I feel a new fire in my soul. If men like this lived once, perhaps they can live again. Perhaps their strength and sacrifice can be reborn in a girl like me.  

Rediscovering the previous civilization’s heritage is important for her, because it gives her hope that she might be able to make a difference.

  1. The primary character, Portia, has to decide if she’ll work within the existing government to effect change or if she’ll go “Rogue” and work to destroy it. While deciding her course of action, she studies the American Revolutionary War and is stirred by the intentions and hearts of our founding fathers.

We know that America rebelled against Britain, and Portia has to decide if she will rebel against her own government. As Christians, we are taught to obey authority figures, not to rebel. How do you reconcile these two ideals?

I wanted to recreate this tension and will be building it as the trilogy continues. In the American Revolutionary War, there were good men on both sides of this argument.  In The Revisionary, Portia is torn between her brother’s loyalty to the Rogues (rebels) versus her friend Luther’s insistence that the current government is worth preserving through reform. Both these young men have good intentions and are doing what they believe is right.

I don’t want to pretend there is an easy answer to this question. I think our Founding Fathers made their choice after much discussion among wise counsel and prayer. Did they make the right choice? I honestly believe they did, but the cost was still great.

  1. Portia’s father tells her, “You do the next right thing, Portia, and then the next right thing after that.” Is this advice you use in your own life?

It is. In fact, I wrote this line to paraphrase some of the best advice one of my college professors gave me, which has become something of a motto to live by. Often, I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year, next month, or even tomorrow. But I’ve learned (and am learning) that if I do the next right thing God asks me to do, I won’t stray from the path He has for my life.

One thing I love about fiction is its ability to share truth through story. I’ve read many books where the characters’ words and decisions have challenged me personally. In a small way, I hope my book will do the same for someone else.


Thanks to Kristen Hogrefe for answering my questions and for sharing the following pre-sale opportunity with us:

The Revisionary for Kindle is now available to pre-order for a limited time. When you pre-order on Amazon.com, you’ll receive the e-book at a discounted price and an opportunity to receive a free bonus feature, a prequel of Portia’s story called A Cord of Three Strands.

To receive your copy, forward your Amazon order confirmation to freebookforpreorder@gmail.com.

Your Kindle copy of The Revisionary will be delivered on June 6. At that time, the print version will also be available for purchase.

 

 

I Have an Agent!

Standard

Me_Signing2

I’m excited to announce that I have signed on with Hartline Literary Agency!

I met Cyle Young, my new agent, at this year’s Florida Christian Writers Conference. I told him about the children’s books I’ve written as well as the book I’m writing for young women (Girls with Gusto). It turns out that Cyle writes in a lot of different genres, including children’s books. And he’s a pastor, which I think is a very neat combination.

I’m honored that Cyle has agreed to represent me on behalf of Hartline, and I believe that our hard work will result in publication. Everything I write is intended for God’s glory, and I trust that if God is giving me a message to share that He will pave the way for it to be successful. (See Isaiah 55:11.)

Thanks to all of you who continue to support me here at BigSisterKnows. Your comments, likes, shares, and your prayers are appreciated more than you know. Please continue to pray for guidance, wisdom, and favor—for me and for Hartline.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NAS

~Ashley