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John Mackilligen is a Covenanter, an illegal Scottish Presbyterian minister in a time when anti-Anglican sentiment is considered treason. Can he hold to his promise even if it means he could lose everything he has—including his freedom and his life?

Over a century later, his kinsman, William McKillican, pastors a Congregational flock. But when his people are displaced to make room for sheep, he must decide whether to follow them to the backwoods of Canada with all its hardships, or leave them alone in the wilderness.

Inspired by the example of her grandfather, Jennie McKillican, a spinster nurse, embarks on the greatest adventure yet—a mission to China. Yet in the midst of spiritual revival, a threat arises that could endanger the lives of every Christian in the country.

Three true stories. Three different centuries. Three generations woven together in a living chain…calling to each other Across the Deep.


“He would have been proud of you, Janet,” Pa said, turning to her at last, running his long fingers over his bushy white beard.

“Grandfather?” she clarified, though she knew of whom he spoke.

He nodded. “He knew what it was to sacrifice, to give himself for the cause of Christ.”

“I wish I had known him,” she said wistfully.

“Aye, he was a great man,” Pa said, and Jennie wondered if he could see his father in memory, striding through the door after a long ride, seated at the head of the table, propped up in his bed at the last. Jennie could see her own past—the cheerful voices of children at play. This house was strong with memories. Even the logs in the walls breathed coolness, as though they remembered still the shade of their vanished forest home. “A great man,” Pa repeated softly. “But you don’t have to have known him in life to know who he was.”

It was true. She had been raised on tales of the Reverend William, as Grandfather was known throughout the county, passed down on the knees of her father, aunts, and uncles. He was legend, and yet real to her.

“He understood what it meant to be called.”

Jennie shivered, feeling that familiar and yet eminently Other presence of the Holy Spirit within her.

“I know that too,” she said. “That is why I must go to China.”

“And that is why I know he would be proud,” Father said, laying his broad, calloused hand on her shoulder.

  

This is the time of year we start to think about spring cleaning: washing those windows to let in the sunshine, dusting away those cobwebs around the ceiling, scrubbing stubborn grime—taking care of those pesky little things that build up over time.

What about that manuscript you’re working on, or the one that’s been sitting on your computer gathering digital dust? Here’s a spring cleaning checklist to help you out with your editing.  

  

The internet is full of helpful lists of questions to ask a blind date so you can get to know them. But have you ever thought about using these questions to get to know your characters?

After all, you’re about to embark on an intimate journey with this person, much like a dating relationship. You need to know more than just height, build, hair colour and eye colour. Just because they’re not actually real doesn’t mean these aren’t important things to know. And even if you never use these details in your writing, they will inform how you think about your character, resulting in a more multi-faceted picture.

Here are a few questions you could ask on a blind date with your character.



Writing my latest novel, Across the Deep, was a unique experience. While most writing falls neatly under the categories of either non-fiction or fiction, I was turning true, historical records into a novel form.

As you might imagine, this posed significant challenges. Here are a few things I kept in mind as I turned fact into fiction. (Keep reading)

I’m very excited to be able to show you the trailer for my new book, Across the Deep.  What do you think?

If I took a poll of writers, I’d bet the vast majority would say they write because they love to. I’m one of them. Writing is a passion for me, a way of caring for myself and having fun.

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But that’s not everything there is to it.

Now I’m not talking about making money, though if you’re a professional writer this is certainly a necessary evil.

I’m talking about communication. What does communication need? A speaker, a message, and a hearer.

So what I’m saying is you could have an amazing message, and you can shout it out there, but if no one is listening, you haven’t communicated. Your writing isn’t achieving its full potential.

How do we as writers get our message heard?

We need to look at writing as giving. (read more)

If you’re a novelist you’re probably aware that November is Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). You might even, like me, be participating. 30 days, 50,000 words, 1,000,000 cups of caffeinated beverages…we must be crazy!

But even though Nanowrimo is almost at a close, it does raise an important issue for all writers:word count.

For some lucky writers, word count isn’t at all an issue. But for most of us it can be a struggle some days just getting those words on the page. Here is a little toolbox for helping to get that word count up.

I never cease to be amazed by how Philippa Gregory can turn out book after page-turning book, all based on well-known stories.  Talk about your ultimate spoilers!  And yet knowing the ending only enhances Gregory’s Tudor Court and Cousins’ War novels.

the king's curse

The latest book in the series is no exception.  Based on the real-life story of Lady Margaret Pole, The King’s Curse is really a bridge between the Cousins’ War series and the Tudor Court.  While Margaret didn’t always have the front row seat that some of the other players already written had, her life is unique in its longevity.  Daughter of the ill-fated York brother George, Duke of Clarence and his wife Isabel Neville, Margaret’s life saw the height of the York reign, the tragedy of the Princes in the Tower, the fall of the Plantagenet dynasty, the rise of the Tudors, and especially the white-knuckle ride of Henry VIII’s rule.

I love how Gregory can take a story even she herself has told often and make it fresh and exciting.  It shows her true talent as a writer.  Margaret’s story is woven with a strong theme of survival at all costs and constantly pits the natural pride she has in her lineage with the necessity to fly under the radar of an increasingly paranoid king.  She never forgets her name, just as she never forgets her brother who lost his life for the sole reason of bearing that name.  It’s a tension Gregory keeps alive through the entire novel.

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Once again Philippa Gregory has penned a fantastic, gripping book that brings history to life.  I can’t wait to see which fascinating historical woman she tackles next.

Just over a month ago I announced that my book, Legacy of Faith, had won the Word Alive Press Publishing Contest and would become published.  Don’t worry, that’s still happening!  But after careful thought, the good people there felt that the title I’ve been using might be too common.  They also thought it sounds more like a memoir, which, though it is a true story, my book isn’t.  

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We talked about a few options, most of which centred on the idea of the ocean.  We’ve decided on Across the Deep, and here’s why:

  • All three of the book’s characters cross the ocean at some significant point.  
  • The ocean can be synonymous with trials, which figure prominently in the book
  • The ocean, in particular walking on it, is also a metaphor for faith
  • The idea of those who have gone on before us waiting on the “farther shore”
  • The nearness of God in trials as described in Psalm 42 – “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfall” 
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about Hillsong United’s “Oceans” as a theme song for this book, and it’s influenced the choice of this title, too

So from now on, I’ll be referring to Legacy of Faith as Across the Deep, but it’s still the same story, and hopefully this title will get that story out more effectively.  

What are your thoughts?  Do you like the new title?

Seeing as I read this series one after the other, I thought I’d lump them all together and tell you what I thought.  

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I had previously read the Mortal Instruments series and didn’t like it much, so I didn’t have very high expectations of this prequel trilogy.  But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  I don’t know if Cassandra Clare has just hit her stride, or if she struck a particularly good story lode here, or if the steampunk touch was all she needed, but Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess captured my imagination and held it.

These three books tell the story of Tessa Gray, an orphaned young woman from New York who travels to London in the 1870s to live with her brother.  When she arrives, her brother is nowhere to be found, sparking a mystery that brings her into the sphere of the shadowhunters and reveals her own true identity.

I liked the characters, especially Tessa and the shadowhunter best friends Will and Jem.  They are deep, interesting, and make the reader genuinely care about their fates.  The story is delightfully twisty, with lots of unexpected departures and some lovely tension that holds till the very end.  

 

All in all, I’d have to recommend this series for lovers of a good fantasy story.  

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