Bonnie S. Calhoun

Bonnie S. Calhoun is the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for the magazine. In addition to her passion for spreading the word about Christian fiction, Bonnie is also an author. Her first YA dystopian series called Stone Braide Chronicles started in 2014 with a FREE digital prequel to the series entitled Tremors: A Stone Braide Chronicles Story available on Amazon and B&N and book #1 titled Thunder: A Novel (Stone Braide Chronicles). In 2015 came the FREE digital short Aftershock: A Stone Braide Chronicles Story and book #2 titled  Lightning: A Novel (Stone Braide Chronicles).

This page is her special feature on the interesting people and approaches to Christian fiction.

Publisher's Choice

In the Good Ol’ Summertime

by Amy K. Sorrells

I don’t know about you, but by the time summer rolls around I’m exhausted. The gray months of winter, overwhelming task of keeping track of family schedules and school, deadlines, and more leave me feeling empty and spent.

The same is true of my writing career. Having recently finished a particularly emotional manuscript, the recent launch of my third novel, and maintaining my day job on top of that, my brain rather feels like mush. My imagination has shriveled, my prose is flat, and my muse has fled and left a note saying not to come look for it because it doesn’t want to be found.

Recently, my husband and I dusted off the porch swing, pulled it from its winter spot in the garage, and took it to the back patio. I sat on the familiar cushions and one of my golden retrievers jumped up next to me, curling himself into a furry comma, and we rocked back and forth, back and forth, until once again I began to notice.

I noticed the cardinals singing and the mourning doves cooing, perched on the roof corner of the house next door. I noticed the round flower buds of our peonies readying themselves to burst open, their glory so heavy they will soon arch to the ground with the weight of it. And I noticed the sound of my children and others in the neighborhood delighting in play.

His mercies are new every morning, indeed.

Lead Me Home

Summer reminds me that as important as discipline is to a writer, self-care is just as imperative, and the warm, colorful months are a great time to fill the places of your heart and mind that have been emptied onto the page.

May I share four suggestions on how with you today?

First, go exploring. You don’t have to go far to find a new place to hike and discover nature and the world around you in new ways. One of my friends recently posted a map featuring a tour of waterfalls in the state of Indiana, and I put this on my list of places to explore. So many towns in the summer months have farmer’s markets and art fairs bursting with unique people and foods and talents. It’s been my experience that art begets art. Whether a new painter or metallurgist, or the Original Creator, there’s always something new to discover and inspire if we take the time.

Second—and this may be obvious—but read. When I am between manuscripts or edits, I binge read. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to settle my brain enough to fully appreciate a book when I’m in writing mode. But when I set down my pen, I can’t get enough books. Trying books outside your usual favorite genre can be especially fun and inspiring to a parched mind. Join a summer reading program at your local library. Join a book club. Start a book club. Or, just set awhile on your own porch swing and just read.

Third, exercise. While I’m no personal trainer, I have discovered that the older I get, the more pivotal exercise is in maintaining not only my body, but my mind as well. Summer, of course, lends itself to getting the body moving, whether a bike ride to the said farmers markets, planting a new bed of flowers or vegetables, or taking a row on a quiet little lake. Even a brisk walk around the neighborhood with my dogs is enough to help give my introspective mind a new outlook on a project and on life.

Finally, and most important, remember who you’re writing for. When you feel like you can’t write another word, let alone another page, remember that He who brought you to it will see you through it, as the saying goes.

In my new novel, Lead Me Home (Tyndale), James Horton is the pastor of a dying church in a small Midwestern town. In a scene where James is feeling terribly discouraged, he finds a letter from Tilly, the old pastor emeritus of the dying church, who reminds him,

“Never forget your calling. When the storms and trials of the pastorate come, keep these things in mind:
A crisis doesn’t mean the end. More often than not, it signals a beginning.
Critics usually aren’t’ heretics. They are, however, usually hurting.
You’re not in this alone, so don’t try to do this alone.
The grass isn’t greener at the church down the road.
Culture changes.
The gospel stays the same.
God never leaves.”

What Tilly says can be applied to the writer committed to telling stories with a Christian world view. We are ministers in our own right, after all, and no one ever said ministry was easy. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, the perpetual winter, the fear that the cold and dreary seasons will never pass.

My character James Horton is faced with a lot of tragedy, but as he wrestles with his failures and near-overwhelming despair about everything that might have been, the blessings right in front of him slowly become evident, not unlike summer flowers pushing up through the dry, hard dirt.

“They all still had futures. They all still had hope,” James considers. “And in that moment it occurred to him that God could still use any situation, even the impossible and unlikely, to make all things new.”

Winter, and a winter of the soul, are like this, aren’t they? We reach the end of our selves, and we can either decide to be miserable, or we can decide to look around us and see that at last spring and summer have arrived again, as they have a habit of doing.

This reminds me of one of my very favorite verses from Hosea 6:3, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

What will you do this summer to allow the Lord to water your soul?

Amy K SorrellsBIO:A long time believer in the power of story to change lives, Amy got her start in journalism and medical writing. Her work has been featured in a wide array of publications including newspapers and medical journals. Her novels have been shortlisted for the 2014 Inspy awards, semi-finalists for the ACFW Genesis awards, and a winner of the 2011 Women of Faith writing contest. Amy lives with her husband and three sons in central Indiana. Her third novel, Lead Me Home (Tyndale), released in May.