Silence for the Soul

Today, I am at a loss. The house is so quiet. There are no children to send off to school, no fall sporting events to attend, no evening programs to get ready for. It’s just me and Rosie, planning our day without too much excitement.Rosie sleeping.jpg

This past weekend was a bur of activity. We spent the weekend visiting our youngest daughter at college, and my parents were here until yesterday. It was a wonderful, non-stop adventure in a city full of lights and noise and young people reaching for the stars.

Now, it’s just quiet. And I wonder… Read more

Telling Love Stories

This week is Holy Week throughout the Christian world. It’s the week where we are reminded just how much God loves us. It’s the week that the past several weeks of Lent have been leading up to–the crescendo in the opus of God’s masterpiece about love.  How remarkable that it was late in Lent when I was given the beautiful gift of realizing why what I do is so special, why my writing is so meaningful to me and to many others, and why it’s all about love.

My regular followers know that I recently attended a writer’s conference in Milwaukee with my dear friend, Alexandra Hamlet. One evening, as Alexandra and I were hanging out in our hotel room talking girl talk, swapping family stories, and comparing writing notes, Alexandra said something to me that was so profound, it completely changed the way I look at my writing. I was telling her that I was a having a hard time with some in the “romance” community because my books don’t always fit the bill, so to speak. As I’ve said before, I don’t like rules, and I often don’t follow them! This does not go over too well with the romance writing folks. I have been searching for a while now to find where and how my writing fits into today’s literary world, and Alexandra laid it out perfectly.

So what was it that she said to me that profoundly expanded my way of thinking?

My dear and wise friend said, “Amy, you do not write romance novels. You write love stories.”

Wow.

That was it. The life-changing realization.

Alexandra and I talked about this at length that evening and continued to come back to it all weekend. She is absolutely correct. All of my novels have a romance or two, but it’s rarely the main thrust of the story. More often, there’s an abundance of love going around that doesn’t even involve the love between two people. My books are often about love between man and woman, but they are actually more about the love of family, love of community, love of Country, love of God, and more. There are scenes in Summer’s Squall that clearly demonstrate love for nature. The Devil’s Fortune contains themes of love of family, love of history, and even the love of a house. It was this book that allowed me to bring my grandmother back to life and show my deep love for her. My Chincoteague Island books portray love of community at their core as well as familial love and the love that comes with true friendship. My children’s books are also about love–Crabbing With Granddad is about love for my grandfather and love for a disappearing way of life while The Greatest Gift is about the kind of love that comes wholly and perfectly from the heart. All of my books share the common theme of discovering love of oneself.

I wish there was a genre that was simply for readers looking for books about love, not romance, just LOVE!

With love, there is often loss. There is hardship and pain and compromise and perseverance. Love is deeper than romance. It’s more enigmatic than any mystery novel. It can generate faster heart-pounding than a suspense read. It’s more mystical than a supernatural or paranormal tale. Love contains history, religion, and sometimes even elements of horror. Love is all-encompassing, and true love endures longer than the butterfly phase of even the greatest romance. Love is the one thing that can always make everything, good and bad, even better.
Mother Teresa on Love.jpg

I had another profound realization while at the conference. When meeting with one particular agent, everything I ever knew about my personal genre was confirmed. The agent looked at me and said, “You write inspirational women’s fiction.” It was not a question. She had read an excerpt from the upcoming Island of Hope and knew immediately what my writing was all about.  We talked about the strong element of faith in my books, and she said, “I bet your writing also contains a lot of scenes with family and with female-friend relationships.” And she was correct. I write to inspire, and what’s more inspirational than stories of true love for family, friends, and God? 

So, as we close out Lent and begin the journey from death into life, I urge you to look around you and identify all the loves in your life–those people and things you love as well as those who love you back. In a recent blog post, one of my favorite bloggers said, “I think the meaning of life is to love. To love people where they’re at…not to judge, or condemn…but just to love. Like Jesus did. And be a light to the world.”

To be totally honest with you, that’s all my writing has ever been about–using my God-given talent to be a light to the world. Is there really anything better to write about than love? I’ll let the great Catholic literary genius, Flannery O’Connor, answer that.

“To maintain any thread in the novel there must be a view of the world behind it & the most important single item under this view of the world is conception of love—divine, natural, & perverted. It is probably possible to say that when a view of love is present—a broad enough view—no more need be added to make the world view.” – Flannery O’Connor
Flannery O'Connor Love.jpg

What I was writing about a year ago this week: The Blank Page.

Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction.

Amy’s latest book, The Devil’s Fortune, is now available! Order your copy today.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).

 

 

 

 

Make a Difference in the World

Have you ever thought about the difference just one person can make in this world? Saint Mother Teresa said “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Let’s think about just the past few months and the things that have taken place during this time in history. Throughout time, there have been those who have stepped forward, some in very large and others in very small ways, to make a difference.

  • Over 2,000 years ago, a teenage girl simply said yes to God, thus changing the world for all eternity.
  • In 1801, John Marshall was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and is still considered today one of the greatest Justices in our country’s history.
  • In 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born – talk about a man who made a difference!
  • In 1938, Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town, was performed for the first time and influenced every stage production to follow.
  • In 1964, the Beatles released their first American album and changed the course of music in this country forever.
  • In 1981, President Reagan became the oldest President in US history.
  • In 1997, Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State.
  • In 2009, Barack Obama became the first African American President in US History.

Did any of these people believe as children that they would become who they were (or are) as adults? Take Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a preacher, not a movie star or a politician, but he has become the very face of peaceful civil rights in our Country. Though some of these people were men and some women, some were born into prestigious families and some came from the poorest of homes, all of them have something in common. Whether they knew it or not, they all led their lives according to the teaching of Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, takes a centuries old teaching and brings it to life – every little thing you do, every choice you make, affects another person. I have been a mother for over 21 years, a Girl Scout Leader for 14 years, a camp director for 11 years, and a novelist for the past several years. I like to think that I have been able to touch the lives of hundreds of people in some way through one of these channels. Every summer, I see the affect that my wonderful camp staff has on the over 100 girls with whom we work. I have watched my own mother touch the lives of people she probably doesn’t even realize she has influenced, and believe me, there are many, perhaps thousands, who are the people they are today because she came into their lives in some way.

Last week, Morgan and Katie spent the week helping repair houses in Harlan, Kentucky. It was a very moving experience for them. They both came home changed people. So many times theoughout the week, they were thanked, prayed for and with, and told that their group was truly making a difference in the lives of the people they met and helped. While that’s a large endeavor, little things can be done every day to make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes, just a smile is enough to change one’s outlook or reroute the course of their day.

How are you making a difference in the world? It doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture; it can be just a stone cast across the waters that causes a ripple. Every one of us has the ability to influence countless people each and every day. What is the mark you are leaving on those around you? In some way, it just may be the mark you are leaving on the world. Make it count.


Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Speak Softly, and Write a Love Letter to the World

mother-teresa-biographyFirst, let me get one thing straight right off the bat. This past Sunday, Pope Francis acclaimed that Mother Teresa is a saint.  He did not make her a saint as so many are incorrectly saying.  The Church does not make saints.  Only God makes saints.  The Church acclaims to the world that a person is a model for everyone to follow in their daily lives, thus calling that person a ‘saint.’  Okay, now that we have that out of the way, please allow me to continue.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta was a remarkable woman.  She left behind so many things, including her wisdom.  She told us:

“We do not need to carry out grand things in order to show a great love for God and for our neighbor. It is the intensity of love we put into our gestures that makes them into something beautiful for God.”

“Since we cannot see Christ, we cannot express our love to Him. But we do see our neighbor, and we can do for him what we would do for Christ if He were visible.”

“Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.”

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us.”

“It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”

“Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”

No wait, that was Theodore Roosevelt, and it wasn’t about God; it was about political and military might, but here’s where I think the similarity lies.  Mother Teresa spoke softly but carried the might of God.  She didn’t need political power; in fact, she had none.  She didn’t need military power; in fact, she believed only in peace.  She knew that the only weapon she needed was love.  Love is the “big stick” that we are all called to carry.  And though she would have had other things in mind, can’t you see Mother Teresa advising her fellow sisters to “Speak softly?”

Oh how hard that is.  When someone has wronged you, when you’re cut off by another driver, when your child has misbehaved, isn’t one of your first reactions to yell?  Often times, mine is, and it shames me.  Later, I will always think of so many other ways that I could have better handled the situation.  I know, I see it in their faces, detect it in their shift of posture; no child, or any person for that matter, continues to listen once we lose control of our own emotions.  We might as well be yelling at a brick wall or an empty chair.  And how does that make that other person feel?  No doubt, like the empty chair.  Like they’re not actually there in your eyes, not worthy of your respect, not worthy of being spoken to with dignity, not worthy of having an open dialogue with you.  

My children had a favorite middle school teacher.  They still talk about her today, the respect she showed them, how hard they were willing to work for her, how much they learned from her both academically and as a person.  They often say, when telling others about her, that even when she was angry, she spoke softly, and with a smile.  That’s what impressed them the most.  That she never, ever lost her temper, never spoke harshly to anyone, never treated another person with disrespect, and was never without a smile.  I can’t look at her today without thinking about the impact she had on them, and I pray that they will always take her behavior and attitude to heart.

Each of us is called to strive to be a better person, the person whom God created us to be.  I know that I have a long way to go, but it helps to have examples all around us that we can look to as role models — saints and middle school teachers alike (heck, I think anyone who teaches middle school must be destined for sainthood).  Each of us is called to treat each other with kindness, to see every person as someone deserving of love, respect, and dignity.  Every act throughout every day should be an act of love, which brings me to my favorite Mother Teresa quote of all time.  

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

May you add your own paragraph to that love letter in all that you do and concerning every person you meet.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016)

 

Making a Difference, One Stone at a Time

DSC01402Have you ever thought about the difference just one person can make in this world?  Mother Teresa said “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  Let’s think about just the past week and the things that have taken place during this time in history:

  • In 1801, John Marshall was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and is still considered today one of the greatest Justices in our country’s history.
  • In 1901, Queen Victoria died after 63 years on the throne.
  • In 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born – talk about a man who made a difference!
  • In 1938, Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town, was performed for the first time and influenced every stage production to follow.
  • In 1964, the Beatles released their first American album and changed the course of music in this country forever.
  • In 1981, President Reagan became the oldest President in US history.
  • In 1997, Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State.
  • In 2009, Barack Obama became the first African American President in US History.

Did any of these people believe as children that they would become who they were (or are) as adults?  Even Queen Victoria couldn’t have known from the start that she would be the heir to the throne, especially as a female. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a preacher, not a movie star or a politician, but he has become the very face of peaceful civil rights in our Country.  Though some of these people were men and some women, some were born into prestigious families and some came from the poorest of homes, some were American and some were British, all of them have something in common.  Whether they knew it or not, they all led their lives according to the teaching of Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, takes a centuries old teaching and brings it to life – every little thing you do, every choice you make, affects another person.  I have been a mother for almost 19 years, a Girl Scout Leader for 12 years, a camp director for 9 years, and a novelist for the past few years.  I like to think that I have been able to touch the lives of hundreds of people in some way through one of these channels.  Every summer, I see the affect that my wonderful camp staff has on the 100 girls with whom we work.  I have watched my own mother touch the lives of people she probably doesn’t even realize she has influenced, and believe me, there are many, perhaps thousands, who are the people they are today because she came into their lives in some way.

How are you making a difference in the world?  It doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture; it can be just a stone cast across the waters that causes a ripple.  Every one of us has the ability to influence countless people each and every day.  What is the mark you are leaving on those around you?  In some way, it just may be the mark you are leaving on the world. Make it count.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon. https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com