Book Review, Books, Christian publishing, Christian Writer, Faith, New Author, Publishing

BLOG BOOK REVIEW: ‘They’ll Never Read That’ by Tony Collins

Image of front cover of 'They'll Never Read That'

I never expected to become published author. It came late in my life and was surprising and terrifying all at the same time. I wrote a novel and it got published, and at the time I had absolutely no experience or understanding of the publishing world. My publishers had to hold my hand and guide me through the whole process, and they were patient and kind, while maintaining utmost professionalism.

Around this time I found the Association of Christian Writers, and a group that met via Zoom weekly (this was right in the middle of lockdown craziness). Here I found a group of lovely writers who were more than happy to chat, and answer my questions, and share funny stories, and generally encourage. One of the people I met was Tony Collins. I was a bit awestruck at first, when I realised how he had spent his life in publishing, the authors he knew personally, the books he had helped to publish. But Tony was generous and kind with his advice.

Imagine my delight when he announced he was publishing a book based on his experiences in Christian publishing. I could not wait to see it in print. And now I have the absolute delight in being able to review it and recommend it to you.

How to make mistakes in publishing’

Image of back cover of 'They'll Never Read That'

They’ll Never Read That’ has the subtitle ‘How to make mistakes in publishing’. It is Tony’s story and he does not gloss over the difficulties he encountered, both in his professional and personal life. He tells the tale with a gentle and engaging humour, and it is a compelling read. The publishing world might seem like a glamorous one on the surface, but it is far from that in reality. It is hard slog, and not always rewarding. It can even be heart-breaking at times. I did not know this. Now I do, and I am grateful to Tony for opening my eyes.

On the other hand, there are amazing successes, and achievements to be genuinely proud of. I turned the pages of Tony’s book and discovered time and time again, that he had been instrumental in publishing some of the books that have been influential in my life and walk with God. From the English version of the NIV Bible, to ‘Killing Fields, Living Fields’ by Don Cormack, and ‘The Heavenly Man’ by Paul Hattaway/Brother Yun. I also have Tony to thank for the publication of the ‘Freedom in Christ’ course by  Steve Goss, which has been transformational in my life and in the lives of many that I know.

A love for books

Image of the author, Tony Collins

Tony Collins has worked for several of the biggest Christian publishing houses in the UK, including Lion Hudson, Monarch and SPCK. He has published hundreds of books and turned down thousands more (let’s not mention Joni!) That he loves books is without doubt, but what comes across is that he also appreciates authors. He understands the work that goes in to produce a book, the frustrations and the joys. Now that I have read his book I have a much greater appreciation for publishers – in particular the individuals who dedicate themselves to each stage of  the publishing process – the people who work so hard to ensure that we have great quality Christian books at our fingertips.

Tony’s book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the Christian book world. Whether you are aspiring writer, an already published author, or just a reader. It is a great read, written by man honest about his failures, and yet propelled by his faith in God to take risks, over and over again. It is a brilliant expose of all that publishing books entails and a celebration of the life of a man who loves his involvement in it. I commend it to you wholeheartedly.

They’ll Never Read That: How to make mistakes in Publishing‘ by Tony Collins was published by Sarah Grace Publishing in Feb 2022. RRP £9.99 ISBN 9781912863983

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, Healing, House renovations, Lessons from life, New Author, Thankfulness

Destructive Disappointment

Image of water dripping through top of window frame

If you’ve been reading my blog for while, you’ll know that we have had some major renovation work done on the house. It has been stressful at times; it has also been incredibly exciting, and we are so pleased with the changes, and so, so thankful. But there have also been disappointments and frustrations. This last weekend as high winds and rain lashed the house, one of the new windows sprung a leak. Disappointment? Definitely. We had new windows put in specifically because the old ones weren’t keeping the weather out!

Disappointed valentine

I’m writing this on Valentine’s day, but I have refused to do a Valentine’s themed post. Partly because Valentine’s day has been a source of disappointment for me over the years. I waited in hope and excitement every year for a card to plop on to the doormat. It never did. I have only ever received one card, from the hubby, and that was in our first year of dating. He doesn’t do traditional romantic gestures and it took me a while to reconcile myself to that fact. Does he love me? Unquestionably. Does he show me in a million other ways, every day? He does. But Valentine’s day continued to be a disappointment for a good while.

Unanswered prayer?

Image of a sky bright with the setting sun above a silhouetted castle, and a calm sea.

This last Sunday I went forward for prayer for healing at the end of our church meeting. Why did I do that? Because I live with a long term health condition that there is no known cure for in medicine, and lately I have felt my symptoms worsening again. Because I believe in miracles and a God who heals. Because I believe in the promises God has given me. Because I have seen Him heal miraculously, sometimes even when I have been praying for people myself. So I went forward for prayer with faith, but as I sat being prayed for, all sorts of negative, unhelpful thoughts bombarded my mind. And although the prayer prayed was lovely and faith- filled, I came away feeling no better. In fact I have felt worse since. I think disappointment is playing a part.

Destructive disappointment

Disappointment can be so destructive. It can cause our faith to falter. If I gave into disappointment it might mean that I never go forward for prayer again. So what do I do with my disappointment? Well with the window leak, we contacted the builders and ask them politely to sort it! Likewise I can take my disappointment about seemingly unanswered prayer back to the Healer. I can pour out my disappointment to Him, put it all back into His hands. He knows and understands and doesn’t condemn me for feeling disappointed. As I speak to Him, read His words, listen, He invariably encourages me with a whispered word, or a promise renewed.

Image with lovehearts and the text of Jeremiah 31:3

As for Valentine’s day. It is no longer a disappointment. Because it is only one day out of 365. And every day of the year my husband faithfully cares for me, serves me, encourages me, and loves me unconditionally. So it is with God. The moments of disappointment are small, set against His overwhelming faithfulness to me. His love, protection, provision and guidance. His mercy and grace. His empowering and comfort. His presence through it all. The daily blessings. When I start to thank Him for all of those, the disappointment dissipates. I know that I can trust Him, and His timing. I know He is good. I’ve proved it over and over. And I won’t stop going forward for prayer.


Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bearing Fruit, Christian Writer, Connected to God, Faith, imitating Christ, Lessons from life, New Author, The Word of God

IMITATE WHAT IS WORTH IMITATING

I have a new part time job. It’s only one day a week, but it gets me out of the home. It’s not paid – well not with money anyway – but it is so worth my time and energy. It leaves me physically exhausted but with a heart filled fit- to- burst and with experiences and memories that are beyond value. What is it? Grandchild care.

photo of baby sitting playing with blocks

Yes, a few weeks ago my daughter returned to work after the birth of her boy. And my new job started. And I’m absolutely loving it. My grandson and I are beginning to develop an understanding, and he is getting more and more used to me being his chief care giver for those few precious hours. I just need a lie down when I get home. (How did I ever do it 24 hours a day when my kids were young??!)

LEARNING BY IMITATION

Our boy is at that lovely stage, where he is not yet verbal, or indeed mobile, but is alert and learning all the time. He watches and listens – and imitates! He knows that the TV remote and the big black screen are related and loves grabbing said remote and pointing it in the right direction!! Put the block into the box and he takes it out. Take the block out of the box and he puts it back in. He smiles when you smile, and his latest trick? Blow a raspberry and he blows one right back.

It is quite sobering to be reminded just how much children learn by imitation. But isn’t it true of all of us? Even as grown ups we can easily learn how to speak, behave, think even, from the people we associate most with. That’s why we have to be so careful that those who we choose to spend our time with are those whose speech, attitudes and actions are encouraging and edifying. It’s easy to become imitators, even when we don’t mean to be.

IMITATE CHRIST

coloured in sunflower with the text 'plant in me a desire to know and follow you'

It also follows that if we want to imitate Christ, be more like Him in our speech, actions and attitudes, then we need to spend time with Him. We can do this by walking with Him through the gospel accounts. Or by sitting quietly in His presence. Or by talking to Him about the things that concern us, and even asking Him about the things on His heart. It is so good for us to do this. And good for the people who want to be around us. For it follows that the more we imitate Christ, the better influence we will be on those who imitate us.


Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, Grief, Healing, Holy Spirit, Medieval Fiction, New Author, pilgrimage, Seasons of life, The Word of God

A Heart Set on Pilgrimage

image of a path across a headland, with the island of Bardsey on the horizon

As I write this, I really should be doing something else. I am supposed to be editing my manuscript for my second full length novel, The Pilgrim. The editing has been taking up most of my time and energy for the last few days. I know it has to be done, but I am finding it both exciting and exhausting. It is with mixed feelings that I read and re-read, and correct the words that I have written. And always the questions… is it going to be good enough? Are people actually going to want to read this?

Heart pilgrimage

At the end of each chapter, as I did in my first book, I have inserted a verse or two of scripture. In The Pilgrim these are taken from the Psalms. Each one is chosen for how it speaks into what is happening in the life of the central character, Brother Hywel, as he walks his own spiritual journey. But many of them have personal meaning to me too, like this one:

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Psalm 84: 5-7 NKJV

I have chosen to write about a real pilgrimage in the book, hence the title. But it isn’t just the physical path of pilgrimage that is Hywel’s journey to grace. It is also the inclination of his heart, to truly seek after God. 

Image of a valley path with the text of Psalm 84 :5

Tears bringing life

On my own journey I have been through some dark valley times, when it really feels like the Valley of Baca (‘Baca’ means ‘weeping’). I have struggled to understand why, but it isn’t always for me to understand. I only have to keep my heart set on Him. My ‘pilgrimage’ is to step by step walk the path that leads me closer to His heart. And it isn’t always easy to stay on that path, especially when blinded by tears.

But what if the very tears that I weep actually help to water the dry ground around me and turn it into springs of life? My strength to keep going actually comes from Him, if I ask for it! And He will increase that strength as I keep walking, make me even more resilient and fruitful. Nothing is wasted in Him. I might walk through the Valley of Weeping, but my very presence turns it into a place of blessing!

Image of the front cover of The Pilgrim. The title of The Pilgrim is in black font against a white background that looks like manuscript paper. The 'P ' is illuminated. Beneath this is a brightly coloured stained glass image of a group of pilgrims.

The Pilgrim: a pool of blessing

My tears have fed into the story I have written in The Pilgrim. My prayer is that the book becomes a pool of blessing for many. I am blown away that God has chosen to use the things that I have gone through, in my own pilgrimage journey, to create books that might just do that. I’ll remember that as I continue the sometimes painful editing process!

At least the book already has the most beautiful of cover designs. I pray that the words inside will be just as beautiful.

(The Pilgrim is due to be published in July 2022, but you can pre-order your copy now, by commenting on this blog post)


Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Medieval Fiction, New Author, pilgrimage

THE PILGRIM WAY

I love that I live in an area where there is a rich history of centuries of Christianity, and that is traversed by ancient paths well-trod by many a pilgrim. When I started writing my second novel, I knew it would be about Hywel, and that it would include monks and abbeys, but I also wanted him to take a physical journey. And what better way than to make it a pilgrimage? A recognisable one. And I had the perfect fit, right on my doorstep –  the North Wales Pilgrim route from Holywell to Bardsey.

It is a route still walked by pilgrims and walkers today, although it perhaps does not have the prestige it once had. In medieval times it was said that if you completed the pilgrimage to Bardsey three times, it was the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Rome, in terms of the favour and indulgences it could earn you. Today it is just a beautifully scenic route, following the seacoast and traversing mountains, with ancient holy sites and churches along it’s route. If those are things that interest you.

I have never done the full route, and I would love to, if ever I am able to. But there are pilgrim sites that I have visited many times and are dear to me. They also feature in Hywel’s story as significant places, where he encounters God in different ways.

CLYNNOG FAWR

Large ornate stone built church with castellation sand large pillion windows.
St Beuno’s Church, Clynnog Fawr

This little village with a large church sits on the north coast of the Lleyn Peninsula. It was a busy place in the height of the pilgrimage era, hosting pilgrims and providing for their needs. A must stop for the medieval pilgrim, not least for St Bueno’s healing well nearby. The church that stands there now would not have been there when Brother Hywel arrived. But there was a church, and in that church Hywel experiences something of heaven in the simple worship of it’s community.

PISTYLL

Small stone church nestled on a hillside with the sea visible beyond
Pistyll Church

All that remains at Pistyll is the tiny pilgrim church, perched as it is on the cliff top. This is probably the very church that Hywel would have stepped into. Before the simple altar in this one-roomed stone building Hywel truly understands what mercy and grace mean to him personally. I love Pistyll, its peace and beauty. It stays with you, as it will in Hywel’s heart.

UWCHMYNYDD

It is no lie to say that this is my favourite place in the whole world. To stand on this cliff top, overlooking the island of Bardsey and the wide endless ocean beyond, really feels like you are standing on the edge of the world. And that if you reach up your hands you could touch heaven itself. It is a thin place. Yes the views are magnificent and the sea air fresh and clean, but it is more than that. I have never felt closer to the Creator in any other place I have been. I think it might be partly due to the thousands of faithful saints that have stood on that hill, overjoyed at last to see the island that was their destination. Full of praise to God for getting them there. Hywel feels it too, and experiences a moment of sheer exuberant joy on that mountain top.

Grassy clifftop with path, looking over the sea towards a small island. Wide expanse of clouds and skies with hazy light.

I would love to tell you more about Hywel’s pilgrimage and what he sees and experiences on the way, but for that you will have to read the book! The Pilgrim is due to be published July 2022 but you can pre-order a copy from me now  https://joymargetts.com/contact/

And if you would like a sneak preview of The Pilgrim then do subscribe to my newsletter and in a few days time you will receive a post with an extract from the book, and a little bit of information about my personal connection with Hywel’s story. You can sign up here     https://joymargetts.com/

Thank you for being a part of my writing journey, which has become such a huge part of my own life pilgrimage.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bearing Fruit, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, Grief, Healing, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, New Author, Seasons of life, The Passion Translation, The Word of God

HARVESTING JOY: A NEW BOOK!

I have realised that four out of my last five blog posts have featured other people’s books. Now that is not a bad thing; I love reading and reviewing books. And there have been some great books to read and review! But I do think that perhaps I should dedicate this blog post to talking about my own book!

A NEW BOOK

A smiling author signing a publishing contract

 Not The Healing, or even The Beloved, much as I love talking about them. No, I’d like to talk to you about another book. A new book. I have gone and done it again. I written a second full length novel and have signed a publishing contract with Instant Apostle. The Pilgrim will be published, God willing, in July of next year. Which seems an awful long time to wait, but I’m sure will speed by! There is plenty to keep me and my wonderful publishers busy between then and now, I’m sure.

When I wrote The Healing, I had no idea where it would lead! I loved the whole writing and publishing process so much that almost as soon as The Healing was published I had started writing The Pilgrim. Brother Hywel needed his own story, and so the idea for a prequel was born. (Now I know that isn’t the normal way to do things, but it worked for Star Wars!). It was a much harder slog to get the book down this time, made yet harder by the disruption of major house renovations and the arrival of a new grandson. But the manuscript is finally finished, and I am so grateful for Instant Apostle having enough faith in it to publish it for me.

I won’t bore you with all the story details at this stage, as I’m sure there will be time enough for that over the next few months. Needless to say it involves monks, abbeys, and horses, and a redemptive journey in the form of a pilgrimage.  If you want to get sneak previews you can always go to my website and sign up to receive my newsletter, as that will be where I will be posting a lot more about the book in the coming weeks. http://www.joymaretts.com

HARVEST OF JOY

Sheaves of ripened wheat in a sunlit field

I was reading Psalm 126 this week, ‘ They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.’ I know there are many ways of interpreting that verse, but for me it seemed to just speak into what God has miraculously been doing in my life. There has been a lot of weeping. I grieved, and still do grieve at times, the life that my illness stole from me. But I can look back now, and see that what was being sown, as I wept, was the seed for what I am able to do now. Now I can write; words of truth and life, words of hope and redemption, all wrapped up in historic fiction about medieval Welsh monks! And my words can touch many –  I have had  so many messages from readers to prove that this is actually happening. Maybe this is the harvest – the abundance of sheaves that can have my heart rejoicing. It really feels like it might be. And it is all down to Him.

Those who sow their tears as seeds
    will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee.
 They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow,
    but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness
    as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!

PSALM 126 :5 – 6 The Passion Translation

The Pilgrim Fantastical pre-order Prize draw. Sign up for a pre-order copy now to win a chance of winning one of three great prizes.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness, New Author, The Word of God

BOOK REVIEW: LOVE FROM SIENNA by JOY VEE

Joy Vee and I met online. As a new author who had been through the same process as I of having her first book unexpectedly published by Instant Apostle, we made a connection. We shared so much in common, most especially our desire to write fiction that carried the message of the Kingdom. To produce books that not only entertained, but spoke deep into people’s hearts, revealing the love of the Father, and drawing them to Him. From this first contact we have developed an open, loving and prayerful relationship that has strengthened us both. So it is a great delight for me to recommend her book to you.

I was delighted when Joy announced that she had written a follow- up book to her first, The Treasure Man. Whilst my books are aimed at adults, Joy writes for children. And does it so very well. Love from Sienna is a beautiful book, dealing with powerful spiritual truths in an accessible and meaningful way. As a  sequel to The Treasure Man it continues to tell the story of Sienna and her family as they learn those truths through everyday experiences. The storytelling is wonderful, the scenarios believable, and the biblical teaching handled so well, particularly for the age range it is intended for. It is aimed at 7 -11 year olds, but I read this as an adult and it spoke to me. I know it will speak to children just as powerfully. At the end of the book are questions relating to each chapter, a great aid for family discussions perhaps.

Keeping it real

I love that Joy does not shy away from dealing with difficult life situations, or painful emotions in her books. Even writing for children has to be honest and real. Sienna and her family know from experience that not everything is wonderful in life, that people can hurt and disappoint, and situations arise that cause fear and grief. But they come to see, in all of this, the need to forgive. They learn that forgiveness is powerful, freeing, and can be a means of blessing to all concerned.

As the title hints, in Love from Sienna, Sienna also learns how to communicate with God by using a journal, writing down her thoughts and asking difficult questions. It becomes a real help to her. To encourage other children to try it for themselves, Joy Vee has produced a Love From Sienna Journal. This can be purchased separately through her personal website. I have a copy and it is great. Bible verses and quotes from Joy’s books head up ‘bullet’ style blank spaces for writing and drawing.

Love from Sienna can be read as a standalone book, but if you haven’t read The Treasure Man, I encourage you to buy both. They would make perfect gifts, especially with the Journal thrown in. All three are available from the author at www.joyvee.org

Happy Launch Day!

Love from Sienna launches officially today,17th Sept, and is published by Broad Place Publishing. It retails at £ 6.99 and the journal for £5.99.

The book is available to purchase via Amazon and Eden Books, but why not bless the author by visiting her website and buying direct.

Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, New Author, The Word of God

GUEST BLOG: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU START!   by Susan Sutherland

Instead of my ramblings, this week on the blog I am pleased to invite a new writer friend of mine, Susan Sutherland, to guest blog about how she came to write her book. If you love Biblical fiction you will love her book ‘Leaving Bethany‘, an imagination based around the story of Martha of Bethany.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU START!

“You should write the story from Lazarus’s point of view!”

This comment was in response to me writing Leaving Bethany from Martha’s point of view rather than her brother’s. When I asked why, I was told it would be more interesting.

Let’s rewind a bit.

It was five years ago, when I can only say, I received the call to write a novel about Martha of Bethany. The over worked woman whose story Luke told us in chapter 10 of his gospel. Having only written non-fiction articles which found their way into education and nursery journals before, I found the prospect of writing fiction daunting. Just one short story, well I thought I can cope with that. Then what about a short novella? That would not take too much time surely. Before long it was the length of a novel. Then before I know it, I’m on with the sequel, with a third in a trilogy taking shape in my brain.

The message of this is to be very careful what you start, you don’t know where it will lead! The other message is to take whatever help you can get. I knew nothing about creative writing, except that I was an avid reader from being a child. The daughter of a reading mother, who I knew read my Christmas books before wrapping them and took me to the library every week. I met with poets and authors, googled “how to write a novel”, and took it all on board.

DON’T TAKE ON EVERY PIECE OF ADVICE

Oh, another message to take from this, is don’t take on every piece of advice. I knew the story had to be Martha’s, and not that of her brother, Lazarus. The story of Jesus’s female disciples is not often told, and I wanted to redress that imbalance. Read the gospels and Acts of the Apostles slowly and you will find them, some hidden away and others on full view.

Martha, the overworked and overwrought sister of the devout and spiritual one. That is just a cliché I want to dispel. Women in the Bible were as real and complex as women today, and how we have been throughout history. But perhaps their stories are not as often told or diminished into neatly boxed clichés. It was time to open the box and let Martha and Mary out. I hope and pray that I do them justice, and their brother Lazarus along the way too.

MEETING JESUS: THE PIVOTAL POINT

Martha says of meeting Jesus. “This was to be the pivotal point in my life. There was my life before that moment and now there is life after that moment.” (She may not have actually said these exact words, but these are the words I have given her.)

Leaving Bethany is the story of Martha and how she became a teacher in the new faith and worked at the heart of the group of believers who followed Jesus after his death and resurrection. But those who killed Jesus were still looking for ways to prevent his message of love from spreading, and would stop at nothing, including murder. It would not be long before persecution knocked at Martha’s gate.

To find out what happened next, you will have to read Leaving Bethany and follow Martha’s journey through danger, betrayal and finding a friend and ally in an unlikely place.

Susan Sutherland is the author of Leaving Bethany. For details on how to buy her novel go to her website https://leavingbethany.com/buy/

Aemilia Metella is Susan’s fictional first century female journalist who zips around the Roman world interviewing women found within the pages of the New Testament. Read her interviews on the website blog page.  https://leavingbethany.com/blog/

Acceptance, Belonging, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Healing, New Author

LONG LOST FAMILY

I love ITV’s ‘Long Lost Family’ –  a show about reconnection and restoring of broken family relationships. It’s definitely one where having a box of tissues handy is advised! Some of the stories are heart-breaking – young mothers forced to give up babies, siblings separated through no fault of their own, long held feelings of guilt, shame, abandonment, loss. The reunions are always wonderful. Especially when the reconnected families look so similar, or speak or laugh in the same way. Heart-warming stuff.

I’m thinking a lot about families at the moment. The easing of restrictions has meant that we can reconnect with long lost family members of our own. This weekend we have travelled south to attend a wedding celebration and we will be seeing family members in the flesh, some of whom we haven’t seen for two years or more. Not quite a lifetime of separation, but it will certainly be great to reconnect and catch up with them all. I am so thankful for my biological family, they are all so cherished.

Another family I am grateful for is the long lost family I didn’t even know I had, until the beginning of this year. In January I made the bold move of joining a zoom call with a group of writers I had never met before. I had found the Association of Christian Writers online, and joined up, but this was new territory – actually introducing myself to a group of real faces, and as an actual bona fide writer. I discovered a family there. These were people who knew what being a writer felt like, who had the same joys and frustrations as me, knew the pitfalls, had experienced the highs and lows. I was so warmly accepted, and now some of those people are really dear friends. One of them, Maressa Mortimer, is hosting us this weekend in her lovely holiday home, and it is so good to finally meet her in the flesh. Another, Wendy H Jones, has opened many writing doors for me, one of which was inviting me to contribute a chapter to an anthology for writers. Creativity Matters: find your passion for writing, is available to purchase now. Exciting times! mybook.to/CreativityMatters

One thing that does upset me when watching ‘Long Lost Family’, is the way individuals talk about ‘feeling empty inside’, as though something is missing, disconnected, incomplete. They are looking for long lost family members in the hope of filling those voids, healing that emptiness. I wonder if they really do truly find that missing piece?  

It’s true that we all need that sense of belonging, that sense of identity – who I am, where I come from, how I fit in. We can get a measure of that from our biological families, and that is wonderful. We can also get acceptance and a sense of belonging from groups of people who share our passions and beliefs. But a part of me, a big part of me, knows that however good our human relationships are, that void can persist. That uncertainty as to my identity can easily be triggered if I base it on how well I am accepted and loved by those around me. I have learnt, and relearnt, over the years that true acceptance, belonging, and identity can only come from God my Father. After all, He knows absolutely everything about me, He made and designed me as I am, and yet STILL loves me unconditionally. If I take my sense of who I am, from who He says I am, then, in Him, I am never disconnected, never abandoned, never alone, and never lost.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.’                                                                           Isaiah 43: 1 NKJV

I have loved you with an everlasting love; 

Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, House renovations, Lessons from life, New Author, Seasons of life, Thankfulness, Uncategorized

MILESTONE MOMENTS

The last of the new windows is coming on Monday. Hooray! Phase 1 of our building project completed. It will be a milestone moment. All the major reconstruction and external work will be done at last (except for a balcony balustrade that is still on order). It is both an exciting and ever so slightly terrifying time as our builder hands over the project management of the rest of the renovations to us. On our immediate horizon is a lot of cleaning, decorating, and the fitting of a new kitchen and bathroom – a shedload of work still to do – but it also means that the date we can move back into our home is getting really close now. So we are celebrating! And so thankful. It’s felt like it’s been a long time coming, to get to this point.

It made me think about milestones. In times past milestones were exactly that; you still see them sometimes alongside ancient roadways –  little stones bearing place names and numbers, counting down the miles. I suppose for wearied travellers of the past they were equally encouraging, or discouraging, depending on how far down the journey you were towards your destination! You could at least see that you were on the right path and making progress, either way.

The travellers of the Old Testament had a similar way of marking important moments on their journeys. They built their own ‘milestones’, often in the form of altars. Jacob built his at Bethel as he returned to the land of his inheritance; Joshua built his after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan. For both of them it marked a significant stage in a momentous journey, but not the end point. It was an opportunity to stop and thank God for His protection and provision up to that point. And to celebrate that God had kept His promises.

When God gave His people victory over the Philistines, the prophet Samuel raised a stone and placed it in a visible place. He gave that stone a name, ‘Ebenezer’, which means ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us’. I love the ‘thus far’. Even when it isn’t quite over, when perhaps you know there may be more difficulties to come, there is comfort in that. If God has helped us thus far, we can be confident that He will continue to be there for us. Mile after mile. Working miracles, winning battles, making a way for us, being at our side.

There are many moments in our lives when we have the opportunity to stop and just thank God for what He has done, and is doing. To remember and celebrate His faithfulness. They don’t have to be momentous life changing moments, and they don’t have to be at the end of the journey. We don’t have to wait until every promise of God is fulfilled in our lives to give Him our worship. In fact every day we can stop and see how far we have come, and be grateful!

Those altars the patriarchs built would have stood for years, as a reminder to all who saw them, of the goodness and faithfulness of God. I hope I can look back in years to come, perhaps even to this blog post, and remember God’s goodness, and celebrate again, seeing how it was just another milestone on an incredible journey with Him.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com