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Today I’d like to introduce you to fellow writer, Melanie M. Jeschke.

Melanie Morey Jeschke (pronounced jes-key), a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa with an Honors degree in English Literature and a minor in European and English History. She also holds a Master of Arts in English Literature from George Mason University and took courses on Jane Austen and Shakespeare at Oxford University. Melanie currently teaches at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. 

Melanie M. Jeschke

Melanie lived a semester in Paris and has traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East. She has made numerous trips to Great Britain and organized a group tour to Scotland and England that included a stay at J.R.R. Tolkien’s Merton College in Oxford. She has attended five conferences on C. S. Lewis at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and served as the Oxford information hostess and walking- tour guide for the C. S. Lewis Foundation

Melanie’s various trips to the UK inspired her novels The Oxford ChroniclesInklings containing the sequel  Intentions, July 2004;Expectations, March 2005; and Evasions, a “prequel” set in WWII, August  2006. An earlier edition of Inklings (without Intentions) was  published by Xulon Press in 2002.

A free-lance travel writer, Melanie contributed the Oxford chapter to the Rick Steves’ England guidebook. She is a member of the Capital Christian Writers and Christian Fiction Writers as well as three book clubs, and taught high-school English before home-schooling most of her nine children. Melanie lectures on Lewis and Tolkien, Oxford, and writing, and gives inspirational talks to all manner of groups, including university classes, women’s clubs, young professionals, teens, and school children.

Melanie committed her life to Jesus Christ as a teenager and has been married for thirty-six years to Bill Jeschke, the founding pastor of The King’s Chapel in Fairfax, Virginia. Together they are the proud parents of nine wonderful children (three daughters and six sons) and twelve adorable grandchildren.

“God-sightings”

A Blog by Melanie M. Jeschke  

This summer at Vacation Bible School, we taught the children to look for “God-sightings,” evidence that God is at work in our circumstances or through other people. Recognizing God’s love and leading in our lives encourages and enriches us. Recently, I experienced the special blessing of one of these “God-sightings.”

My husband is a pastor and we rarely have an opportunity to visit other churches; however, this past weekend one of our youth ministers stepped in to preach. My sister had also come up from Florida to visit and be on hand to stay with my elderly parents, and so my husband and I decided to “play hooky.”

Consequently, I was looking forward to the opportunity for a little “getaway” at a B &B in the country. My husband declared he had prayed about my plan, but thought we should stay locally and attend one of the churches not far from our new home, so that we could “get to know our community better.” (My parents moved in with us the end of May, following a laborious move of our own last year from our home of 23 years in Vienna (Fairfax County), Virginia, further west to the town of Manassas). A tad disappointed but happy to have any time “away,” I promptly booked a room in a lovely Civil War-era B & B in “Old Town” Manassas.

The next morning, we visited a large, well-known church in the area. After the inspiring worship service, we explored the church building and listened in on a business meeting, so that by the time we emerged to the lobby, most of the congregation had cleared out. However, I noticed a woman, with curly strawberry-blond hair, talking in a small group of people. Her hair looked like that of an old friend we hadn’t seen in many years. This friend, also a “Melanie,” and her family had been founding members of our church, The King’s Chapel. Later, they had moved to Manassas and attended the church we were now visiting. A number of years ago, they had moved again to Lynchburg, VA, and although we keep in touch through email and Facebook, we had not seen them in person since then. Spotting this distinctive curly hair, I moved around for a closer look, and sure enough, there stood our friend Melanie with her family and some other mutual friends, whom we also hadn’t seen in many years! This “coincidence” of running into old friends at a church we had never been to before, amazing in itself, proved to be only part of the blessing.

Joyfully, Melanie explained that they had almost visited our church The King’s Chapel that morning because they so wanted to see us while they were in the area for Melanie’s birthday. They had prayed and felt the Holy Spirit’s leading to attend this church instead, and although torn, they obeyed. And voilà! There we were! If they had gone to The King’s Chapel, they wouldn’t have seen us; and likewise, if we had not stayed in Manassas, we wouldn’t have seen them. Experiencing the clear leading of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives multiplied the blessing of our unexpected reunion.

What a fun and serendipitous “God-sighting!”

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This has been an exciting week. A touch of stomach flu one day, a new book released a couple of days later. Up and downs, just like real life. I’m especially partial to the new book release. It’s been in the works for months, unlike the flu, which came and went in twenty-four hours and I say good riddance.

I have three published historical novels—a series about the Mennonites in South Russia from 1914 to 1924—which came out in 2002, 2003, 2004. This trilogy was a dream come true for me, an opportunity to create characters who would tell the stories I’d heard and read about since I was a kid, sitting in my grandmother’s house with the extended family, listening to the adults talk about their memories and experiences.

Calm Before the Storm / Eye of the Storm / Out of the Storm

Just yesterday, my next historical fiction was released: a new set of characters, a new setting and a slightly later time period. This story is called Other Side of the River, and involves a young Mennonite couple from western Siberia circa 1926-1930, and their struggle to survive under the hammer and sickle.

Other Side of the River — Volume One — The Winds of Change 

It’s been a stretching experience to bring this book to publication. In the nine years since my last book was released, the publishing world has transformed and the learning curve for me has been steep. For one thing, traditional publishing houses are constantly amalgamating, phasing out, going broke, etc., and digital publishing is becoming more popular by the day. I confess that most of my reading is now done on my iPhone. It’s just so handy.

What happened with Other Side of the River is that I queried a publisher called Helping Hands Press who said they were interested in publishing my story digitally. But not as a complete book. I was confused, of course, until Mr. G explained that my “virtual bookshelf” would look more impressive with more volumes on it. If they published my book in segments—volumes—I would have eight to ten “books” on the shelf instead of one.

After that rationale sunk in, I worked on rightly dividing my book into segments that ended with some form of tension, thus leading the reader to want the next segment. We also spent a lot of time talking about a cover, and again, Mr. G

RIVER cover

came up with an excellent cover that incorporated some of my ideas held together by color and shadow and texture of image that I could not have created myself.

So that’s the story. I invite you to take some time to read the first volume of Other Side of the River, titled The Winds of Change, review it if you would, and follow it through the course of the story to the other side of the river.

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I write a monthly blog for Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship professional blogsite. When I first agreed, somewhat nervously, to write four blog posts a year, besides keeping up with my personal blog on my website, it seemed overwhelming to me, but after I sat down one day and created an outline of topics, complete with detailed notes on each section, the writing became  much easier. I even offered to submit a blog once a month.

See these posts, along with those of other Christian writers at http://www.inscribe.org/blog.

Some of us are planners and plotters, others are pantsers (by the seat of your pants), but I think it’s all a matter of perspective. Everyone makes plans even if they don’t admit to it. Some people write them down in detail, as I do, while others are able to keep these thoughts and ideas in order in their heads.

Cindi Myers, in her article Plotter or Pantser: The Best of Both Worlds, says, “Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser may largely depend on your temperament, the way ideas come from you, and your general disposition.”

See more at: http://www.autocrit.com/editing/library/plotter-or-pantser-the-best-of-both-worlds/

We have to figure out which camp we fall into. If I trusted my ideas to my memory, I’d be in serious trouble. I can’t remember more than three things at a time in the grocery store. If I composed my blogs without some form of continuity (a.k.a. a plan), they would seem very disjointed.

Some writers mull over their books for months and even years before beginning, which is great advice, but I need to write the ideas on paper or screen or they will disappear, never to be thought of again. That’s what happened to the post I worked up yesterday on my daily slog. It got lost amid the first snow, the pile of carrot tops to be carried off the garden and the honking of geese on their way south to sloughs that don’t freeze over. One of many ideas that escaped, I’m afraid.

The point is that ideas are gifts that need to be netted like the beautiful butterflies (and sometimes moths) that my granddaughters chase in summer. If we don’t have a memory capable of holding them captive, we need to snag them by any means available: mini-recorder, notepad and pencil, iPhone or iPad, etc. The options are endless.

May you find your way through the maze of advice and suggestions in the writing world and settle on the best plans for you.

Note:  I entered one of the blogs from my website in the blog category of the Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship contest this past September and was surprised and pleased to win first place. Who’da thought? To read this blog, go to https://janicedick.wordpress.com/2012/04/

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