About athewriter

I am a budding writer, a lover of real food and cooking, and a musician/composer. But, the job I actually get paid for is being a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselor. I'm a Christian and my faith is very important to me, so I hope to blog in a way that is inspiring and hopeful to others.

The Danger of Putting America before God


09-06 - daca

I haven’t blogged in a while but considering recent events, I thought I should come out of hiding. As many of you know, I’ve written a Christian fiction book, Vivir el Dream, about undocumented immigrants trying to live “the American dream.” With the recent end of DACA (Deferred Action for Child Arrivals), which used to be known as “The Dream Act,” I have seen a lot of hurtful posts about “illegals” and “criminals” and “getting what they deserve” etc. Seeing that kind of hate, always brings me back to the Bible and remembering what Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31 were the most important commandments:

  1. Love the Lord your God with all heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Considering this, I think about immigration and what that means in terms of loving God and loving our neighbors. Here are some verses that stick out to me:

  1. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20)
  2. “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
  3. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:10)
  4. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
  5. You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 24:22)
  6. The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord (Numbers 15:15)
  7. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:18)
  8. Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. (Deuteronomy 24:17)
  9. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, (Ephesians 2:19)
  10. I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. (Matthew 25:43)
  11. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

I found all these verses easily on biblegateway.com by searching for the keywords foreigner and stranger. Sure, there were other verses that contextually spoke about foreigners overtaking things (generally in the context of the Israelites), but the majority were about treating them fairly.

Now, people are going to say, “What about all the verses about following laws?” And I agree, it is important to follow the laws. But, do are the laws of a country above the laws of God? Those very laws that tell us to love our God and our neighbor? No. It calls us to stand up against the laws that do harm and injustice.

The main issue is that Americans are so used to feeling comfortable with what we have, we forget that God doesn’t want us to be comfortable, He wants us to love. We as Americans can more easily place blame on someone rather than looking at the Greater Law that God put forth, the law to love God and our neighbors (which, by the way, means anybody – no exceptions!) And there’s a verse about that, too, in Luke 10:25-37 when Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan. The final result:

Jesus asks: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:35-37)

Nowhere I am aware of (and feel free to correct me) in the Bible does it talk about pieces of paper and setting borders to keep people out and to deny help to those who need it, to turn people away because they are different or immigrated one way instead of the other. No, those are our laws we made up to keep control, to keep comfortable.

But that isn’t God’s law. God’s law is love. Love, kindness, mercy.

Go and do likewise.

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ACFW Virginia Writer’s Conference – Registration Open


I’m going! Are you???

ACFW Virginia

Registration is now open for ACFW Virginia Annual Writer’s Conference. Join speaker, Dani Pettrey, for two craft sessions in the morning. Afterward, we’ll break for The Crown Award Luncheon and announce the winners of The Crown writing contest. Then choose from nine classes for the afternoon sessions.

Find more information on our conference page.

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I’m Entering the Harrowing World of Marketing…Advice Needed, Please!


Hello, all! As you might have read, I am now an indie published author of a lovely Latino Christian fiction novel entitled, Vivir el DreamI am excited to announce that I have sold over 100 books so far! And readers have expressed an overwhelmingly positive response. People are asking what’s next. And while a great part of me wants to work on that next project, there are still plenty of people who haven’t read this book yet and I must find a way to get to there. So, to quote Shakespeare, “Ay, there’s the rub…must give us pause…”

I have a few leads on what to do for marketing but I would love to hear from friends and other bloggers about what has worked best for you.

So, comment away!!!

A War of Deception: An Interview with Local Author P.A. Duncan


When retired U.N. spy Mai Fisher leaves a diplomatic reception on a cold, rainy night early in the new year of 2001, she dashes for the first cab she sees. The driver has a tattoo Mai has seen before on Serbian paramilitaries. Suspicious, she forces him to admit he was waiting for her–to deliver her to the Russian Mafiya.

After almost 40 years as a spy for the United Nations Intelligence Directorate, Alexei Bukharin is glad to be alive to enjoy time with his wife, Mai Fisher, and to finish raising his college-student granddaughter, Natalia. When Mai calls him out of bed to bring her dry clothes after she takes an information drop from a Serbian diplomat, he discovers she’s suffered something that can be death for a spy, retired or otherwise: Someone knows her true identity.

A raid on the Mafiya apartment where Mai was to be taken uncovers something more devastating. The thugs have a photograph of Natalia at her university. The investigation becomes two-pronged: Who burned Mai, and why is the Russian underworld interested in Natalia?

Their investigation uncovers a Russian mole in the FBI, one who has been selling America’s secrets to the Soviets and the Russian Federation for more than 20 years. When Alexei discovers the reason behind the interest in Natalia, he realizes a decision he made in 1974 has come back to haunt him.

Personal needs, professional standards, and a choice from the past collide in a war of deception.

Maggie - AWoD Kindle Cover
Hello there! I’m so glad you are joining me today to learn about your first full-length novel, A War of Deception. Tell me a little about the book.
A War of Deception is about a retired spy getting burned (i.e., her true identity revealed), and the investigation into that leads to two subplots that end up being related. The tag line is: “Past and present. Fathers and sons. Retribution and revenge.” That pretty much sums it up. It is based on a real event in 2001, the discovery of a Russian mole in the FBI who’d been selling secrets for almost three decades.
You have also written several novellas and short stories. Are the same characters in all of them or are they different?
The same two principle characters, U.N. spies Mai Fisher and Alexei Bukharin, show up in all of them (except for a collection of literary short stories titled Fences), and they’re joined by a large cast of supporting characters: analysts, enemy agents, friends, lovers, adversaries. It’s a lot of work to keep them straight.
Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
From recent history and current headlines. I’m a student of history and politics (domestic and international), and world events appeal to me. I’ve written a lot of fiction about the Balkan wars in the 1990s and the Troubles in Ireland. My characters start out as spies in the Cold War and have to make an adjustment after the fall of the Soviet Union, and I deal with that in my work as well. And, of course, this past presidential election is fodder for all sorts of fiction. I’m sure every thriller writer is salivating over what comes next. Indeed, I’ve written (and published) a short story (“Brave New World” in Spy Flash II) and a novelette (Who Watches the Watchmen? and its soon to be published sequel, Hidden Agendas) about the 2016 election.
Do you have to do a lot of research or is this subject area one you have extensive knowledge about already?
Well, I’m not a spy–or maybe I am. LOL. I have to research tradecraft in different eras extensively because I want the stories to be authentic. My history degree helps, but I still have to research technology, customs, clothing, etc., for the time period I’m writing in. In my case, a lot of it is a walk down memory lane, especially looking at 1980s and 1990s fashions. Did I really wear things like that?
If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to play your main characters?
I’m a big fan of Viggo Mortensen. A great actor and easy on the eyes. When I saw him in Eastern Promises, he became my model for Alexei Bukharin. Imagine Mortensen with hair like the scientist Michio Kaku, and you have Alexei. Mai Fisher has always been harder for me to “cast.” I’ve seen her in Angelina Jolie (Lara Croft movies and Salt) and Cote de Pablo (formerly of NCIS). Having recently seen Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot would be a great contender for Mai in the 1980s and 1990s. Other people have suggested a young Helen Mirren.
And in theat movie, would the Russian parts be dubbed with thick accents or subtitled? (Okay, this is just a personal bias of mine. I want Russian with subtitles! hahaha!)
Well, Alexei has a slight Russian accent, but there are long exchanges of dialogue in Russian, so subtitles would work. 🙂
So what’s next for you? Do you have more novellas or short stories coming out or more novels? Anything in the works?
I’m always working on short pieces. They are great diversions when I get blocked on a novel. I have a couple of straight literary fiction novels I’d like to pitch to agents, but the big announcement is starting in April of 2018, a four-book series (aka a tetralogy) will begin, based somewhat loosely on the siege at Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, though both those events have been “moved” to other locales for decency’s sake. I’ll continue to do NaNoWriMo, so I’m pretty much set with a backlog of manuscripts.
So, you’ve pretty much had one of the coolest careers prior to being a writer of anyone I know. Can you tell us a bit about this?
I held a number of jobs in the Federal Aviation Administration for thirty years, including reporter, editor, aviation safety inspector, and finally Flight Standards chief of staff. I was your basic bureaucrat for most of it, but I got to do a lot of interesting things: accident investigation, task forces, special investigations, and so forth. It was a good career, and I still keep my eye on pilot and flight attendants when I’m on an airplane. LOL.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that people might not guess.
I’m certified in the Commonwealth of Virginia to perform weddings. I specialize in nondenominational or humanistic weddings. A lot of the couples I’ve married have been from mixed religious backgrounds but who want a ceremony that’s spiritual but doesn’t favor one religion over the other.
If you had to go undercover as a spy, what would be hardest for you and why?
The lying–to your family, to the people you’re trying to recruit. I’m a lousy liar myself, so I’d likely not be successful at it. The deception, particularly with a spouse or your family, is something I’d find hard to overcome.
Thank you, P.A. Duncan!!!
Get your copy of A War of Deception here: http://bit.ly/PADuncan

Maggie - Me

P. A. Duncan is a retired bureaucrat but one with an overactive imagination—at least that’s what everyone has told her since she first started making up stories in elementary school prompted by her weekly list of spelling words.

A commercial pilot and former FAA safety official, she lives and writes in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. A graduate of Madison College (now James Madison University), she has degrees in history and political science. Politics and history manage to work their way into her writing.

She is president of the Virginia Writers Club, one of the oldest writer organizations in the country.

Her fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. When not writing, reading, reviewing books, singing in a UU choir, watching the Yankees, or cheering on Dale Earnhardt, Jr., she delights in spoiling her grandchildren.

Connect with P.A. Duncan here:

Http://www.facebook.com/unspywriter (Facebook author page)

@unspywriter (Twitter)

@PADuncan1 (Instagram)

The Demon Duke: An Interview with Local Author Margaret Locke


Margaret - DemonDukeCov

Behind every good man is a great secret.

Banished to Yorkshire as a boy for faults his father failed to beat out of him, Damon Blackbourne has no use for English society and had vowed never to return to his family’s estate at Thorne Hill, much less London. However, when his father and brother die in a freak carriage accident, it falls on Damon to take up the mantle of the Malford dukedom, and to introduce his sisters to London Society–his worst nightmare come to life.

He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The beautiful debutante stirs him body and soul with her deep chocolate eyes and hesitant smiles. Until she stumbles across his dark secret.

Bookish Grace much prefers solitude and reading to social just-about-anything. Her family may be pressuring her to take on the London Season to find herself a husband, but she has other ideas. Such as writing a novel of her own. But she has no idea how to deal with the Duke of Malford.

Will she betray him to the world? Or will she be his saving Grace?

Margaret - 517BlackCover

Thank you, Margaret, for you allowing me to interview you today!!! Tell us a little bit about your newest book The Demon Duke.

How did you get the idea for the book? 

My son has Tourette Syndrome. A few years ago, he announced he’d never have a girlfriend, much less get married, because “nobody would want him.” It broke my heart – and still does. So I decided to craft a book in which a duke with Tourette’s (though it wasn’t called that in the Regency period) finds the love and acceptance he’s always wanted.

If your book was made into a movie, what actors would be in it?

 Oh, this one is easy! Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev of Vampire Diaries fame were the physical inspirations behind Damon Blackbourne and Grace Mattersley. J

 Bradley James and Colin Morgan would play James Bradley, Duke of Arthington, and Morgan Collinswood, Marquess of Emerlin, respectively. Hugh Jackman inspired Deveric Mattersley, and Reese Witherspoon makes a perfect Eliza Mattersley.

 I have other family members cast in my mind, and have pinned many of them to Pinterest boards – though of course I hope readers make up their own people in their minds if these names don’t fit for them!

Margaret - 518Cerberus

Should people read the other books in the Magic of Love series or is this a stand-alone book?

The Demon Duke is the first in my Put Up Your Dukes Regency series and is a stand-alone, without any of the magical elements that pop up in my Magic of Love series. However, our bookworm heroine Grace is the sister of Deveric Mattersley, the hero from A Matter of Time. So if you’ve read that book, you’ll have fun seeing familiar names and places in this one, but it’s not necessary to have done so to enjoy the story on its own.

 Margaret - 525Dialog

You are starting to become pretty popular and winning some awards. What is that like for you?

 Surreal! That I have readers who rave about my books still feels totally bizarre. Though I think I have a ways to go before you could truly call me popular. But it’s a dream come true to have people read my work and like it enough to want to read more. I hope I can keep living up to their expectations!

What would be your favorite and least favorite things about living back when The Demon Duke lived?

Favorite? Likely the furnishings. Yeah, I’m a weirdo. The furnishings, that is, if I were rich – more likely I’d be a barmaid or a seamstress or something, and then life would be much less fun. My least favorite thing? Lack of air-conditioning, modern medicine, and showers. Oh, that’s more than one? Well, they’re all important! 😉

 Margaret - 519Dancing

 What else are you working on right now? Will there be more Magic of Love books coming soon? 

 I do have at least one more in the Magic of Love series planned, maybe two, but as to when it will appear, I’m not sure, as I’m thrilled to be part of an upcoming series of books based on legendary figures with fellow Regency authors, and so therefore I need to work on that first so I don’t let the crew down! My contribution will be The Legendary Duke, set to debut in June 2018.

 I also want to write a short story or novella about the origins of the magical manuscript that first appears in A Man of Character.  And then there are several side characters in both my Magic of Love series and my Put Up Your Duke series whom I feel need their own stories told, but whose tales likely won’t contain magical elements or dukes, so, well, new series remain to be born!

 Thank you, Margaret! Can’t wait to read it! Get your copy today by clicking on the link below!

Amazon: http://bit.ly/TheDemonDuke

B&N: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DAddP

iTunes: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DAddP

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-demon-duke

Margaret - MLPic
A lover of romance novels since the age of ten (don’t tell her mom!), Margaret Locke declared as a teen she’d write romances when she was older. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things, not penning love stories. Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader.
Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and three fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person.
Margaret loves to interact with fellow readers and authors! You may find her here:

Website/Blog: http://margaretlocke.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargaretLocke
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretLocke
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/margaret_locke
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Margaret_Locke