Deb’s Books Blast/Deb’s Ministry Blog

Deb’s Book Blast gives you a front row seat to what’s happening with Deb’s books. If you sign up on this email list you’ll get:

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Deb’s Ministry Blog shares articles of interest to people in a small church or mission ministry. These are practical and encouraging articles that may be shared freely.

You’ll receive emails every month or so and you may unsubscribe at any time. Your privacy will be respected. Your name and address will not be given to anyone else for any other purpose.

You could win this ebook! It’s easy!

Since most readers don’t bother to comment or leave a reply, your chances of winning my Book Blast giveaway are much higher that winning most other contests. I’d love to hear from you.

To enter:

Simply leave a comment in the comment box below or send a comment about this blog or books you like to read to this email address:

I will choose a winner to receive this ebook at random from all my Book Blast readers who comment on or before Wednesday night, July 17.

I almost lost you!

This year two of the scariest things that can ever happen to an author happened to me. Last December a power surge fried my computer at the most inconvenient time ever. Eventually, after much frustration, effort and expense, I was able to retrieve much of the data, but I lost some things that I still miss.

The other scary thing happened recently and you, dear subscriber, are part of that. Since my last Book Blast in which I gave all of my subscribers my ebook edition of Broken Windows for free, I nearly lost YOU and all my other subscribers! Due to an oversight during a time of constant change, I missed seeing notices from my email marketing service that I needed to re-subscribe to their services. I was just barely was able to recover my subscribers list, though I lost some other parts of my mailing list that I now have to recreate. This has been a MAJOR source of stress during this last month and has caused some delay in this Book Blast. If things look a bit different from normal, that’s because we’re still trying to work out issues. We leave on a 10-day trip tomorrow, and need to send this now. Sorry about that. (Feel free to pray for us!)

Now that I have you, my dear subscribers, back, I want you to know that you are important to me. Thanks for giving me the chance to offer my books to you, as well as offering the books of other Christian writers.

Maybe, like me, you’ve found a great recipe on the internet and want to print it out quickly and move on. ASAP. But the owner of the website wants you to subscribe to her blog. “Stink!” you say. “I don’t want to follow this silly blog. I just want my recipe!”

I can relate—to both sides of the subscriber issue. Now I’m the author, I’m building my subscribers’ list. Anyone can unsubscribe anytime, but so far you haven’t and I hope you won’t. You are important to me. Let me explain to you why that is.

You may have joined my list to get a free book. You feel bad unsubscribing, but you aren’t interested in my Book Blasts, so you just delete them as they come to your inbox. Actually, there’s not much difference between that and unsubscribing. It might help you to know why an author like me values subscribers like you. Contrary to what you might think, I’m not trying to trick people into buying a book they won’t like so that I can make money. Instead, I’m trying to find readers who will like my books and give them good deals so they can enjoy more of them. Because if I can’t find readers who like my books, there’s not much use in writing. Keeping an active subscriber list is part of the journey of almost every indie author.

What’s an indie author?

Indie authors, AKA independent authors, either self-publish their books or publish with a smaller indie publisher. Sometimes they do a little of both. Things have changed dramatically in Christian publishing since 1994 when I published my first book. At that time, self-publishing was for authors who weren’t good enough to be published by traditional publishers. But the rules for publishing have changed dramatically since then and they continue to change. Even writers who have sold extremely well with traditional publishers are going indie. One reason for that is indie authors get much more control over their book and its publication. They typically do their own writing but hire other professionals to help them with editing, book design, and a myriad of other essential tasks.

I started indie publishing because I wanted to write distinctively Christian books for adults, books that would appeal to more mature Christians. I wanted to write fiction about Christians who are active in ministry, involved in their churches, and seeking God’s will for their lives day by day. This took me into indie publishing where I could shape my book to say what I wanted.

I love the control I have as an indie author, but it also means I have to market my book if anyone is going to read it. One of the main ways I do this is by joining other indie authors in promotions that give away free books to readers who are willing to become a subscriber to their newsletters. This helps me find readers who like the kinds of books I write. If they enjoy a free book by me, they will probably enjoy reading other books by me.

You could be the winner of the ebook Keeping Bailey.

Remember, all you have to do to enter is simply leave a comment, any comment, in the comment box below or send a comment to this email address:

Dan Walsh is one of many successful traditionally-published authors who have moved to indie publishing. He writes both inspirational and suspense novels. Keeping Bailey comes from his inspirational series about dogs in rescue shelters. I haven’t been able to read a lot of fiction recently, due to a move from active ministry in New Zealand to living in America and traveling many miles to visit churches who have supported us during the last 46 years, but I enjoyed reading this book last year and have since moved in next to an Australian shepherd like the dog in the book. Keep Bailey is a sweet book that dog lovers are sure to appreciate.

Here’s my review:

Bailey’s owner is forced to give him up when the owner moves into a retirement home. Bailey is so tied to his owner that he doesn’t do well at the dog shelter. Rhonda, a volunteer at the shelter, goes the extra mile trying to get Bailey to accept living in the shelter. If Bailey doesn’t come out of her doggie depression, no one is likely to want to adopt her. This story is fairly predictable, but, if you love dogs, it will warm your heart. And the author promises at the beginning that the dog doesn’t die, so you don’t have to worry about that. Part of the plot is even told from Bailey’s point of view. There’s a bit of romance included, the people kind, but the main plot is about accepting and giving love to an older dog that still has plenty of love to give.

The Dying Art of Conversation with People You Barely Know


After more than 45 years of missionary service, my husband, Art, and I are preparing for retirement and living in an area where we don’t know many people. So why is it that, when we go to a church that is new to us, we’re one of the last to leave? Sometimes we have very meaningful conversations with people we meet for the first time. Are we just natural extroverts who don’t know when to shut up?

Actually, as a teenager, Art didn’t talk a lot, even to people he knew well. I’ve always been more outgoing, but as a teen I often didn’t have the confidence to talk to people who weren’t church people. Today we can talk to almost anyone.

What changed?

We’ve worked at our conversation skills and developed them throughout many years of ministry. You may find this surprising, but the art of simple conversation is one of the most important ministry skills we have.

In our own church ministry in New Zealand, welcoming strangers and getting to know our church people has been crucial. Visiting our supporting churches in the States means we need to connect with many people whose faces look familiar but whose names we might not remember. Now, we’re looking for a church to call our home in Iowa. That means meeting a constant stream of strangers, some of whom won’t be a part of the church we choose.

Initiating and filling out conversations with people we don’t know well takes some social energy, but it’s really not difficult for us anymore because ministry has given us plenty of opportunity to practice. Some of these conversations don’t go very deep, but it’s surprising how many really great conversations we get into. They often form the start of a nice friendship.

How do we do it?

Today I’m going to reveal the relatively simple tactics we use to initiate conversations with people we don’t know and may not have much in common with. This might look a little different at church than it does in our neighborhood or at Walmart, but it does work. And it’s a skill you can learn.

Send out feelers.

Some people may not like to engage in conversation with strangers. In some situations, over-friendliness can even feel a little creepy. But let’s say you’re in a safe environment and just want to send out some friendly vibes and see what someone will do with it. How do you make that happen?

Begin by putting your cell phone away. Hiding behind cell phones is a very efficient way to kill conversations before they begin. (Even I struggle to start a conversation with someone using a phone for any reason.) Then make eye contact and smile. Make a general comment that’s appropriate for the situation. You don’t want to get too personal and make the person feel unsafe, but here are some topics that often work with people you don’t know or don’t know well.

  • Weather
  • Where they are from
  • How long they’ve lived in this place
  • What job they have
  • If they are a student and what they are studying
  • What they enjoy doing, hobbies or interests
  • Some item of general interest

If the person doesn’t want to talk to you, they’ll probably let you know, but this gives you a good place to start.

When my husband and I go to a church camp, we each sit separately with different campers every meal. We line up last so we can spot spare places and sit with kids or teens who might show more interest than others. We ask the names of campers closest to us and ask where they are from.  We ask about camp activities. If we’re familiar with their families we ask about them. We might ask about their interests: sports, music, future career, hobbies, college expectations. This often gives us a way to connect with some of them.

I look for potential writers or missionaries or Christian workers. Art is more likely to ask about sports and physical activities. The key word is “ask.” Many kids and teens are willing to talk if you get the conversation started, ask them about themselves, and show genuine interest.

You can do a similar thing while you greet a visitor at church, watch a soccer game, or visit at someone’s house.

Focus on them.

As missionary guest speakers the focus is usually on us. We go first in the food line. We are featured and welcomed in the service. We talk about ourselves and our ministry. Some of this is necessary and helpful. But if we want to have a significant impact on individuals, we need to shift the focus at some point. This is not just about me and my ministry. I want to know about the other person. Who is she? What’s going on in her life right now? What is she passionate about? What can I learn from her?

When you focus on a person, listen to more than words. Search for their concerns or joys or passions.  Listen to what they say to learn about them, not just to use their words as a springboard for your own comments. You may never see this person again, but right now she deserves your full attention.

Connect as a friend.

This is not sermon time. I don’t start a conversation to straighten someone out or act like super-missionary. I just want to know him and affirm him. These are the kinds of questions I like to ask:

You like to play baseball? Cool. What position do you play? I know missionaries who use baseball for a great outreach in the Dominican Republic.

You play the piano? How long have you played? God can really use that skill in your church or on the mission field.

You do artwork? I’d love to see your work sometime. Do you have photos on your phone?

You’re a football fan? In New Zealand they play rugby. I actually know very little about it, but you should talk to my husband sometime. He likes sports, but he’s more of a runner.

Sound pointless? Actually, making conversation is an important friendship skill that will help you wherever you go. Today we have more forms of communication than ever before: texting, email, phone calls, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, social media in many other forms, even snail mail. But with all of these, we have less and less time to actually focus on one person and communicate well. It’s becoming a dying art, and yet one that is desperately needed.

I’m convinced that one of the most effective ways to impact people is through quiet, personal conversations. We don’t often see the results of this kind of ministry, but it is real and memorable. While we give friendship in this way, we receive rich benefits as well.

How can you use these friendship skills to encourage someone today?



Everyone wins a free book!

I value my subscribers and I’m thankful for each one who continues to follow Deb’s Book Blast. Some of you have followed me throughout a year of featuring ten other Christian authors who joined me as we promoted each other’s Faith Filled Fiction. Throughout that promotion I’ve promised to offer you one of my own books for free. This is the month you can claim a free copy of Broken Windows, Book One in my Art Spotlight Mysteries.

Get Broken Windows for free!  

 The free link given above is only meant for subscribers. If you want to gift a book to a friend, recommend that they buy it, or buy a print book, please use this link.

Anyone may subscribe to Deb’s Book Blast.

Have you ever read a book that was so well written that you felt you were there, living in the scene with the characters? I once gasped out loud in a Bible college library while reading a scene that happened in Narnia. In a similar way, an author often immerses herself so completely in the setting of her book that she may worry about, or even pray for, a character she’s writing about. At times in my writing process, I’ve had to remind myself what country I’m physically in.

While writing my Art Spotlight Mysteries, I immersed myself into the art world so much that the line between reality and fiction was seriously blurred. Some of the art mentioned is real art that you can physically see if you go to the right destination. Some of the art was only in my head, described clearly enough for the reader to get an idea of what it looks like. Though I’m not an artist, I actually created some of the art in my books, then blamed the final product on the characters in my books. Each book contains a mix of real art, fictional art, and real fictional art.

Book 1: Broken Windows

In Book 1, Jordan finds running away to Boise makes sense until a shadow from the past commits weird crimes to destroy Jordan’s credibility in the art community. This light hearted mystery dares you to dig through surface issues and examine the broken windows in your own faith. It also causes you to wonder: When does graffiti shift from nuisance status to art form?

I chose graffiti as the predominant art form for Broken Windows partly because I figured graffiti would be the ultimate insult to any serious artist. While not always true, it was true for Jordan. For artistic inspiration I studied the work of Banksy, the foremost graffiti artist on the planet. Then I designed a character, Zaxx, a Banksy copycat, to make Jordan’s life miserable.

Deb playing “Keepsies” with the statue kids

In the photo above you’ll find me visiting “Keepsies” one of Ann LaRose’s beautiful statues. Even though I’m not an artist, that didn’t stop me from creating Zaxx’s art, with a little help from silhouettes which were available online. You can find Zaxx’s fictional graffiti art and Ann LaRose’s beautiful and real Boise sculptures in Broken Windows on this Pinterest page.

Don’t forget to get your free Kindle copy of Broken Windows!

Book 2: Déjà Who?

In Book 2, Jordan never dreamed an innocent promise could cost him his career, but new accusations pull him into the past forcing him to ask, “Who am I?” all over again. Déjà Who? challenges you to ask yourself, “What do I let define me?”

Forgery is sometimes called a victimless crime. Does it matter if a painting is a forgery if the viewer doesn’t know? What’s the harm in a forgery if everyone wins? Writing and researching Déjà Who? drew me into the fascinating real world of forgery and challenged my thinking about it.

Deb and “Bronc Buster” by Andrew Wyeth

You can see some of the real paintings mentioned in this story in the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. Fictional Felipe fell in love with art at MIA. Andrew Wyeth’s “Bronco Buster” inspired him to become an artist. Among the illusions in MIA, Jordan found a peculiar exhibit, a historical office filled with real objects that told a fictional story. The exhibit really existed at one point in MIA’s history, but the character it represented was mere fiction. Inside MIA in my book, Jordan meets the redheaded Rafael Romero, an FBI agent who himself “fooled the eye.”

You can find some of the art mentioned in Déjà Who? on this Pinterest page. It includes Lego art that mimics M.C. Escher’s work and other fascinating artistic illusions.

Buy Déjà Who? 

Book 3: I Scream

In Book 3, a six-year-old’s simple painting enters the world of contemporary art, challenging Jordan to re-examine his principles and to market art he can’t understand.

 If you’ve ever visited a contemporary art exhibit, maybe you’ve shaken your head in wonder that anyone would call some of the pieces true art. When even artists find it hard to define contemporary art, what criteria is objective enough to judge it fairly? Jordan faces the dilemma of representing a child artist when even he struggles to call her work serious contemporary art. His integrity is tested as he works to market art he can’t understand.

After creating Destiny Champion, my child artist, I had to come up with her art—art that could possibly be painted by an unusually talented child and would challenge the definition of contemporary art. The real digital form of Destiny’s first painting was a stock photo by a real artist. For the second I resorted to cutting out a silhouette and pasting it over a stock photo of bright circles. For the third, however, I started with a blank canvas and a few tubes of acrylic paint. I spent hours ogling Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” blending colors, and trying to figure out how much of what I was doing would be able to be produced by a six-year-old art student. In case you wonder, the image on the cover of I Scream is a stock photo altered by a designer, and was not intended to reproduce Destiny’s image. I’m not silly enough to use a painting I produced for a cover of a book I actually want readers to buy!

“Feline Guardians” by Destiny Champion

“Beyond Childhood” by Destiny Champion

“I Scream” by Destiny Champion

You can find some of the art mentioned in I Scream, on this Pinterest page along with pins about Marla Olmstead and Aelita Andre, two child prodigies who rocked the art world. I’ve even added some appropriate art humor, just for fun.

Buy I Scream.

Free book by Juliette Duncan!

This is the last month for me of a year-long partnership with ten other Christian authors, featuring their books as they featured mine. Each month I’ve given you the opportunity to discover a new author by receiving their free book in exchange for subscribing to their newsletter.  Scroll down to find out more about this month’s free books by Juliette Duncan: Hank and Sarah and No Going Back. I hope you will continue to subscribe to Deb’s Book Blast, because in March, I will give all of my subscribers a free book just for being my subscribers!

Have you ever considered the role color plays in your life?

Imagine if God had created the whole world black and white. Or made us colorblind so we couldn’t enjoy colors.

I’ve have recently gained a new appreciation for color. When this book promo started last March, I was in America on a short furlough. In May 2023 we returned to New Zealand for six months. There we mentored a local pastor and wife, graduated our church from mission status to self-support, and returned to the US. God answered so many prayers during that time. On January 29, 2024 we moved into our new house in Iowa.

From the beginning, this house made a big impression on me. The basic house seemed ideal for us, but the former owners had painted the whole house in dark colors, some of which I considered the ugliest ever. The floors were dark brown. All the cabinets in the house were dark brown. In addition, much of the house has inadequate lighting.

“Love the house. Hate the colors,” I said. Over and over again. During our first visit I said these words. When we returned the same day to have another look, I repeated them. When we decided, that first day, that we would buy the house because it was such a great deal, I said them again. We could repaint the walls easily enough. I could learn to live with the kitchen if I added some colorful accents.

About the third day in our house, while I was cooking supper, I experienced a feeling I’ve never felt before. I stood hovered over the big, black top of the gas stove, surrounded by the dark cabinets and floors, over-looking the dark gray and hideous green living area and felt almost physically sick.

“I can’t do this,” I said.

How could I be so fussy over such a minor thing as house color? I don’t consider myself hard to please. But honestly, changing wall color wasn’t going to be enough. This kitchen would change me into a person I don’t want to be.

I explained my problem to my husband during supper, and we’ve been working out a plan ever since to change our current cupboards to lighter ones. I suppose it’s like SAD, seasonal affective disorder, which causes people to be depressed during short winter days or long periods of cloudy days.

Since we moved in just over a week ago, we’ve spent much time studying paint swatches, painting large piece of cardboard with various shades of pretty greens, and analyzing the differences various shades of green make inside our house.

Do you, like me, have certain colors that conjure up a very strong negative response? What colors do this to you? Take time to look around you today and appreciate all the colors God has placed in your life.

Juliette Duncan

I feel a kinship to Juliette Duncan, who lives in Brisbane, Australia, because I have lived in New Zealand for almost 26 years. Like many cousins, Kiwis (New Zealanders) and Aussies share many commonalities, even though they engage in a fair amount of friendly rivalry.

A few years ago, I read Juliette’s book Secrets and Sacrifice. Though most of her books are set in Australia, this book was set in Scotland. Since we lived in the southern part of New Zealand, which was first settled by Scottish Presbyterians, the culture and setting felt like a familiar friend to me. I especially enjoyed this book because it is distinctively Christian.  It presents the Gospel clearly, and shows the advantages of being part of a warm Christian community, two qualities that endear me to any Christian writer.

Juliette Duncan is a USA Today bestselling author of 60+ Christian romance stories that ‘touch the heart and soul.’ She writes Christian fiction that encourages a deeper faith in a world that seems to have lost its way. Most of her stories include an element of romance, but the main love story in each of her books is always God’s amazing, unconditional love for His wayward children. Juliette and her husband enjoy spending time with their five adult children, and eleven grandchildren. When not writing, Juliette and her husband love exploring the wonderful world they live in.

Juliette is giving away two books in exchange for subscribing to her newsletter.


No Going Back

Radical, honest and real, this Christian romantic suspense is one woman’s journey to freedom you won’t put down and is Juliette’s personal story.

“A wonderful, inspirational book that shows God’s love and grace, even after we make bad decisions. A great story showing God has a plan for your life.”

Hank and Sarah

After her husband’s death, Sarah never thought she’d find love again. But when she meets Dr. Hank Wilson, she falls hard. Can she let go of her past and trust in God to protect her and her daughter from danger?

A heartwarming love story to ‘touch your heart and soul.’

Get Juliette’s free book, in exchange for subscription to her newsletter.








In 46 years of mission ministry, my husband, Art, and I have experienced ministry on the mission field and off the field. Adapting to different cultures. Furloughs. Changing fields. Saying goodbye to our parents and siblings. Saying goodbye to our own daughters. Victories and seeming defeats. Helping people who turned to God and praying for people who turned away from him. But we are now making a change we’ve never made before.


Even though we’ve left the mission field, we’re not retired yet. We still have American churches to visit while we keep our fulltime missionary status, and we plan to continue to minister in our retirement years, but we’re beginning the transition to retirement. Change has begun. Almost everything in our life is changing in some way.

We had been searching for years for a national pastor who could replace us when, just 14 months ago, we found a pastor who was interested in the role. On the last Sunday before we took a short furlough. While in the States, we used Zoom and What’s App for church membership classes with Paul and Therese Gray. By the time we returned in May, Paul and Therese were taking an active part in the ministry of Tay Street Baptist Church. We spent 6 months mentoring them and helping the church work through the process of calling and employing its first paid pastor. 2023 was a whirlwind, but God blessed in amazing ways. At the end of that time, we left the church in the hands of Pastor Paul and Therese. The church had a lovely farewell time for us with the Christmas dinner. Two days later, we used our first one-way ticket from New Zealand and began the stateside part of our journey to retirement.

Having adapted to the culture and lifestyle in Taiwan and New Zealand, we now need to adapt to life in our home country. The America we left in 1980 to go to Taiwan is different from the country we’re returning to 43 years later. We’ve changed as well. What will retirement mean for us?

I’ve heard non-missionaries talk about the changes they go through in retirement. The husband doesn’t know what to do with himself and gets in the way of the wife’s routine. They might move a few hundred miles to be closer to their children. Medicare clicks in and they navigate through it. They might start having more physical ailments. They might fill the time emptied by leaving fulltime employment with volunteer jobs or part time employment. Some find it a time of renewed rest and special new joys. But ministry has been such a big part of our lives for so many years, it’s hard to visualize what retirement will mean for us.

Maybe you’ve already made the move to retirement. Or maybe you’ve watched family members make this transition and learned from what you’ve seen. But consider the changes foreign missionaries make when they return home for retirement. How do you pray for them at a time like that?

We’ve just left New Zealand and its culture and lifestyle are not a lot different from life here in the States. Yet I find change everywhere I turn.

In the last month:

  • Art and I have left our home, the house we loved and decorated for 25 years, and left New Zealand to prepare for retirement in the US.
  • We’ve said goodbye to all our NZ friends and our church ministry that has been such a huge part of our lives, not knowing if or when we will see them again.
  • We’ve traveled 30 hours from an airport in NZ to an airport in Des Moine, Iowa.
  • I’ve broken a tooth the morning we began that trip, and seen a brand-new dentist within 12 hours of landing.
  • I’ve signed up for a dental plan on day one in the US and we’ve begun to work through medical plans and insurance for a medical system that is completely different than we used in NZ.
  • I fried my computer in NZ and got almost everything off the hard drive to put on a “new” computer in the US. (I’m finding out that almost everything and everything makes a big difference in stress levels.)
  • We’ve joined our family in the US for Christmas for the second year in a row!
  • We’ve found a new home to buy and set the settlement date at January 30.
  • We’ve begun to visit new churches to find a new church home.
  • I’ve begun to drive a car I’m not used to, on the opposite side of the road than I’m used to, in a place I don’t begin to know my way around.
  • We’ve begun to learn about new products and new brands in new stores for all the basic needs we have. (Including gluten free options.)
  • We’ve started gathering and buying furniture for a house we’ve only been inside a few times.

We’ve only started making other key moves on our journey from full-time, active missionary service to retirement late in 2024. We’re looking forward to many things on the other side of this journey. I’m looking forward to spending more time writing and engaging in writing-related business. Art’s looking for his own ways to serve. We plan to remain active in ministry. We’re so thankful to live closer to our families and see more of them. But as I stand on the threshold of retirement, I begin to realize the scope of changes we’ll be making.

Change can be good, but change takes extra energy. Emotional energy, mental energy, spiritual energy as well.

In our case, we’re not returning to Colorado or Montana, the states we grew up in. Not even to a state where we’ve had supporting churches (with one small exception early in the 1980’s.) We’re moving here to be close to family. Iowa has many great churches and we’re looking for one to be our home church, but during the months we visit our supporting churches and look for a church of our own on the side, we don’t have our own circle of friends. Already I feel myself becoming self-absorbed from concentrating on all our needs without much thought for the needs of others. This feels different and wouldn’t be healthy if it continued for very long. Isolation isn’t a healthy place for a believer.

God has been so good to us as we’ve travelled down this road of transition. Both in New Zealand and now in America, the Lord has blessed us with friends, family, and virtual strangers who have shown amazing generosity that has helped us to leave one home in NZ and prepare to move into another one in Iowa. But even in ideal circumstances, transitioning to retirement involves huge changes for the missionary. We hold the needs of the field we leave behind close to our heart. We work to fit into life in a country which has changed substantially since we first left it. And we look for meaning and purpose in our new life.

I hope this peek into the life of one retiring missionary couple will help you understand this key part of a missionary’s life. The more you understand, the more you can pray for, befriend, encourage, and support your missionaries who transition and move into retirement status.