Dec 282013
 

Gospel of Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore  the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Whether or not you believe Jesus is the Christ is immaterial for my purposes. Let’s focus on Mary.

Based on information I’ve acquired from multiple sources over the years, Mary may have been all of thirteen years old at this moment in her life. At least one source depicts her as having Moorish descent, making her of very dark complexion. Although the Catholic faith (possibly others, as well) teach that Mary was without sin, or ‘immaculate’, nothing in the Bible supports anything other than her virginal status and her sincere devotion to God. Contrarily, Scripture repeatedly emphasizes that Jesus—and in all of humanity, only Jesus—was sinless and perfect.

In any regard, there is no indication this announcement was made to Mary in the form of a dream or vision. The archangel Gabriel literally visited her. She has got to be wondering what was in the wine she’d had earlier. Right? Given her innocence and devotion, one can reasonably conclude her to be quite humble, almost certainly struggling to comprehend how a lowly individual such as she could be selected for this incredible task. No matter your beliefs, she believed in the promise made to her.

I can’t help speculating her mind was abuzz with questions and, possibly, concerns about how this would all come about. Would or did the conception occur immediately? Was she immediately cognizent of it? And when her pregnancy was evident, did she begin to freak out a little bit? She’s already betrothed to Joseph, as it was customary for marriages to be arranged well before a girl’s first menstruation. Historically, and even to this day in Middle Eastern culture, you know not much is more highly prized in a woman than her virginity. So, how does one prepare for that conversation with one’s parents? Or breaking the news to Joseph? In that society, she would have been shunned — very possibly for all of her life — even my one’s own family. Wouldn’t that prospect churn in one’s gut?

At the very least, I wonder how saddened she was by the shame and disappointment her condition brought to Joseph and her family, who most assuredly could not comprehend her “explanation”. Although it isn’t recorded in scripture, perhaps Gabriel or other angels visited her later, giving her guidance and encouragement. Then again, I’m probably imposing my own very limited degree of faith upon her and, instead, she was perfectly accepting and content to let her future unfold as it would, in any manner it would.

But however she would have introduced that revelation, it wasn’t looking good for Mary. By the accounts, Joseph fully intended to file a writ of divorce since a betrothal was as legally binding as a marriage, and this would be required of him. Evidently, truly caring for Mary and wishing to spare her the shame she would have to endure among her townfolk, he also intended to send her away. But another visit from Gabriel, this time to Joseph in the form of dream, changed all that.

There are very few references to Mary recorded in Scripture, but as a mother, holding my own child in my arms was such a miracle to me, and so indescribably profound; what must Mary have felt upon holding Jesus? She believes he is the Messiah, the fulfillment of centuries of prophesies, a king for all time. There would be no way to grasp it, would there?

Nowhere in the Bible is insight provided as to what all Mary knew regarding Jesus’ future: his miracles, martyrdom,  and purported resurrection. Did Jesus have conversations with her, trying to prepare her for what would come? I find evidence in Scripture that probably wasn’t the case. Like I suspect most parents do, I agonize over hardships my kids endure just in “normal” life, from which I’m unable to protect them. But when I consider Mary…. Talk about strength. Talk about faith.

 Posted by at 3:32 pm
Nov 172013
 

I’m curious. I like asking questions. Encouraging others to question, think, and analyze. I want to scrutinize and attempt to understand elements of our existence: our physical world, our emotional world, our spiritual world, and how they interrelate, regardless of whether or not that interrelation is perceived or can be measured. The more I learn, the more I discover surprising connections.

For example: I’ve readily accepted what Science maintains as true regarding the Big Bang Theory of our universe’s creation. To whit: The universe was born with the Big Bang as an unimaginably hot, dense point.

A hot, dense point manifested from what? We (i.e. scientists) don’t yet know. Current supposition: it just was.

Hmmm.

When the universe was just 10-34 of a second or so old — that is, a hundredth of a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second in age — it experienced an incredible burst of expansion known as inflation, in which space itself expanded faster than the speed of light. During this period, the universe doubled in size at least 90 times, going from subatomic-sized to golf-ball-sized almost instantaneously. After inflation, the growth of the universe continued, but at a slower rate. As space expanded, the universe cooled and matter formed. One second after the Big Bang, the universe was filled with neutrons, protons, electrons, anti-electrons, photons and neutrinos.

So, let’s review. In effect, we start with nothing. According to scientific theory, not even light exists at this point. From that ‘nothing’, an unimaginably hot, dense point somehow develops. In an instant, energy explodes from it. In scientific animations I’ve seen of this event, this is always depicted as a tremendous explosion of light. (No matter at this point, right? Pure energy only.) As this energy slows and cools, matter manifests.

I happen to have recently begun an online Bible study on the Book of Genesis. Even though I’ve read the Bible through a couple of times, I’ve never participated in an actual study of it until recently. This time the opening lines of Genesis really struck me:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Huh, said I to myself. Interesting. Then I read on.

 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so.

Only after contemplating this for a bit, in an attempt to digest exactly what was being communicated, did I connect this detail with rudiments learned in fourth grade: our atmosphere, the air we breathe, behaves as and shares the same characteristics as liquid. Buoyancy, currents, temperature, flow, density, pressure, etc. are all properties inherent in both. Isn’t that intriguiging?

Now I’m scratching my head and wondering how Moses, who (according to tradition) recorded these words some six thousand years ago, would/could know anything about the scientific properties of air or water. Even a few hundred years ago, we hadn’t identified this kind of stuff, yet copies of the Bible exist that are older than this.

Is it mere coincidence? I don’t know. Could be.

I read an article where researchers claim all humans are wired for belief in the spiritual. Universally across this globe, every civilization (including those of antiquity) has developed some form of religion. Why? Evolution teaches that our biology, our physiology, and behaviors develop intrinsically as a consequence of promoting survival. What evolutionary benefit is gained from our belief in (a) power(s) greater than ourselves?

Gaaaaahhhh! So much to explore, investigate, and scrutinize!!!

I suspect I won’t find all the answers. I’ll probably raise even more questions. But my own attitude is this: belief/faith that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny is simply myth and superstition.  When I write, I hope I incite curiosity and deeper examination of belief as well as human behavior. I’m grateful for this opportunity to explore aspects of it, and to share my curiosity with you.

Wishing you and yours a profoundly happy and blessed holiday season.

Annette Francine

 

 

 Posted by at 10:31 pm
Apr 162013
 

Thank you to the fabulous and talented Shanyn Hosier for inviting me to participate in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. The blog hop serves to highlight new releases and introduce other authors. Shanyn’s genre is vastly different from mine, but the lady sure weaves some emotion-packed stories! Check it out: http://shanynhosier.com/

Anyway, the blog consists of a series of questions about the author and his or her book. Here goes:

1. What is the working title of your book?

I currently have two in progress, Through the Darkness and The Ruins. (Or From the Ruins – I’m flip-flopping on that one. What do you think?)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The concept of From the Ruins sprang from some of my own personal experiences and challenges – although not nearly as intense, nor including any threat of death, mind you. That one will be a lot more personal on some levels than my previous books. Through the Darkness developed as a result of a very bizarre and disturbing incident I had one night when awakened from sleep. Puzzling over it afterward (now, even years later) elicited other questions/puzzles I suppose I need to pursue perhaps for my own edification.  

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Both are romantic suspense with Christian elements.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm. I’m not much of a movie watcher. Although I might recognize the face of many actors, I can’t remember their names for the most part. Despite that, definitely Sandra Bullock could play the role of Alyssa in Through the Darkness. Alyssa is much like many characters Ms. Bullock has played: sassy, joke-cracking, and kick-ass when she needs to be.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One sentence? Sorry, can’t do it.

Through the Darkness: Murder. Spirits. Love & Faith. Can Alyssa’s love lead Judd through it?

From the Ruins: When everything falls apart…to the point where life is on the line. Colin’s love has proven insufficient. Can newfound faith win Deborah back? Or will either of them survive?

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I expect to self-publish both, primarily due to the difficulty placing a romantic suspense with ‘sensual’ heat level and Christian theme/elements in any particular genre or category. A little tough to market, it seems. Nonetheless, I hope readers will like my work and tell their friends.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 

Still in process and incomplete. No telling. Although I do have my spurts, I am not a fast writer.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I haven’t read anything like what I write, so can’t think of anything to which to compare them.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

While hoping I don’t come off as obscenely full of myself, I do believe that my drive/compulsion to write is prompted by God’s plan for me.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The fact that they are inspirational but also include sensual romance and what I believe are real-life challenges and situations faced by fallible Christians and those who don’t yet consider themselves Christians. Ultimately, the message is that love is profoundly and universally powerful. My hope is to encourage and hearten readers of any faith.

Jan 262013
 

KIRKUS REVIEWS – BOOK REVIEW for FROM THE SHADOWS

“A hot summer romance with Christian themes, titillating realism and a guilty conscience.

The plot doesn’t lose its steady pace after the steamy bedroom scene, since a secondary storyline emerges when Bryce and Kendall encounter danger from the drug cartel, which keeps the pages turning. Christian romance fans who don’t mind some R-rated language and a lovemaking scene will find satisfying lessons in faith.” – Kirkus Reviews

See the full review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/annette-francine/from-the-shadows-ypRoIKsf/

 Posted by at 2:56 am
Nov 122012
 

 

Review by: Shanyn Hosier on Oct. 23, 2012 :  Smashwords.com star star starstar star
Emotional powerhouse of a novel!

“Eyes of a Stranger” is a wonderful metaphysical exploration of faith, romance, and destiny. A beautifully inspiring love story is deftly woven into nail-biting suspense, mystery, and cunning plot twists. Francine’s second release shows more of her great promise, and proves “From the Shadows” was no fluke.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

 

star star starstar star 5.0 out of 5 stars Life’s journey,November 10, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: Eyes of a Stranger (Paperback)

Having always viewed life as a journey, while this is a work of romance and suspense, it also prompts thoughtful consideration of life’s anguish and joys.
Surprising in content, challenging in thought this is a significant venture through romance and all the responsibilities of the human experience.

 

 Posted by at 4:38 am
Oct 282012
 

Reviews posted on Amazon for From the Shadows. Thank you everyone for the encouraging words!

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, April 29, 2012
By
L. Baldwin – See all my reviews
This review is from: From the Shadows (Paperback)
Unique with its passion and principles, this modern day love story holds intrigue and desire to the very end. Simmering sexuality and underworld cartels combine to make this first novel a captivating narrative. Sophisticated with sizzle.

4.0 out of 5 stars A strong debut novel from Annette Francine, October 17, 2012
By
shosier – See all my reviews
This review is from: From the Shadows (Kindle Edition)
Set in quaint Key West, Florida, the “shadows” of a dark underworld of drug smuggling threaten the peaceful neighborhood of Kendall Smith. But the piratical man she suspects is responsible is not only undeniably sexy, he’s not what he seems.
Francine captures the quirkiness of life in such a distinct setting with lovely descriptions, interwoven with thrilling suspense, complex character development, and riveting sexual tension. The drama culminates in fantastic action scenes, leaving the reader breathless. Hero Bryce is a compelling concoction of tortured soul in a hot bod, while heroine, Kendall, is a believable and sympathetic good girl. Her mistakes show she is flawed, not hypocritical, and her reactions are reasonable, not holier-than-thou.
Looking forward to more from Annette Francine!

4.0 out of 5 stars From the Shadows, September 26, 2012
By
R Kramme – See all my reviews
This review is from: From the Shadows (Paperback)
This was a wonderful debut novel by Annette Francine. The characters were well thought out with layers of complexity. Their words and actions remained true to their motivations throughout the entire story. The scenery was also very believable and appropriately detailed. You felt you were in the Keys. I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot as well as the pacing. This was a good summer read and I wish the author much luck as she develops her craft with future novels.

5.0 out of 5 stars A passionate adventure – A must read!!, September 22, 2012
By
Hollianne – See all my reviews
This review is from: From the Shadows (Paperback)
This is quite a passionate adventure! I related so much to the heroine. The intensity of the passion and story never let up; I was on the edge of my seat. With each page turned I was more involved in the story. I found the writing to be exquisite with language that most writers don’t use to create vivid imagery for the audience. It was definitely a page turner for me. The writer was able to blend the world of romance and Christianity together successfully with steamy passion and morals. I loved it! A must read!

5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling love story, August 19, 2012
By
Nancy Lee – See all my reviews
This review is from: From the Shadows (Paperback)
A wonderful story of dangerous love. Francine colorfully depicts the sexual tension between the main characters. The story is gripping with unpredicatable twists and turns. The book was a great read!

5.0 out of 5 stars From the Shadows, June 18, 2012
By
Dorothy Ford – See all my reviews
This review is from: From the Shadows (Paperback)
An interesting book, with many twists and turns. Encompassing Christian values. Has many chilling chapters. I thought it was great reading.

5.0 out of 5 stars Room for a sequel (I hope), May 28, 2012
By
Donna Raymond (Arizona) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
This review is from: From the Shadows (Paperback)
Loved this book! It had been a long time since I have read a ‘real’ romance novel and it was refreshing to experience a ‘grown-up’ story, one that didn’t involve vampires, damsels in distress (well…) or the unrealistic naiveté of the heroine. I appreciated the credible description of the setting and found myself relaxing in the low-key vibe of the island. I would not have minded if the characters had to each work just a little harder to win each other over, but that is irrelevant when countered with the impressive way their longing was expressed and cleverly sustained.
I was especially happy with the ending. While it was anticipated (it is a romance novel after all) it guarantees nothing, leaving this story open for perhaps a sequel… Or two. I hope.

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, May 24, 2012
By
Linda Meisling – See all my reviews
This review is from: From the Shadows (Paperback)
Loved it. Couldn’t put it down. Wonderful mixture of romance, intrigue and admirable morale character. When’s the next one coming out? Recommending to my friends.

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, April 29, 2012
By
kr – See all my reviews
This review is from: From the Shadows (Paperback)
Great book. Read it twice! I loved the romantic tension mixed with the action. My heart raced a few times!!! Every girls fantasy to take the bad boy and turn him around.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars Romance With Soul Satisfaction, April 25, 2012
By
Jeanne – See all my reviews
This review is from: From the Shadows (Paperback)
Annette Francine creates a story that keeps you wanting more.The romance is hot, but also sparks inner reflection. I recognized parts of myself in her characters. A good read!

By NJ Guy
I read this at the request of a friend. I’ve never read a book quite like it before (i.e. ‘Romance’) so I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing when authoring this review. Since I wasn’t certain where the book was going to end up even halfway through it, I thought that was very good for a work of fiction. I was very surprised and enjoyed the plot twist. I knew that somehow the man and woman would end up together in the end, but was baffled how the main female character would manage to “right the ship” with the male character. The author did a nice job of including many small details throughout the book, “painting a picture” throughout. I could visualize quite easily in my mind the inside of the house, on the boat, locations, settings, etc., so that is probably my strongest accolade overall and one that is very important to me in fiction writing. All in all, an interesting and good read. It was definitely worth the time I spent reading it and that’s the best thing I can say about any book.

 Posted by at 5:58 pm
Aug 192012
 

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book? I have 2 in process: The Ruins and Through the Darkness

Where did the idea come from for the book? Frankly, I have no idea. Scenes and characters spring to mind, seemingly out of nowhere. Many times they pester me until I get them recorded somewhere.

What genre does your book fall under? Romantic Suspense interwoven with Inspirational

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Depends on which book is under consideration. With that said, Meryl Streep seems to me to transform herself with every character she portrays. Perhaps a much younger male & female version of her?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Me? ONE sentence? Oh, that’s funny. Here’s the best I can do. The Ruins: When everything falls apart…to the point where life is on the line. Colin’s love has proven insufficient. Can newfound faith win Deborah back? Or will either of them survive? Through the Darkness: Murder. Spirits. Love & Faith. Can Alyssa’s love lead Judd through it?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Probably going to self-publish

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Unfortunately, years. Working on a few books simultaneously

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I haven’t read anything like what I write, so can’t think of anything to which to compare them.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? While hoping that I don’t come off as obscenely full of myself, I do believe that my drive to write is prompted by God’s plan for me.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The fact that they are inspirational but also include sensual romance and what I believe are real-life challenges and situations faced by fallible Christians and those who don’t yet consider themselves Christians.

 Posted by at 3:23 am
Apr 212012
 

To promote my novel, From the Shadows, I’m giving away free e-book copies through Smashwords.com until July 29, 2012. Smashwords provides multiple versions for download, so you don’t have to own a Kindle or Nook. You can still read by downloading a pdf version, html or rtf version. You can also ‘sample’ up to 20% of the book without committing to downloading or purchasing.

Go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/143332
Prior to check-out, enter code WW44H (not case-sensitive). You’ll see a 100% discount reflected.

After reading the book, I would be grateful if you’d post an honest review at Smashwords and Amazon for me. You may be honest. Hopefully you’ll really, really like it and encourage others to purchase it, or you can protect the innocent from undue trauma. (A worthy endeavor) As a new author, it is difficult to make potential readers aware that my work is out there. So, if you find my work worthy, all the help you might be willing to lend (telling friends, posting reviews, sharing it in book clubs, posting on Facebook and Twitter) is sincerely appreciated. Either way, thank you and God bless you and yours.

 Posted by at 6:13 pm
Apr 012012
 

Hello World. Welcome to Annette Francine’s blog and thank you for visiting.

I’ll start by saying that I don’t consider myself particularly brilliant, wise, remarkable or interesting, so I feel pretty silly and uncomfortable posting a ‘blog’. But, I’m told by my friends and associates in the business that this is what an author must do to market his/her wares. I don’t know how often I’ll be posting updates (my life is just not that interesting), but feel free to check back whenever you please.

My philosophy: try to be a decent human being, and try to leave this world in better shape than I found it. You may find that a recurring theme in my stories.

I live in the metropolitan Phoenix area. After writing romantic suspense intended for traditional publishers, but discovering that I could not suppress the Christian themes and understories that persisted in my books, I fully subjected myself to my muse; resulting in the novels you see listed here.

While I truly hope that my readers find my stories both encouraging and uplifting, my characters do not always portray and should not be expected to reflect good examples of Christian behavior nor my personal attitudes. My stories do include explicit language and sexual content, which may offend ‘conservative’ Christians–although that is not my intention.

It’s important to me to help others and improve the circumstances of those in need. At least half of the proceeds from my novels are donated to Care, St Mary’s Food Bank, and the Wounded Warriors Project. If you did not purchase my book(s), or have it/them purchased for you as a gift, please consider donating the equivalent funds to a reputable humanitarian charity. (This does not mean I’m giving you permission to pirate my work, though. All my work is copyrighted, so please obey the law.)

So, thank you again for your interest. Please feel free to send a comment. If you have a criticism to share, I promise to fully consider it and thank you for taking the time to write. God bless and guide you.