COTT: Truth Be Told by Justine Johnston Hemmestad

Posted by Julie on August 21, 2016 in encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |




Justine Johnston Hemmestad

In 1990 my car was broadsided by a speeding city bus as I turned out of
a parking lot – I was in a coma and had sustained a severe brain injury.
I was paralyzed when I woke up from my coma, though I worked hard to
walk again within a few months, and to relearn how to perform the basic
functions of life.

I began to write when I was carrying my first child Megan, less than two
years after my accident, as tool or a way to cope with feeling so alone
in my disability and misunderstood. Writing, throughout the darkest part
of my recovery—when everyone looked down on me and I had no one to talk
to or relate with me—helped me to get my thoughts in focus, to learn new
things, and to remember what was important to me. I felt bullied, my
thoughts and perception were skewed, and I felt emotionally alone,
isolated by my personal lacking (my speech was slurred; my reactions
were slow, etc.).

But writing was my Savior. When I was so afraid and so filled with guilt
for being disabled, writing offered me a safe and comforting place to
go, where I could cry and feel loved. Writing was my confidante and gave
me hope when the world was crushing me. Writing even helped me find out
who I was, since everything about “me” seemed to have melted away with
my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Writing helped me find my words to
speak again. Writing was my purpose, and writing was my healing.


My novella, Truth be Told, is essentially the story of my
recovery wrapped up in fictional characters in a different time and
place. Everything is symbolic in my novella because symbolism itself
taught me how to travel deep inside my thoughts and search until I found
the answers. Symbolism aided my memory by the weight of its meaning.

The old man in my novella is symbolic of God, prayer, love of my
children, and the inner truth I found when I dug deep, the challenges
that stretched my mind and that I knew I had to face when I wanted to
give up on life completely.

The Lady is the aspect of my recovery in which I felt lost, even to
myself—I didn’t know who I was—but in prayer and meditation I learned to
focus my mind, calm my thoughts (which were drowning in the guilt I felt
for being disabled) and listen to God’s answer…what defines me?

The knight is the aspect of my recovery that was assaulted by PTSD. Not
only was I recovering, but I was recovering amidst a torrent of fear,
pain, and false persecution. He represents the survivor’s guilt I had
for living as brain-injured, and the part of myself that felt I deserved
the lies that people told about me simply because it was easy to lie
about me. I illuminated my purpose— the purpose that any recovering
person needs to be able to climb out of the darkness—symbolically as
Jesus. When people lied about me, writing defended me and made the truth
immortal. My purpose, as writing, was the well within me; writing saved
me and gave me direction in life (even when I no longer had any sense of
direction due to my TBI). There were people who tried to point me in the
wrong direction, but my prayer, and written prayer, was always brimming
with truth.

My purpose in writing raised me out of the darkness and set me on a new
path. As my characters in Truth be Told founded one of the first
Universities in Europe, my purpose led me to enter into college, to
study tirelessly, and to set goals and reach them. For a person with a
TBI, these things stretched my mind to the breaking point. And yet my
savior, writing, was always there, so much that my purpose and my goals
became intertwined. Every class I’ve had brought me new challenges;
every professor’s pushing has helped me more than they were ever aware.

My husband and I now have seven children and I’m still writing, for both
have truly been essential to my recovery. I’ve also earned a BLS through
The University of Iowa and am now working toward a Master’s Degree in
Literature through Northern Arizona University. I’m grateful to have
written a book that I felt so strongly, all along, could be of help to
survivors, for them to recognize themselves in the characters and to
know that they’re not alone. I would have recognized myself in this
story and it would have given me hope. My mission now is to give other
survivors hope.

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Why is Loneliness So Hard to Talk About by Cherie Burbach

Posted by Julie on September 24, 2015 in encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Why Is Loneliness So Hard to Talk About?


In writing about relationships for over a decade now I’ve noticed a few things that continually stand out: people wanting more friends in their life, people wanting to understand what makes that friend of theirs tick, and people trying not to look too desperate for friends.

I think all of these things are related and pretty universal. People want friends but they are afraid to be too vocal about it. They have a hard time admitting that sometimes (or more than sometimes) they’re lonely. That’s a shame, because I think people who understand what’s missing in their life and have a desire to change it are brave and should be applauded. But we don’t usually do that as a society.

I have a lot of great friends in my life but at one point I went through a period of time when I was very lonely. My husband traveled for work, some of my closest friends moved, and suddenly I just found myself without the particular types of friendships I most desired. And that’s the key with loneliness. It isn’t necessarily about having lots of friends, it’s about having the close connection you crave.

I write about relationships and I’m pretty comfortable admitting things, so I told a family member that I was struggling with loneliness. And you know what she did? Snorted some snotty response about how she wished she had time for loneliness! She was too busy to be lonely!

I was busy, too. Being lonely doesn’t mean you don’t have enough to do. And that’s when it hit me, that there are people who experience loneliness and aren’t as comfortable talking about it as I am, and this is the type of response we (their closest friends and family) give them. Some snarky response that is meant to make them feel worse than they already do.

So when I wrote this book, I wanted it to be for people who might just want a few new friends (maybe the ones you have just aren’t giving you the types of connection you want right now) or those that need to meet a few people. Maybe they are feeling lonely right now. Maybe they just aren’t totally happy with the state of their relationships right now.

100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends is a handbook of sorts, with “meeting people” tips interspersed with “nurturing your friendship” type tips. It’s a book you can go back to occasionally or one you can read right through and try out the various suggestions as you absorb them. Friendships are fluid and even when you have long time friends that have been in your life forever, you might still need a few more who get you. It’s as simple as that.

In 1 Peter 5:7 we read “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I want people to know they are never alone, even in the dark, lonely times. Even when the rest of the people in your life don’t get where you’re coming from. He is always there keeping us company and encouraging us. He puts the right people and situations in front of us to help us through.


51xZ3DOlc5L _SX331_BO1204203200__editedBook Description:

The more friends you have, the more you’ll have the right people in your life to give you the support and connection you desire. Having more friends means you’ll consistently connect with new people and also keep the good friends you already have. If your friendships don’t seem to stick, you’ll be making friends and losing them quickly. The key to having more friends is increasing the number of people you meet on a regular basis and holding on to the great pals you already have.


This book contains one hundred suggestions on how to make new friends and also strengthen the friendships you already have. The tips are varied, with suggestions on how to meet new people interspersed with ideas for nurturing your new and existing friendships. To purchase, click here.


11008411_768246289939617_586882471659681771_n_editedAuthor Bio:

Cherie Burbach is a poet, mixed media artist, and freelance writer. She’s penned 17 books and has written for About.com, NBC/Universal, Match.com, Christianity Today, and more. Whether it’s writing articles or creating art, all of Cherie’s work centers on relationships and faith. She includes book pages, music sheets, and other fabulous random things in her art to create something that celebrates a hopeful message. Visit her website for more info, cherieburbach.com.





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Attention Readers…

Posted by Julie on August 6, 2015 in About Me, Book Review, encouragement, Julie Arduini |

One of my favorite parts of being an author is connecting with readers. I consider myself a reader first so it’s fun to chat and relate with others.

That’s why I’m excited to announce that the authors from Write Integrity Press and Pix n Pens now have a group page on Goodreads!

Poem still life with books and pink tulips

Poem still life with books and pink tulips

We’re just getting started but go on over and join the group. We have a bunch of questions that we look forward to answering with you. From romance to suspense and everything in between, we think you’ll have fun sharing your thoughts.

You’ll also get to meet the team of authors that are like family. I love that we are FOR each other and not in competition. These are great ladies so don’t be shy. Get to know us!

To join Books for Life group page, click HERE.

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Book Review: Arab Spring, Christian Winter by Ralph Stice

Posted by Julie on February 27, 2015 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

91tvIgcl2yL._SL1500_Book Description

Arab Spring, Christian Winter will help you tie newspaper headlines to your scriptural knowledge of the Last Days. Ralph Stice draws a clear link between the Arab Spring and the rise of a worldwide power that appears to be ushering in the coming Antichrist.

This book will also show you what you need to watch for in tomorrow’s news and guide you on how to fortify your faith for stormy days ahead. The Western Church has much to learn from Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Familiar Scripture passages are unfolding with new clarity to believers everywhere.

• Why the Arab Spring had to happen to fulfill scriptural prophecy
• How the Arab Spring led to the unleashing of pure Islam
• Which nation could be the crucial link between East and West and produce an Antichrist figure
• The responses of Middle Eastern Christians to intense persecution and what we Western believers can learn from them

Fear not! He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We will discover Jesus in a fresh way when we face true persecution. How will your faith withstand the great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:21)? Brothers and sisters in Christ are facing this reality every day, right now.

I can’t think of a book more timely to read than Arab Spring, Christian Winter. The author explains events that took place in the Middle East that started “Arab Spring.” Since then there have been uprisings and tensions reverberating across the globe that have ties to these events.

The author gives a comprehensive look at life in these countries and the current state of things. Although I found a lot to be more opinion than Biblical fact or proof, the author is sounding a warning bell we all need to heed. He wrote this last summer, long before our headlines were dominated by the word, “ISIS.” Opinion or not, he’s right to be aware and want us to be, too.

Although there is a lot to be concerned about as the reader turns the pages, the author doesn’t lose sight of Scripture. Jesus is the victor here in a war that’s already been won. I don’t think the intention is for anyone to be afraid, but to take our country, our world, and God’s people to prayer, and for the utter defeat with those who plot for our destruction.

I recommend you read Arab Spring, Christian Winter.

To purchase Arab Spring, Christian Winter, click here.

I received a copy of Arab Spring, Christian Winter in exchange for an honest review.


Did you know I have my own book available? Entrusted is my contemporary romance about surrendering fear, loss and change. Read all about it and find out how to purchase it here.

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Introducing Imaginate

Posted by Julie on January 15, 2015 in Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |

Imagine blog banner med

Write Integrity Press has a new venture and you’re invited to check it out!

Write Integrity Press is launching a digital magazine!

IMAGINATE is a creative space where imaginations thrive. The quarterly magazine will feature articles on the craft of writing for novelists, screenwriters, and nonfiction writers, but it will also include short stories, flash fiction, poetry, photography, nonfiction articles, book and movie reviews, and special features.
Our premiere issue releases June 1, 2015. We are currently seeking submissions – you’ll find our guidelines and deadlines on the IMAGINATE website. We are a pay-on-acceptance market.

We are also currently accepting advertisements – our rate card is on the website.

(this information is from Write Integrity Press)

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Julie Arduini’s Favorite Reviewed Non Fiction Book 2014

Posted by Julie on December 30, 2014 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Each year I enjoy looking back at the books I’ve reviewed and choosing my favorites. I choose a fiction and non fiction book that I’ve reviewed plus a Kindle or paperback read I enjoyed as a reader that I was under no obligation to review.

Today is non fiction.

The book I chose took a contemporary look at God’s Word and I was mesmerized the entire time. I’m always looking for fresh ways to be challenged without watering down God’s Word and this book not only delivered, the entire series this year has.

What book?

What series?

Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel.51XKiJ0A8CL._UY250_

The inScribed series.

Book Description:

Most people have prayed for something or someone in earnest, seeking God’s will, only to be left confused by God’s response. Sometimes we ask, “Why would a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” In Amazed and Confused, Heather Zempel tackles this question head-on by exploring the book of Habakkuk.

When the prophet Habakkuk prayed that God would bring change to the backsliding nation of Israel, this issue came to the forefront. Habakkuk begged God for revival and that He would turn the hearts of faithless people back to Him.

God’s answer to Habakkuk was, “Take a look at the nations and watch what happens! You will be shocked and amazed” (1:5, The Voice). The vision God gave Habakkuk was one of warfare and exile. How do you respond when God answers your prayers in a way that seems out of line with his character and promises?

Amazed and Confused proceeds systematically through the book of Habakkuk, exploring the prophet’s prayer, God’s response, and the prophet’s journey from confusion to worship. This interactive Bible study is the perfect choice for those who are hurting and confused about God’s responses to their prayers.

Features include:

  • Helpful guidance on a question without an easy answer

  • Practical tools for studying the Minor Prophets

  • Easy-to-understand, accessible language

This is just one of many Bible studies in the series. I’ve also enjoyed Living So That and Dive Deeper.

To purchase Amazed and Confused, click here.

To learn more about inScribed Bible studies, click here.

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