I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Are You Called to Write?

by Lisa Jordan

Are you called to write? 

How do you know?

What are you doing to make that dream become a reality?

Last year, when several friends received their score sheets for the Genesis writing contest through ACFW, discouragement dealt a stinging blow to their egos and their dreams, causing some to question if they are truly called to write.
I've been there, so I know how they felt. However, if they truly want to write, they won't let subjective scores determine the future of their dreams.
Writing is hard.
Currently I'm working on revisions for the fourth novel in my series, which hasn't been an easy book to write. I had to go back to the beginning and rethink the overall plot. Thanks to great writing pals, I have the revised focus I need to move forward. 
I admit to giving in to a self-defeating attitude. Why did I think I could write? Did I mention this writing business is hard? Well, if writing was easy, there would be so many more published authors.
James 1 is a great chapter to encourage those who question the call and consider giving up their dreams of writing.
Verses 1-4 NIV state: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So how to we get through these writing challenges? Well, verses 5 & 6 provide the answers:
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
If you are questioning your call to write, ask yourself why. Is it because of low contest scores? Is it because of the growing stack of rejections from agents and editors? Is it because of your circumstances?
Let me ask you this--do you WANT to write?

If the answer is yes, then ask God for help. If you don't ask, you can't expect to get anywhere. God can read minds, but he wants us to come to him with full assurance of faith that he will answer our prayers. That's not to say you're going to be on the NY Times bestseller list overnight. But if you desire to write, ask God to provide you with the opportunity. Also, keep in mind that God could tell you it's not the right timing for your dream.
Five years ago, I worked full-time (50 hours a week) in my home-based business, attended college to achieve my degree for my business and tried to write while working, going to school, teaching Sunday school, and caring for my family.

Challenging is an understatement.

God directed me to give up writing for six months--do not open my manuscripts, do not worry about my characters. I don't remember, but I don't think I did much blogging either. It was a struggle, but I gave up writing for six months.
The rewards for my faith in Him and my obedience were so much greater. The 2009 Genesis contest opened for entries. I prayerfully considered entering, but wasn't sure if the timing was right. I entered my manuscript at the last minute. About six weeks later, I received a phone call that my entry had finaled in the contemporary romance category. My first utterances were "thank you, Lord" because He deserved the credit.

Your Turn: Are you struggling with your call to write? How are you dealing with it?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Writing Tips From Unexpected Places

I like to take life tips or quotes from famous folks who weren’t talking about writing and twist them a bit to come up with some great writing tips.

For instance, Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax.” This might send you to study the elements of our language as well as writing advice from the professionals.

Lincoln also said, “Things may come to those who wait...but only the things left by those who hustle.” So make both your protagonist and antagonist hustle after the things they want. (Or apply it to yourself and keep writing!)

Sir Issac Newton once said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” How can we apply this to writing? Give your character someone who looks up to him or someone he looks up to—then let that very fact lead the character into trouble. 

Newton also said, “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.” So what unexpected mad reactions could your character have? Instead of the normal reactions of being incensed by something, let him embrace it--to his doom, of course.

Or take one of Newton's most famous quotes, “To every action there is always an opposed and equal reaction.” Let your characters react to one another with opposition. None of them, protagonist or antagonist, should be without strong reactions.

Or you could take this piece of advice from Benjamin Disraeli: “Nurture your minds with great thought. To believe in the heroic makes heroes." So give your heroine a great goal with a noble purpose and send her on her way to obtain it, but don't forget to make it extremely difficult!

Here's a tip from Blaise Pascal, "All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone." Now that's a great way to torture your hero!

Even the basketball great, Michael Jordan can help. He said, "I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot…when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result." Perhaps your heroine is like this…to her destruction.

Have you ever applied advice from someone great outside the writing field to your writing? Let's us in on the secret!

--Teri Smith

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kintsukuroi - More beautiful for having been broken

Delores E. Topliff

Thank you, Pinterest, for this image and definition with a beauty that resonates.

Biblical Jacob knew this experience after wrestling with God and being broken, limping, to receive a new name as Israel, a prince having power with Godfar more effective.

Thirty years ago I was a capable, committed professional mom determined to work hard enough to make things happen for my children and me, until a genetic heart problem dropped my pulse to 16 and I had to have help--a dual-chamber pacemaker, invented only three years before and available only in first-world countries. Grateful? Yes. And I learned it’s okay not to be fully independent, instead to be more readily able to accept relational help, and network. Broken? Yes, but better.

What about you? Whether you’ve experienced physical, emotional, or mental testing enough to briefly make us psychoceramics, (cracked pots), we learn and benefit from lasting lessons. Most are important enough to pass along, or feature in our writings.

God is a master artist who redeems every circumstance. What shattering or breaking experience resulting in repair with gold or silver will you share that has made life far more beautiful and effective than before?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

You Might Be a Reader if...

I always like reading things like You might be a redneck if…And that got me to thinking. I came up with this one:

You might be a reader if…

  • You let the biscuits burn because you have to read one more page…
  • You stay up until 2 am to read and see who did it…
  • You spend more for books than you do clothes…
  • Your house goes undusted while you read one more chapter…
  • You tell your child yes, you can have the chocolate cookies so he will leave you alone and let you finish the book…
  • You only have five friends and their names are Scarlett, Rhett, Melanie, Katniss, or Harry.
  • If your parents punished you when you were a child by taking your books away.
  • You go to the grocery store for milk and come home with another book.
  • The library or local bookstore (or both) are on speed dial.
  • Your TBR stack is taller than your son or daughter.
  • You name your children after your favorite hero or heroine.

Now it's your turn. What are some ways you know you are a reader?

Patricia Bradley

Shadows of the Past from Revell February 2014 
Available at CBD: http://ow.ly/qIx2k and Amazon: http://ow.ly/qIx90 and B&N: http://ow.ly/qKdSL

I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hurdling the Fences in our Way

While I was wondering what to blog about, I was perusing through several videos online, when I stumbled onto this one.  It’s a story of one Elk in a herd of a couple of hundred.  All the others had jumped the fence following the alpha Male across the road and beyond. Here’s the link, if you are interested: http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/nature/post/elk-attempts-to-jump-fence-follow-massive-herd-but-fails-miserably/
The small elk pushed and shoved at the fence, determined to get back with the herd. That is until a car drives by and scares him away from the edge of the fence.  Only then did he see the fence for what it was, just another hurdle to jump over.
How many times have we, stumbled, gotten back up, then stumbled again? We’re determined to plow through our problems, push over the obstacle in our way?  Maybe this one time, we need to step back and examine the problem for what it really is.  We need to look at it through a different lens, if you will.  Then instead of trying to fix it ourselves, turn it over to our God, the One who can solve all our problems.

He promises that he will never leave us or forsake us, even in the darkest valleys or standing by the fences that block our path.  Sometimes the answer will not be what we want, but God has our best interest at heart—all the time.




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Writing—a non-solitary activity

Delores E. Topliff

Have you heard of Helen Palmer, author of children’s beginner book, A Fish Out of Water? If not, it may be because she was the wife of children’s author, Dr. Seuss, who’s fame greatly outshined her. Palmer’s story is about a boy and his fish, Otto. After buying the fish, the pet store owner warns the boy: “Never feed him a lot. Never more than a spot! Or something may happen. You never know what.” (Do you see familiar influence here? Can you imagine their household conversations?)

The boy brings his fish home and decides that he knows better than the pet store owner so feeds the fish the whole box of fish food. The rest of the story illustrates what happens if little boys don’t listen. Eventually, the situation is solved, but the pet store owner again warns the boy never to feed Otto too much. This time, the boy listens.

Writing is no solitary activity. We are influenced, encouraged, and at the very least tolerated, by friends and family members. Some understand us more than others, but their input balances and calms us, sometimes even helping untangle plot or character problems as complicated as the Gordian knot. The solution may even be the sameusing an editorial sword as effective as Alexander the Great’s to slash through the dreaded knot.

In turn, our verbal and written life responses influence family and friends. After observing wrong, my older son once whipped out a pen and wrote a first quite good poem on the back of an envelope. When our friends read, they thought he had copied one of my published poems. It bore similarities, we’re cut from similar cloth, but was his original. They encouraged him to write more. As exercise and polish skill, our relatives and friends usually gain greater communication freedom, too.

John Donne wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself…” That's also true of the writing community. Our life connections influence each other, going far. In fact, going so far, we can’t see where they stop because like the proverbial pebble dropping into a pond, the resulting ripples travel outward forever.

What about you? Describe a valued life connection that has blessed your life and communication. Tell them so. Also, April 1st is always a fun day for me. Enjoy yours.