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Blog #1 — Is My Writing Acceptable to God?

Most of us who claim to be writers experience a rollercoaster of emotions regarding our calling. These vary from “who am I kidding?” to “this is pretty good stuff, if I do say so myself.”

That’s to be expected. We work in a field that is continually evolving, where we must constantly assert ourselves (and most of us are non-assertive introvert types to begin with) in order to succeed.

I recently read a post on Novel Rocket by Violet Nesdoly that speaks to this articulately. What I took from this post is that writing is an acceptable service to God, that fiction is an acceptable perspective of looking at the world, that we as fiction writers can and do influence our world for good and for God. (Forgive me, Violet, if I’ve misinterpreted your words, but this was my impression.)

Whether we write Christian fiction or not, we write from a Christian worldview. I pray that our words will give hope to a world in dire need of it.

So let’s be thankful for a calling that allows us to be our creative selves and to express our hearts in story form. Let’s trust that the words we hammer out, or the ones that slide more easily onto the page, can be used by the Lord in reaching people for him, in inspiring readers. And let’s continue to do our best in this chosen vocation and let God direct our words to those who need it most.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…”

Colossians 3:23

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love O Lord endures forever…”

Psalm 138:8

 

Let’s talk about writing. Not just about the craft, but also about the life. This is a sharing blog, so I hope you’ll feel free to participate by commenting.

Whenever I teach basic writing workshops, one of my top suggestions is:

EVERY WRITER SHOULD READ…WIDELY

So…

  1. What do you read?
  2. Why do you read what you do; what draws you to that genre / author?
  3. What’s the most recent book you’ve read and what made it good / bad / great?
  4. What’s your favorite book / author from the past year or two?
  5. What reading format(s) do you prefer and why?

I’ll answer from my perspective and you can chime in too. It’s always fun to compare, consider and learn…

my library photoI read all the time.

 

I’m what you might call a chain-reader, a story addict.

 

 

  1. I read mostly fiction because I’m a story person, but I also read non-fiction to learn more about my craft and especially, these days, about indie publishing. I especially like cozy mysteries and historical novels, but I’m also a sucker for the occasional romance read, as long as there’s more to it than the romance. I read genre fiction as opposed to literary fiction because it makes more sense to me. Some of my reasons for reading are:

– to be entertained

– to lose myself in another world

– to learn about people and places

Genre fiction does this for me.

  1. I think I read mysteries for the game: trying to figure out what will happen and why people do the things they do. The cozy part is because I don’t like to read much violence. I appreciate historical novels because that’s what I write, mostly, and I love to imagine and learn how people lived in various times and places.
  2. I am currently reading a book called The Woods at Barlow Bend, by Jodie Cain Smith. 511kJW203hL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU15_It’s quite good for the following reasons:

– the storyline is unpredictable

– the point of view character is a fourteen year old girl who doesn’t understand her world

– tension is heightened when her father is accused of murdering her mother

This is neither a historical nor cozy, but I downloaded it for free from Bookbub (there’s a great site for readers) and it has me hooked.
NOTE: If you decide to read this book, I’d love to talk to you about the ending.

  1. One of my favorite authors in the past few years is Kate Morton. UnknownI love her long stories that peel away secrets and meanings like the layers of an onion. They deal with many issues, about how people respond and react to life’s events, about bad decisions and redemption…or not. The stories are all-consuming, and the mood of the piece runs all the way through each book.

I also love the quiet stories of Botswana told by Alexander McCall Smith through the eyes of Mma Ramotswe, proprietor of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. 512Z4QefB4L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU15_
They are simple and calming.

  1. I prefer print books when I’m sitting comfortably on the couch with good lighting, but if I’m awake at night, or at the hairdressers’, I always have stories on my iPhone. I also listen to audiobooks while I’m doing housework or cooking, and these are often Anne Perry’s Victorian mysteries.

What about you? What do you like to read?

 

 

 

 

51rZl2XpoxL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU15_A Traveler’s Advisory is a collection of fifty-two warm and encouraging anecdotes with spiritual messages and faith-based applications, one for each week of the year.

In this collection of devotional stories, Marcia shares some of the fascinating lessons she has learned over the course of her life, which has included many travels to places as diverse as the Yukon and Papua New Guinea. She records the vignettes in a simple, easy-to-understand manner so the reader can identify with the thoughts and feelings, the sights and sounds of the author’s experience.

The stories are divided into chapters with common themes:

* Chapter One: In the Air

* Chapter Two: On the Road

* Chapter Three: On Vacation

* Chapter Four: Faraway Places

The topics in this delightful book touch on God’s care, awareness of God’s daily gifts, Jesus as our source of joy, preparation for eternity, realization of who is in control of our lives, exposing our sin to the light of God’s forgiveness, and true security that is found only in God, to name a few.

For consistency, the book follows a simple format: first a story from Marcia’s cache, then a spiritual application, followed by relevant passages of Scripture to affirm her message.

The only thing I might wish for is a brief Table of Contents for chapter and story titles.

A Traveler’s Advisory is available in both digital and print copy. I would recommend it to any reader of any age, at any spiritual stage, and it would be an excellent gift.

Check out Marcia’s website for other books.

 

 

 

 

My Indie Adventure

“The time has come,” the Writer said,

“To learn of many things:

Of logos—and covers—and marketing plans—

For Indie Publishing.”

(with apologies to Lewis Carroll fans everywhere)

I’ve been thinking about independent publishing for months, perhaps years, but have so far been unable to move beyond the thought stage. How can I stop “getting ready to get ready” and forge ahead? What’s stopping me?phone call

Fear.

Fear of missing something.

Where do I begin this journey? What must be in place before I start? What if I miss an important step? I’m an organized thinker, so I need all my ducks in a row before I begin. What if I cut the ties to traditional publishing and am left hanging?

Reminder: So what if I am left hanging? I can pick myself up and start again. I have many writer friends who have been generously helpful in the past and would no doubt provide encouragement.

Fear of not understanding the process.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to indie: thorough editing, cover design, ISBN procurement, formatting for every device in existence, uploading, permissions. The list is endless.

Reminder: I was blessed to attend the Fall Conference of InScribe Christian Writers Fellowship in Edmonton last September, and took a workshop by Bryan Norford on Independent Publishing. Bryan and his wife are both almost twenty years older than I am, and they are putting out books on CreateSpace all the time. I came away with the encouragement that if they can learn it, so can I, even if I’m not quite as sharp as they are.

Fear of disappointing my readers.

What if I don’t get my books out as soon as people expect them? What if they don’t sell as well as I hoped? What if my digital copy has blips?

Reminder: I’m in this writing business because I believe God has led me here. There will be times I learn from my mistakes—just like many others do—but nothing can keep me from doing a better job next time.

Fear of disappointing God.

This is the only issue that should really concern me. I can learn the ropes. I can ask for help. I can research. I can start again. The only way I will disappoint God is by not trying at all, letting fear paralyze me.

So on with the show. I’ve downloaded plenty of how-to books, I have my notes from Bryan’s workshop, I have indie friends, and the world is open before me. Let the games begin!

As I heard on a radio talk show recently, some of us suffer from “the paralysis of analysis,” and I plan to break the pattern. So I’ll see you back here next second-Tuesday—February 9—to let you know what’s happening.

 

 

I love a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to improve, to avoid pitfalls from the past, to review and make new plans.

This past year (2015) I’ve poured a lot of my time and energy into writing weekly blogs on my website in an attempt to connect and gradually grow a following. Writing blogs was never something I thought I’d pursue. I’m a fiction writer. But surprise, surprise! I love it.

I’ve created four columns a month, one every Tuesday (and a random blog on each fifth Tuesday). The regular crafting of a meaningful bit of communication has proven an excellent discipline as well as an opportunity to practice my writing skills and become more comfortable with my voice and purpose.

Looking Back

Looking Back

 

As I look back, the blogs have been fun and challenging. You know how it goes, you always learn more by preparing than by partaking. According to comments, these blogs have been beneficial to readers as well.

 

NOTE: If you appreciate a blog or other online article, let the writer know. Leave a brief comment, or if you’re set up to do so, tweet or share on various social media. It means a lot to the writer and can expand their readership. We need to help each other on this journey.

Looking forward

Looking forward

Looking ahead, I’m tweaking my column themes for freshness and variety in this new year. I’ve had to evaluate my use of time in order that the blogs don’t take over all my writing time, leaving nothing for my novels.

Speaking of which, I have three novels going out of print, so I need to decide how to re-release them. Then there’s the sequel edit languishing in my WIP folder, waiting for attention, and the contemporary cozy still longing for readers.

Looking back is essential. As a historical author, I do this all the time. But looking ahead is also important as it keeps us on track. Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

I wish for each of you a time to re-evaluate your 2015 writing path, and to formulate plans to reach your goals for 2016. God’s blessings to you as you move forward with confidence.

“He who called you is faithful, who also will do it” I Thess. 5:24 (NKJV).

CHRISTMAS THANKSGIVING

Christmas is certainly a time of year to give thanks. There are so many things that come to mind I’m almost overwhelmed. So I’ll begin with one and see where it takes me.

file9801290978539I’m thankful first and foremost for Jesus, who is the Christ in “Christ”mas, as well as my Lord.

I’m thankful for my family and friends, with whom I can celebrate the birth of the King.

 

 

I’m thankful for the music of the season, both what I listen to and what I enjoy singing as a member of our community choir.

St. Peter's Chorus

St. Peter’s Chorus

I’m thankful for a warm home, because in my corner of the world, Christmas can be a cold time of year.

I’m thankful for snow that covers up the deadness of autumn’s end.file0001150364158

I’m thankful for a break in the middle of winter.

I’m thankful that we’re looking at a new chapter of life in the next month, a fresh start, a new calendar year.

I’m thankful that I can write these things, not only for your sake, but as a reminder to myself about how blessed I am.

I’m thankful for the memory of my dad, who, although he’s been gone for twenty-one Christmases (he passed away December 10, 1994), will be remembered with love and fondness throughout the year but especially at this time.

I hope you have all enjoyed a blessed Christmas season and I wish you a joyous and exciting new year.

 

51KuzNt3LSL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate

Whitney Monroe has moved from setting up high-end restaurants around the globe to settling closer to home, opening a couple of eating places in partnership with her cousin. It seemed like a winning situation at the outset, but she failed to do her homework. There are people who don’t appreciate the competition, and they are conspiring against her.

To complicate matters, Whitney receives a call from a stranger on North Carolina’s Outer Banks—specifically the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island. It’s the place she and her mother used to visit every summer when Whitney was a child, after her father’s untimely death, before her mother married Clyde, the jerk, and then died of cancer without telling Whitney how sick she was. The caller says Whitney’s stepfather needs care. Will she neglect her troubled restaurants to take care of a man who dislikes her as much as she does him?

When Whitney shows up at the rickety Excelsior Hotel, she is greeted by distrust. If she sells the hotel, she may be able to save her restaurants, but she will also destroy the dreams of local business owners, Mark Strahan in particular.

As she sorts through the mess left at the Excelsior, Whitney discovers family letters and treasures no one is aware of, and she is faced with an entirely new perspective of who she is and how her life has been influenced by the past.

Will Whitney learn to understand her mother’s unexplained decisions? Will she risk trusting Mark? Will she allow herself to trust the One who loves her more than life itself?

Lisa Wingate has once again created a gripping tale that connects the past and the present, fiction and fact. She bases her imaginative story on formerly unknown facts collected by the Federal Writers’ Project during the Great Depression. This fascinating premise is the foundation of a strong story of love and trust, of mistakes and misunderstandings, of selfless decisions and newfound faith.

 

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