Writing Books

 

I like reference books. When I buy a writers’ book, I often begin working the examples. One of James Scott Bell’s pieces of advice suggested to read through the book once and highlight what grabs you. Then, read through it again and underline the thoughts that really stand out in red. I’ve done that. I began with his book, Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish.

 Front Cover

It was copyrighted in 2004, and published by Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio. The photo is from: https://books.google.com/books/about/Write_Great_Fiction_Plot_Structure.html?id=0arFsgEACAAJ&sorce=kp_cover

 

 

 

Another of his books I like is The Art of War for Writers: fiction writing strategies, tactics and exercises.   

Front Cover

This photo is from: https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Art_of_War_for_Writers.html?id=9vwzOJFKtc8C&source=kp_cover

 

 

He copyrighted it in 2009, and Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH published it.

 

Yesterday. I mentioned that we are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore, we are creative beings. I read and implement strategies from a variety of published authors that move from fiction to writing non-fiction about what helped them in the craft. Each book is unique because we are all individuals.

 

I’ve enjoyed learning from so many writers over the years, whether in person at writer’s conferences or through their expertise on the written page via paper or electronic devices. What a privilege. After the learning comes the doing, putting words on paper or screen.

 

Where we differ from God: He creates and it’s perfect. We attempt artistry and if we leave it alone for a few days, when we read it, our masterpiece doesn’t make sense or present the image we pictured in our mind. Then the editing begins.

 

Also, we may face fear of ridicule or rejection. God’s Word tells us that perfect love casts out fear. God’s love is perfect because He is love. 1 John 4 talks about His love.

 

Apostle Paul wrote the Colossian believers and in the following verses he talks about Jesus:

Col 2:6  As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

Col 2:7  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Col 2:8  Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Col 2:9  For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

Col 2:10  and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

 

From these verses and others in the Old Testament, I believe Jesus is God, the Son. I can’t say that He didn’t fear when He took off all His godly attributes and took on the form of man. Before the crucifixion, it says in the Gospels that He sweat blood because of the anguish He experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane during prayer.

 

In the book of Hebrews, it tells us that Jesus understands us completely because He became a man, but He was completely filled with the Spirit of God. As humans, we can experience an infilling of the Holy Spirit at times, but we have to seek God for more of the Spirit. It takes work because we’re in a spiritual battle and our flesh wants to do what the body wants to do.

 

It’s the same with writing as a career. I find that I can’t give up trying to learn more and trying to face down a tired mind and a weary body when I need to get something done for a client or a deadline. Also, keeping up with technological changes and industry standards and marketing takes stamina and using more brain cells.

 

To me, staying the course in Christianity and keeping on track for writing are worth the effort and bring me joy. The latter is a lesser joy, but if I give up there’s something within me that urges me back to the creative endeavor.

 

For a while in college and then for another seven years, I pushed God aside and lived as I saw fit. As a newlywed and a new mom, it should have been the happiest years of my life. Things and people satisfied for a short amount of time; selfishness caused discontentment and frustration and sorrow.

 

When we moved to another town, God allowed me to run into Christian neighbors and at first, I resented them. Then, they were so stinking nice. One said to me after I started to argue about a Christian public figure whom I knew nothing about, but I’d been hearing newscasters bashing him, “I thought you said you were a Christian? Can’t we agree to disagree?”

 

What could I say to that?

 

More than thirty years later, I’m still following Jesus and even in the hard times, I’d never turn back.  That’s my fervent prayer and hope. I don’t trust myself, but I’ve prayed, “God keep me.”

 

When I first read the Scriptures where Jesus said if they persecuted Him they’ll persecute His followers, I stopped and pondered that a while. I’d rather be persecuted here on earth for a short time than to be in hell, tormented forever.

 

Christians are persecuted more now than ever before in history.

 

I heard the stars and planets are lined up exactly as they were when Jesus came to earth. Some folks believe Jesus is coming back for His church on Saturday. My daughter said when they start saying the day and time, then we know that won’t be the day or time, because Jesus said we won’t know the day or hour.

 

With all the earthquakes and hurricanes and tumult in the world, it seems closer than ever. I guess we’ll wait and see.

 

May God bless you. I’m grateful for the opportunity to write. Thanks for reading this if you stuck around for the whole thing. I didn’t expect to say so much.

Comfort in the Storm

Today started out kind of weird for me. My mind began dealing with sad news I’ve heard lately, plus a miscommunication I had with an author at a writers’ conference years ago. I recently bought one of her books and it reminded me that we never got to talk after our first conversation.

I wanted to clarify my reaction, but she stiffened up and ignored me. Her friend got her to soften her demeanor but all I asked for then was her autograph on a fiction book of hers.

So, I read Psalm 27 on a paper on the side of my refrigerator this morning. I do not consider her my enemy, but rather a sister-in-Christ. I took comfort from the rest of the verses concerning God’s presence and His faithfulness and His protection when we find ourselves in a storm.

Speaking of storms, I’ve been praying for Texas with their unprecedented amount of rain. We used to live near Houston many years ago. We made friends and enjoyed the optimism of the people in Texas.

Our local Christian radio has played the song of a woman thanking Almighty God for the safety of her family. The car is flooded, the downstairs is under water, but they are high above the danger zone.

This photo is from: https://www.christianbook.com/page/bibles/translations/nkjv?navcat=Bibles|Translations|NKJV

Psalm 37 is also great and I thought that was the Scripture on my refrigerator. As it says in verse 23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.”

If I’m good at all it’s because of Jesus.

May God bless you!

 

Bits and Pieces

Today, I needed to wait for my husband at an appointment, so I decided to read the Bible. As I was reading, I thought the Lord was directing me to Ephesians 4 & 5. Then I read chapter 6 while I was at it. In chapter 4 it reminds Christians to walk worthy of the calling that God has given them.

After that, we went to a large grocery store to buy our lunch and then I’ve been busy doing this or that. I want to ponder the writing path God has for me. I have such a broad interest range and I’ve heard for years that a writer should have a niche. Possibly ten years back I felt sure that God wanted me to purchase a book at a bookstore in a mall by Peter Bowerman entitled, The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less, copyrighted in 2000 and published by Fanove Publishing, Atlanta, GA.

The image is from http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ordertwfw.shtml  

I read about 75 pages and then gave it to my daughter for a while. I began an online course a couple of years ago on copywriting, again at God’s leading. I may need it someday, and I do work professionally as a writer and the things I’ve learned have come in handy. The niche writing that I’m contemplating is for magazines or novels or non-fiction books or writing for the internet.

So, the reason I entitled this blog as “Bits and Pieces” is because that’s where my thoughts and my actions have been today:

  • Driving to a city I rarely get to early in the day
  • Reading Proverbs and then in Ephesians
  • Stopping for one item at a large store – a rarity for me
  • Stopping at another grocery store and getting one item again
  • Stopping at church to hand off copies I made of sheets of goal steps in the morning to some ladies and hardly staying at all – another rarity
  • Cleaning dishes
  • Watching television
  • Going to the library and mostly working the new puzzle
  • Getting home so I could ponder the writing path
  • Watching more television
  • Reading two teenage magazines that I’ve been considering to write for, and then
  • Moving to a different room so I could blog
  • Yelling at my computer and then admitting that that was not helping and to repeatedly do the same thing was not helping either.
  • I tried a different thing and it worked. Yay!

I’ve been wanting to take time to be quiet and to think and to jot down any insights that hopefully alight in my brain, but I’ve been procrastinating. So, I think I have about ten minutes before my husband notes the time and asks the inevitable question – “What time are you going to bed, anyway?”

I hope your day has not been as filled with a scattering of responsibilities and stress and leisure and procrastination as my day has been.

May God bless you.

Talk Already

This week I read Sarah Dessen’s book, Saint Anything, copyrighted in 2015 and published by Viking, The Penguin Group; New York, NY.

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The main characters show up on the first few pages right in the middle of a life changing event.

As the family and friendship dynamics play out, occasionally I want to take hold of these fictional characters and say, “talk already!”

In real life, people don’t always talk things out. I’ve definitely waited for the right time to approach my husband with a question or bad news when I saw he was completely worn out. Proverbs_25:11, (KJV) says: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Anyway, reading Sarah Dessens’ books points out a fatal flaw in my fiction writing.

In the past, I’ve told what was going on and didn’t leave enough mystery. With no intrigue, the reader is not going to want to bother reading on.

Additionally, writing instructors often say, “Show more than tell,” so I’ve worked on that.

A tell is: “the boy likes the girl so he shows off for her.”

The show is: Sonya ran outside to get the mail and then she noticed Peter’s slow grin widen and his eyes light up as he jumped off his bicycle by her mailbox. “Hey, Sonya I want to show you something.”

She looked up at the sky almost as if she was checking the sun’s position to estimate the time of day. “I’ve been practicing stunts on my bike.”

“My mom told me not to dawdle.”

He leaped back on the bike. “I’ll just show you one, okay, or two at the most.”

She smiled and he yelled out, “just watch this” and he sped down the incline and took one hand off the handle. Faster now on the bumpy street with occasional rocks from the Ottinger boys appearing like shapes in the fog – suddenly.

Now two hands off the handle bar. As he turned his head to see if she was watching, Sonya ran down the hill with her hands clenched and with sweat forming at the back of her neck. “Peter, hey Peter, wow! Why don’t you come back before…”

Cars started honking, a man hollered. “Are you out of your mind?”

A lady screamed.

 

Well, you get the idea.

I got to go to Letchworth Park once again with my husband and friends today. I took pictures of flowers and gourds placed in interesting arrangements. I planned on downloading them to my computer tonight and then blogging about our time there. Hopefully I’ll do that on Monday, since I forgot tonight. We got home and put things away and then my daughter and her husband stopped in for a quick visit.

I hope this finds you well. May God bless you.

What If?

In Mary Higgins Clark’s book, Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir, she wrote that her Fordham University professor advised her to, “Take a true situation, one that intrigues you, that stays in your mind, ask yourself two questions, ‘Suppose’ and ‘What if,’ and turn them into fiction.”

I wrote that on an eraser board which hangs in my office, so I don’t know what page it’s on. It’s published by Pocket Books, New York, NY, copyrighted in 2002, and I enjoyed her book.

I’ve noticed with all that’s going on with my daughter’s wedding, my mind is not at peak performance. My husband is watching a television show with an actress I’ve liked for years and I cannot remember her name. I’m about to Google it because it’s driving me crazy.

She reminded me of a best friend from my high school days, so it surprises me that I can’t remember her name. Candice Bergen, unbelievable. Oh well, not high on my list of priorities. If you’re a Candice Bergen fan, please don’t take offense. I’ve enjoyed her acting many times over the years.

So, to get back to writing. I’ve been doing some deeper cleaning in preparation for company for the upcoming wedding. I ran across a paper that said, “A word from the Lord” on it, which I perceived to be from God. One of the items was to blog every day. The other was to send out a devotional I wrote months ago.

I realized I started the blogging, but never sent out the devotional because when I checked the guidelines it asked for at least fifty more words. It also asked for a current picture. The picture I have on Gravatar is not representative of my looks right now. I just have casual photos and some days I feel like a hamster on a wheel, so I haven’t asked any good photographers to capture my image. I’ve hired a photographer in the past and that was too long ago to look current.

Time to get past excuses and get on with editing the devotional and taking time earlier in my day to work on the novel. I looked at the file folder I have the latest edition of my novel in and I haven’t written since January 4, 2016 on it. Not cool.

I need to up the stakes on my protagonist, I think I’ve mentioned that before. I got the idea while blogging that I should take Mary Higgins Clark’s professor’s advice and ponder “What if…” and “Suppose this happened?”

I love to write, most of the time. How about you?