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I would love to say that I am currently enjoying the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference which is going on right now at a place nestled in the mountains just off I-40 in North Carolina–Ridgecrest.

This is the second conference I’ve missed since 2006, and I think I’m having withdrawal symptoms. While there I laugh and cry, commiserate with other unpublished writers and hob nob with the rich and famous published authors (I know there are those laughing at my comment, but hey, I’ve had the pleasure of being critiqued by none other than Jerry Jenkins who has sold over 70 million copies of his Left Behind books).

That’s beside the point, though. I still took the week off from work with the idea that I’d have my own little writers conference at home where I’d sit on my back porch, edit my finished novel, and read writing craft books and a few novels.

I stumbled across a book called One Second Later by William Forstchen about the consequences of an EMP attack(I have slight prepping tendencies, which, when coupled with my novel writing tendencies, makes me a very crazy person). I chose to read the book this week.

The book is set in Black Mountain, NC which is right there at Ridgecrest, where I long to be.

Usually I would not recommend novels with language that offends me, and this book has many instances where I cringed, so I’m not recommending it. The most offensive to me is the Lord’s name in vain, though some would say it is writing real.

The book, however, has opened my eyes to some things I need to do for my family as a precaution.

I would feel perfectly well supplied if I had water, and heat in the winter, but one thing the book made me realize is how important our medical services are. My son takes a medication that he agrees is as necessary to him as food. He could get by without it for a month, but after that, he’d start experiencing seizures that would eventually kill him from lack of sleep–essentially they would drive him mad.

The book was intriguing to read because I’m familiar with the setting, but also because it has raised an awareness about how dependent we are on our electrical grid. Scary stuff. Read it at your own risk. You’ve been warned.

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I’ve about come to the conclusion that my writing career is over. And it never really began.

You see I’ve had some disappointing set-backs.

If these stories would just stop haunting me, then I could just quit, but they continue on in my brain until I write them down. I wish I could give it up. Stop doing it.

Last weekend I listened to Debbie Macomber’s keynote address to the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers conference. One of her books received an embarrassing critique at her first ever writers’ conference. The publisher told her to throw the story away instead of revising it. Debbie didn’t listen and it became her first published book. And we know how her career has been since that time. I take great comfort in that true life story of beating the odds.

So, I’ve got to try.  Even if I’m the William Hung of fiction writing.

I have no regrets at all.

Click on this link to hear Jonathan Clements talk about the agent/author relationship: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/christian-devotions/2008/11/18/christian-devotions-speak-up

Sigh. I’ve been across the table from this agent. He even helped me “complete” the title to the screenplay I’ve written: Poison Ivy Bride (back in 2006), a romantic comedy. Okay, so I had not written it at the time I pitched to him, so I came home and wrote it in a month. Unfortunately, he rejected it because it did not have enough twists.

Hopefully now I’ve learned how to add twists. In fact, my last completed novel has a lot of them. So, I got the twist factor down, now I need to learn how to add detail. Maybe in another few years I’ll get that right.

But each time I attend a conference I come away with something new–sometimes I come away with just a little more confidence that maybe I can do this and that spending a large amount of my at home waking hours writing is worth it.

The next year(at the same conference) I pitched the Bride story to Dr. Ted Baehr. He  told me that I made a good presentation. I went back to my room that evening and could not sleep. I tossed and turned until I had an epiphany about my story. I ate breakfast with Dr. Baehr and his wife the next morning and told him about what I concluded overnight, and strangely or divinely enough, he told me something (I’ll not share that here) that solidified the thoughts that had kept me awake–my story is an allegory of Christ and his bride the church.Why did it take me a whole year to figure that out about my story?

Anyway, one day I would love to see my Poison Ivy Bride on the big screen– maybe with a few more twists, but representing something of more spiritual value than I originally realized.

See Dr. Baehr discuss the movie starring Sandra Bullock. Click Here: ALL ABOUT STEVE. It’s worth watching the review.

My words fall short of the true worship my God deserves. Yet I use my imperfect lips to praise Him–

–the true Master of the Universe

–Creator God

–Merciful Father

–Holy One

Make me Holy as You are.

I find that one of the mistakes I make in my writing involves the use of prepositions. Not the overuse of them but the incorrect use of them. I choose the wrong preposition quite often. When someone points the problems out, they seem obvious.

Take the below verse into consideration:

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (New International Version)

17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I’ve always thought it would be difficult to give thanks in all circumstances. But the verse doesn’t say give thanks “for” the circumstance, but it says “in” the circumstance. So, during the trial you are going through, still give thanks to God.

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

We sing the above song in my church every time we serve communion. My experience at the Christian writer’s conference is very much like that song. We saw a little piece of what it could be like in Heaven.

It is a wonderful experience to spend 5 days with like minded people. People who share your love for God and a desire to spread the word about his love for all. I shared meals with people who understood how a story and its characters can overtake your thoughts until you must write it down.

Unfortunately, I love it so much that I don’t want to go back to the real world. The world of struggles. Where I have to make my own bed, cook my own food and have to go to work at a job that is not exactly up there on my list of favorite things to do.

Yet…

We must, as Christians, go back to the real world. Because if we didn’t, if we stayed in our own little world, then the rest of the world would not hear. They would not hear about a man name Jesus, who can make us like brand new. He wipes away the ugliness from our lives like an eraser on a white board. And it is all because of Him. But we must tell the world. We can’t stay and fellowship with other believers all the time as tempting as that is. Because Jesus gave us the instruction to go tell the world. We can’t keep it to ourselves.

Matthew 28:16-20 (New International Version)

The Great Commission

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I’m writing from the Blue Ridge Mountains at a place call Ridgecrest where I’m attending a writer’s conference.

I love it here.

Last evening there was a question and answer session with editors, authors and agents. The last question was how long was it from the time you decided to write to the time you were published?

Some published almost immediately. One of the authors waited over 20 years. That same author had polled 60 authors and found that on average they had not published until age 48. (I have eight years to go–I hope I publish before that time.)

Before this question and answer session, I was questioning whether there would be a next year for me. It gets discouraging. This year the discouraging thing is that my novel doesn’t have the word count needed for most of the major publishers.

One liked my hook. One liked my voice. Those were women. I pitch to men today. It’s a romance, so I don’t know how that will go.

I have tons of revision to do on my first chapters.

My prayer this week has been, “How long O Lord?”

In 1996 I thought I might like to write, so I bought a box of paper. Yes, my first act of writing was to buy a box of paper. For years that box of paper sat in storage.

In 2000 I took some online writing classes, because I didn’t even know how to start a story. I had the setting but no character or plot. The first writing class helped me find the story. Now stories are everywhere for me. In fact, I have so many it is almost paralyzing, because I don’t know which one to write. I like them all.

Psalm 13:1-3 (New International Version)

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

You can call me the procrastinator, because that is what I am doing.

I have set a goal of 25 pages today as I did last week. Do you know how many pages I wrote last week?

Three. Three whole pages. A long way from my goal.

And today I’ve loaded music to my Palm T/X, read email, critiqued a chapter for one of my critique partners(at least that was writing related) and surfed the internet, but I haven’t written one word to my manuscript, Absalom’s Beauty.

For one thing I’m stuck in the plot. I know what I need to have happen, but I’m not sure where it will lead. And most of all, I’m afraid I’ll not have enough words to write to make the 25 pages. Why do I allow that to stop me?

This whole writing business is distressing at times. I will attend a conference in May. I’ll decide then if I should continue on this journey, because quite frankly, this writing business has become expensive. The problem I will have is that I’ll continue to have story ideas and must write them down.

My prayer to God then is that if this is not His will for my life, he’ll stop the flow of ideas.

White Soul by Brandt Dodson – Click here for more.

Oxygen by Randy Ingermanson and John B Olson. See my post, God Speaks.

Judges – Samson – There are many story ideas from his story. You can read about him in Judges chapter 13 – chapter chapter 16

Ruth – A beautiful story of love toward a mother-in-law. That doesn’t happen often.

I’ve not seen the despair of the drug trade and organized crime up close, but the book White Soul seems to portray it accurately.

I believe Brandt Dodson does an excellent job at showing how easy it is for the Christian to be caught up in the world.

The blurb on the back of the book:

Undercover agent Ron Ortega has a decision to make… do the right thing, or the desired thing?

Too often we choose the desired thing which can have dire consequences to our life.

As an undercover agent, Ron has to make his subjects believe he is one of them. But how far is too far? Ron came close to going too far.

I’m reading the book of Judges now and I see how easy it was for the Israelites to fall into the habits and customs of the people around them. And each time, they faced terrible circumstances. But each time they were restored by God’s grace.

I like this verse from the Apostle Paul:

Romans 7:18-20 (New International Version)

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

I’m glad to know that my place in Heaven is not determined by how good I am, because I cannot be good enough. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with the evil in his life as evidenced by what he wrote above.

No, my place in Heaven is secured by a man who purchased that place for me by taking on my sin while on the cross.

At the end of the chapter 7, Paul says:

21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Who will rescue me from this body of death? JESUS

Read White Soul if you like gritty crime novels.

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