June 28, 2011

Grace, Point of View, and the Crazy Things People Do

     I've come to understand in recent weeks the ability of point of view (POV) to make or break an entire novel. By the way, fellow debut authors, in case I'm not the only who did not know this - third person omniscient is a thing of the past (i.e. Head Hopping). One POV at a time, preferably per scene and chapter, with very logical and deliberate breaks when switching. It's amazing the way having to rewrite and adhere to this has illuminated Chasing the Lion and really brought out the emotions of the story by going into a single, deep, POV.
     This has impacted my non-writer life recently as well. I've honed in on the fact my own POV of my circumstances matters even more than in my pages. Whether or not some moment, mistake, or memory is a missed opportunity or a triumph of obedience shouldn't depend on my mood, my feelings, or 'shifts' in my POV. My POV should stay rooted in God's truth, and an obedient spirit that takes joy in being obedient to the Lord. I praise my unfailing God for refusing to let go of me and go my own way, and that even when I do, Christ's mercy and grace are there.

     I've experienced a lot of grace. Most in my own life, some in my character's, and a particular occasion I want to share that happened last week. I spilled Coke all over a library book. And I can't really call it an accident when I set the cup next to the book in the truck thinking if I turned too fast or braked too hard it would spill. I know. LOL. I'm a mess. But God loves me anyway, Amen!
     When I took it to my friends at my local library who all know me by name now, I was prepared to have to pay for it. Even though the whole point of utilizing my library is to NOT spend money needed elsewhere on books. And the most amazing thing happened.They wouldn't let me. Even though it was clear I had done quite a bit of damage to the book. I left the library that day having just come face to face with what it feels like to receive Christ's grace. I was able to translate that into a moving scene where my hero has at last returned to his faith. Then recall it some days later when I stumbled and fell in my faith journey. Seeing the hazard, thinking I can handle it, then 'spilling the coke'.
     I'd like to tell you like my heroine, I hit my knees, repented in earnest right away and picked that cross back up. But I didn't. How I have not yet learned that hiding out from God is useless, I don't know. It took Jonathan, my hero, 70K+ words to get it and had to literally have it beaten into him. I'm thankful God is more patient with me than I am with my characters!


I know what a beautiful thing grace is. But like salvation, we have to take the gift. And with that thought, here's a song that is the anthem of one of my characters... a very interesting woman who I've fallen in love with since she first showed up in my head months ago and demanded to be included. Her part of Chasing the Lion is nearly finished, and so then, the book. Those two beautiful words are so close I can almost touch them... "The End". But until then, I'll keep typing away and letting the music that's contributed so much to the writing of this novel play nice and loud.

Enjoy Caelina's song, Someone Worth Dying For by mikeschair 

Or my song. A song about Grace. You Are More by TenthAvenueNorth

June 17, 2011

Contests

There was something surprisingly enriching about entering a snail mail contest. Holding my manuscript pages, paper clipping them and using my best ink pen to fill out my contest form. Counting out the correct postage and selecting the stamps. I actually enjoyed it better than the all electronic entry method of the Duel on the Delta entry. That doesn't really surprise me, since I still like wooden pencils over mechanical, jars and cans over plastic, and other old school things. Admittedly, I have higher expectations for this contest than I did Duel on the Delta, my first with CHASING THE LION.

Category 5 is being coordinated by the Woodlands, TX Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers On The Storm. Details can be found here and unless you're entering the General Fiction category (hehe), give it a look.  

Writers On The Storm

I'm equally excited about my second contest entry that went out today. A little fan fiction piece for Karen Witemeyer's newest release, TO WIN HER HEART. A big shout out to Mom and my critique partner Whitney who critiqued my entry, which was no easy task given the two main characters both had unique voices. One a heavy brogue accent and the other, the natural slang of being educated by life instead of the school master.
There's still time to grab a copy of this great historical romance and enter the contest.

Karen Witemeyer FanFic Contest

I told Karen on the Seekerville blog that I loved her idea of a fanfic contest, and was filing it away for future reference. It's not a bad marketing tool either, as Karen was an unknown author to me and I bought her book specifically to be able to enter the contest. Then fell in love with it while I read it in one sitting!

Happy writing, reading, or whatever floats your boat ;-)

June 12, 2011

That Writer's High

There's something I find very satisfying about going into a scene with a specific idea of what it needs to accomplish and a general idea of how the characters and setting are going to yield it, then reaching the end of the scene going... Whoa. Just... wow.

Then rereading it and going... did I just write that?

I have a new favorite scene, it took ten chapters in between but I'm absolutely thrilled as more than ever I can see the finish line in site. Those two, beautiful words.

The End.


Chasing the Lion is about to enter it's second contest, at the end of this month. Catagory 5 of the Houston Chapter of ACFW and I'm feeling very good about it with the new opening chapter and updated plot that were a result of the Duel on the Delta contest feedback.

I had another friend today tell me how disappointing it is when a book doesn't have the happily ever after ending. She said she has enough unhappy endings in her own life that she wants her fiction not to give her more. I can understand that. That's where I'm really struggling and wrestling with God's will for the non-writer parts of my life right now. I want to be able to see where the book mark is looking down at the top of my story to know if I'm close to the end where Sovereign God has promised my HAE, or if I'm not even to the middle yet. Not knowing is all part of the journey.

June 5, 2011

The Power of the Page

It was a difficult week for this writer, as my father faced some extraordinary health challenges beginning last weekend. Praise the Lord he is at home now and recovering very well, and I am amazed anew at the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and the peace that knowing Him brings in times of fear and trouble.
Of course... I was also reminded how no matter how strong your faith, circumstances can shake it, and facing the loss of a parent well... can shake it pretty hard. (So for Chasing the Lion, I feel reassured the believability of several of the story arcs are genuine, because I lived one this week.) 

I can't imagine what it would be like to have had this happen with deadlines looming and my hat goes off to those writers who handle emergencies and the unexpected within the framework of their writing commitments. I of course, being yet unpublished, did not have to worry about that and was reminded again there are things that are blessings about enjoying this season of the journey toward publication. 

With so much time in the hospital, being buoyed by the support of friends and family through prayer and encouragement and overwhelming offers of aid, I got to do a lot of reading. So much, I exhausted the TBR (to be read) pile! Then while my dad was sleeping and I knew I better go recharge my batteries before I was useless, I slipped out to get some James Coney comfort food and some comfort reads from my friends in Seekerville (http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/). But of course there's no B&N or Borders near hospitals, which is unfortunate, and the plethora of drug stores only carried the top ten New York Bestsellers which while I can appreciate them in their own right, were not what I was in need of. I had just about given up when I spotted a Kroger grocery store and gave it one more try.

There on the shelf, was not only one, but SIX Love Inspired novels, including SMALL TOWN HEARTS by Ruth Logan Herne of Seekerville. The Lord had heard my prayer and answered with a big YES! That's my Daddy God who was taking care of His girl just like my earthly Daddy does when he's not down for the count like this week. For the time I spent in the pages of that sweet romance between Danny and Megan, I was able to rest my mind and my soul from the very real circumstances surrounding me and escape into a wonderful world of chocolate, hot air balloons, and biblical lessons. I could forget the uncomfortable vinyl chair and my worries and enjoy the story. Escape from reality? Sure. But I don't think that's always a bad thing. I just know I needed to and God made a way with a story that fit the bill perfectly.

I often pray that CHASING THE LION reaches people in powerful ways for Christ. I always thought it would be revealing some aspect of Christ's love and sacrifice in a tangible way to the reader, leading people to the Lord or making them examine their relationships with their loved ones and those they have yet to forgive. I have a new picture of what that looks like now, offering this work as a gift to the Lord and letting him use it how he will in whoever becomes involved with it, especially readers. Sometimes, it can just be the story pulling the reader out of their own for a few hours or days and being that green pasture like David wrote about in Psalm 23. Like Small Town Hearts was for me.

Now that Dad is bouncing back better than ever, I've been able to return to the writing, catch up on critiques and do some editing on Chasing the Lion. I've got an approaching deadline with a contest that has been a fun aside coming up that I'll get to pick back up again. The laundry and vacuuming will just have to wait till next weekend. Again =)

Below is a picture of my father. In writer's terms, it's worth sharing that growing up, our external conflict with one another was of epic and enduring proportions. Our characterization was only separated by a chromosome and 32 years. Characters identical in the stubborn streak that made up the bulk of our motivation and made for some volatile story arcs ;-) It takes the power of God, lots of perspective, and looking beyond my own character and scenes with my father to the ones of his own life that came long before I was born to understand him. Every thing he ever did, even the mistakes he made and the things that hurt, were rooted in love for his family and his own unmet needs because of a faith in God that had waned to embers in the ashes of the American Dream. 

Over the past few years, I've had the privilege of seeing that faith renewed, which is another blessing. I remember a line from the movie Secretariat, which if you haven't seen it, you should. Penny Tweedy is holding her father's hand in what is expected to be his last moments and she says "There's nothing left unsaid between us daddy." Thanks to having been put to the "advanced tutorial" of becoming more Christ-like two years ago, I had that same peace. That if Jehovah Rophi, the God who heals, had chosen to heal my Dad on His side of heaven and not ours, it would have been okay, because there was nothing left unsaid between us. My prayer is you would have that same peace with the loved ones in your life. Because life isn't like writing. You don't get to click New Document and start over, or rescue an accidental delete from the Recycle Bin, and while it's true that with Christ all things can be made new, and I believe and know that with all my heart, that it's the things we don't do that we regret, especially when the 'later' never comes. 

So that story in your head, write it. The one on your hard drive half finished, pick it back up. That call you've needed to make, letter you've needed to send, person you've needed to forgive, just do it. (Relax Nike executives, no copyright infringement intended. ;-)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. - Ecclesiastes 3:1


You better believe as soon as Dad's up to it, we're heading to the lake! Cherish the times spent with family and friends. I said this to a close friend this week, that the thing about the "last time", for whatever it is, a fishing trip, a friend's laugh, or a kiss... that most of the time you didn't know it was the last time while it was happening. Learning that perspective has not only deepened my writing, but my appreciation for everything God has blessed me with. And hopefully, the next time Dad and I go fishing, God will bless us with a trophy bass hehe. But even if we don't get a single bite, I'll still be so grateful that God blessed me with more time with my Dad. That's the beauty of understanding God and His great love for us. That sometimes the things He withholds are a veiled blessing so we might come to appreciate the simpler, greater blessing, beginning with His Mercy.  
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