Monday, March 30, 2015
I have banished the accusation!
It comes from the accuser and I'm not buying his lies any longer. I'm going to walk in the truth.
"Did God really say...?" From the Garden of Eden until today it is still Satan's favourite lie. He loves to sew seeds of doubt which, in turn, feed on our insecurities until they become full blown paranoia. Then his purpose is achieved. We give up, turn away, ignore the voice of God.
A couple of weeks ago a teacher at our disciple training school made a simple statement. For me it was one of those golden sentences, a 'ah-ha' moment or as my husband would say a BFO (blinding flash of the obvious.) He was talking about hearing the voice of God. He must have been looking inside my head cause he described it accurately.
'As soon as you ask 'Was that me or God?' you lock the door to revelation. You can no longer hear God's voice.'
I can hear you arguing with me. Every thought must be tested, taken captive and made to obey Christ. The Bible says so. The Bible also says we walk by faith, we know His voice and if we ask of Him, he will gives us treasures stored in dark places. Any question that raises doubt is anti-faith.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?" Luke 11:11
If I ask God to speak to me, I know he's not going to send the snake. However the serpent will slither in and cast doubt if he can. From now on he's not getting any air time in my head. I'm believing everything I hear is from God. I will record, test it and ask for confirmation. I can delete it later if necessary. But no longer will I allow a thought to be aborted before it has been given time to fully form.
Likewise, this week, I have banished the lie, 'You're not a real writer.' I've been haunted in the middle of the night by rules telling me a real author writes at least 15 minutes everyday, reads a book a week in their genre and reads other genres widely. My concern about not achieving this guideline gave the enemy fertile ground to plant his seed of doubt.
So let me confess. Until yesterday I hadn't read a book since holidays in January. I haven't looked at my edits since the February Omega Writer's meeting where I said I'd edit a certain amount six days every week. I'm grieved about this and I apologise to the rest of you in book world.
But when I pushed past my remorse and talked to God, the fog cleared. He's never as judgmental as I am on myself. He pointed to the truth.
I have read a least four books of the Old Testament, countless snippets of other biblical passages, many prophetic words re our times, blogs, emails, Facebook and the ingredients lists on food packaging. I have written pages in journals, drawn illustrations, typed countless messages, texts.... And I have taught at the ministry school and watched as understanding of His love dawned in student's eyes.
So what if my edits are behind and ideas burning in my head aren't written down? Soon the season will change and these books I'm passionate about will emerge. I am a writer, a real writer...but I may move to the beat of a different drum. And therein lies the wonder and diversity of the body of Christ.
What about you? Do you have lies the enemy uses to close the door to revelations from God, or to discourage you, divert you?
Jo Wanmer is the author of Though the Bud be Bruised, published by Even Before Publishing in 2012. She loves to write stories about real people, bringing the God of love and wholeness into real-life messes. Meanwhile she is a pastor, bookkeeper, grandmother and a few other assorted things as the Spirit requests.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Monday, March 16, 2015
|MS One Note|
Specifically for Writers
|WriteWay with Character pane open|
- a basic text editor,
- basic templates for different types of writing
- a tree structure that allows you to access and arrange your file into chapters and scenes
- cork board and card system that allows you to arrange and rearrange scenes or chapters easily
- character sheets to record vital information about characters (I like how character information accessible through a character window pane in both WriteWay and WriteItNow)
- a place for research links that can be attached to a relevant place in the document.
- formatting options (that can help with converting to e-book formatting etc)
Tailoring it for your own use
Thursday, March 12, 2015
This never worked for me. I would quickly write a draft, then the plan, so my first draft was actually my second draft. If I tried to write the plan first, the draft would never match as the story would always take me in another direction.
There were other kids in my class who loved this method, and it was the only way they could write.
My 13 year old is having similar struggles at school with his English teacher and finds it hard to write a plan that will satisfy his teacher before writing the story. On the other hand, my 11 year old finds the plan very helpful and, generally, once he has a plan, the story comes easily.
In the last few years, I've found that having a rough plan works for me. I like to have an idea of where the story is going and where it will end, but it's not a detailed plan by any means. I have friends who can't start a story without the most detailed of plans including character profiles and maps of the world they are creating. I also have friends who just start to to write and follow the words wherever the story takes them.
One thing I've learned is that we need to do what works for us. It takes time and practice to find out the method that works best. If planning works, that's great. If something else works, that's great too. There is no "one size fits all" formula that works for everyone.
As I write, this, I'm in the middle of writing the first draft of my next chapter book. I know how long I want it to be and have an idea of where I want the story to go. It's exciting to see where the story is leading me, already it's starting to take a slightly different shape to the story I started with. This method works for me. What works for you?
Monday, March 9, 2015
As a child I grew up reading Enid Blyton’s “The Twins at St Clare” then “Trixie Belden” books and “Anne of Green Gables”. From the earliest age I either had my nose in a book or I was thinking about the characters in the book I had just read. When I got older I discovered a wide variety of books in different genres from authors such as Danielle Steele to Lee Child to Nicholas Sparks to Harlan Coben. Then I was introduced to Karen Kingsbury and a whole new world opened up to me. The world of Christian fiction. Now, I’ll admit I’m not a fan of historical or Amish-themed books so that limited my reading somewhat, but I devoured all the Christian books I could find. And I loved them.
When I was prompted to write my own book at the start of last year I automatically figured I’d write Christian romance. After all, that’s what I enjoyed reading so surely it made sense to write one myself. But there were a few big problems with this. Number one, the market is very small, especially in Australia. Secondly, the book I wrote was a 'come-to-the-altar-and-get-saved' type of book. (In retrospect it was so evangelistic I wouldn’t have read it!) And number three was, if I wrote Christian fiction, then it needed to be sanitised. Especially when it came to romance. Didn't it?
There are many things consistent in a romance novel. Love (obviously). A hero and heroine. Passion. Tension. Sex (usually). And ultimately a happy ever after ending. But writing a mainstream romance novel as a Christian presented me with a big challenge. Namely when it came to the sex bit. Writing it. Talking about it. The hero and heroine actually doing it. How was I going to get around that? I wanted to write real-life romance with real-life characters but how was I going to do that if I had to “colour between the lines” and keep it clean? In other words, keep sex out of it? After all, as a Christian, I'm aware that whatever I write must glorify God and be consistent with my beliefs.
So I had a dilemma. I could either write Christian or mainstream romance. After much prayer, I decided to write for the mainstream market, which I did. I was thrilled when it was accepted for publication with the first publisher I sent it to.
Intensive Care is my debut novel – a medical romance set in regional Australia. It touches on issues of infidelity, grief, abortion and loss, and focuses on the need to forgive before you can move on. It has plenty of medical scenarios, plenty of emotional moments and a happy ever after ending without my hero and heroine ending up beneath the bed covers.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
There’s a new form of story-telling that is slowly gaining popularity. I'm going to call it episodic fiction. These stories are not novels or short stories. They’re something else. These stories are based on the sensibilities of television. Terms such as episode and season tend to be used. You have a cast of characters that appear in each episode (essentially a novella). Each book can be its own story but they combine together to tell a larger story arc. This is more than just serialising a novel in pieces. The episodes combined do not follow the same structure of a novel. They follow the structure of a television season.
I think there are two factors that have inspired this kind of story-telling. The first is the eBook revolution. Novellas were not popular for a long time. It was not financially sustainable to print and sell them on shelves - but they are perfectly suited for electronic media (not to mention the shorter attention span of busy modern people). The other factor is what has come to be known as the ‘second golden age of television’. We are seeing a lot of well-written scripted stories appear on TV. This charge seems to be being led by the premium cable networks in America. These stories have inspired writers to pen the same kind of fiction in written form.
Two of the pioneers of this type of book are Sean Platt and Jonny B Truent. Some examples of their series are the fantastical and somewhat comical Unicorn Western (yes you read that right), and the extremely edgy cyberpunk thriller The Beam (big content warning for this one).
Christian authors are also getting in on the action. In the speculative arena you’ll find multi-author series such as Colony Zero and No Revolution Is Too Big. Each author will generally be ‘cast’ as a character and write their episode from their character’s point of view. It’s not all speculative though. Christian author Tracy Krauss has released a series she calls Neighbours (no not the Aussie TV show) which follows the exploits of a group of people living in an apartment block.
It seems to mainly be indie authors who have blazed the trail with this type of story-telling, but some bigger names are now getting in on the act. Big name Christian authors Bill Meyers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt and Alton Gansky are currently working on a supernatural thriller series called Harbingers.
Episodic storytelling offers some interesting new opportunities for Christian writers. Novels generally have a single protagonist. In a Christian novel a spiritual journey is often part of the protagonist’s arc. This type of arc can sometimes come across as 'preachy' to non-Christian readers, no matter how much we might argue that it isn't. The Christian message is perhaps too front-and-centre for them to handle. Interestingly, recent TV shows like Falling Skies and The Walking Dead have shown that mainstream audiences will happily accept Christian characters in the mix of a larger cast. This gives us an opportunity to do the same. Not every episode need be "Christian fiction" but through one or two characters we can bring a Godly worldview and perspective into a story.
I have actually been interested in this type of episodic writing for decades. I just didn't realise that readers would accept it in written form. The pioneers of these stories have shown that they will. I am currently developing a series that I call The Remnant. It is an episodic space opera featuring a mix of characters living in an extraordinary and difficult situation. I'm targeting the story at a general audience, but like everything I write it will still be influenced by my Christian world view. I'm in the midst of writing the pilot episode as we speak and it’s proving to be a blast. I'm still working on my novel, but this new frontier offers up just another way to express ourselves creatively, and that's always a good thing.
Lynessa's Curse is soon to be published in the Medieval Mars anthology.
He hosts a show on youTube called Stories with Adam Collings.
Connect with him at adamdavidcollings.com
Monday, March 2, 2015
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare (peace) and not evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)
Thursday, February 26, 2015
I wake up in my hotel room at the Changi airport. The time is 4.40 p.m. Groggy and disoriented, I walk to the bathroom. My eyelids are half closed. I splash cold water on my face. A cup of tea would be nice. I plug in the kettle and make myself a cuppa. I sit back on my bed and sip it slowly. Mmm. That feels good. Very good.
I wake up. I remember. I am here waiting for my connecting flight back home after Mum’s funeral. Without any warning, tears begin to rain down my cheeks. My blouse gets soaked. Mama is gone. My beloved, wonderful, amazing, one of a kind Mother is no more. I miss her so. I can’t reach her. Never again on earth. Never is a sad word. Never is never! I put the cup down. I rush to my overnight bag. I pull out a book. A slim volume with a light green cover. I open it.
“This book is for Anusha when I’m gone. 4/5/07” AA
That was 6 weeks ago. It’s now almost 2 months since my beloved Mother passed away on the 4th of January 2015. Mama hadn’t been sick for more than a few days, so her death came as a mammoth shock to us her family. We’d been hoping to celebrate her 90th – all 34 of us children, grand children and great grandchildren – only 6 months on. We could hardly believe that we’d been cheated of that special celebration for Mum. She was eagerly looking forward to it and so were we.
In today’s blog I honour the extraordinary woman who was my Mum. Because you see… if not for her, I would not be part of CWD. Mum was a writer. I imbibed my love of books and reading and writing from her. She was a journalist for 72 years – right until she died at age 89. Her Christmas article was published in the newspaper 10 days before. In 2014 she was given the award of Lifetime Achievement in Journalism. Mum was also a counsellor and a speaker and a friend of many. She touched hundreds of people. She used words. To bless and build. To challenge. To build a better world.
Goodness gracious me! I AM vastly impressed, darlintest of authors.
Your devoted fan,
Mum wrote fearlessly to change systems. She challenged injustice and stood up for the downtrodden. Her writing made a difference. Today, though sharing with you a little of her professional career, what I’d like to highlight is something different. For almost 16 years, Mum and I wrote a long daily email to each other every night. Today, the 5093 emails (yes, that many) she sent me over the years comfort me. Her journal blesses me. Mum kept closely in touch with her seven children and their spouses, her eleven grandchildren and their spouses and her 4 great grandchildren. That is a lot of us! Mum was a prolific email correspondent with many people all over the globe; young and old, men and women, people from all walks of life. She was a writer! Not only professionally but all the time.
And just as Mum’s journal continues to bring healing to my life – may you and I use words to heal and restore. Are you up for the challenge? And while we are about it – do you have stories of how your words have blessed another? I’d love to hear them.
Dancing in the Rain. Do drop in to say G'day.
Monday, February 23, 2015
|Photo courtesy of Common Grace|
|Photo courtesy of Margaret Feinberg.com|
Thursday, February 19, 2015
What qualities do you think are needed by a Christian writer? In asking this, I'm not only thinking of work that has specific Christian content, but anything a Christian might write with a view to publication. It could be novels, non-fiction books, poetry, devotions, blog posts or a myriad of other material. Here are some things to think about.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Thursday, February 12, 2015
- The Writing Challenge. This is, without question, the backbone of FaithWriters, and that’s not just because it’s my baby. New prompts are posted forty times each year (ten topics each quarter), and members are invited to write to topic, word count, and deadline. The top ten entries each week are eligible to be published in future Mixed Blessings anthologies. Free Silver members of FaithWriters are able to enter the Challenge four times to test the water. Be warned, though, it has been known to be addictive.
- The Regular Articles. This area is open to any member to write and share their articles, poems, short stories, etc, and possibly receive feedback from their peers.
- The Critique Circle. This area is for upgraded members, and can be an excellent way to receive deeper critique on works in progress.
- The annual Page Turner contest, which is a manuscript contest offered by Breath of Fresh Air Press and FaithWriters each year to Platinum members, with the winner receiving a cash prize, editing, and the promise of publication.