A Spark of Light

Photo by Leonard von Bibra on Unsplash

For those of you who follow this blog, you may have read my last post, in which stated I would be taking this blog in another direction for awhile instead of posting about writing. However, I received a wonderful spark of light in an email that has given me encouragement for this blog and for continuing to focus on writing here on this blog.

I still haven’t been able to settle into a regular writing schedule to post as often as I did before, but for now, I will do my very best to continue posting book reviews as I have many requests for those, and I will also do my very best to continue posting my “Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing” posts, and I want to take the rest of this post to explain why I have been inspired to keep writing the Thursdays’ posts.

Last night I found an email in my inbox that was dated December 10th. I am sorry that I didn’t see this email sooner and sorry that I disappointed a little girl named Anna. I hope Anna will still be happy to find that not only will her suggested writing resource be posted here on my blog, but to find that she has been mentioned here because she and her writing teacher have offered me encouragement in a time where I have been struggling with the things that are happening in our world and with the loss of my father, as well as struggling to find my desire to write anything.

The email was from a woman named Carol, who, at the time of the email, was teaching a fun writing class for students ages 12-15. She wrote to me to let me know that she used things I posted on my “Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing” posts for the class. She also told me about Anna and how Anna wanted to share an article she and her mom had found about writing for film and theater. Carol told me that Anna thought I might like to share the article on one of my Thursday posts to help young writers, who may come across the information on my blog, who might want to become a script or screenwriter someday, like Anna.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much that email means to me — first, because it has inspired me and encouraged me to begin writing again, not just here on my blog, but to finish my current novel and begin the next one; second, because I never dreamed that anyone would use what I share to teach others, and I have been teaching writing to students from first through twelfth grades, in the homeschool community, for sixteen years because I love teaching and encouraging young people who love stories and want to write stories, to do so and to do it well; and finally, because it touched my heart to know that a young girl wanted to share something with me that she thought I might want to share here on my blog.

So, thank you Carol, for the email, and thank you Anna for liking my blog and wanting to share something with me. Anna, I wish you the best on your writing and know that if you work hard and continue to learn how to write well, you will be a great script or screenwriter one day! And Anna, be sure to check tomorrow’s “Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing” post.

Enough Time to Write

If you’ve been visiting or following this blog for long, you probably already know that in addition to being a writer, I am a homeschool mom and I am doing my best to live a healthy lifestyle – eating the Trim Healthy Mama way and exercising.  This means making everything from scratch, no processed foods. It also requires protein at each meal, low carbs and no sugar. It’s going well, but it can be time consuming to make everything from scratch, though not overwhelming.

My family has to take priority over my writing during this time in my life, which I know is the right thing, but I sometimes get frustrated because I WANT to write everyday, but that is just not possible right now.

Then, when I attended the Super Saturday writers’ conference this year, the keynote speaker, Mike Dellosso, addressed this very issue. He works a full-time plus a part-time job, is the father of five daughters in a homeschool family and writes books, and, like me, his family comes first, so his keynote speech was of great encouragement and help.

You see, I’ve been frustrated and feeling guilty because I’ve had so many people say, “If you really want to be a writer, you need to write everyday, AND, you need to treat it like any other job, which means you can’t NOT do it. You have to schedule time and park your behind in your seat and write — no excuses!”

Well, that’s fine for those whose children are grown and no longer living at home, but that is not where I am at. Therefore, when Mike talked about how we have a dream for writing much more than we do, but that might not be God’s plan for us right now, that made sense.

Mike reminded us of the story of Joseph from the Bible and how he had dreams that took twenty-two years to come to fruition, but that during that time, Joseph kept his faith and remained patient and made the most of each and every circumstance. (This was both encouraging and a bit discouraging to me because as a 50+ woman, I want to complete as many books as I possibly can before I am either unable or unavailable to do so anymore.)

However, Mike went on to say that wherever we are on the road in our writing, that’s where God’s want us at this time, and we should simply be content in that AND do our best with the time we have.

So, that is what I am trying to do in my writing life right now. I am trying to be content with the time that I have to write and use it to the best of my ability. I am working on cleaning out our spare room to organize my books on the bookshelves in that room and put my little desk up there, so that when I have time to write, I will have a place where I can go and not be distracted by other things that might need doing, or by interruptions and other distractions, so that my writing time will be as fruitful as possible. I am also trying to write at least twice a week and the first chance I get at the beginning of each month, I try to write and schedule a month’s worth of blog posts, so that I can concentrate on my WIP for a month at a time, since I normally get about four hours of writing time twice a week for the most part. That plan seems to be an encouragement for me as I actually feel like I am accomplishing something and making progress.

What about you? Where are you at in your writing journey?

A Thursday Tribute

I have never done this before, but I really feel like I need to do this.  I want to pay tribute to two people who mean a lot to me because of their support and/or contributions to my writing life.

First of all, my husband.  I just have to say how much I appreciate the way that he shows his support for my writing.  How does he do this?

He never complains about my attending all of the monthly LCW (Lancaster Christian Writers) meetings that I want to attend, which is all of them, (smile).  In reality, I usually end up having to miss one or two because of family things that come up that take priority.  He also never complains when I find a free or inexpensive one-day writing event that I want to attend, and he doesn’t mind when I leave two, sometimes three evenings a week for two or three hours to get together with other writers for critique group or to write, brainstorm and encourage each other along our writing paths.  He doesn’t complain that I spend so much time writing and participating in writing related things and yet am still not adding to the family income.  He understands that it is a long process.  I am blessed to have a husband who quietly supports me and I greatly appreciate him.

The second person I want to pay tribute to is a fellow writer who has become a very dear friend and is moving to the other side of the country, Laura Zimmerman.  I met her at LCW but our bond of friendship began when she and I both attended a one day writing workshop in the private home of a complete stranger.  We were surrounded by strangers, and I think, because we recognized each other’s faces and knew we were both part of LCW, we both felt more comfortable and we sat together for the workshop and had some time to talk a bit and start to really get to know each other.

Then when I started the weekly writing group for those of us homeschool moms who often struggle with finding time to write without interruptions in our own homes, Laura soon became a regular part of that writing group, Scribes Oasis.  She has rarely missed a night of Scribes.  Laura also encouraged me in my ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) membership, as I was debating renewing my membership.  You see, ACFW is a national organization, and though we have a local chapter, most of the best resources of ACFW happen online, and for the first entire year, I didn’t really get involved in that online community.  Again, lack of time, as family takes priority.  Laura encouraged me because she was involved in a couple of the things that the online ACFW community offered.  So, I renewed my membership and have jumped into getting involved with both feet, and I’m loving it!

Through all of these wonderful writing groups, Laura has also encouraged me in my writing.  She has offered me great advice on my writing.  She has gotten excited about stories I have written or am writing.  She has helped me talk through some issues that came up in my writing that I wasn’t sure how to improve or write well.  Laura is a little bit ahead of me in the writing world, as this year, she obtained an agent and she has submitted three story proposals to this agent already.  He has already gone over the first one and told her what she needed to do to edit the story and improve it, and she literally pulled her story apart and put it back together again, and she believes it is better than the original.  It broke my heart to see her go through that, but her positive attitude through the whole thing and the happiness she shared about the finished edited product was quite an inspiration to me.  Also, the fact that she is a homeschool mom who still homeschools three children and still finds time to crank out stories, and now, devotionals and articles, amazes and inspires me and makes me believe that I can obtain those things too.  I just need to keep working.

So, when Laura leaves after Memorial Day weekend, I will miss her so much, but I am so thankful for today’s technology which will help us to be able to remain close friends who will still be able to encourage and help each other in our writing.  Thanks Laura for your friendship and your encouragement and support in my writing.  I know God has good things in store for you and your family wherever He leads you.

How about you?  Who is a big support and encouragement to you in your writing journey?

Some Great Writing Tips

This past Saturday, I attended the Lancaster Christian Writers’ monthly meeting.  Laurie J. Edwards, who also writes under many pen names – one of which is Rachel Good, gave us some great information and had our minds churning about our current WIPs.

Three resources she suggested for writers are:  Inside Story by Dara Marks, Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, and The Anatomy of Story by John Truby.

Laurie shared that the two most commonly missed elements missed in novels are:  Character Arc and Theme (Moral Argument).  She shared that even fiction that is not specifically “Christian” should include a theme, otherwise a book may be popular for a while but it will eventually fade away.  She mentioned about current popular series for kids/teens that have great story lines and action; they keep the readers turning the pages, but at the end of the book, there’s no real takeaway because they lack a good, strong character arc or they lack a theme.  That’s why in about ten years or so, they will fade away; their popularity gone.

Laurie pointed out that all good stories should have the following pieces:

Premise:  logline, one sentence; essence of the story — every decision is based on this                          decision.

Theme:  Moral vision of how people should act in the world.  Express through action                          and story structure to surprise and move readers.

Central Conflict:  Who fights whom over what?

Fundamental Change in Character:  could the character at the beginning of the story                                                                                       do what he/she does at the end?  How and why is                                                                                     he/she different?

She shared the following from John Truby’s book, The Anatomy of Story:

Seven Steps of Story Structure

  1.  Weakness or need – moral and psychological; hero unaware of these flaws.
  2.  Desire – Story goal; must be intimately connected with need.
  3.  Opponent – not preventing hero from goal; wants the same goal.
  4.  Plan – defeat opponent and reach goal.
  5.  Battle – confrontations escalate until final conflict.
  6.  Self-Revelation – hero recognizes weakness
  7.  New equilibrium – fundamental and permanent change.

*Psychological Need: a flaw that only hurts the hero.                                                                              *Moral Need: a moral weakness that hurts others.

Her talk was filled with lots of great little tips and advice that had my friends and I really thinking about things we need to change in our current WIPs (work in progress) to make them better, or things to do to make our stories “unputdownable”.

Laurie has lots of experience as an author, speaker, and editor.  You can find out more about her and her books at https://lje1.wordpress.com/

How about you?  Have you heard or read any great writing tips or advice you’d like to share?

 

My New Favorite Local Place

A friend of mine told me about a great cafe in our county.  It’s about a half hour drive from where I live, but it is so worth the drive.  If you are a bookish person or a writer or both, like me, you would love it too.

It’s called The Rabbit and the Dragonfly.  It is a coffee shop and bookstore and its decor speaks of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and the Inklings.  The food is quite tasty.  I love how many of the menu items are named after characters in The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings.

The staff was quite welcoming and friendly to my son and I when we visited Tuesday a week ago.  We even got a tour of the entire place without requesting one.  I asked permission to take photos because I fell in love with the decor and certain things really caught my eye.

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The above photo is a corner in the cafe set up to look just like the area where C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and the rest of the Inklings would meet in a pub in England.

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If you are familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia, the above photo needs no explanation.

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A Narnian shield (above)

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A map of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  (above)

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They have been open one year!  They hung a banner to celebrate.  (above)

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Totally love this display of an old typewriter spewing the first twenty-two pages of (I believe Dave told us) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

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Love this unique bookshelf that holds works by the Inklings.

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As you enter and exit, you can see Mr. and Mrs. Beaver!

I cannot wait to go back to The Rabbit and the Dragonfly again, and again, and again, and again, and . . .

I want to sit there and write.

They also have cool special events.  Click the blue highlighted tag of The Rabbit and the Dragonfly in the upper part of this post to visit their website and see all that they offer, and if you’re a Bookish person, a writer or both and are ever in Lancaster county, you won’t want to miss a trip to The Rabbit and the Dragonfly!