Monday, September 28, 2015

Are you writing it down?


Greetings in the Lord, everyone! 
I have a couple of things for you today. 
                     First, I don’t believe I ever properly introduced myself to you and I’ve been  posting here for several months now.
I’m a 45-year-old Christian wife and mother.  I place the word Christian first because my first love and loyalty is my Lord and Savior: in the Holy Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.   My next loyalty is my family. 
My parents claim I was a poet from the time I knew more than ten words that rhyme on.  I know I’ve been writing since I learned to write.  Both of parents have boxes full of things I’ve written that date back further than I can remember; uniquely different types of writing through the decades.  I never realized how much my father enjoyed my writing until he told me a few months ago that he prefers I send him handwritten letters, and handmade cards, over a word letter with my signature or a Hallmark Card.   After God, Daddy is my rock.   
One year ago, the 7th of this month, my first book for publication went into production at Tate Publishing and was released to the market May 22, 2015.  It was a long and tedious process, but now I’m all in.  I’m working to try to get some of my shorter stories into a couple of magazines as a monthly feature.  If that comes together, I’ll share with you which stories and which mags picked them up. 
My husband is the pastor of our church and the evangelist of our church/missions helps ministry.  We came to know Alicia through his work in our ministry, as he preached at a tent meeting in Garcia one Summer. I’m still foggy on how they met, but I’m blessed by their meeting and the friendship we have developed over the internet.    She was/is a huge encouragement through getting my first book published. 
In high school and my first run at college, I wrote for the school publications.  In my careers in secular employment, I've written company training manuals, advertising and marketing material, and press releases and speeches for company leadership. In my service through church and our ministry, I've designed classroom material including bulletin boards and workbooks, written curriculum, written and produced manuals for special events, and handled advertising through all mediums.
There is more I could share, but then I wouldn’t fill the purpose of this blog, and you’d get bored; or know too much about me. ;-)
One last thing I will include with this bio is that I journal.  Some of my best work comes from old journals when I wrote down a day’s events and moved on with life; then was inspired later by something else to use that idea in a poem, short story, or essay.
                                                     That brings me to purpose TWO of today’s blog.
Throughout the Scriptures, people have been instructed to write things down.  Exodus 17:14 {KJV}: And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.    
Have you ever considered that the Bible started as a journal? 
After this Scripture, God talks about writing on our hearts, writing events down on tablets, on stones, and in books.  Throughout their journeys, the apostles write letters of instruction in which they describe certain events as examples of what to do and what not to do.  All of these events to be written down, are “written” so that they can be remembered.
What is the purpose of a diary or a journal?  It is to record an event that impacted our lives, or to record thoughts we may have had that were particularly profound, or keep track of prayer requests.  It is our own tracking of our personal histories. 
Take a look at the secular perspective for a second.  How much of the accounting of our own history in History text books, and permanent record, comes from newspapers (a living public journal of current events), magazines (the extension of newspapers), and actual personal journals of important persons in history?  If we did not have those records, what would we know about our own history? 
How many of our great men and women in history were writers at heart?  Any and every one of them who left journals. Even if they never wrote a life-changing college thesis, a set of amazing articles like the Federalist Papers, informative yet anonymous letters equivalent to the Silence Dogood letters, or the longest running publication in American History (The New Hampshire Gazette, founded in 1756), those who left journals with a tracking of the events in their lives, including events of historical magnitude that they witnessed, are great writers.  
                                       So why should writers journal? 
It takes effort to write it down.  It takes thought to put it together.  It engrains that memory somewhere deep within who we are as we write it down.   The journal, as a whole, speaks to who we, as individuals, are; and what we find important. 
You may not be a prophet of God, but your record of how He has worked in your life may affect someone finding your long left behind journal during the Tribulation period.  
You may not be a Betsy Ross or Benjamin Franklin, but your accounting of our current historical events, as you saw them, might just be the final eye witness account to make a difference in how the new history books are written for the next generations. 
But, even if you never want your journals read by someone important enough to use them in those ways, your own life can be affected by what you write in a journal today and rediscover this time next year.  
I’m considering doing a series for this blog on journaling.  If you’re new to the idea and would like to read through a mini-series on the subject; please comment on this post over the next few weeks.  If you’ve been doing it for awhile, but have questions on the subject, put that in a comment.  I’d love to help.  
The first step to remember:  Write it down for a memorial.  
Until next time…

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sometimes It Takes Two

Hi everyone! I apologize for my absence…I was traveling this month. (Part of the trip had to do with research, so it wasn’t a vacation from all things writing!) I hope you’ve had a great September so far.

Writing can be such a solitary activity, but many of the writers I know use their families and friends as sounding boards. What would most of us do without these wonderful people who give of their time and attention to cheer us on or help us out?

Another fun way to make writing not so lonely is to co-write. I’ve had the opportunity to do this with two different friends, using two different methods. The ways to co-write a book vary as greatly as friendships do!



With one friend, I was writing a Regency, Jane-Austen type novel. Over email and cell phone conversations (we live in different states, 1,000 miles apart), we plotted out the entire story ahead of time, including character sketches and chapter outlines. When we were ready to write, we adopted the same voice so that you often can’t tell who wrote which section. I wrote the first chapter which we had already discussed, then read it to her for her approval; when I was done, she wrote the second, which we again discussed in advance; and we continued to alternate. It worked well for us because she’s one of my best friends and we knew how to communicate and come to agreements. Yet we gave ourselves some autonomy, which made it fun, both for the writer and for the one whose turn it was to listen. We couldn’t wait to see what the other had written!

This also made the story a rich, shared world. We have inside jokes. The characters were created from two minds instead of one, thus making them more well-rounded. I benefited from her ingenious plot ideas (hopefully I have a strength that she benefited from, too!). Our friendship is the stronger and deeper for having crafted something together over such a long period of time. The project is on hold, as both our lives got busy, but we anticipate returning to it.

With a different but also dear friend, I’m writing a contemporary children’s mystery. This friend is local, and our weekly meetings to write are/were highlights of my week. The writing is slower because we decide how each sentence is written then and there, but we also have a ton of fun discussing the story world and its plot and characters. If you write with someone side by side, try really hard to stay focused on the story and not get hung up on details that can be worked out later. This will make your time productive.

So if you want to co-write with someone, it’s best to establish with him or her how you’ll be writing together first of all. Make sure your writing is compatible, and take time to outline or at least discuss the story’s plot (unless you both want to wing it!). Editing will clean up any dissimilarities or holes.

I’ve heard of many other instances where multiple people co-wrote books or stories. Back in the 1930s, a group of detective novelists (including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and G. K. Chesterton) collaborated on a mystery called The Floating Admiral. Each writer wrote a chapter after reading the previous chapters, but no one knew how the story was going to end. Each had their own theory and advanced the mystery in that way, dropping clues for the next authors to pick up on. It remained for the last author and the prologue-writer to tie all the threads. Now that sounds fun!

Have you ever co-written a story? What are some co-authored books you’ve read or heard of ?

Kelsey Bryant is an author, blogger, and copy editor who loves the Lord. She revels in many things: the beauty of God's Word, the music of English, the wonder of nature, the joy of creativity, the freedom of motion, the richness of literature, the intrigue of history...and much more. To learn more about her, visit her website or blog 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Five Benefits of Writer's Block


I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a post with a title like that. I’m also pretty sure I never expected to write one!

Some people don’t think “Writer’s Block” is a valid problem, and explain it as a lack of planning. This is a reasonable assertion, and no doubt true in many cases. However, even carefully-laid plans can be upset by circumstances, deadlines, or life in general.

Whether you get a blockage frequently or not, it seems a comfort that there can be positives to this state of mind, when words hold you hostage and won’t be wrangled into any kind of order. If you are in need of such encouragement, read on!


Five Benefits of Writer's Block


#1 – You realize you are human!
Of course you already knew that. But when the going is easy and our efforts reap quick rewards in the form of neat chapters and plot lines that roll out like carpets, we can get a little too comfortable to even understand the difficulties of others. Being stuck is humbling. And that’s always a good thing, right? ;)



#2 – Difficulty encourages growth
Challenge forces us to face the easy road and close the door on it. Though giving up may be tempting, we know if we take that route, we will have let the challenge defeat us. We will be disappointed with ourselves for abandoning an opportunity to persevere and grow.

(Note: I’m not saying that every project is worth pursuing, but rather that difficulty shouldn’t be the main factor in a decision to bow out.)

#3 – You can get new perspective
Being a writer who can’t write feels like being an athlete with a sprain – you simply cannot do the work you love. And if you have a deadline looming, or have scheduled a few clear days when you planned to add thousands to your word count, a struggle to progress can be downright demoralizing. Can it be even … crippling? That depends on you. Look up. Look around. At the end of the day, your terrible trouble would be a laughing matter for some people out there. We are so blessed when story trouble is the worst thing about our week.

#4 – You’re like a character in a book!
Sure, you still may not look like your favorite hero, or be able to sing opera any better than you did before. The fact is that we writers put our dear make-believe friends through tight places, and make them face hard things. That’s always an aspect of compelling fiction. Why? Because it’s an aspect of real life. So. If you’re struggling, you’re alive. Isn’t that reason to celebrate? :D

#5 – You are NOT alone.
If nothing else, Writer’s Block can drive you to your knees. You don’t have to face it alone. Ask the Lord for help, for inspiration, and for your project to be His. If that’s what the dreaded condition results in, it’s not such a bad thing after all.

Do you have any benefits to add? What do you think of the Amazon product below? I've often been tempted to buy it for writer friends ... but worried it might not be appreciated! :)
 

  
Caitlin R. Hedgcock is a Christian author who aspires to use storytelling for God’s glory. She lives with her family in England's picturesque county of Hertfordshire. Visit her website or Facebook page to find out more.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Find the Etymology of Words for Historical Fiction

Greetings all, John J. Horn here.

I write historical fiction. That means I get to use some great words that aren't in fashion anymore. It also means that I sometimes want to use words that had not yet been invented.

I have found etymonline.com to be a super helpful resource to tell me the history of words, along with fascinating details about their origins and evolution.

Need to know the history of a word?

Check out etymonline.com.

John J. Horn is a Christian author from San Antonio, Texas. Learn more about John and his Men of Grit series and sign up for his newsletter at johnjhornbooks.com.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day Word Out


Good Evening, Everyone! 

It was a great day in the Lord.

We did things we wanted to do and we did things we had to do.  It was a pretty awtaculous day.  (awesome, spectacular, fabulous)

I’ve had a hard time coming up with the Word Out challenge today.  I’m not sure if it’s writer’s block or if I’m bogged down in serious writing because of the courses I’ve been involved in.  So tonight I’m working on a word list to describe the weekend’s events.

Maybe you can help me with a word.  The weekend was full of music, fun, food, and good people, while I worked on many exhausting chores.

I need a word that will sum up the whole weekend. Can you help me with that?  It must be upbeat, exciting, positive, and fit the whole weekend.  And it cannot be a word that already exists. 

Remember that the Word Out is about using words that are commonly used and combining them to make up an whole new, fantabuloustic word to fit outrageous situations. 

Some of the key words I’m working with are music, country, tasty, hot, cold, exhausting, invigorating, refreshing, super, wonderful, food, and exciting. 

I look forward to seeing your comments and what you come up with for me. 

If I use your word in the piece I’m struggling over, I will make certain that you get credit for it in the work. 

Today’s Scripture verse does not really apply to the Word Out challenge itself, but it does apply to the weekend as a whole and may lend to helping the process of developing a new word. 

In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  (I Thes. 5:18)

Until next week…

Enjoy the challenge.