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"Write this down for the next generation so people not yet born will praise God." Psalm 102:18

"Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others." Habakkuk 2:2

Friday, April 30, 2010

Great Characters

I have been thinking and musing on the thought of great characters, great writing, great stories, etc. I ponder what it takes to be a great writer, as I start on my own endeavors. Is it something that can be learned and refined? Or is it something that comes from deep within you? Do some people have it and some don't? How much of great writing is talent vs. hard work, or is it a combination of the two? I don't know that I have the answer to any of these questions.

I do know though that great characters can make or break a story. Real characters are ones that you can relate to as a reader. They draw you into their world. I know this from experience!

It's been a busy week and I have been trying to work through three non fiction books that I need to have completed, and write reviews on by this coming Monday. Before these books arrived though, I had started on Vickie McDonough's new book, entitled The Anonymous Bride. She is a very talented author and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I had to force myself to put her book aside for a week, so I could take care of the things that need to get accomplished.

While reading Vickie's book, I am disciplining myself to write down things as I go through each chapter - what is the conflict, how is she furthering along the plot, etc. I am trying to analyze and learn what it is that makes it a great story. This is very difficult. I easily find myself swept away by the story, and want to keep reading instead of analyzing.

This morning as I was thinking of all that I needed to accomplish today, my thoughts were interrupted. "I wonder what Luke and Rachel are doing? What's going to happen next?" These are the characters in Vickie's book. To me, you write a great story when you have characters that interrupt the reader's thoughts in between the time they are actually reading. This is what I hope and desire to do through my writing.

Hats off to you Vickie!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Learning How To Juggle

I never have been good at juggling, unless you count only using two balls! Right now I feel like I'm on a journey of learning how to juggle/balance the things that God is calling me to do. I feel like I'm in the trial period, before I get down to crunch time. The beauty of this, is that I can learn what things I can manage, and also know when I have taken on too much.

As God continues to show me new endeavors that He desires of me, I also know that He will teach me how to balance those commitments. I also need to be daily seeking Him for guidance and strength. I only can successfully learn to juggle with His help.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

THE STORY

It's been a busy few days. I was able to get some real definite planning for my writing project accomplished on Friday, but not much else since then. I'll be glad when our homeschool year is completed so I'll be able to have some more time to concentrate on my writing. For now, I will be content with the time I have been given.

Yesterday during my pastor's sermon he said this, "Every good story is rooted in THE STORY." (Pastor Paul Tatum) I couldn't help but think about the truth behind this statement. I know with being interested in writing, I enjoy reading, viewing, or hearing a good story. A good story can stir our imaginations, but also cause us to look beyond ourselves.

A good story that moves us to emotion, is one that causes the viewer to be able to sympathize with the hero or heroine. I can't help but feel that God has built inside each of us the desire to learn more about how we can come to Him. Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross for you and for me is THE STORY. No other story can compare to it. It is the hope that we have!

Friday, April 23, 2010

They're On The Move

I thought I would take a quick break from planning out my characters, to give my brain a different direction to process. I feel like my characters are slowly starting to move around in my mind. They don't have full substance yet.

I'm finding that it takes a while to come up with a history for each one, as well as their quirks and features. What makes them each different and unique? What brought them to where they are currently? What struggles do they have? How would they respond in a situation? What are their insecurities? Do they have any secrets?

I continue to have much food for thought as I flesh out what makes my characters tick. How do I intertwine their paths? I find that each decision leads to another and another. It will take some time, but I look forward to when they are living and breathing in my mind on a daily basis. Until then....back to the drawing board! :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm Looking Forward to Tomorrow

It's been a busy week. So much so, that I have been unable to do any research for my writing project. It has been on the back burner. Even though I haven't been consciously thinking about it, I know my brain has been mulling over possible scenarios.

On Sunday evening I had the opportunity to share the plot and subplot with my husband over dinner. It was good to bounce some ideas around, and think of different possible twists to the storyline. One thing I learned early in life was not to talk a lot about your actual plot, but instead to get it on paper (or computer!).

Even though there are a few people that know I'm writing a book, I have shared very little because of this. The ideas remain fresh when they are still in your head. I have shared a little bit about the setting, but that's about it. I have been in contact with a Christian writer in Maine and she mentioned the importance of not sharing your story with others until the rough draft is completed and you have had time to read over it in its entirety and made corrections. I believe this is something that I will try as well. If memory is correct, when I was writing my other two novels, I made sure to write my ideas on paper before sharing them.

All this to say, that tomorrow I finally will have a free day to devote to my writing and I'm looking forward to it. Perhaps tomorrow will be the day when those flat characters transition into being ones with substance.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Obedience to God's Call

Ever wish you had a longer day in which to get things accomplished? Sometimes you may think this, because you are overwhelmed by the amount of work that is piling up before you. Or perhaps you just are excited about doing a lot of things, and there just isn't enough time to do it all. Right now, the later has been my thoughts.

I have many books I am trying to read on writing, read fiction to stay current with the genre, research for the book I am writing, read books for blog tours, write, etc. Then there are the every day things of life - meals, laundry, dishes, cleaning the house, homeschooling... The list soon becomes quite extensive.

I am on the threshold of several new endeavors that God is calling me to do. It can be scary and a little overwhelming at times. My biggest struggle is trying to find balance. Even though things may be disconcerting, I know that if I keep my eyes on God, He will help me to know what should take precedence. I pray that I will be obedient to His call. I desire to do great things for God.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Flat Characters

I recently have been in contact with a young lady in Michigan, who also has an interest in lighthouses, as well as writing. We have exchanged several conversations back and forth, sharing information and interests. It has been exciting and encouraging.

In one of her emails, she was sharing about her own writing, and how involved she can get with her characters. This thought has continued to remain with me, and also stir up memories of the two books that I have written already. I remember the excitement of creating these past characters.

While researching on Friday, I was very energized, as I started to form in my own mind how the town of Camden looked in 1880. I had the names of streets, and could picture my character walking on them. But then I realized that at this point, I still have flat characters that are stuck on the paper. I know the plot and even some of the subplots, but still don't know the individuals in my story.

I have a real general view of what they are like, my characters. But I have chosen not to breathe life into them yet, by learning all of the subtle idiosyncrasies that compose them. I know that once they are created, they will live on in my mind, as if they were real people.

I remember when I was in my early 20's, and was writing my first historical fiction book. Each day I was eager to get on the computer to discover what my characters were doing. Sometimes they even surprised me.

Someday soon I will take that step to move those flat characters into being living, breathing, and moving ones that live on in my imagination. Perhaps someday I can introduce them to you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fun Day

I am weary today, so don't know how much actual planning I will get accomplished. I had a neat surprise this morning though. We were out and about and happened to stop by a yard sale at a local church. I was tired and ready to head home, but my husband wanted to stop.

When we went inside, I quickly browsed through the tables, eager to be on our way. I noticed from a distance that the books were half price. I was on the lookout for possible items on lighthouses. What surprised me even more, was that I found ten books on writing, predominantly fiction writing. I spent a whopping $4.60 for all ten of these. I also found some Christian fiction books that I picked up for research - sentence structure, dialogue, etc. What a blessing when I least expected it!

I just love the way God brings good things into our lives when we are following Him. Now I know that we also face struggles and difficult times too, but He also longs to bless us. I am feeling mighty blessed today!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Having Fun

I finally am able to have time to research and plan for my novel today. I have been focusing on the setting and trying to find out specifics in regard to Camden, Maine during the 1880s. I have been pleased to find old photographs of buildings during that time period, as well as a map of the town, including names of some businesses and churches.

I stand in amazement as I look back at how far the Lord has brought my research in only a month's time. He seems to be paving each step of the way in front of me. I truly feel that this project is orchestrated and ordained by God. He continues to bring people in my path that are willing to help through either research, or some other type of encouragement. It has been such a blessing.

I have been having an incredibly fun time working on this project. I can't imagine how much more exciting it will be, once I actually start the writing process. I am finding the research stage to be exhilarating. I forgot how much fun writing can be!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tomorrow Is The Day

All week long I had been hoping to have time set aside for working on my research and writing, but it just hasn't happened up until now. Other things have been keeping me busy. Tomorrow will be my day to sit down and really delve into things. My 16 year old will be working and gone for the day, and I have no other plans, besides carting him back and forth from work.

I have a lot of information about the area and lighthouse I will be writing about.  I plan to actually sit down and figure out all the details (or as many as possible) in regards to where I want the setting to be, and how I want it to look. I didn't allow myself to do this before now, because I know I will need a solid chunk of time to sift through all the information. I feel like I am creeping closer and closer towards the actual goal of writing.

This afternoon I was able to attend a creative writing workshop at our local college campus. It was good. I also have started doing web searches for free writing courses, particularly in fiction and characterization. I am eagerly looking forward to having some time this evening to check into that as well, while my husband and son are gone.

Each day I continue to have some type of confirmation in regards to this calling that the Lord has given me. I have been in correspondence with an author from Maine that writes and homeschools. I was curious to how she balances it all, and she gave me some pointers. I also was in contact with my magazine editor who directed me to another lady that has a real interest in lighthouses. I look forward to dialoguing with her. It seems the Lord continues to bless and encourage me along in this writing journey.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Jeremiah!

Wow! It seems hard to believe that today my youngest son turns 16 years old. Where has the years gone? I can't go over how much he is growing and changing into a fine young man.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to read a story that he is writing. It is a school assignment, but he is enjoy being able to work on it each day (all right, some days he grumbles). I was impressed with his writing ability. He has been growing and maturing before my very eyes.

My husband will be heading home around lunch time, so we can spend the afternoon and evening participating in some fun activities with our son. Before we head out for the day, we'll have his traditional birthday meal - hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. I was trying to remember when this tradition actually started.

When Jeremiah was five years old he fell out of the top bunk bed and completely fractured his spleen. He spent a week in the pediatric intensive care unit. After returning home, he had a month of not being able to run, jump, etc. Not exactly something easy to follow for an active five-year-old boy! After his convalescent time was over, we had a "Praise God" party to celebrate. The food he requested to have at the party was macaroni and cheese and hot dogs! Every year since then, that has been the menu for his birthday.

Today I celebrate Jeremiah! My six foot tall 16 year old that has a heart to serve the Lord. I was inspired by his faith last summer, as he stepped out into the unknown to follow the Lord's direction and head to China for almost three weeks.

I know God has great things in store with you and I'm proud of you. Happy Birthday Son!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Item for Consideration

Almost two years I polled over 200 women nationwide (with a few results outside the US) ages 18-80's about what were there top ten struggles as a Christian Woman. I started compiling the information and have gotten about half way through the material. Lately I have been debating of whether or not I should continue the research, or just let it drop and solely focus on the novel I am writing.

Even though it has been almost two years, I still have women that find my blog due to this topic. Each day when I check the statistics for my two blogs, I often see that the blog entry that was perused is the struggles we have. I can't help but wonder whether or not this is something that I still am to continue working on. This is your chance to chime in to let me know whether or not this is a matter of importance to you. Let me know your thoughts.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Decisions

I have been waffling back and forth for a few weeks on a decision. Today I finally made a stand. What was the quandary? I couldn't decided whether or not I wanted to use the actual name and town for where my lighthouse book I'm writing is based, or to come up with a name on my own. Due to the negative connotation I have opted to come up with my own creation.

The lighthouse that I have been researching was called Negro Island Light at the time period I will be writing. In the 1900's it's name was changed to Curtis Island Light. This is near Camden, Maine. There are advantages and disadvantages to using the actual name. Although I am trying to do as much research as possible, there still are many items that I will be unable to discover. I realize that there won't be anyone reading my book that was alive in the late 1800's and could point out the inconsistencies.

I remember reading a book that had the character travel through my town. Some things were accurate in their descriptions, and others were completely wrong. That bothered me...I wanted it to be correct. Perhaps it is just me that cares about these kinds of details. At any rate, I have decided to set my story in a fictitious town, so I have the freedom to create my own details when I can't find specifics in my research.

I am excited for finally reaching a decision for my book setting. My contact in New York recently emailed more information. I am looking forward to being able to sit down and finalize all of the details. Each step is closer to actually writing the book. I can hardly wait. :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Getting Closer....

I have been in recent contact with someone that has been researching the lighthouses of New England for over a decade, with special emphasis on the particular lighthouse that will be the main focus of the novel I am in the process of researching and writing. Yesterday I sent a long list of questions in regards to this lighthouse, the local town and time period I am researching. He responded back with two pages of answers for me. I am so grateful!!

I find that each step of research is getting me closer and closer to the actual starting point of writing. I continue to study and learn about the time period, and I find it exhilarating. With this new information, I am anxious to soon sit down and plan out in detail the whole novel. I have specifics in regard to the town and lighthouse now. The picture is beginning to form in my mind. I find my fingers are again itching to get things down on paper.

For this weekend, things will be on hold since my oldest son flew home from college in Florida to spend a couple days with us. Come Tuesday morning I will be sitting down with all the information and developing my setting and plot. I can hardly wait!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Coat, a Book and Writing Materials

"When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments." 2 Timothy 4:13

This verse was part of my devotional reading early this morning, before I took my son to work. I guess with having a renewed interest in writing, this caused me to pause and think a little bit. I teasingly commented to my husband that it's biblical to have an interest in books and writing. All right, I admit, it's likely those scrolls were equivalent to my Bible. I love reading my Bible too. The point that struck me, was Paul's desire to read and write (and to be warm! :).

I continue to be amazed at how far the Lord has brought me the past couple months. I stand in amazement at the things He has taught and shown me. He has renewed in me the passion of writing. I have had such an unsuppressed joy by working on writing and researching for my book. I feel like the joy is bubbling out. I can not contain it!

Yesterday I was blessed to hear from two individuals that will be an extremely valuable resource with researching the lighthouse I am writing about. I was encouraged when they expressed their willingness to answer all of my questions. For me, it was a confirmation that I am on the right track of where God wants me to be.

It's warm in PA today, so I don't need the coat, but give me a book and writing materials and I will be happy!! :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Excitement

I continue to work on my research for my novel. I spent yesterday learning about Maine. I was excited last night when I discovered the amount of people living in the town during the time period I will be writing. I am in the midst of contacting people that are willing to help with research. I continue to find new leads each day. I find all of this work exciting!

Last night I spoke with my eldest son for a little while, and shared some of the things I have been learning about the time period. He didn't seem overly thrilled, but listened to what I shared. :)  I know that each little piece of information can be used to weave in the story I am creating. I feel like each bit of knowledge I obtain can be used in the puzzle or tapestry I will be weaving.

My first area of research was on lighthouses. I have read a lot of material. I know I still have a lot to learn, but also feel I have made some decent headway. Next area of interest has been on Maine. I also just received books from the library to learn about the types of ships during that time period. Then there is my book on A Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800's. I also borrowed paper doll books from my mother-in-law that depict the different fashions through the eras.

I am so excited about how things are coming together. I have on order at the library, books on characterization. I can hardly wait until they arrive! The more I get involved with the fabric of writing, the more I realize that this is such a big essence of how God created me. It gives me such pleasure and joy to be working on the research and the actual writing too. Right now I feel like the joy and excitement is just bursting out of me! :) I just had to share it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Small Beginnings

Last week I had a research day, where I spent about five hours learning all about lighthouses. It was a very productive time. On Friday afternoon I sat down and wrote my first three pages of my manuscript. They still need some tweaking, but I feel I'm off to a good start.

Yesterday was a day for me to catch up with some of the housework - laundry, shifting and eliminating piles, discovering a kitchen counter and table underneath all those piles, making applesauce, etc. Today I'm looking forward to another day of research. Yesterday I was on my feet until early evening, and today I'm feeling the results.

Update:
Just had to share some interesting information that I have learned about Maine while researching today.

Did you know that they were the first to come up with earmuffs, chewing gum, blackboards and donuts? Pretty interesting stuff! :) 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

HE IS RISEN!!!!!!

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!!

HAPPY EASTER!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

One Step Further

Yesterday I had a pleasurable day. I spent the morning blogging and catching up with some things. The afternoon I enjoyed immersing myself in research of lighthouses for about five hours. It was exciting to read and learn things about this time period in which I will be writing. Doing this research is helping me to pinpoint the exact time period that I plan to use in the novel.

Actual writing of the novel hasn't taken place as of yet. I would love to start crafting the story, but know that I need significant research before I allow myself to start putting pen to page. All right, I do admit that I have written a few pages of ideas and possibilities so far. It doesn't mean they will actually get in the actual manuscript, but perhaps are just part of the thought process.

I really am excited about getting one step closer to the actual writing process. Each bit of research that I'm able to complete, draws me nearer to my goal. I also am looking forward to next week. I have two names that I was given that would likely know more information about the time period and lighthouse in which I will be writing. I pray that they are open to helping, since my lighthouse is in far away Maine, and I am unable to travel there at this point. (I just checked on MapQuest and my destination is about 11-12 hours drive. Hmmm. Sure would be nice to do a car trip to see it sometime). For now I'm content to keep working on my research.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Cry of My Heart

The other day I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministry. She was speaking about prayer. One thing she said that really spoke to me, was the importance of identifying my most desperate need today. Now I realize that this can change from day to day. She went on to say of the importance of taking that need to God and asking Him to be our portion for that day. Each day we continue to do this.

I couldn't help but ask myself, "What is my desperate need and desire?" My first thought and cry of my heart was, "I want to be a great writer." I don't say this for selfish reasons. Sure I admit, I look forward to someday holding a book that has my name on the cover, but I desire much more than that. I desire God to use me to touch women through my writing, to stir them to a deeper level of faith and understanding of God's Word. I don't want to be just a good writer. I want to be a great writer, not because of me, but because of God. This is the cry of my heart, along with following wholeheartedly after God.