Psalm 138 In My Own Words

Psalm 138 In My Own Words

With all that I am, God, I will praise You. In the face of all that seeks to turn my eyes from You, I will sing Your praises loud.

I worship You, Lord – because of Your tender affection. Because of Your truth. Because You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

When I cried out, You answered me; You filled my soul with strength and made me fearless.

When the rulers of the world hear Your words, my God, they will cry out in praise of You.

Yes… they will sing of Your ways, for great is Your glory, my King!

Though You are exalted above all, my Lord, You still take interest in the lowly. With the proud, however, You do not have intimate fellowship.

Even though I’m walking in hardship right now, You will revive me – with Your hand You will ward of the wrath of my enemies – You will save me with Your right hand.

Lord, You will bring to perfect completion all that weighs on my mind. Your mercy endures forever, my God – do not forsake those You have created.

The Problem with Christian Fiction

The Problem with Christian Fiction

Shocked you again, didn’t I?

But seriously, though… today I want to share with you about the problem I have with many works of Christian fiction.

They force a message/moral on the reader.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been turned off of a Christian fiction book because of preachiness. A stiff sermon in the form of fiction really frustrates me. If you really want to write an essay on Christianity, please just go do it. ‘Cause that’s what your exposition should be. Please don’t mask it with fiction.

I firmly believe that fiction should not be a platform for preaching. Tell your story and let it do its thing.

Disclaimer: please understand that I’m not knocking sermons or essays… I love them. I’m just saying that they have their own distinct place… they don’t need to masquerade in fictitious literature.🙂

Believe it or not, it’s possible to glorify God through fiction without preaching at your readers.

The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mould [sic] us.Oswald Chambers

I believe this applies to fiction, as well. I can’t tell you how many works of fiction have made me stop in my tracks and evaluate my relationship with God and how I live it out… without being preachy. The writer just let the story play out… and let me, the reader, learn from the natural flow of the story.

In my opinion, writing a story to teach your readers a lesson is stepping into dangerous territory.

A couple of years ago, God was teaching me something amazing. My natural reaction was to share my new-found knowledge with others. And so I thought…

Why not write my (beloved) Civil War story so the main character learns the lesson I just learned?

So I started doing it. I planned to put my main character through a series of disastrous and depressing events (which is something my writer’s heart morbidly enjoys doing), and have her come through this scarring experience with the realization that Jesus was enough for her, no matter what.

Thankfully I set that project aside for a time. When I came back to it, having learned more about the writing craft and just life in general, I realized I had messed up.

I was trying to force my story into a preconceived mold. A preachy mold.

I know people laugh when writers complain about their characters getting out of control and doing things the writer never meant for them to do… but it’s a real struggle. A well-developed character should surprise its creator and do things that it was never “supposed” to do. Annoying as this is, letting the characters live their lives authentically is one of the best things a writer can do.

Trust that your readers can learn from your characters’ experiences without preachy interference.

I’m certainly not implying that stories shouldn’t have themes and morals… they should. True stories have these! In short, I’m saying that the stories you write can (and should!) be meaningful and convicting without being awkward and preachy.

Let your story be just that – a story. Trust the incredible power of fiction… let your story play out and let your readers glean from it what they will… just like they observe real life and glean from it without exposition.

This is my opinion… what’s yours? Do you agree with me? Disagree? A little bit of both? Please share… I always love feedback and discussion.:)

Gift Ideas for Your Reading and/or Writing Friends

Gift Ideas for Your Reading and/or Writing Friends

Happy happy Monday, all!

Gift idea posts are flooding the blogosphere right now, but for once I’m not gonna go against the flow. Because I love gift idea posts. And giving gifts. There’s just something about thoughtfully choosing the perfect gifts for people you love. It’s amazing.

I’ve developed this particular list with readers and writers in mind. If you’re having trouble coming up with gift ideas for an avid reader or writer, hopefully this post can give you some inspiration.:)

Shout-out to the amazing members of my writing community who flooded me with gift ideas for this post. You’re awesome… thank you.

For the readers

Shadow of the Almighty

Gifting books can be difficult sometimes as people have vastly different tastes… but you can’t go wrong giving this biography as a gift. It’s my absolute favorite books besides the Bible… click/tap here if you want to hear me rave about it even more.:)

Book Nerd – Women’s Shirt

This one looks so cute and cozy!

I Don’t Have a Bedtime Keychain

So true some nights… sadly.

Jane Austen Tote Bag

This would work well for lugging library books home.:)

Cozy Blankets

There’s nothing like snuggling up for a good read in a cozy blanket and

Fuzzy Socks

with a steaming mug of

Tea

or

Coffee.

And

Chocolate.:)

For the writers

G2 Gel Pens

These pens are the best I’ve used so far… and I’m a pen snob.

Novel Journal

This idea is so cool: a journal where the lines on which you write are actually the words of a classic. I just ordered this Great Expectations journal for a Dickens-loving journaling friend, but they have many other classics available in this form, as well.

Vintage Typewriter Pencil Holder

This is soooo cute (okay, handsome if you wanna get it for a guy) and useful! Every writer needs a place for pens, pencils, and chocolate wrappers to stay. Besides, anything vintage typewriter is always a good idea.

Writer Keychain

Yes, we writers do have the privilege and heavy responsibility of creating universes.:)

Blank Books

This would be an amazing gift for a little writer-in-the-making. When I was younger, writing a story in an actual book was so much more exciting than writing in a notebook.

Notebooks

That being said, notebooks are pretty awesome, too.:)

Just a Girl Who Loves Writing – Shirt

This is My Writing Shirt

This one would be great for both guys and girls!

What did I leave out? What are some of your favorite gifts to give to reading and writing fanatics?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of the links I share in this post, I receive a small commission… at no extra cost to you.:)

Photo by Monika Stawowy on Unsplash

You May be a Writer If… (2nd Edition)

You May be a Writer If… (2nd Edition)

The last post I did on this topic was so much fun… I wanted to do it again! Hopefully you don’t mind.:)

You may be a writer if…

…you’re an avid people watcher, and are shocked out of your skin when someone tells you they don’t even know what people watching is. “Wait, what??? You poor guy…”

…you have to check your face for ink stains before leaving the house.

…something mentioned in a sermon gives you an idea for further development in your novel, and you have to covertly scribble it in your bulletin before you forget about it.

…grammatical errors drive you crazy.

…you whisper one phrase to yourself over and over again because those words together in that order just. sound. so. good.

…you fervently hope that so-and-so won’t figure out that you’ve put them in your book. In disguise, of course.

…you jump up to go look for a pen and later discover that you already had one behind each ear.

…you have to check each piece of scrap paper you throw out to make sure it doesn’t contain any valuable information… because you probably took notes on it.

…you read books like you’ve been hired to edit them. “This description needs to be condensed.” “The dialogue here is amazing.” “I wonder if this is foreshadowing something…”

…three-fourths of the time you spend “cleaning your room” is actually spent reading old books/journals/notes you just unearthed.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

5 Ways to Keep Your Focus On Tough Writing Days

5 Ways to Keep Your Focus On Tough Writing Days

Can we all agree that distraction is one of a writer’s most common and deadly foes? Here are some habits that help me stay focused on difficult writing days.

1.) Make a list.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate! Even if you have only one or two things on your writing agenda, write them down. It’s so helpful to have that visual reminder of what you have to do in case your mind wanders. And it’s just so satisfying to cross things off your list.:)

Here’s my writing list for today:

  • Work on Thursday’s blog post
  • Write the bridge for Chapter 4
  • Write more of Chapter 4… finish???
  • Listen to “Creating Stellar Characters”

2.) Have water or a yummy drink on hand.

Stay hydrated… it’s good for your brain! Make sure you’re getting the water you need so you can think and write your best.

Also, having a special coffee drink is just plain fun. Maybe it doesn’t improve focus in a huge way… but it can be a little extra something that makes your writing time more enjoyable.:)

3.) Take breaks and set a timer.

Giving your brain a break from focusing on one scene or task or topic can be so helpful. Taking even just a tiny break and doing something else for a minute or two adds a helpful variation from staring at your computer screen for hours.

As far as the timer goes… if you know that you have a limited amount of time to do something, it somehow makes a task more bearable and encourages you to work harder at it!

4.) Don’t let yourself get distracted.

I know, I know… the second you sit down to write that not-super-exciting scene or the mentally-taxing blog post, you remember half a dozen other things that have suddenly become pressing matters.

Just exercise your self-control and tell yourself, no not until _____. Then you’re going to be so proud of yourself when you reach that goal, and even more motivated to meet your next goal! Each time you work your self-control, you’re making it easier for yourself to be self-controlled next time. You can do it!!!

5.) Remember that it won’t always be a struggle to focus.

One of the things I had to realize as I started to take my writing more seriously is that there will be days where I’m super excited and pumped about writing, and other days where I’m really wanting to drag my feet… and that’s normal and okay.

Just keep on slogging through the tough days, knowing that you’re gonna slay it SOON!!!

What are some things you do to help yourself stay focused?

Less Than Two Months In… Three Things I’ve Learned While Pursuing My Writing Seriously

Less Than Two Months In… Three Things I’ve Learned While Pursuing My Writing Seriously

Way-way-wait what??? Less than two months in???

Wow.

Let’s just say that these have been two of the fullest months of my life. So far. 🙂 I look back and wonder how so much could be crammed into a mere sixty days. But it happened, folks. It happened. And it’s still happening.

About two months ago I graduated from high school and jumped into pursuing my future as an author seriously. Here are three things I’ve learned about the writing life in this time.

#1. I will not always feel inspired when it’s time to write… and that’s okay.

I was working on the second chapter of my current project the other day. I was at rock bottom. It was bad, guys. All I could force myself to type was he said this, she said that, he did this, she did that…

I wanted to bawl, Where is my creativity? My brilliant descriptions? My adjectives? Everything? Here go my writing dreams – right down the drain.

The fact is, I’m going to have these days… and that’s perfectly normal and fine. Because some days I feel like I’m churning out great ideas and brilliant descriptions and witty dialogue like crazy. These two extremes balance each other out.

It’s super important for me to just plug away at writing, even if I feel like what I’m writing is trash. If I write only when I feel like it, I’m not a writer at all – I’m just someone who writes for fun. I wouldn’t be a farmer if I only worked on the farm when I felt like it, either. Part of doing something professionally is doing your best even when your best seems awful.

In short, I’m learning that writing isn’t all fun and games… like any other occupation, it comes with its hard days. But I’m fine with that! There’s still enough awesome about it to keep me wanting to be a professional writer someday.

#2. Lists make life better.

I used to laugh at my mom and her lists… but I guess she converted me.

Nearly every day when I sit down to write, I make a list of what I want to accomplish that day. I try to get as specific as possible so I have more to cross off. It makes me feel more productive. 🙂 Also, just having a tangible list of what I want to accomplish is so much easier and productive than having a dozen plans ricocheting around in my brain.

#3. It’s a challenge for me to keep “writing stuff” in writing hours.

I’ve been setting a certain amount of hours each week day to work on my writing projects and other writing-related things. I’m not going to lie; it’s been a struggle to keep my writing restricted to those hours. It’s all too easy to let it seep into all the other areas of my life and suck my focus away from relationships and home responsibilities… and most importantly, my responsibilities as a daughter of God and ambassador for Christ.

God and people need to have first dibs on my attention. Writing can’t.

This has probably been my biggest struggle – even bigger than staying motivated and sticking with my writing projects. Hopefully the next two months will find me a little more on top of these priorities than I am at present. 🙂

But God’s grace is enormous. I daily encounter my faults, my failings, my weaknesses… and He daily reminds me that He is sufficient, and that He’ll use each one of my problems to bring Him glory.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

How great He is!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash