Monthly Archives: January 2014

Writing Isn’t Easy!

Think it’s easy to write? Think again. It’s as easy to write, as it is to have devotions everyday. It’s as easy to write as changing a flat tire. It’s as easy to write as it is to stop going to the refrigerator and eating something every ten minutes. It’s as easy to write, as it is to walk the dog or clean the cat litter or take out the trash that’s been collecting for a week in seven different trashcans around the house. It’s as easy to write, as it is to stop watching Castle or White Collar or Funniest Home Videos. It’s as easy to write, as it is to stop eating those chips! It’s as easy to write, as it is to go to bed early at night. It’s as easy to write, as it is to “take up your cross, deny yourself and follow Jesus.

The fact is: it’s not easy to write. Writing is hard work. It’s hard because it requires time, thoughtfulness and quietness. Writing worth reading requires “into-ness.” What is “into-ness”? Into-ness” means the ability to get “into” your story, get “into” your characters, and get “into” your readers.

“Into-ness” can be easier if you’re focused on one area of writing at a time. The story itself is flowing well. But your main character lacks expression. For instance, as you are writing your story and following an outline or have an idea of where the story is going, you shed more light on one of your characters. It’s your main character. The reader is unsure how Clara would respond to certain, given circumstances.

Clara is with her groupie’s, about eight teens that have been discussing the pros and cons of same-sex attraction. It’s after school in the hallway. In the past, Clara has been quiet and uncommitted to share her Christian beliefs. Suddenly, Amanda, an avowed atheist and in favor of homosexuality, asks her opinion. Clara turns her eyes away from Amanda and doesn’t answer. Amanda calls her a chicken and challenges her to tell her friends her “real” opinions of this so called “unchristian” activity. She is verbally attacked by Amanda, leaves the hallway and runs into a vacant classroom, and just shuts down. Karen follows her. When she sees Karen, she turns away, begins crying uncontrollably, her shoulders sag and she drops to her knees.

Karen: (the attacker): “Serves you right, Clara! Go ahead and cry about it.”

Clara: (stops crying and slowly gets up, still facing away from Karen): “You’re right, Karen. It does serve me right. I should have never turned down that offer to share my true feelings with the group.” (Turning toward Karen) “It’s time to be the real person I am.”

Karen: “What are you talking about? You aren’t made of stone. You’re as mushy as wet clay!”

Clara: “Used to be mushy; now as strong as a stone!” (Begins walking toward Karen, chin set forward, with steps as sure as a soldier) “You better move, Karen, or you will get knocked over!”

Karen: (steps aside) “Whoa! Watch out! What do you think you’re doing?”

Clara: (walks passed Karen and out the door speaking): “I’m going God’s way! Want to come?” (As her voice trails off)

Karen: “Hey, wait for me!” (Runs out of room through doorway)

Now, as a writer, you’ve placed your main character in the middle of big trouble! What will Clara do next and say next? Your job as a writer is to constantly place your characters into the battle zone of this present culture and have them speak the truth in love.

Let’s examine that statement: ‘Speak the truth in love.’

In other words, Clara might say:

“Hey, guys. I really like our times together in the lunchroom, the classroom, and on the track and field teams. But one thing I can’t share with you is my virginity. It belongs to God and will stay that way until I get married.”

Rick: “So, you’re a virgin?”

Clara: “Yeah, and not ashamed of it. My parents were virgins before they got married and I like the feeling of being pure and clean in my relationships.”

Billy: “Then why are you hanging around with us?”

Clara: “We all enjoy the same kinds of activities, don’t we? Just because you’re gay or lesbian doesn’t mean I don’t like you. I just can’t go that far. I want to honor Jesus in my decisions and activities. “

Amanda: “It’s not that you can’t go that far. It’s that you won’t! Right?”

Clara: “Yeah. You said it, Amanda. I’ve made up my mind and I won’t do something that would upset my relationship with Jesus Christ. I want Him on the throne of my heart. That way I won’t have to worry about the consequences of any poor choices I might make.”

Amanda: “So, are you saying my choice to be a lesbian was a poor one?”

Clara: “I can’t speak for you, Amanda or anyone else here. I’m speaking for myself. For me, choosing a lifestyle that is different from the one I see Jesus living in the Bible, is a poor choice over living free from the other choices out there.”

Billy: “As far as I’m concerned, this conversation is over.” (leaves)

The group breaks up, but Karen sticks around.

Karen: “Wow, Clara! Your wet clay turned into solid stone this time. I used to be a Christian.”

Clara: Really?”

Karen: “Yeah. I went to church with my parents and read my Bible.”

Clara: What happened?”

Karen: “I started getting involved with our groupie’s and I quit everything. But you really sound convinced on this Bible stuff. Do you really believe it?”

Clara: “I’ve been a chicken too long! I still read my Bible and pray almost everyday. Yeah, I believe it!”

Writers write on controversial subjects and with lots of problems in their stories. Characters come alive when there is controversy and trouble and tragedy! I like writing dialogue because it allows readers to like or dislike a character by reading the lines of that character. Word descriptions are nice, but they don’t let the character share his/her thoughts, feelings and actions.

Writers write! So, get to it! Finish this dialogue. Create your own set of unbelievable circumstances, choose some good and bad characters, place them in conflicting situations and start writing.

Sing that familiar cheer with these words:

“I am a Writer!
“Mighty, mighty Writer!
“Everywhere I go,
“People want to know
“What I write about,
“So, I tell them:
“I’m writing fiction!
“Mighty, mighty fiction!” You get the point.

Write and keep writing. Read and keep reading. Do research and keep doing research. Submit articles and manuscripts and keep submitting. Get published and paid. Keep getting published and paid. Honor your Lord.

Book Signing (con’t)

You may be wondering what to do with yourself at your first book signing. I’ve given a few suggestions in my previous notes. Here are a few more ideas. 9. Place your books to the side so you have room in front of you to see your guests and sign your books. 10. Speak the truth in love. In other words, tell people you write ‘fiction’ or ‘non-fiction.’ Don’t be afraid to say the word, ‘Christian’ whether you’re in a secular setting or a Christian bookstore. 11. Ask yourself: ‘What is my purpose for being here today?’ Would it hurt if you didn’t sell as many books as you intended to? At Barnes and Noble I received only the royalties from the 26 books I signed. They chose to order my books ahead of time and sell them at retail. But, I did receive plenty of publicity: posters they made up and placed in the store prior to the book signing; posters I brought; business cards I brought; they advertised my signing in the local newspaper, etc. 12. Try not to be pushy, but don’t be afraid to get up and offer your writing or your bookmarks as people enter the store (depending on where your table or area is located). 13. Try not to get side-tracked by one person that is talkative. Listen attentively, but be ready to politely ask them to wait or come back later so you can serve others interested in your writing. 14. Be careful not to mention the negative parts of your writing. Sometimes there may be scenes with blood and major conflict or tragedy. Leave these scenes for their discovery. Rather, share some highlights that may draw them into the storyline. 15. Don’t beat yourself up over people who say ‘No thank you.’ Or, who turn away from an offer for a bookmark, etc. Just say, ‘Okay,’ and move on. Don’t take negative comments or actions personally. Not everyone is going to be interested in your writing.16. There’s a limit to how much energy you have and how much of yourself you can give. I stayed at Barnes and Noble for almost twelve hours. Finally, my wife called and reminded me to eat some lunch. Funny how we can forget where we are and meet our personal needs. Be sure to take care of ‘you!’

Book Signing

Saturday, January 11, 2014 I had my second Book Signing since publishing Dragon Riders of The Realm. Barnes and Noble opened their store at the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs and had purchased 30 copies of my paperback book. I came prepared and excited. I ended up signing and selling 26 books and I stayed at the store from 9:00 am until 8:30 pm. During my time I handed out free bookmarks, free peppermint candies and some of my business cards. I talked with everyone that showed some interest and shared the concepts found in my book. I also wrote down some things I felt were important to know for my next book signing:

1. Be ready to introduce yourself with a smile and your name. 2. Let them know if you are a local author or where you’re from. 3. Don’t just sit and wait. Take some of your bookmarks and candy, walk around the store and offer them to the customers as they shop, if this is okay. 4. Have a short ‘pitch’ ready to share about your book. 5. Take breaks periodically to get a sense of where things are in the store – the Restrooms, the Children’s area, etc. 6.Get to know the staff by first names. 7. I typed up a little quiz and a survey people could take with them if they bought a book. The quiz was for kids and the survey for adults. 8. I took three different colored pens so buyers could choose the color of ink I would sign their book in. More later.