Feeling Far Away From God?

The other night, I was talking to God and telling Him how much I miss Him. Sometimes we go through dry spells in our Christian walk where God feels distant and His words to us become like precious drops of water in a severe drought. And it may not even be because sin has broken our fellowship–I’m a mother as well as a writer, and I know firsthand how family life can wear you down into a walking ball of anxiety. Plus, I’ve been trying to finish a manuscript rewrite, and the nature of the writing game is immersive focus.

My quiet time has suffered.

So last night, as I talked to the Lord about how I want to be closer to Him and hear His voice, and enjoy His presence, and how frustrated I am at my futile attempts to make it happen, a picture of the movie Wall-E flashed through my mind.

God had the best sense of humor, I’m telling ya.

I’m a mom, so yes, cartoons are frequently in my line of sight, but I haven’t seen the movie Wall-E in years, and my kids aren’t huge fans. So when I got this picture in my head–completely out of the blue–I just knew it was a hug from God. I know, I know–Disney and Pixar are of the devil, but in my experience, God does use culture we can relate to when He talks to us. One day a while back, He gave me “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Risk Astley, which was really funny, because God knows how much I dislike 80’s music.

So, anyway, Wall-E.

The scene that flashed through my mind was when Eve goes into hibernation mode, and Wall-E gives her shelter and carts her around, spending time with her even though she’s unresponsive. Isn’t that such a wonderful picture of how God sticks beside us, even though we can’t feel His presence? It blessed me so much, I just had to share in hopes it would bless someone else. Have a great weekend! (I really should pop over here more often to say hello.)

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Gifts of Encouragement

How do you ever get started on that first novel draft?

I’m guest posting on a fellow writer’s blog if you’d like to come over and read about how I began my writing journey and was blessed with encouragement along the way. Blessings to you.

http://merryheartink.com/gifts-of-encouragement/

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Story Genius – A Writing Craft Book Review

story-geniusI recently read a writing craft book that is changing the way I write for the better. I’m the kind of writer who’s good at laying on the action and plot twists, but finds character development not far off from trying to decipher rocket science and algebraic equations.

Story Genius gave me an approach to character development that works for me: write four backstory scenes that showcase the moment the character chose to believe his story Lie (or “misbelief” as SG calls it), and how over the course of his life, his choices led him deeper into that Lie and created his perception of the world around him. Then use those four scenes as a map for the character’s involvement in the story. Every decision he makes, and his every interpretation of the actions of others will be interpreted through the lens of these scenes.

I also found the “story card” approach helpful: jot down what happens in one column, with the effect of it on the other. Then draw a line under the “cause and effect”, and in the left square, write down why this cause and effect matters to the character, in the right, the realization or conclusion the character makes as a result of it. Next, in a box under that on the right, note what action the character takes as a result. (Sorry, couldn’t figure out a way to draw this.)

This story card idea is helping me write character-driven stories for the first time ever, and I’m so excited, I wanted to share what I’ve learned. Definitely, a five-star writing craft book, and one I plan to add to my personal collection.

Here’s a few goodies I took away…

“Your protagonist wants two things, which she’s about to find out are mutually exclusive: to achieve her desire and to remain true to her misbelief. So far her life has assured her that this is possible, and now she’s smacking into the realization that it’s not.”

“Is there a real-world specific, impending consequence that this escalating problem will give my protagonist no choice but to face? There must be something clear and definite that will occur if the protagonist fails, or worse, doesn’t take action. It can’t be vague, conceptual, or iffy.”

“A key rule of thumb is this: if at any point your protagonist can simply decide to give up without suffering great personal cost due to her inaction, you do not have a story.”

 

 

 

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Baby, Baby!

I had every intention of getting my act together with a book review theme. But how many know that when a baby arrives…your best intentions, ha ha. Out with those tiny newborn diapers. 🙂

Did I ever mention that I was expecting again? Well, last summer God decided that I didn’t need a career boost, I needed another baby.

Baby Girl decided to come into this world on the coldest night of the entire year, February 20th (it was seriously 20-something below zero), a full month before her due date. Yep, following in her brothers’s footsteps, she was born at thirty-five weeks. Itty bitty thing at six and a half pounds, but she has her mother’s healthy appetite. And she didn’t have to do a minute of incubator time, praise God. 🙂

So yeah, I’ve been enjoying a new baby. A good baby. God had the best idea after all, and I have to admit, Baby Girl is worth so much more than a writing career, not that I’ve given that up, mind you. 🙂 My writing and reading schedule has fallen by the wayside as you might expect, but I am strapping a notebook and pen to me, to snatch those few quiet moments for work on a new story. And that box of to-be-read novels? Right beside my recliner rocker.

It’s good to be back!

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Outlaw: A Book Review

untitledMy sister introduced me to Ted Dekker by loaning me “Obsessed” a few years back, and ever since, I’ve had it in my mind to read another of his books. Confession: “A.D. 30” is what caught my attention, the one I want to read, but since the library didn’t have it, I decided to give “Outlaw” a test drive.

“Outlaw” is a long way off from what I normally prefer genre-wise–in fact, besides “Obsessed”, I don’t think I’ve ever read a Contemporary Fiction novel outside Romance (even “Obsessed” had a romantic thread)–but it didn’t disappoint. I expected an action-packed adventure story presented in Dekker’s masterful style, and that’s what the author delivered.

A recurring dream lures Julian Carter to New Guinea with her two-year-old son and the intent of taking God’s love to jungle-dwelling natives, but she must be terribly mistaken as trouble meets her at every turn—literal shipwreck and slavery to the very tribes she’d intended to minister to. In her own culture and country, she’s a beautiful woman, esteemed for her place in a wealthy, southern family. But among the New Guinea natives, she’s as ugly as their pet pigs, and valued less. She has but one thing to bargain with for her life–a fertile womb among tribal women plagued with infertility.

The POV character switches toward the last third of the story, and however interesting, it was jolting. It’s obvious why Stephen’s POV doesn’t come into play until the last third, but having went with Julian through most of the story, it was disrupting to be handed off to a new character. The ending was also a small step toward “unbelievable” for me . . . I appreciated its creativity and victory, but it seemed to me that a believable ending wouldn’t have wrapped up so neat, especially given the story’s mood and the characters’ circumstances.

The author is a wonderful study for realistic characters you get to know and care for. I especially appreciated how Stephen’s worldview, speech, and response to the world around him reflected having grown up in a jungle with a father-figure as his only human contact. I had a clear picture of New Guinea in every scene, naturally presented through the characters. But my favorite aspect of Dekker’s works is his ability to keep me guessing. I can never predict what will happen to his characters, and the suspense is fantastic.

There is a heavy-handed faith thread throughout the story, as Julian’s goal in journeying to New Guinea started with a dream-like call to missions work, but instead of a missions focus, the story explores the depth of human suffering in relation to God’s love and leading. I found this aspect of the story intriguing and satisfying, though I did skim parts of dialogue that seemed to repeat the same ideas.

I’d give “Outlaw” four stars, and recommend it to readers up for a suspenseful adventure through the wild jungle of New Guinea, and those who enjoy stories depicting God’s love and reach to suffering humanity. Nope, not buying a copy for my shelf, but I will be keeping a lookout for “A.D. 30” 🙂

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