Archive for the ‘Creativity and the Arts’ Category

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Simmer Starters – January 16, 2016

January 16, 2016

Hooray!!  The Simmer Starters are back!  I’ve been saving links ever since I stopped blogging…it will be hard to pick the best. 😀

Blue Pomegranates (Abby Jones) – “[The famous pastor’s] response was to lump all fantastical type stories into a form of discontentment for the world God has created. Not only did he put Twilight hand-in-hand with such epics as Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter, andThe Odyssey, but he said they were all a form of saying God just didn’t make the world cool enough so I’m going to make my own. Obviously, I took a strong offense to that.”

Catholic or Pagan Imagination (David Russell Mosley) – This is a fantastic rebuttal to an Atlantic article that asserted that the British tell better children’s stories because Great Britain’s literature has its roots in paganism instead of puritanism.

Three Questions to Ask Before Listening to Any Sermon (Tony Reinke) – This is a great way to cut right to the worldview of anything.

In the Grand Scheme of Things (Hana Schank) – This is long, about a mother’s coming to terms with her daughter’s blindness, but I love this quote in particular. “I’d known, of course, that there were people who weren’t perfect, but they had lived at the fringes of my vision, barely existent in a landscape populated by the able-bodied and able-minded. And now, suddenly, the entire focus of my world had been inverted. I no longer saw ‘normal’ people as the focal point, with blurry disabled people at the edges. The whole world, I now understood, was made up of disabilities. Some people just wore their disability a little more obviously than others.”

Nine Questions to Help You Steward All of Your Life for God’s Glory (Brad Hambrick) – I found this exercise very helpful; although my direction in life is pretty “fixed,” it gave me a little bit of a better understanding of where God might be leading me.

The Clever Trick My Dad Used To Turn Me Into a Rabid Reader at 8 Years Old (Christopher Reiss) – Love this story!

The Force is With Her (Alicia Cohn) – If you haven’t seen The Force Awakens, beware spoilers, of course. “Throughout the series, Star Wars has shown us a chosen character grappling with how to use his unmerited gifts. It established the pop culture expectation that a young man has the right to choose his own path. Now perhaps it’s time for an iconic coming of age tale about a young woman. It is particularly encouraging — particularly for the mothers taking daughters — that for once, a female coming of age story in popular culture might not involve a messy sexual awakening, but her own search for power, agency, and calling.”

The True and Better YA Hero (Shannon Stewart) – Love this!!!  “All these things we find so magnetic in our fictional heroes are already ours in Christ.” On a similar note, check out this article by my friend RJ Conte which talks about a common fiction trope and how it shows a longing for God at the root.

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Simmer Starters – October 19, 2015

October 20, 2015

I’m so sorry this is several days late!!  I have loads of links to share with you.

Porn and Worship: A Look at Emotionalism in the Church (Zach Bartels) – Great article, countering something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now…the tendency of conservative Reformed churches to look skeptically on emotion.  “Just as porn doesn’t change our view of sex, emotional abuses, artificiality, and manipulations shouldn’t change our view of emotional experience. Yes, someone can use the four right chords to make you feel ecstatic or melancholy … but just as the marriage bed is the right place (the ordained place!) to feel sexual gratification, worshipping God is the ultimate place to feel emotional gratification.”

Flash Fiction Tips Round-Up (Teddi Deppner) – A useful post that does what the title says!

The Power of Fear (Seth Godin) – This short post is very thought-provoking…it packs a punch for so few words.

Here’s What’s Behind Our Obsession with Zombies (Kurt Schlichter) – Fascinating theories here.  “What is out of control, or what seems like it is out of control, is our society itself. A pervasive unease in America is deepening. It is a sense that our society has become unstable, that the normalcy we took for granted is gone and perhaps not coming back.”

Open (Mirriam Neal) – On being open with our emotions, something I could get better at!  “It’s a frightening thing, pulling back that curtain and letting everyone see you for who you really are.” Truth.

Five Ways to Use Pets in Your Story – Without Killing Them (Mythcreants) – I found this a fun post with some really good ideas – I don’t even like pets much, but it made me like them in stories more! 🙂

If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy (Walter Kirn) – Like me, you might regret reading this. Hahahahaha.  Seriously, though, this is very thought-provoking.  And good sci-fi fodder…

Reprise: Satan, the Imaginary, and Halloween (Rebecca LuElla Miller) – Good thoughts here on the controversy of Halloween.  I especially love her concluding thought: “The only way we can insure that Satan has his day is by our disunity, our unloving attitude, our angry arguments over whether or not we celebrate Halloween.”

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Simmer Starters – September 19, 2015

September 19, 2015

Our family was at a company event for my husband’s work earlier today – I should have gotten started on my link fest this morning.  It’s late, but here it is!  Maybe I should move it back to Friday since Saturdays tend to be busier!

Simmers today: Christian geekdom, redemption and patriarchal society, our children are our neighbors, honesty about the Planned Parenthood videos, perfectionism in writing, and why writing every day can be a bad rule (both prolific and percolators are represented here, hehe!).

A Theology of Christian Geekdom (Daniel Martin) – This article isn’t just up my alley, this IS my alley! 😀 Seriously. I couldn’t pick a quote to highlight because it’s more of an overview of the need for artists and art-lovers of all kinds in the church, and there are a variety of things discussed here.

Why Does Redemption Come Through Patriarchal Society? (Justin Taylor) – I thought this was fascinating.  “God is beyond human gender and our relationship to him beyond blood, but the tale of redemptive history comes to us in the language of a patriarchal society.” – Sandra Richter.  I find this really interesting, especially because I don’t believe patriarchy is necessarily the “Biblical” model for the family.  God used it as a picture, just like he uses marriage to be a picture (singleness still being valid!).

Your Child Is Your Neighbor (Jen Wilkin) – Fantastic application here for moms and dads.  “If you asked me the single-most misleading statement I’ve heard with regard to parenting, it would be this: The Bible is relatively silent on the topic of parenting.

What’s Really in the Planned Parenthood Videos? (Stand to Reason Blog) – A reminder to Christians to be careful and stick to the truth, not exaggerate the facts or argue based on disputable theories about what the films contain.

Is Perfectionism Killing Your Writing Career? (Kristin Lamb) – Clearly coming from the prolific side of the Prolific vs. Percolator debate I blogged about earlier this week, 😉 this post is still a really important thing for us perfectionists to hear. At some point you’ve just got to SHIP!

Writing Begins With Forgiveness (Daniel Jose Older) – And on the percolator side… 😀  I really loved this post.  “I’ve spent many anxious, fidgety hours in front of the blank screen, doing nothing but being mad at myself. Finally I figured out that brainstorming is part of writing too, and it doesn’t thrive when the brain and body are constricted. So I take walks, and in walking, the story flows, the ideas stop cowering in the corners of my mind, shoved to the side by the shame of not writing.”

Promoting Porn for the Glory of God? (Cap Stewart) – “Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong about movies dealing with sexual topics, even sordid ones. Still, we should not promote the use of pornographic methods to communicate a redeeming message. That’s like showing a titillation flick in a church service because it includes a conversion experience at the end, or taking your family to a bullfight in order to protest cruelty to animals. In other words, it’s self-defeating.”

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Writer Wars: The Prolific and the Percolators

September 16, 2015

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Yesterday I read an article I enjoyed.  To me, the lesson was: take your time writing books, pay attention to quality, and don’t feel pressured to pump out multiple novels a year, but rather do what you know is right for your stories.  Since I don’t have much time to write, and I am committed to seeing books through even if it takes years to hit gold in revisions, I appreciated the message.

But if your point and purpose as a writer is to take someone’s breath away, capture a riveting story, translate an idea — whether fantasy, love story, science fiction, human interaction, tragedy, thriller, family saga, memoir, non-fiction — in a way that raises hairs or gets someone shouting “YES!”; if you’re compelled to tell that story so beautifully, so irreverently, with such power and prose as to make a reader stop to read a line over just to have the opportunity to roll those words around one more time, then don’t listen to that advice [to write 4 books a year]. – Lorraine Devon Wilke (emphasis hers)

I posted the article in my writer’s group, not noticing that the article was somewhat condescending in tone toward those who do put out many books a year.  She implied (perhaps unintentionally) that writing many books a year means your books will be sub-par.  I heartily disagree!  Some of my favorite authors are extremely prolific.  But I failed to notice that overtone while I was appreciating the other aspects of the article that reinforced how I tend to do things.

Others drew my attention to a response article (be aware if you look it up – there is coarse language), in which Larry Correia tore the original one apart sentence-by-sentence, taking the opposite tack…that writers who take their time are the real hacks, not the other way around:

For most authors our first book is crap that probably doesn’t deserve to see the light of day. I’ve seen them referred to as books with training wheels. Pragmatic professional types stick that piece of crap in a drawer, move on with life, and write more books. Maybe they’ll come back to it and pick out all the good bits to use in other projects later, or they’ll try to edit it again once they have more experience (or your heirs will wait until you are dead and then publish it to cash in on your name), but the important thing is they move on.

Idealistic, literati artistic types will waste six years polishing that turd. At the end of it, the turd might even be so shiny it no longer looks like a turd, and they’ll publish it to rave critical reviews, and rejoice in their whopping $1.75 an hour they made from writing before going to work their shift at Starbucks. Meanwhile, the “hack” will chuckle, cash their royalty check that pays all their bills, and get back to work on book #15. – Larry Correia

Reading the second article was difficult for me, partly because I’m no fan of mocking sarcasm and rude language, but mostly because it was an extreme example of the mindset that made me appreciate the original one! 😉

At the same time, it also had good points.  Going slow doesn’t guarantee quality either.  It’s important to actually write and not just think about writing.  Etc.

At the end of the day, I was disappointed at the writer world.

Clearly there aren’t just “Mommy Wars” – there are “Writer Wars” too.  We can’t just disagree with each other.  We have to call each other “hacks.”  We have to call each other’s books “turds.”  We have to make fun of people who put out fewer books than we do and accuse them of being unprofessional.  We have to tear down the people who put out more books than we do because clearly they aren’t doing it “right.”

At the end of the day, we’re all doing the same work.  We do it at different paces, for different reasons, by different methods, and with different results.  Of course we do, because we are individuals!

But we all care about our stories, right?  We care about our characters, our worlds, and our readers.  We want our books to be the best they can be, and we search for ways to accomplish that.  We’ve all felt the sting of rejection, and celebrated the joy of a beautiful review or positive feedback.  We know what it is to get lost in a fictional universe, and try to balance that work/fun with “real life.”  We’re all human beings with feelings, and life is hard for all of us.

We have much in common.  And the important thing is to give the world good stories.

Doesn’t the world have room for both kinds of writers, the practical prolific ones and the dreamy dilly-dalliers (and all the ones in between)?  The world needs all kinds of stories, from all different personality types and backgrounds.  We need plotters and pantsers, literary and genre writers, indies and traditionally published, and yes, the prolific and the percolators.

Can’t we appreciate each other’s strengths and learn from one another without sniping at each other’s perceived disadvantages?

I don’t get it.  I truly don’t.

All I know is that the world of Christian writers and publishing should be different.  (And all praise to God, we usually are!  The thread in my group of believers was gracious and polite, even though several didn’t appreciate the article I shared.)

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits,impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. – James 3:13:-17

If you like to write fast and hard and earning lots of money is your goal, go for it!

If you like to write slow and gently, and prefer to prioritize ideals, that’s cool too.

Basically, “You do you,” as Chuck Wendig wrote in a third article I just saw this morning.  Do what you feel called to do.

Reading Jeff Gerke’s The Irresistible Novel (click that link for my review) primed me to take the writing advice I like and leave the stuff I don’t.  This controversy reminds me that the same goes for publishing advice too.  We should all be teachable, and yet remember that God didn’t make us to walk the same paths.  We are all members of one Body, and we fill different purposes in His world.  We all have different processes, and that’s not only okay, it’s GREAT!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a battle scene to write.

Slowly.

As inspiration comes to me.  😉

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3

What’s your style?  What are some of the best things you’ve learned that help you write better in your own style?

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Simmer Starters – June 13, 2015

June 13, 2015

It’s a day late, but here are my Simmer Starters for the week!  Please do check these out; there are so many good ones this week!

Somewhere Over the Rainbow? (RJ Conte) – This is a beautiful, heartfelt post from my dear friend, about suffering and how we can make peace and quiet into an idol and thereby worship the gift rather than the Giver.  “I was ready to tell the Sovereign Lord of the universe that He had taken enough people, planned enough grief, and allowed enough pain for this year.  That I was going to fight against Him to make sure the entire extended Conte family got a break.  That I would fight for this peace that was my right as a human being.  In my head somewhere, I had a land beyond the rainbow waiting for my family and me. ”

Christlikeness versus Like Christ (Peter Mead) – This is written to pastors, but SO relevant for everyone.  Are we focusing on how Christlike we can be?  Or are we focused on liking Christ (loving Him), and therefore becoming like Him because we adore Him?  “Christlikeness isn’t the goal of preaching for sanctification, it is the fruit.  The goal must be to stir greater love for God that results in greater love for others…”

Jonathan Edwards Would Like to Ask A Few Questions of Your Troubled Soul (Justin Taylor) – Just read this! It’s beautiful and important!  “Are you afraid that He won’t be willing to stoop so low, as to take any gracious notice of you? But then, look on him, as he stood in the ring of soldiers, exposing his blessed face to be buffeted and spit upon, by them!”

Are You Published (Charles Franklin) –  A very encouraging post about why your book isn’t terrible, no matter how many technical problems it has.  “Want to know a secret? You’ve said something in your life that completely affected someone else’s life. Your story will do the same. Somewhere in that terrible manuscript, you’ve written a line or scene that will completely change someone.”

Almonds, Bees, and Monsters – Writing What You Know (Kessie Carroll) – My crit partner and friend has a new book out!  Here’s her blog post talking about the things that inspired her to write Malevolent, a new paranormal romance.  (I’ve read most of it and can’t wait to finish it!)

J.K. Rowling Confirms American Hogwarts Exists (Time) – This is just a fun bit of news from the Harry Potter fandom. 🙂