Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

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Simmer Starters – April 29, 2016

April 29, 2016

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Parchments (Mike Wittmer) – WOW. Did you ever wonder how much it cost Paul to send one of his epistles?  I was pretty astounded…

Three Dollars (Adam4D) – As usual, insightful and convicting webcomic fare from Adam4D. I really enjoy his comics but I’m not sure I’ve linked to them before on my Simmers!

Make Your Protagonist Special (Janeen Ippolito) – “Make your protagonist special. Make them different. Give them that weird hair color or that weird superpower or that weird, inexplicable fascination with toaster ovens. When you stick them in those impossible situations, equip them with some kind of special-ness to be able to handle that situation. Not at first, of course. Growth comes over the course of the plot. But don’t leave a protagonist with nothing to work with at the start.”

Aphantasia: how it feels to be blind in your mind (Blake Ross) – An fascinating article (caution: language) by a man who discovered that his brain didn’t work quite like other people’s brains do.

Die to Your Flesh and Live (Jon Bloom) – One of those articles I didn’t “enjoy”…but really needed to read. 😉  “When it comes to resisting the powerful demands of our weak flesh, the Bible describes it as a kind of dying. That’s because our deceived, corrupt flesh believes our life will be happier if we gratify it. Denying it can feel like dying to something life-giving.”

 

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Simmer Starters – February 26, 2016

February 26, 2016

Simmers

Narrating Dreams & Visions (Mythcreants) – Sleep stuff fascinates me!  This is a good breakdown of information about things like sleepwalking and sleep paralysis, as well as suggestions about how to write dream sequences and visions. In TKT I actually fall afoul of one of their tips to not change tense or switch between 1st and 3rd POV. Oh well. I like what I did and will keep it for now. 😀  (I also have to include a direct link to the link they share on sleep paralysis…Sleep Paralysis is an Inescapable Waking Nightmare by Brian Barrett. So fascinating!! And also terrifying.  And is it weird that after reading that I kind of want to experience it? 😛 Not the most horrifying versions of it, though…whew!)

Brief Analysis of Alphahole Trope In Romantic Fiction (Ilona Andrews) – I have to warn you, this can be a bit crass at times. But it is hilarious.  And oddly informative. 😀

Corpus Linguistics (Valerie Hobbs) – This is a slightly complex topic, but I enjoyed this rebuttal to a recent Tim Challies article.  I totally agree with some of the conclusions here, as I wasn’t a huge fan of the original article it’s rebutting.

Romance in Christian Fiction: How Much Heat Is Too Much? (Nadine C. Keels) – I really liked this thoughtful post.  “Christian Fiction books have and will continue to come in different styles and levels of content. There’s no one-size-fits-all-Christians kind of novel out there, and, just perhaps, there never will be. And that’s absolutely okay.”

Nothing to Celebrate (Carl R. Trueman) – “Take for example the creeping intrusion of so-called celebrations of life into Christian churches as the default liturgy of death.  Such things deny death its due by attempting to numb the pain in the strangest of ways. If ever there was a way to underline the devastating trauma of a death, it is surely to recollect the joy and laughter which the deceased brought to the lives of others.”

Writing With Jacob’s Sticks (Shannon Stewart) – Love this. “Ultimately, whether I’ve picked a strategy that works or one as seemingly crazy as Jacob’s sticks, it’s God’s desire to bless me that actually blesses me. ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man [sticks, baby-raising, social media], but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand’ (Proverbs 19:21).”

 

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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 – July 25, 2015

July 25, 2015

I’m sorry for the lack of posts lately!  My brain has been totally absorbed with new baby and family stuff and I haven’t had a lot of mental bandwidth for writing articles, barely adding a sentence or two to my book every few days!  But I try to keep up my Simmer Starters, because they are fun – and here is my collection for this week.

Change the Face of Female Villains (Barely Hare Books) – This was an interesting post…I’d never noticed before how female villains tend to fall into cliches more than male villains these days.  “What can we do as writers to break free of these chains and create female villains that are just as bad as the boys? What do female villains need to be as equally threatening, if not more so?”

How to Create a Rational Magic System (Chris Winkle, Mythcreants) – Oh, how I love worldbuilding…  Awesome, very thorough article about creating magic systems!

7 Ingredients of an Amazing Climax (Chris Winkle) – Also from Mythcreants…I just rediscovered this site and am enjoying a lot of the in-depth, helpful articles there.  This one helped me rethink my book’s climax and come up with some good ideas to make it pack more punch.

Learning the Craft (Steven Pressfield) – LOVE.  “If you and I want to take ourselves seriously as writers, we have to ask ourselves not just, ‘Am I studying the craft?’ but ‘Am I studying my craft?’ ”

Why We’ve Made Too Big of a Deal Over the Phrase “Looks Like You’ve Got Your Hands Full” (Katie Bennett) – A beautiful example of responding with grace in a world where mothers often respond to innocent comments with offense (and I’m guilty of that too!).

Help! Mommydom Leaves Me No Time For God (Holly Elliff) – Encouraging and convicting!  “Since these kids, at the ages they are at this moment, are God’s will for your life, does He intend to speak to you in the next decade or so when you don’t have free time? Of course He does. So how is that going to happen when you have so little time you can control?”

Praying the Bible (Tim Challies) – This is really a book review, but I might need to pick up this book because this approach to prayer has revolutionized my desire for a daily devotional time!  It has been so very helpful (along with deleting my Facebook app and sticking my Bible app in its old spot!  That was a very useful brain hack, and got me diving into the Bible multiple times a day the way I might check a social media app).

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Love Is…More Than Sacrifice – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

March 4, 2015

love seriesWelcome to my series on 1 Corinthians 13!  For the introductory post, click here.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

I had a chance to put what I’ve learned about this passage into action yesterday.

(Really, it should always be in action!  It should be in every action!  But I mean God brought it to my mind and helped me escape temptation through my memory of this verse.)

It’s a long story, but in short – I committed to providing a cheese and cracker platter to a funeral reception at our church that evening, and due to some misunderstanding or miscommunication, I was under the impression that our neighbors were going to deliver it for me.  This did not turn out to be the case.  So I found myself rushing out the door with the three kids in tow, leaving our partly cooked dinner behind, so that I could get the platter to the church on time.

Let’s just say my mood wasn’t the greatest about this unexpected turn of events.

I felt like what God told Cain, that, “Sin is crouching at your door; its desire is for you and you must rule over it.”  Sin was right there with me, breathing down my neck.

And I could have let it own me, then.  But God in His graciousness helped me turn to Him instead, and brought this verse to mind, along with all the things I’ve learned from studying it over the past month.  He is faithful and good that way!

Lesson #1: You can sacrifice, yet have not love

In countering the “love is a feeling” lie the world often tells, Christians are known to respond with the sentiment that love is an action.  Love is what you do, we say.

This is only half true, I realized.

As we can see from this passage, we could even deliver up our bodies to be burned, and have not love.

I could speak with the eloquence of the greatest men or the languages of angels…but without love my words would be nothing but a disturbing clashing sound.  I could have the power to see the future, understand all mysteries, and accomplish anything with my great faith in God…but without love these amazing feats are worthless in God’s eyes.

I could sacrifice everything, right down to the shirt off my back – right down to my very life! – and yet be loveless.

So we cannot take impressive feats or self-sacrifice as proof of love.  There’s more to it than that.  (More on that thought in the rest of the series!)

Lesson #2: You can be a champion for Christ, yet have not love

One of the things I’ve loved about reading this passage is studying the commentary my digital Bible has to go along with it.  Here is one thought which the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown commentary had which stuck out to me:

Men will fight for Christianity, and die for Christianity, but not live in its spirit, which is love.

Ouch!  I could fight untiringly for the cause of Christ, even die for Him, without truly becoming like Him.

Funny how that works.  Sometimes laying down your life in death is easier than laying down your life by serving others with the love of our Savior.

Why do we think we could make the ultimate sacrifice, but not even think of making smaller sacrifices?

People sometimes ask that question to imply that we wouldn’t actually make the ultimate sacrifice when it came down to the wire.  But I believe we could, and would!  We really could die for Christ in the extreme before dying to self in the mundane everyday.  But if that is how we spent our lives, if we only sacrificed at the end of the line and never before, what does that gain us?  Nothing.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. – Romans 12:1

As a kid I remember being terrified of that verse, praying full of fear that God would make me a living sacrifice, picturing myself going up in flames. I didn’t notice that the key word in that phrase is LIVING.

Living, breathing, working, serving.  Presenting our bodies to Him, putting ourselves at His disposal.  This is acceptable to God.  This is our spiritual worship.

Taking up the cross of Christ means dying to self every day, not only when persecutors come for our heads.

So back to me in the car…

The love passage wound through my head and shame welled up inside me.  Here I was, quietly fueling a grudge, bristling at my inconvenience, and yet somehow I still managed to be quietly puffed up for being so “selfless” and serving my church when it wasn’t convenient for me.

But if I have not love, I am nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind.

Love bears all things.

The reminders piled up and blew that hot-breathed sin right off my shoulder.  By God’s grace I was able to turn around and say, “Please, help me do this for You.”  Sin did not rule the day!  God is great.

There are so many things we do in life with a self-congratulatory attitude behind it all.  We do things for the passion of it, for the emotion, for the rush of feeling like we “made a difference.”  We could even be very good at what we do, using gifts and talents God gave us to serve Him.  But if we do these things in a loveless way, they are no better than selfishness from the viewpoint of eternity.

It’s not the sacrifices we make.  It’s the way we respond to others, the way we carry out relationships, the way we interact with fellow image-bearers of God.  Love isn’t a feeling, and it isn’t a course of action, though those things are usually involved. Love is a purposeful attitude that rises from submission to God alone and manifests in treating our neighbors as ourselves.

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Next week, we’ll dig in to the loving way vs. the loveless way, continuing to the most famous part of the chapter, verses 4-7.

Please share your thoughts and additional musings in the comments!  I would love to hear your insights on this passage…there is always more for me to learn.  🙂