Archive for the ‘Spiritual Warfare’ Category

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How to Prepare For Realm Makers (Or Any Writing Conference)

May 31, 2018

Realm Makers is less than 50 days away, peeps.

SQUEE!!!!

(That GIF expresses both sides of my brain here. On the one hand, ALL THE EXCITE! And on the other….oh, I have so much to do before I go!!)

This will be my third year going to Realm Makers, and since it’s on my mind today, I thought I’d write up some advice and thoughts for those attending for the first time – or going to their first conference anywhere – or going any time, no matter how many conferences you’ve been to!

A lot of people have written advice posts on what to pack, or what to bring to Realm Makers specifically, how to prep if you’re going to pitch to an agent or publisher, and so forth. Those posts are immensely helpful, and I recommend you check them out!

But this isn’t going to be one of those posts.

I’m here to speak to your writer heart from mine, about how to prepare internally for going out among a huge throng of fellow Christian writers, maybe for the first time ever.

First of all…

1. It’s totally normal to be nervous.

Don’t be embarrassed by it. Or surprised. Many of us writers are shy little introverted butterflies, and the thought of going to a conference full of strangers – and, eeeek, talking about our writing! – makes us shudder. Or maybe you have something else to be nervous about, like the travel.

This is NORMAL.

Feel it. Accept it. Embrace it. Don’t be scared by your own fear! Listen to music that gives you courage, read Scripture passages about bravery, and combat each lie with the truth of who you are in Christ and why you have nothing to fear.

(I made a playlist to listen to on the plane the first year I went, to fill my heart with truth and courage…if you’d like to listen to it, I’ve put it on Spotify, here!)

2. Look outside yourself.

Think about this: you are going to go to this conference and be surrounded by other people who are just as terrified as you are. Even some people going back for the second or third time have new things to be nervous about! We can always use a smile and an encouraging word, no matter how experienced we are. All of us are only human.

Instead of allowing your nerves to swallow you whole, look outside yourself. Smile. Say hello. Sit next to someone you haven’t met before and ask them what they’re writing. Show the love of Christ to someone. ALL of us can do this. You’re never too new or too shy to bless others!

Focus on making others feel seen and welcome, and you’ll totally forget to worry about how people are perceiving you. 🙂

3. Start praying NOW.

Pray for the teachers, for the fellowship between authors, for Christ to be glorified in you and by the conference as a whole.

We are WRITERS. And not only that, we are CHRISTIANS. We have great power. Satan will attack us wherever we are weak, whenever he can, because what is more terrifying to him than a room full of Holy-Spirit-filled writers and their stories that are written to the glory of the King of kings?

But we aren’t powerful because of us. We’re powerful because of the God we serve. Let’s soak this conference in fervent prayer before we even arrive! And remember that when we come together, we represent Christ and His bride, the Church – let’s pray for the power to live that out in everything we say and do.

4. Expect to have a breakdown.

Confession: at my first Realm Makers, I spent one late afternoon in my room, stuffing my face into my pillow so my roomies wouldn’t hear me sobbing. I’d just walked away from a (basically lifelong) WIP a month before, which I thought I would be able to bring and pitch to a publisher, and I didn’t know who I was or where I was going anymore.

That Realm Makers was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point. It changed my life. It was incredible! But all the teaching, the experience, and the excitement forced me to come face-to-face with a lot of griefs and yearnings. Cue breakdown!

….Confession #2: at my second Realm Makers, I cried all through my first plane flight home, because I still hadn’t been able to return to that WIP, it was all I wanted to write, and I was still processing feelings. 😛 (It’s my current WIP now, so, God is good. 😀 )

Breakdowns happen. Even to those of us who aren’t newbies!

Especially if you’re the kind of person who feels a lot of feeeeeelings…straight up plan for this when you go to a conference. Expect it. Don’t let it catch you off guard.

There will almost certainly be a point (before, during, or after, or even all three) where you feel discouraged, lonely, exhausted, like an abject failure, or even spiritually attacked. There is a lot to process at a conference, and you don’t get life-changing without at least a little freak-outery! You’ll be introduced to so many new thoughts; you’ll feel the weight of missed opportunities; you’ll wonder about your career and where it’s headed; maybe a pitch appointment will go poorly…there are so many things to freak out about.

BUT IT WILL BE OKAY. Take your panic or your sadness straight to God, and thank Him for even the hard and painful parts of such a big experience. Pray for wisdom to move forward with your writing to His glory.

You will get through this, and it will not destroy your conference experience – not if you don’t let it!

5. Expect God to bless you in ways you didn’t even anticipate.

People will be even nicer than you expect. You’ll make new friends. You’ll find great new books. You’ll hear something in a seminar that will forever free you and fuel you for the rest of your writing life. If you are going to Realm Makers, you will be surrounded by blessings you never even imagined or expected. These people are a tribe. And they are wonderful.

So go forward with confidence and eagerness!

It’s going to be AMAZING.

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Have you been to Realm Makers or another writing conference before? What advice would you give for preparing yourself mentally and spiritually for a conference?

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Simmer Starters – August 5, 2016

August 5, 2016

I’m currently recovering from VBS, which was back-to-back with my trip to Philly for Realm Makers!  I will blog about RM next week, Lord willing, and I have plans to shift to a new style of Simmer Starters…one where I add more of my own personal thoughts on the links I choose to share.  Please comment and let me know if that’s something that would interest you more! 🙂

For now, I’m simply sharing the links I’ve gathered recently, as always.  Do check these out, because they are all wonderful!

Storytelling with Faith and Free Will (R.J. Anderson and Stephen McCranie) – I enjoyed this dialogue about faith and storytelling. There’s a lot of good stuff to glean here.

5 Reasons Writing Is Important to the World (K.M. Weiland) – “Let’s face it, people, the world’s a mess right now. I think the vast majority of us agree on that, to one degree or another, regardless our worldview. And what are we doing about it? What can we do about it?… We’re just folks who put words on paper. We’re just people spinning little tales that make us happy or fulfill our own fantasies: romance and superheroes, dragons and femme fatales. We’re just writers. That doesn’t seem like much right now. It certainly doesn’t seem like enough.”

Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me (Andrew Peterson) – ALL OF THIS. “I couldn’t get Harry’s story out of my head. I doubled over in the back of the auditorium and sobbed with gratitude to Jesus for allowing his body to be ruined, for facing the enemy alone, for laying down his life for his friends–Jesus, my friend, brother, hero, and king–Jesus, the Lord of Life, who triumphed o’er the grave–who lives that death may die! Even now, writing those words, my heart catches in my throat. In that moment I was able, because of these books, to worship Christ in a way I never had.”

Why Christians Should Paint, Dance, Quilt, Act, Compose Music, Write Stories, Decorate Cookies, and Participate in the Arts (Mark Altrogge) – I LOVE this post so much. And the title of it reminds me of that quote from Joss Whedon: “Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

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Simmer Starters – July 2, 2016

July 2, 2016

Fear Not, the Universe is Wildly Out of Your Control (Ricky Alcantar) – “Psalm 97:1 says simply ‘The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice!’ This of course implies that we do not reign ultimately. On many days I don’t like that. But rather than cause for anxiety the Psalmist encourages us that it’s cause for celebration. Because the Lord reigns.”

We Are Not Superheroes (Kevin Frye) – This!  So many times this.  This applies to any spiritual gift.  “One time an associate pastor was talking to me, and he complimented me on how freely I could dance and worship with my whole heart. I looked at him and said, ‘You can do it, too, you know. I’m not doing anything special. Everyone can experience the Holy Spirit and find joy and be set free.’ I didn’t want to be the only one dancing.”

Who Will You Serve and Surprise This Week? (Tim Challies) – “If we are to live in such a way that we bring glory to God by doing good to others, we owe it to them to serve and surprise, to fulfill duty and express delight. So who do you need to serve and surprise in the week ahead?”

Dumpster Diving (Nancy Ann Wilson) – A good reminder to take every thought captive.  “We all know how our minds drift all the day long, and we tend to be easily carried along to where ever they might take us. But thoughts left to themselves often go dumpster diving, digging through fleshly things, carnal things, earthly things, untrue, ignoble, unjust, impure, unlovely, and unkind things. The dumpster is always full of this stuff: your own past sins and failures, the sins of others, bitterness, worries, and lusts. And then we wonder why we are worried, envious, lustful, bitter, anxious, or fearful. But we’ve been feeding on this stuff from the dumpster all day!”

Why Your Character’s Childhood Dreams Matter (Ruthanne Reid) – “With very few exceptions, all characters had a childhood. What did your character want to be when they grew up? When they were young, what seemed like the best future path? What job did they want? What skills did they crave? What misconceptions did they have about that job?”

Parenting a Difficult Child (Julie Lowe) – I don’t often post specifically parenting-related stuff since not all my readers are parents, but I thought this was a good article, and encouraging. 🙂

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Simmer Starters – May 21, 2016

May 21, 2016

Our Respectable Sin – Laziness (David Prince) – Hard-hitting words here!  “We have come to believe that the reason we work is so that we can rest. Work in this way of thinking is a necessary evil, and that is too often the story we tell ourselves. But thinking in this way turns God’s work and rest rhythm completely on its head. Biblically, we do not work so that we can rest; we rest so that we can work.”

Beware of ‘Trans Movement’ as Patriarchy in Disguise (Pia de Solenni) – This! “Yes, some individuals suffer from gender dysphoria, but I am very hesitant to say that their struggle gives them the right to identify with the sex of their choice. As a woman, I cannot concede that being female simply means that one wears makeup, sexy lingerie, and a hair-do.”

Six Ways to Self-Edit and Polish Your Prose (Kristen Lamb) – Good self-editing tips to consider.

Why Referring to “Screen Time” May Not Be Helpful (John Charles Dickey Dyer) – A thoughtful article showing how there are different uses for screens, some more beneficial than others. It lists several categories of thinking “that can help us think more deeply about how we’re using our happy little glowing rectangles.” 😀

How To Write Faster (And Why Maybe You Shouldn’t) (K.M. Weiland) – K.M. Weiland presents a typical formula for becoming a bestseller, and then explains why the formula might be a good or bad idea for you to follow.

This is a Jar Full of Major Characters (Time Machine? Yeah!) – Great metaphor illustrating why it makes a huge difference to write diverse casts of characters into our stories.  This really stuck with me – good food for thought!

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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.”