Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Writing begins with reading. I was way too busy talking to learn to read until the second grade when someone suggested duct tape. But as you might suspect, my mom, Donita K. Paul, read to my brother and me. A lot. We’re talking stacks of books. We read all the children’s classics and were listening to The Lord of the Rings at the ages of seven and eight.
My brother devoured all that stuff, while I preferred fluffy titles like The Little Fur Family. I still prefer fluffy books, but maybe we should save that subject for another day.
Yes, I finally learned to read and very soon after discovered another outlet for my word overflow. Stories! My first ever was about a diver who discovered aliens underwater. They made a movie about it. Just kidding.
I was ten or eleven when I read Jane Eyre for the first time. That book changed something in my little world. I was in love with Rochester, of course. Who isn’t? But my subsequent readings revealed layer upon layer of treasure. Setting. Plot. Description. Action. CHARACTER. Even now I get goose bumps thinking about each of those elements in Jane Eyre.
Suddenly, reading was important to me, and, subconsciously, so was the writing craft. Although I continued with my first love, random babbling, I spent many hours reading. And tried my hand at short stories, poetry (gag!), and making book reports more fun (read: more creative but not entirely accurate.)
Fast forward to college: It became apparent that I wasn’t good at anything but writing. Actually, that worked out pretty well except when I tried to compare and contrast a multiple choice question on a physics exam.
I graduated with a degree in English with an emphasis in professional writing. I thought I was going to be an editor. I even worked as a proofreader until the company gently replaced my snoozing, pregnant self with someone less inclined to drool on the manuscripts.
I did the baby and kiddo thing. But in January of 2006, I had an unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage. I found myself needing a creative outlet. Something to fill the void, and so I started writing. My first novel was about friendships between men and women. It was in first person, present tense, and had three POVs. Yeah, not so great.
My second turned out better. Brandy and The Vine is about a Goth girl looking for a change. Turns out, her piercings and burgundy hair are the least of her worries. Brandy is out looking for a home right now. Poor thing, she’s a bit of a freak show.
Mom and I also co-wrote two picture books about a turtle and a dragon. Inspired by a last ditch attempt to get my then three-year-old to sleep, The Turtle and the Dragon will come out Spring of 2010. Followed by Padraig and Roger go on Safari in Summer of 2010.
That brings us to now. Like so many others, I’m juggling family and career. As an unpublished author, it’s okay if I occasionally let the writing stuff slip. But the boys really hate it when I drop them.
How about you? Is there a book that changed the course of your career path? The Little Fur Family perhaps? Are you one of those multi-talented individuals who came to writing after succeeding at everything else you tried? Or are you like me? Was there a moment in time when you found yourself hurting but somehow full of creativity?
What is your writing autobiography?
Friday, March 27, 2009
Do you know what I love about writing? Ideas are all around me, and they're limitless. When I see the trees begin to produce flowers in the Spring, I'm reminded of my personal growth that bursts into bloom after a long, dry, wintry spell of life. In that same Spring when we receive a surprise snowstorm and are forced to slow down and hibernate in our homes for a day or two, I consider the ways I am too busy, overly committed, and hard headed to realize that I'm in need of a day of rest and reflection. These epiphanies can't help but flow into my writing and inspire me to look at what I have to say with new eyes.
As writers, we are designed to take what we see, experience, and dream, and find engaging ways to offer it to our readers. There are no new ideas, only new ways of making them felt. That's one of my basic goals, to make people feel. What ideas are brewing in you? What inspires you to write? How do those things shape your writing? What does your writing make people feel?
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Another day. Another blog. I almost forgot about this one. Looked at my calendar and realized it was the 25th. Oops! LOL. Anyway, I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts in regard to what happened to me this past week—a week where God dove deep, down, inside my heart and pulled up things I didn’t even know were there. Lovely things. Frightening things. Things that challenged who I was in Him.
Question: Where do I start?
Eight years ago God called me to write something that was beyond my comprehension. One story. Nine books. An epic. Then He said “apprentice.” So I did.
Things went along just fine…for a while. Then my “wine skins” dried up. I wanted to quit. But God said “no.” Said He’d provide me with new skins—ones that would never empty. And He did.
Enter ACFW. Enter Kathy and Paula. Enter Heather and others.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard. It was. There’s a lot of pressure making yourself accountable to a group of women who barely know you. Sharing your dreams, your visions, your words from the Lord. Watching in amazement as they stand by you—believe in you even when you don’t/can’t believe in yourself.
So, dear diary, I stepped out in faith and trusted.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into a few years. Time did what it does best: moved forward. Sometimes slow. Sometimes fast. Sometimes at a steady drip, like water from a faucet. Yet these friends stayed there. So did the story.
Writing is an interesting experience. You start out not knowing who your characters are or what they’ll be doing. For a while you feel like a stranger in a foreign land. But before you know it, the characters—the story—belongs to you, becomes a part of you. But not without challenge.
Last week was my challenge.
Five days ago a friend sent me a link to an article posted on publishersweekly.com. When I read it, my heart stopped, my blood froze, every cliché I’d ever heard, happened. Thoughts exploded through my head as doubt clashed with promise, fear clashed with hope. I began to question everything the Lord had told me regarding my call, regarding the story, regarding His promise.
How could someone else—someone secular—been given the same story I had? Someone who I could not compete against? Someone with credentials a mile long that could propel his books—my books—into the public’s eye? And by autumn, nonetheless. It was eerie, the similarities between "his" story and "mine."
There was only one answer I could come up with. Only one answer that made sense.
I had failed God.
Failure sucks. Especially when it comes to believing you failed God. So without second thought, I did what was, to me, the next obvious step: I decided to quit. Quit writing. Quit hoping. Quit believing in the promise. I mean, why bother? I had failed the only One in my life who had never let me down.
I clicked off a text to the friend who had sent me the link and told her my intentions. Her response: get over it.
What? Get over it? Yeah. Right.
I was quick to reply with one simple word: No.
We texted back and forth for a while until the stark reality of what needed to take place next, hit me. I needed to take it to the Lord.
How long does it take, dear diary, for self-pity to turn into anger? A minute? An hour? A day? I was there now. Throwing myself in a full fit at the Lord’s feet. Accusing Him of leading me on. Of giving me false hope. Of letting me down. Yet during the entire time He did nothing but listen. Quietly, lovingly, listen. No condemnations were thrown my way and I didn’t get hit by any lightening bolts (although I probably should have). Instead, gently He lifted me up and held me close.
“Do you think I was surprised by this other book?” He whispered. “Do you think this wasn’t part of My plan? That I can’t handle a mere bump in the road? A bump the enemy put there to deter you?”
What could I say? He was right, you know. It was His plan. Not mine. His. And I had to trust that He knew best.
The evening melted into early morning before I was finally able to fall asleep. I had my tantrum, and God and I had our talk. In the end I realized what the Lord had called me to do…to write…had landed me dead center in the middle of a battleground. On my own, I would never survive. But with God on my side, carefully guiding me through the minefield, it would all work out.
After all, the battle belongs to the Lord—even when it comes to writing.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12-13)
Monday, March 23, 2009
I made exactly six posts in about two months. I didn’t see the point. No one was reading it, so why bother? Every week I’d tell myself that I’d start posting again . . . next week. Next week.
The year came to a close and next week never came.
The guilt piled up. I would shyly tell people I had a blog. A few people told me that it didn’t count if I never posted. (You know who you are.)
But . . . but . . . but . . . I have a blog.
So with a new year, I had new determination to blog three times a week. What was I going to write about three times a week?! I didn’t wait until next week, I just wrote something and posted it.
Why was I doing this? I was supposed to, I guessed.
I got some needed inspiration and motivation from a friend. I still didn’t know what to write about but at least I was motivated now.
Then I came up with a brilliant idea. At least I thought it was a brilliant idea at the time. I had a novella I wrote years ago. Every Friday I post an edited scene/chapter. This meant I only had to think of new things to write two days a week and my readers would get a free story. Brilliant, right?
What happens when I run out of chapters? Do I start a new story that I write from scratch? What have I gotten myself into?
So I’m posting nonsense two days a week and a chapter on Fridays. I’m inspired and motivated. And I’m having fun.
Yes, I’m actually enjoying blogging. (Shh. Don’t tell anyone.)
I have ten library books on blogging, including the Idiot’s Guide, No One Cares What You Had For Lunch: 100 Ideas For Your Blog, as well as others, trying to figure this whole thing out.
I even started another blog! Can you believe that? I thought I needed a Web site for this other project I’m working on, but a blog is perfect. I have tips, fun facts, and instructions for projects.
I’m even telling other people to start blogs. Me, a blogaphobic!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I really just wanted to share a recent revelation from God about my faith and my writing, and hoped, maybe, that it might speak to one of you out there in Blog-land.
I guess I wasn't expecting God to use a megaphone to speak to you.
And yet, sometimes He does that.
I have recently been reading in 1 Kings 19 about where Elijah was hiding in the cave from Jezebel. There was an earthquake, a big wind (think hurricane or tornado), and a fire, and yet God didn't speak to Elijah through those elements. Instead, He waited until Elijah calmed down a little bit, then spoke to him in a still small voice.
So, while God does sometimes use a megaphone (think Donna), He also uses a small still voice.
The ACFW Colorado Writers Retreat is being held April 24 and 25. Last year we had a great turnout, especially considering the quick planning and short lead-in time. This year, we are expecting an even bigger group. Kimberly Woodhouse is our keynote speaker, and she has already promised to step on our toes.
And yet, for those of you who know her, you can be sure Kim will step on your toes in a way that makes you want to smile and come back for more. The Spirit of God is so sweet and delicate on her that you won't even realize she has stepped on your toes. But she isn't cotton candy – this lady has a faith to move mountains and a testimony that will bring tears and challenge you.
Please, I urge you, make plans to attend this retreat. Encourage your writer friends to attend, whether they are members of ACFW or not.
The truth is, getting your toes stepped on is not the worst thing that could happen to you. The Bible says God chastens (think coaxes, encourages, redirects) those He loves. So, if you aren't getting your toes stepped on -- well, you can figure out what that means.
The retreat time will refresh you, renew you, cause you to question your calling to write, make you hate where you are, direct you on to new heights, and strengthen your bonds of friendship with other like-minded writers who are going through the same process.
And hey, the good news is, if you get your toes stepped on enough, you can always go out and buy new shoes!
Monday, March 16, 2009
For those who aren't aware, I'm days away from the birth of my first baby. Between appointments, check-ups, to-do lists and family and friends all asking if the baby is here yet, I'm afraid my brain can't handle much else.
So, with that said...since a lot of meetings have taken place where I've provided others with a report of our first annual one-day conference, I figured it'd be great to also share the success with you. As it was our first attempt, we are all quite pleased with the results.
We had 31 in attendance, including 3 speakers. 18 attendees were ACFW members, and 13 were not. That is the best part. The fact that we attracted that many non-ACFW members. Of course, 2 of them are now members and others have said they intend to join. So, even just in spreading the word, the conference did its job.
All told, we ended up with a positive balance when all was said and done. Again, a fantastic feat. Breaking even would have sufficed, but coming up on the plus side is even better!
We have 2 of our speakers confirmed for next year already (author Colleen Coble and literary agent Beth Jusino), and those who attended provided complimentary feedback on the speakers, the organization, the overall feel and of course, the delicious food. :)
So, here's to everyone who helped make this year's conference a great success. I know 2010 is going to be even better!
Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author in beautiful Colorado Springs. They are awaiting the birth of their first child this month and have a vivacious puppy named Roxie, a Border Collie/Flat-Haired Retriever mix. She has sold six books so far to Barbour Publishing. Other credits include writing articles for various publications, five short stories with Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to the books: 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage and Grit for the Oyster.
Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Heather posted a fascinating blog entry on Wednesday. Did you read it?
Why was that such a great post? Well, as writers, a lot of the time we forget the one important thing in the midst of marketing, publicity, book-signing, speaking tours, photo-shoots, TV interviews, twittering, facebook-ing, emailing, etc.
We don't leave any time to write.
I had a young lady last week ask me why it was so important. She said all the other things were really important, too.
Well, yes, they are important - but if you don't have a great story to tell, you won't have the need for all the other "stuff."
Eight years ago I had an editor tell me that I was a great storyteller, but there were things I needed to work on. What was their advice? Write. Write. And write some more.
It was the best advice I'd ever been given. I didn't get it from an English class or a creative writing class, or from any class in college. It came from somebody who knew what it takes. You have to keep writing. And writing. And write some more.
What I regret is that I didn't always take that advice. I'd put it all aside for months on end, until the Lord gently prodded me back. Only recently did I really find my niche. How did I find it? By allowing myself to be me, and writing, writing, writing.
My challenge to you today is the same. Sit down and write. Every day. Even if it's only a few minutes. Write. Write. Write.
So I'm going to echo Heather's advice:
Write. Just Write.
It truly can change your life.
Kimberley Woodhouse is a wife, mother, author, and musician with a quick wit and positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. A popular speaker, she’s shared at more than 600 venues across the country. Kimberley and her family's story have garnered national media attention for many years, but most recently her family was chosen for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Montel Williams Show, and Discovery Health channel’s Mystery ER which premiered in 2008. Her story, Welcome Home: Our Family’s Journey to Extreme Joy, releases in September 2009 from Focus on the Family. Kimberley lives, writes, and homeschools in Colorado with her husband and two children in their truly “extreme” home.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
My Words for the Journey friends like to joke about writers lurking on the "dark side" coming into the light (fiction or non-fiction depending on your primary genre). When someone pokes their hand into the air above their head and makes a sheepish announcement that they've secretly been banging out cozies, a group of us whoop and holler. Same said when one of us "liars" is plunged into the realm of writing reality.
Should writers be super-glued to one type of writing, or does a blend of fiction and non-fiction enhance the over-arching writing experience?
More than a month ago, I started writing real stuff for a news and "info-snacking" website that delves deep into Denver's many characters. My assignment is to publish a minimum of 4 article each week on the subject of outdoor recreation. Dang. I can't even come up with four blog entries in an entire month!
Slamming the journalist's hat on my head, I slung my camera over my shoulder and set off to stalk stories that would generate a high volume of page hits.
Approaching the ordinary from a unique angle sharpened my observation skills and stories showed themselves everywhere.
So much so, I have to look at my idea list and choose the direction I want to take for a few days.
Most surprising is how my writing the real stuff ignited a steel-melting inferno of story ideas for my fiction writing! Developing my journalism self is enhancing my fiction and vice-versa.
Knowing I need to grab attention with my headline and first sentence, my ideas need to be twisted. I must play with words and ideas. Play. Imagine that!
In the spirit of play, I'm gonna ask you to join me. Don't be a pooper - trust me, this will jump start your brain. The prompt below is from the Writer's Digest Writing Kit.
You realize one day that your cat has the ability to time travel and that he's been checking in on you from time to time throughout your life. Tell his story from his point of view.
Darcie Gudger is a member of ACFW. She completed her first novel which is being pitched by her agent. She also writes for www.examiner.com as an outdoor recreation columnist/journalist. When not writing, she can be found Booger wrangling or in the woods trying to get lost.
Friday, March 6, 2009
But now I’m home for a little over two weeks to take care of some ACFW business relating to upcoming events, like the second annual retreat in April and the national ACFW conference in September. After being gone for five weeks, you can imagine the mountain of mail sitting on my kitchen table in spite of the fact that Randy (son) sorted out the bills and other urgent things that needed to be taken care of each week and sent them to me.
All week, even though I knew better, I got more and more bogged down with all that needs to be done—editing projects, organization for the meetings I’m involved with starting tomorrow and going through next week, doctor’s appointments, etc. Once again I wondered at the “opportunities” (you know, distractions, interruptions, annoying-at-best details that need to be dealt with, unexpected meetings) that have bombarded my time and energy. While trying to be an encouragement to others, I found myself buried under everything.
In order to gain some control, I stayed up all night Wednesday night, working. About 3:00 a.m., my daughter who lives in London IM’d me. “You still up?” Yep. Several times over the last few weeks my hours have resembled hers. For the last several weeks she’s been absolutely snowed under with work on top of learning a new position in her tax accounting world. Part of the conversation I had with her that morning got me to thinking.
And then this morning the Lord spoke to me in my quiet time, clarifying my thoughts, helping me look at life from His perspective. I’m going to make my point here, then let His Word and a couple of readings speak for themselves.
We ACFW members in Colorado have some unique opportunities to serve, to work, and to write in the next few months. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for us to be in the Word and in prayer for all that the Lord has put in our way to accomplish this year. We’re all busy people. It’s easy to say, “I can’t do that. You should see my schedule,” or something similar, when asked to do something that will make a task easier for someone else.
Have you ever stopped to consider that you’re right where God wants you right now? He wants us to depend on Him completely for everything. Yet I know what happens when I feel I’ve got everything under control . . . I forget the depending part. So He allows me to be overwhelmed, to get to the point where I think I can’t handle one more thing and then that one thing appears.
I am so looking forward to the retreat next month. The topic Kim is speaking on is a timely one: Not My Will—But Yours, Lord. I hope you’re all making plans to attend. Remember guests are welcome.
Then there’s the national conference in September that will present us with many opportunities to serve others, to get to know the authors, editors, and agents that will be here, and to broaden our horizons in the purposes and plans God has for each of us.
We need to prepare our hearts now for what the Lord has for each of us, not only in the writing arena but also in every area of our lives. And please prayerfully consider each opportunity that we will be presenting to you for help in the next few months.
Thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint. (2 Samuel 15:15)
I love to think that God appoints
My portion day by day;
Events of life are in His hand,
And I would only say,
Appoint them in Thine own good time,
And in Thine own best way.
—A. L. Waring
If we are really, and always, and equally ready to do whatsoever the King appoints, all the trials and vexations arising from any change in His appointments, great or small, simply do not exist. If He appoints me to work there, shall I lament that I am not to work here? If He appoints me to wait indoors today, am I to be annoyed because I am not to work out-of-doors? If I meant to write His messages this morning, shall I grumble because He sends interrupting visitors, rich or poor, to whom I am to speak, or “show kindness” for His sake, or at least obey His command, “Be courteous”? If all my members are really at His disposal, why should I be put out if today’s appointment is some simple work for my hands or errands for my feet, instead of some seemingly more important doing of head or tongue?
—Frances Ridley Havergal
(this reading is taken from A Gentle Spirit published in 2000 by Barbour Publishing)
The Lord your God . . . went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tens . . . to show you by what way you should go. (Deuteronomy 1:32–33)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
“For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief. (Isaiah 53:10)
Father, these verses put my grumbling this past week, which has been incredibly difficult and long, into Your perspective. Forgive me for my bad attitude. In spite of it You have incredibly blessed me with godly friends and family, with opportunities to speak a word of encouragement and testimony, to pray for others going through difficult times. I am so incredibly blessed!
These verses also remind me that you have a purpose for me, a plan that is good, not harmful. It reminds me that even though I am in the crucible being pummeled and shaken, incredibly heated in the fire, and generally crushed by load of responsibilities You’ve allowed me to have, You have gone before me to prepare the way. You have allowed all of it for my good and Your glory.
If it was Your will to crush Jesus under the load of my sin and guilt, how can I expect to escape these times that are meant to refine me, to make me as gold, to make me a useful vessel for Your service, prepared and equipped to fulfill the purpose You have for me?
If Jesus, while He was here on Earth, did nothing of Himself but constantly waited on You for direction and strength, how much more must I lean on You, listening for Your direction, seeking Your purpose and plan for me?
Help me be refreshed in my weariness today. Show me a glimpse of You. Allow me to be an encouragement to others as You have encouraged me.
Marjorie Vawter wears many hats—wife, mother of two adult children, teacher, writer, freelance editor. A member of ACFW since 2004, she currently serves as the Colorado Area Coordinator. She is passionate about God's Word and its relevance today. In her "free" time, she enjoys hiking and spending time at the family cabin in the Colorado Rockies.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
After I finished my first novel I assumed the writer's journey would be like a straight line. Sure there would be some climbs and dips emotionally, but the pursuit of becoming a novelist would be straightforward, moving in a linear direction. I wrote a novel. I would re-work that book, go to critique group, write another, go to conferences and eventually sell a book. Then I would keep writing novels, rewriting them, and going to crit group and conferences. Only I'd get to have the word "author" on my name tag and once in a while I'd be the one signing the books instead of asking for a signature.
I have friends whose journey has been pretty much that. My crit group member Kathy Kovach and Donna Robinson started writing novels, keep writing novels, went to conferences, had their work critiqued, and they are now published. I'm not saying there were no tears or struggles, but their path made sense. Donna did have to stop for a few years to finish raising her children, but when she came back into the writing world, the journey continued. Straightforward.
My journey has been very different. I wrote my first novel in 2002. I attended a conference and began learning novel writing and rewrote that novel . . . and rewrote it. Over and over. In 2003 my husband became convinced I needed to create a website and begin a devotional ministry. After some coaxing from him and conviction from the Lord, we launched Soul Scents, a weekely devotional ministry, in January of 2004. I thought, "Okay. I'll write a weekly devotional, but I'm a novelist. That will still be my focus. Besides, the conference speakers say I should develop an audience. This will still work toward my ultimate goal of becoming an author."
Before 2004 was out, I was offered a montly column on Crosswalk.com's homeschool channel. That was okay. The exposure made my devotional subscriptions grow, I got emails from homeschooling moms like myself who were encouraged, and added a few more publishing credits to my bio. But the goal was still novelist, right?
By summer of 2004 my husband had convinced me I had to have a blog--and I began throwing up my "extra" words on blogger before most of my friends even knew what a blog was. By the end of 2005 I was spending a lot of time answering emails from Soul Scents subscribers and Crosswalk readers. A couple of other channels on Crosswalk started picked up my work and I was able to promote several of my friends on Crosswalk's book channel. I found I was good at interviews and used the skill to help my friends out when I could.
In 2005, my article, The Guilt of a Homeschool Mom, was named #1 article of the year for Crosswalk.com. In 2006 I had two articles on their top ten list. I answered tons of emails from bleeding moms who struggled with the issues I wrote about. Other homeschool venues contacted me and I ended up writing a chapter in a homeschooling book as well as writing consistently for other magazines.
But I was still a novelist, right? I mean, wasn't I still headed in that direction?
I did eventually write another novel, this time about a mom, giving her a journey that I thought my Crosswalk readers could relate to. And then I wrote much of a non-fiction book, hitting those issues from a more straight-forward viewpoint. And I thought the Lord would sell those books, speaking His truth to readers from both venues. I would still get to be a novelist, but I'd have a few non-fiction books thrown in.
My writing journey was starting to look a lot different than my novelist friends.
After many rejection letters on my novels, my non-fiction book went to committee in two different houses. Okay--that was all right. I'd just publish first as a non-fiction writer, eventually I would sell those novels, too. But the book was shot down by marketers in both cases--they didn't know how to sell to the audience my book focused upon.
2008 found me weary. But that's all a part of the journey, right? The disappointments, the rejections, the ups and downs were just part of the process. I was still on the journey.
Then the Lord starting reminding me how much I loved my children and how my I loved being a mom. I should have know what was coming. My family hit several hard spots and God asked me to lay down my novels and focus on them.
I'd thought I was finally getting close to my dream of writing novels. I was beginning to learn the craft and once in a while I even tapped into some artistry in my stories. But after seven years of hard work, He told me to stop. The stories dried up within me and even my article writing, blogs, and devotional writing slowed down. I shed my tears, but dug into renewed focus on my precious family, who needed me now in new and demanding ways.
But God did make me a promise when He asked me to let it go. He told me He would send me writing that would fit with this season of my life.
Last fall I got my first job writing curriculum for David C. Cook. Today I'm working on my third assignment with them. It's writing that fits well into both my schedule and the emotional season of my life. I LOVE the work, feel passionate about sharing Jesus with children, and am incredibly honored to get to do what I do.
But oh how I miss my stories. How I miss more poetic phrases, symbolism, and beautiful word choice.
Maybe someday the Lord will give me my stories back. I really believe He will, I just don't know when.
Saturday's mini-conference made me reflective. It was really hard to be immersed again in the novelist's world, focusing on plotting, point of view, and writing good proposals. I did some crying--a fair amount actually. I can't help but grieve the loss of my goal, my dream . . . the joy of writing stories.
But I suppose I've also realized that what I want more than selling a novel is to be putty in the Lord's hand. I want to use the gift HE gave me as HE chooses. I am His, and I've given Him the right to move me around as He sees fit, to use me where He wants me when He wants me there.
This journey is very different than I'd planned. Instead of a linear path I' ve gone in circles, taken crossroads I didn't know existed--and maybe even jumped to a completely different line. But I believe today as I did back in 2002 that God will lead me down this path.
I cling today, as I did eight years ago, to the verse the Lord gave me the first time I asked Him if I would get to see the novel I'd written be published. He replied through a Psalm. "I will lead you on the best pathway for your life. I will guide you and watch over you."
And really, that's all a writer can ask for.
A homeschooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is the President of HIS Writers, the Denver ACFW chapter. She is passionate about God's grace and freedom in Christ. To sign up for her free weekly devotion, visit www.soulscents.us. You can also visit her blog at www.gracereign.blogspot.com
Sunday, March 1, 2009
In 2005, the members of the elite group ChiLibris, (consisting of multi-published authors,) wrote a book to prove that ideas can't be stolen. Dispelling this fear for new authors, each of the 21 stories had to have five elements:
- The first line: The wind was picking up.
- Mistaken identity
- Pursuit at a noted landmark
- Unusual form of transportation
- The last line: So that's exactly what she did.
Because of the diversity of each author, none of the stories were even remotely similar. And that's what I'd like to address. Diversity.
When ACFW first began several years ago, they were ACRW, the R for Romance. Within the romance genre, there were, of course, sub-genres. Mystery, suspense, historical, contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi...but the focus was on romance.
Then, in a brilliant move on the part of the board, the decision was made to open up the group to all Christian fiction. This caused our membership to explode from the low triple digits to now over 1700 and counting.
And I suspect that not one author thinks, acts, or writes the same.
However, we do all have one purpose. As Christian authors, our purpose is to present the Gospel to a lost world. Some do this subtly in the ABA (secular) market. Others include conversion scenes in their CBA (Christian) books. More diversity.
Whether they write fantasy, speculative, thriller, romance, or comedy, ACFW members' one purpose is to be an instrument for their Lord.
I find this fascinating. One purpose, one goal, many different ways to reach that goal.
This idea is not new by any means. In Ephesians 4, the Christian's purpose is laid out in a similar fashion.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. ~Eph 4:1-14
May we all continue to be in unity, the umbrella that covers our diverse talents. And, hey, March is the month where the wind picks up. Let's all get out there and fly a kite this week!
Click here for a list of online vendors to buy What the Wind Picked Up. It's full of diverse authors, many ACFW members.
Kathleen E. Kovach has been an ACFW member since 2002 and is the Rocky Mountain Zone Director. Visit her blog on the craft of writing through movies at http://www.craftcinema.blogspot.com/ and her website at http://www.kathleenekovach.com/.