Writing A Book

IM000893.JPGI am definitely finding out that writing a novel is no easy task. Today I spent almost three hours doing research.  My story takes place in Kenya. Because I’ve never been to Kenya I must find out all about it, at least about Nairobi and surrounding areas. I want my story to be believable. That will take a lot of reading, both from books and online. However, these hours flew by. I was immersed in the information I was finding. I have a lot more research ahead of me before I can really get into the meat of writing my book, but so far this part of writing is quite interesting to me. I always enjoyed doing terms papers when I was in school. This is a continuation of that on a bigger scale.

I’ve heard authors say that your characters will lead you as you write. I am finding this to be true even while I’m doing my research. For example, my lead character is a recently retired teacher. I have started developing a basic profile, but as I was doing my reading today I also discovered some new traits and abilities my teacher needs to have.  The reading I did led me to some sub-plots for my story as well that will tie in nicely with the main plot, pulling the story all together.

I know writing this book will take a lot of time, dedication, and hard work, but I think it will also be fun. Seeing things starting to develop and fall into place already is exciting. My characters are beginning to take on lives of their own. I’m just along for the ride making sure their story gets down on paper.

I will continue to blog about the progress I am making as I go along. I would greatly appreciate any comments and suggestions along the way. I’d also love to hear experiences from other writers about your writing journeys.

 

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I’m Asking For Suggestions

As you can see, this is not my usual devotional blog. I am starting a new venture with my writing. For a couple years I’ve had the idea in my head for a novel. I have decided that 2016 is the year I will seriously begin the process. I have my main characters picked out, named, and know what they look like. I have maps and books about the location of my story. I’ve interviewed someone who has been to the location many times for some feel of the local flavor. I also got a flight plan to the location from a travel agent.

I’ve written the blurb that would go on the back cover giving a brief description of the book (just enough to entice the curiosity of potential readers).  Rough drafts of a few scenes are done.

I now have to read the books and study the maps so my story will be believable, but I would also like to begin writing as I go along. At this point it seems like an impossible task. I have no clue how the story is going to flow.

In reading books on writing I know you are just to start writing and the story will begin to take shape. What I would like to know from those of you who have written novels is: do you just start writing by the seat of your pants; do you outline or set up a story board; do you write significant scenes and then work on the in between stuff to tie it all together? Any and all suggestions/ideas will be helpful since I am a novice at this.

I am excited to begin this journey. I’m a member of a great critique group who I know will give me support and help me improve the writing as I go along. I am also very nervous. Those negative thoughts keep popping into my head saying this is a waste of time. It will never be published. However, how do I know it will never be published if I don’t try? Deep down I know I am supposed to write this book otherwise the urging I have inside about it would not be so strong.

So today is Day One of this adventure. Please comment with any insight you can give me. Periodically I will give updates on how the process is going. Thank you in advance for your support.

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Don’t Dwell On The Past – Look Ahead To The Future

2015 is done. There were good and bad times for me. My oldest grandchild got her driver’s license. My youngest had his first birthday. I received the news that another grandchild is on the way. My daughter got a teaching job she loves. My son got his Associates Degree and a job offer. The not so good times included an uncle and a cousin going to be with the Lord. My hot water tank sprung a leak. I found out I owed $400 to the IRS that I was not expecting.

I’m sure every one of you reading this can make your own list of events (good and bad) which took place in 2015. God has something to say to us about looking back:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”    Isaiah 43:18

God does not want us to focus on what might have been or the mistakes we’ve made in 2015. Instead He tells us to have a fresh look at what’s ahead:

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”    Isaiah 43:19

Therefore, look at 2016 as a new start. God has plans for all of us. I’m not saying to expect everything to be rosy. We will still have our struggles. But we can prepare ourselves with a new vitality and hope of things to come from God.

Make it your New Year resolution to be more open to God’s leading for opportunities and to cling to Him during difficult times. It’s a new year, a fresh beginning. Make sure this resolution is one you will keep throughout all of 2016.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Bees and Salvation

BeesWhile washing my hair I heard the kids yelling outside. That was not unusual so I continued what I was doing. Then the yelling progressed to screaming and I knew something was wrong. I wrapped a towel around my head and rushed outside. The sight horrified me. My son had whacked a beehive with a long branch. Underneath stood my daughter literally covered with bees. I pulled the towel off my head and began using it to get the bees off of her. I wasn’t worried about getting stung. My whole attention was to save my daughter. I saw her in trouble and didn’t care what pain it might cause me. I had to save her.

God looked down and saw that mankind was in trouble. Our sinful nature was leading us to death. Something had to be done.

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.”   I Thessalonians 5:9-10

Jesus suffered on the cross and gave His life willingly so we would not have to feel the wrath of God. We were dying in our sins. Jesus died instead, therefore giving us life eternal. He jumped in to save us without dwelling on what that action would cost Him.

As parents we protect our children no matter what happens. We’ll do everything in our power to save them regardless of the consequence to us. We make sacrifices so they can have a good life.

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us. He suffered torment and death to save us. The result – He rose again and we are given the opportunity to accept the gift of life He freely gives. He saved us.

Have you accepted this gift of salvation from Jesus Christ? Have you experienced being lifted out of the trouble and utter helplessness sin causes? Now is the time to open your heart to Jesus and let Him save you.

(The result of our bee experience – I ended up with at least three bee stings, which I didn’t feel until later. We couldn’t tell if my daughter was stung. She survived with no physical or emotional affects.)

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What’s The Most Powerful Weapon Christian Writers Can Use?

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Everywhere we turn battles are being fought. Various wars are taking place around the world. Political parties clash with each other. Street gangs fight for their territories. Battles rage within families.

Another battle is being fought which we do not always see, but we know it’s happening. That battle is the spiritual one engaged with Satan. The ultimate war has already been won by God through Jesus Christ, but Satan doesn’t appear to realize it. He continues launching attacks on us, trying to get us to turn from God.

In Ephesians 6:10-17 Paul tells of the protection God has made available to us to fight these battles. We have the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. We are covered from head to toe with this mighty armor.

Then in verse 17 Paul lists the only weapon we need, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Satan has no defense against this weapon. This was demonstrated when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. (Luke 4:1-13) Three times the devil tried to get Jesus to worship him and three times Jesus quoted Scripture. Satan had no response and he left.

Everyone can avail themselves of these pieces of armor and the strong weapon God provides to combat against Satan. Writers use words everyday to reach people. Christian writers have The Word and therefore can take a major role in the spiritual warfare. We can take the word of God and get it out to the masses. Our writing can bring the strength, peace, and healing of God to millions of people.

As writers we are God’s instrument to do His work. The sword of the Spirit is in our hands. We know how to make an impact with words. Let’s use the weapon at our disposal in a mighty fashion, defeating the devil with every word we write.

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Is Worldly or Heavenly Wisdom The Inspiration For Your Writing?

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When I began writing I did it with the selfish ambition of wondering how much money I might be able to obtain. Realistically I knew I’d never be a Jerry Jenkins or Beth Moore, but I harbored some envy toward what they’ve accomplished. I thought it would be wonderful to have at least a couple books do well or have magazines want my short stories.

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”    James 3:14-16

I needed an attitude adjustment. After a few years of struggling with rejections and not being satisfied with my writing God changed everything. The light bulb came on and I understood what God wanted me to write. My whole thought process switched gears. I began writing devotionals.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; the peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”     James 3:17

What a change came over me! I began experiencing satisfaction with what I wrote and the writing process became joyful. Also, doors opened for my writing. I started a blog. Then I was asked to do the devotional every Thursday for The Writing Show. I had a devotional published in Halo Magazine, my church requested five devotionals for a prayer guide, and I was invited to be the speaker at a woman’s retreat held at my former church.

I received no monetary rewards from any of these opportunities, but I gained so much more. Writing is fun. But, most importantly, I’m reaching people with the Word of God as evidenced by new followers almost weekly on Twitter and Linked In. I set up an author page on facebook (Devotions by Lorraine) and I’m beginning to get followers there as well. I’ve even had Satanists write comments which opened up new doors to witness by responding back to them.

When we listen to God’s leading the wisdom we receive is pure and sincere. From it good fruits grow. All envy and selfish ambition fly out the window. We are able to focus on our writing because we know God is in control and His way is best.

Examine your writing life. Are you enjoying what you’re doing? Is the wisdom you’re following from earth or from heaven? There is a big difference between the two.

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Worry, Worry, Worry – What Good Does It Do?

Lake MI 1In two years I will be the age to retire with “full” Social Security. The problem is the amount of money I’ll be getting is around half what I’m bringing home now through work. I will be able to add about $200 from my 403b each month, but that still is not the take-home pay I’m used to.

I worry about needing to down-size. I worry about how much rent will I be able to afford. On top of that add on insurance premiums, utilities, groceries, etc. It is getting more difficult for me to deal with yard work and snow shoveling so I need to go someplace where someone else does those things.  But will I have enough money to make the move?  Will I have to still work at least part-time to make ends meet?

Worry, Worry,Worry

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”    Philippians 4:6-7

The Apostle Paul is telling us we are not to worry. Instead we are to bring those worries to God. What does worrying get us anyway?

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”    Matthew 6:27   (words spoken by Jesus)

Worrying gives us nothing but stress, headaches, and ulcers. None of us need those things.

What we need to do is put those worries into God’s hands. Then we should concentrate on what we can do today. None of us have a clue what will happen tomorrow or in two years. For me that means I can work on decreasing my bills and spending, and I can start weeding through my stuff, getting rid of what I don’t need or haven’t used in years. One day at a time.

What is causing you anxiety? Have you brought it to God? Begin with Him, then do what you can each day trusting that He will give you peace regarding the rest.

Worry and anxiety vs Peace from God.  What sounds right to you?

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When Was The Last Time You Were Hit Between The Eyes By God?

blue_contact_by_claimyourself-d7sdd8qAs Christian writers we were called by God to spread His Word and values through our writing. This is an enormous task. I don’t know about you but there are many days I just don’t feel like writing. I know I should be writing. That’s what God expects me to do, however at times I don’t want to. Either I’m lazy (or rebellious) or I can’t think of a single things to write about.

During those episodes I need an attitude adjustment. I need someone to kick me in the pants and say, “Snap out of it!” There is a verse that did that for me today:

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”    Romans 12:11

Pow! God hit me right between the eyes with this verse. I looked up alternative words for zeal and fervor – “enthusiasm, fire, intensity, passion, devotion, eagerness”. Those two little words – zeal and fervor – pack a wallop.

Now that God has re-awakened the passion in me to write I need to try my hardest not to let it diminish again. Also, I don’t want writing to become a chore, something I have to do. I want to feel the zeal and fervor so writing is something I want to do. I need to be open to God’s leading as to what I should write. Then I must do it.

Being hit between the eyes by God is only the beginning. The support of other Christian writers is also so important in this process. Being a member of a writers’ group and attending writers’ conferences are needed to help us stay on the path God has laid out for us. Other writers can assist in keeping the zeal and fervor alive.

We all need an attitude adjustment from time to time. Has God hit you between the eyes recently? Please share your experience whether it was with your writing or something else in your life. I’d love to hear from you.

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Is God Ridiculously Out of Reach?

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Look at this photo. The mailboxes at the lower level are within reach. They can be used for what they were made for – the sending and receiving of mail. The higher mailbox is just crazy. Even tho’ it, too, was made so people could send and receive mail it is so ridiculously out of reach no one can make contact with it.

Does that higher mailbox remind you of God? Does He seem ridiculously out of reach to you?

In Old Testament and at the beginning of New Testament times that’s the way most of the people thought. God was out of reach to them. Only special people such as the priests could reach God. The people had to depend on the sacrifices performed at the Temple by the High Priest and hope that was sufficient to please the almighty God. In the Temple there was a curtain separating the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, from the rest of the Temple. Only the High Priest could enter that area and he did it only once a year. God was this awesome being beyond the reach of ordinary people.

Then something happened. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth. Jesus lived and communicated with the ordinary people. He grew up like all the other children. He learned how to be a carpenter. Then, at the age of 30, He began preaching the love of God. He told the people how God is within reach, that they don’t have to rely on the priests to pray for them. They can pray to God themselves and He will listen. Jesus taught that God was the heavenly Father who cared for His children and wanted a relationship with them.

This teaching culminated in the event which took place at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. AND THE CURTAIN OF THE TEMPLE WAS TORN IN TWO.”    Luke 23:44-45

Symbolically the barrier which separated the people from God was destroyed. Through Jesus the way was opened for the common people to reach God. They could know Him and have a personal relationship with Him. They could pray and bring their confessions directly to Him.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”   John 14:6-7

Jesus has shown us God. Jesus is God, the second part of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God is not unreachable. He is with you everyday just waiting for you to reach out to Him.

It doesn’t matter what kind of life you’ve lived up to this point. All that matters is that now is a turning point for you. Reach out to God through the name of Jesus. In turn, God will grab hold of you and not let go. You can have a personal relationship with God.

Is today the day you realize that God is not beyond your reach?

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Is This Your Time To Respond To God’s Opportunities?

3roses“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”    Esther 4:14

These words were spoken to Esther by her Uncle Mordecai. Esther was a Jew who became queen of the Persian King. The king was persuaded by an adviser to kill the Jews, not knowing his queen was Jewish. Mordecai felt that because of her royal position she should approach the king to try and save the Jews. Esther does this even though she knows she could be killed. Because of her action many Jews were saved. Esther was put in the royal palace by God for this purpose. She was in the best position to stop the slaughter.

Look at your life. You were put in your family, your job, your location, or in some other situation for a reason. You may not realize it now, but God is having or will have you in the exact place He wants you to be to make a difference in someone’s life. What God wants you to do may seen insignificant to you or it might be something big like what Esther had to do. It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that you follow God’s calling for you. The impact of what you do now may not be realized until later in time or you may see the result immediately.

God has a plan to use you and He’s setting up the scenario. Just like all the circumstances in Esther’s life led her to be in a high position in the palace at the exact moment she could help her people the most, God has put His plan in motion for you. You may be where you are, what you are, by divine appointment.

Your job is to become aware of your part in the plan. You might figure it out or God could put someone in your path who will help you see the plan, as Mordecai did for Esther. Either way you are where God wants you to be and He will want to use you for some purpose – great or small.

Becomes close to God. Pray for His guidance. Hear His calling. Then you will be ready for your action when “such a time as this” comes to you. God brings opportunities. You have to decide if you will do it or not.

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