March 31, 2010

A Christian Writer?

Many of you may have read yesterday's Seekerville post by Francine Rivers. If you haven't, hop over and read it, because it was amazing! What really struck me was Francine's explanation of the difference between a Christian who writes and a Christian writer.

Basically, a Christian who writes can write anything, whether it glorifies the Lord or not. They write for a market. A Christian writer focuses their work on Jesus Christ. He is central to their story. Christian fiction is supposed to stir up a longing for the real thing: a relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, both want to sell books, but it is all about the focus. Not that one is better than the other, but it is a different calling.

I knew from the very beginning that I did not want to preach in my stories. I wasn't sure I wanted to write conversion scenes. Maybe that stems from being a preacher's wife and having a wall go up every time I am introduced to people as a "pastor's wife". I don't want to throw up walls. I want to break them down. I want to be real, flaws and all.

But is it good enough to write an entertaining story that is not centered on Christ? Shouldn't my heart's desire be to write with Christ in mind? Maybe my focus is not where it should be.

My friend, Pepper, is an encouraging soul. As I wrestled with this line of thinking, she had some wise things to say.  She says, "People are drawn to Him because of what they see in our lives - how they see HIM in our lives. We don't have to preach with words. His joy in your life will come out in your stories, even if you never quote a Bible verse."  She went on to say, "Just because a story doesn't have loads of 'preaching' in it, doesn't mean it still can't be life-changing. The acts of the characters and their transformation - the way they respond to their difficulties, should reflect Christ. Isn't that how it is in real life? What is it that Francis of Isisi wrote? "Preach the Gospel and if necessary, use words."


Isn't she smart?


I suppose, though, that if the Lord living in me shines through in my writing, then in some small way it IS Christ centered. Whatever we do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord, right?


So what are your thoughts? Is there a difference between a Christian who writes and a Christian writer? 

March 26, 2010

Creativity Runs Deep

I am from a very creative family. My dad is an artist (paints and used to design book covers...for Max Lucado even...now he is an author) My mom designs and creative beautiful quilts and her landscaping is to die for! One sister is an extremely talented artist and the other can design her home like a magazine. My children even have a creative bent, either writing, sculpting, drawing, and painting.


I love creativity in any form. Of course, I love the power of words and the worlds they create, but I love the beauty of words, as well. My father taught me calligraphy many years ago and I have used that skill to create cards and a few different framed pieces. There is something special about taking the written word and adding color and imagination to enhance the greatness of languange.
During Spring Break I went to a Scrapbooking Party and I made cards. I love having homemade cards around to write more words in! :) I can't keep up with photos, but let me make cards, and I can crank them out.  I've also made jewelry, tiled flower pots, beaded tin baskets, crosstitched, made decorative books, and many other crafty things.

It's all about creating. Building something out of nothing. Making something of beauty and worth. Using the imagination God gave me to forge something of value...well, it may only have value to ME!!! lol

So how do you express your God-given creativity?

March 24, 2010

The Substitute Bride by Janet Dean

I love mail-order bride stories and Janet's book, The Substitute Bride, doesn't disappoint! Take a priviledged woman on the run,a mail-order bride with cold feet, and a husband who wants a farm wife with some affection, and you get a story full of conflict!

BACK COVER:
Fleeing an arranged marriage, debutante Elizabeth Manning exchanges places with a mail-order bride bound for New Harmony, Iowa. Life on the frontier can't be worse than forced wedlock to pay her father's gambling debts. But Ted Logan's rustic lifestyle and rambunctious children proved to be more of a challenge than Elizabeth expects. She doesn't know how to be a mother or a wife. She doesn't even know how to tell Ted the truth about her past--especially as her feelings for him gorw. Little does she know, Ted's hiding secrets of his own, and when their pasts collide, there's more than one heart at stake.

MY THOUGHTS:
I really liked this book and the way Janet weaved in conflict through Elizabeth and Ted's building relationship. Ted is a strong and likeable hero and really drew me in. His care over Elizabeth and his obvious interest in her kept me turning the page! And I must say, the romantic kitchen scene was yummy! ;)

If you like sweet historical love stories, you will love this one! Janet has provided a GREAT read, full of romance and heartfelt love!

To learn more about Janet Dean and her books, go HERE.
To purchase The Substitute Bride, go HERE.

March 22, 2010

Confession Time

I confess. I am no longer a Contest Virgin. I have taken the plunge, hit the send button, along with my payment, and voila...I have jumped a hurdle. Hit another milestone. Another step on my journey.

I have no grand illusions of becoming a finalist. No, I hit that SEND button for one thing and one thing only. To get some feedback and to toughen up my skin. I've had people look at my first few chapters and sure, there has been alot of red, but I think there is something about a contest that really brings it all home. Everyone is sending their best work, their critiqued work, the work they've reworked time and time again. That's what you are really up against and that's what I want to be measured against.

Sure, I may fall waaayyy short, but at least I will know. At least I will know what to work on...where my failings are. Hopefully, I will find that I am good at a few things, and that will be nice, but I want to know how to be a better writer.

I have plans to enter one more contest, but that's all for now. Have you entered any? How many contests have you entered? How many a year? Do you enter every year?  Have you found it helpful?

Good luck to everyone who has entered a contest recently or has plans to! May God let your work shine!

March 17, 2010

Mary Rocks The Roots Of The Husband Tree!

Mary Connealy does it again. She takes humor, wit, hardship, a calloused female rancher, and a good looking cowboy, mixes them all together and whips out a fantastic read. Yep, she's done it again.

Belle Tanner is in a pickle. Just having buried her third "worthless" husband, she needs to get her cattle to market before the snows hit or she will lose it all. She hires Silas Harden, a drifter running from his own problems, and the two, along with her passel of 4 children, go on an adventurous cattle drive. The hardest part for Belle is not the work, but the attraction she feels for her new hired hand. There's no way she is going to get trapped in another marriage. Not this time. But God has other plans...

I love how Mary takes the hardened Belle and slowly brings her heart to a place she can trust Him for a worthy husband. I love how she uses Silas, a man not afraid to stand up to Belle, to show her that there are men who are not worthless and are man enough for her strong spirit.

There is fun and witty banter and the sparks fly as Belle and Silas have a hard time not kissing each other on the trail. Oooo-la-la, Mary can write romance!

I am definitely eager for the next installment of the Montana Series...Wildflower Bride. These are all keepers on my overflowing bookshelf!

BACKCOVER COPY:

Standing over her third no-account husband's grave, Belle Tanner makes a vow--no more men. Now all she needs to do is get her cattle to market before winter sets in. But there's no one around except the drifter Silas Harden, and Belle is such a poor judge of men that she can't decide if he is worth hiring on.

Silas just escaped a shotgun wedding--only to lose his money, his ranch, and his pride. Although he's determined never to get tangled up with womenfolk again, Belle and her four daughters seem to bring out the protector in him. And he can't seem to stop kissing Belle senseless.

When a group of cowpokes, along with a white woman raised by the Shoshone, show up along the drive, Belle has her hands full. Can she keep her oldest daughter and Glowing Sun away from no-good cowhands--and herself out of Silas's arms?

Will anyone get through this treachersous cattle drive unscated and unhitched?

You can purchase The Husband Tree HERE
You can read more about Mary Connealy and her books HERE.

March 12, 2010

Synopsis Class Update

I'm nearing the end of my synopsis class I am taking from Camy Tang. This has been the most challenging and the most useful thing I have ever done with my writing. I have learned more the past two weeks than I have reading all my writing books combined! Seriously.

Camy puts up a lesson through a Yahoo Group created for the class. We then do the homework and post it to the Group. Camy looks it all over and comments and makes suggestions for making your work stronger.

What I have loved about this class is the way Camy encourages you while challenging you at the same time. She has a great way of giving you examples of what she is looking for, without telling you outright what to write. I've had lots of "aha" moments and have found a plot hole. Maybe not a hole, but a weak part the story. It's amazing how she helps you to look at your story from a bird's eye view.

Right now, my homework is to write the spiritual/internal arc. This has me stumped, and the reason is because I started my book not wanting to write a "Christian" fiction book. I wanted to write a fun and engaging story, yet not be preachy. But as I wrote, my faith couldn't help but creep in, and my characters began a spiritual trek. So as I try to put on paper what their journey is, well, it's not good. There ISN'T a great spiritual/internal arc and this is something I need to develop.

I've got alot of work to do. :) But that's okay! I've learned how to write a synopsis. This class has taught me HOW to pre-plot a book!!!! That is HUGE! The pre-plotting will help to build a solid foundation...without plot holes.

I'm so excited and I think this class is an incredible resourse for writers. Seriously, check out Camy Tang and see what she has to offer. She won't let you down!

What other classes have you taken that gave you an "aha" moment? Or if you haven't taken a class, what lesson from what book did you learn from?

March 10, 2010

Sherrinda It Is

Is anyone having trouble seeing the title of my blog? It wasn't showing up for Katie, so we shall see if it magicically appears today. If you can see it, what do you think?

I thought putting a poll on my blog would clearly show what title to use for my blog. Boy, was I wrong! If anything, I was more confused. All my cyber friends gave me so many things to think about and there were several great ideas.

Kristi, everyone seemed to like your idea and I thought it was very ketchy...er, catchy. But I decided not to use it for two reasons. One, I don't know that I will use a pen name. I suppose I will wait to decide when I get some professional advice. Who knows...maybe my big ol' name will be okay to use. And two, to make Ketch plural might be confusing. It would look like my name is Sherrinda Ketches. I'd hate to introduce myself and everyone go..."What? What do you catch?" Funny, huh?

So I decided to just go with Sherrinda with a tag line. I felt "Her Write of Passage" really spoke to my heart and symbolized where I was on this writing journey. Most rite of passages involve some kind of ritual ceremony that marks a person's passage from one status to another. I feel like I have passed through another phase of my journey, having written a full length novel.

I know there will be other passages I will travel through and each one will mark yet another stage in this writing trek. I'll celebrate each and every one, and invite everyone to party with me...cyber-style.

What passages have you gone through and how have you celebrated?

March 08, 2010

No More Writer Wannabe?


I've been thinking for a quite awhile about renaming my blog. When I started the blog, I was just beginning my writing journey, wanting to write, but not sure I could really do it. I was a Writer Wannabe. Now that I have spent two years writing and have finished a book, I feel like I am no longer a wannabe.

I am a writer.

Now I am an Author Wannabe. But seriously, that is kind of a lame blog name, isn't? I've debated using my whole name, but it is long and it is weird, and I think it might be too much of a mouthful for normal consumption. Besides, if...no, when I get published, I don't know that my name would fit across the cover. (LOL) I've thought about shortening it, but then I've heard some horror stories about using pen names.

So, I thought of using my first name with a tag line of some kind. My first name is unique enough that I think people might not get me confused with anyone else. I don't know...have any of you met any other Sherrinda's?

I've thought of a few new blog names and created a poll to see what my cyber friends think sounds best. The poll is in the right side bar. So take a moment and cast your vote! If you can think of something even better, leave it in the comment section.

I'm looking forward to what you think--even if you think I need to keep the title the same. That raises another question...should we change the names/titles of our blogs as we grow and change as writers/people? What do you think?


March 01, 2010

Story Sensei Synopsis Class!

I am beginning my first ever online class today. And I'm nervous. Isn't that funny? I guess it's because I haven't ever done a class before. I've never done any kind of writing class. (gasp!)

I missed Camy Tang's synopsis class in February and decided to order her synopsis worksheet. But I found out that she is offering a 2 week class starting today and it's only $30!!! So I promptly signed up. I am hoping to learn how to do one the proper way...one that makes sense and yet grabs the reader. :) I've heard great things about Camy and know it will be wonderful!

If you are interested, check out her Story Sensei Blog for more details.

Okay, here's something I saw on a blog recently. I am so sorry I cannot remember what blog it was, but it was so cool. Have you ever thought of a plot, or even began your WIP, only to find that there is a book published with the same plot?

Well, this video demonstrates how even with the same basic plot, your story can be wildly your own. Because you are a creative being, you can put a spin on story ideas that nobody else can. Its flavor is unique to your tastes. Its aroma carries the essence of you. Nobody can spin a tale like you can.

So watch this video and see how the same four chords can play many vastly different songs. Way cool. To each his own....





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