Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Old Stories, New Beginnings   3 comments

This last Saturday, I went to the Local Writers Workshop at TSCPL (my local library). To say that Topeka is a good place to be a writer would be an understatement. My favorite librarian has worked for over a decade to grow a community that is writer-friendly. She started with NaNoWriMo and once that hit critical mass, she worked as a librarian to offer first pre-writing seminars, then editing seminars, then branched out into the Community Novel Project (and really, they would not have had writers the first year if she hadn’t grown a close-knit NaNoWriMo community first). And now they offer workshops, fairs, and programs for writers year round. It is seriously the best support network a writer could ask for, and I am thrilled to have it.

Back to the Writers WorkshopNotebook, Folder, and Pen

Spending an entire morning talking about writing and the business of it and the future of it and the doing of it. . . It was inspiring. And I’ve been thinking ever since about some projects that I’ve maybe let sit for too long. So I’m going to be working. Somewhere, I have the Sims 2 Community version of The Mansion (complete with pictures) saved in a file. Since I have determined that The Mansion will be barely recognizable once I’m done revising it, I’m going to figure out a way to republish the original version. Maybe I’ll do a freebie PDF or something. We’ll see. I have to find it first (but I’m 98% sure it’s on a CD so I just have to find the CD). I wish now that I’d never taken it down, but I thought my chances of traditional publication would be better if it weren’t still up on the Sims 2 site for free. I’m sure that whole community is non-existent now anyway. But for the people who loved that original version, I want to make it available again.

As I look for that, I’m going to be going back to the drawing board with the story somewhat. Basically, I’m going to go back to what the story was supposed to be and rewrite it. I’ll be doing a lot of prewriting thought experiments that I will put up here. Hopefully, they won’t get boring for the people that don’t come here for my writing stuff. We shall see. Once I’m sharing here regularly again, I’m sure some of my other stuff will get posted too. Weight Loss Wednesdays were always popular and I definitely need a little weight loss accountability in my life again.

The other thing I’m going to be doing is revising my 30 Days to PreWriting. Because it contains so many links, it needs going over every couple years. And the way Kindle stuff works, if you own the book when I update it, Amazon updates your version for free. So now would be the perfect time to buy it. You can get all the current links and information, and bookmark what you want. Then when the new edition is finished, you’ll automatically get all the updated prewriting goodness. I will aim for finishing the updates before October 1st for all the pre-nano work that people like to do.

From where I’m sitting, the next year looks pretty darn good. Let’s get to work.

Posted August 16, 2015 by Maidenfine in Writing

The Real Problem   2 comments

I had an epiphany.

I’ve had this project I wanted to work on, for over a year. But every time I had a chunk of space, I couldn’t get into it. And not even just couldn’t get into it. I mean I had this feeling like I shouldn’t even be thinking about it even though it’s a project that I love and can get fired up about and can be turned into a vehicle to get more of my writing out there. All of the positives of this project meant nothing, when the feeling came up to make me feel bad about the project. Now, some people might say “That’s God telling you not to do it.” Those people would be wrong. In fact, I’ve very clearly received a kick in the pants from God on this very issue. It surprised me, because I hadn’t realized until that moment that God had anything to do with it. The writing didn’t seem particularly godly, and the person I’d be working closely with is not a Christian, so it never dawned on me that it was of interest to God beyond the principle that all things should be done as if for the Lord.

So it wasn’t God holding me back. What was it? It would seem like something God wanted me to do, once I knew was something He wanted, would be pretty high up in the priorities, right? But still that feeling nagged at me. And finally, I figured out what it was. And once I really truly figured out what it was, I was able to unpack it and examine it and put it away. But just in case it should plague other Christian writers, I wanted to speak about it here.

BookshelfI was a writer before I was a Christian. Whether you count from my childhood decision to follow Christ or from my adult decision that led me back to God, the fact remains that I was a writer first. I learned to read, so that I could write. I have a vivid memory of being about five and I was writing something, but I didn’t know a lot of words, so I had to ask my mother how to spell just about every single word that I wanted to write. How she was so patient, I will never know. What I was writing, I have no idea. But I remember the incident very clearly.

All that to say that many of the stories locked in my head are not “Christian” stories. I would estimate that about 90% of my characters are not Christian. Do I love Christian fiction? As long as it’s good, yes. I have a great appreciation for Christian romance novels because I feel like I’m getting two love stories for the price of one. There’s the love story between the two individuals and the love story between God and Man. They are often very beautifully written and I love the way the chosen Scriptures speak to the conflict. But I cannot write Christian romance. I have tried. It is not what God has gifted me with. It is not inside me to produce. And that is the real problem I’ve been having.

Several years ago, a member of our church was asking about my writing and asked if all my stories had the Gospel in them. I said no, because that’s the truth and their response was to ask “Why not?” And the unspoken part of that question, the part that I heard, though it wasn’t said, was what kind of Christian writes stories that don’t contain the Gospel? What kind of Christian writes stories where the express purpose isn’t to convert the masses? What is the point of writing, as a Christian, if it’s not to bring others into a greater understanding of God’s desire to be in their lives?

And all of that unspoken junk has kept me from really seriously writing since then. I was in a lull at the time and even when I’ve attempted to break from that lull, that sense of shame, of not measuring up, has pulled me back. So, here, for others who may struggle with this, or for me, if I should need to hear it again in the future, I answer those questions.

All of Heaven and Earth proclaim the glory of God to those who have ears to hear. Everything beautiful points to God. He does not have to sign his name at the bottom of the painting for us to know the strokes of the Master who created it. I do not have to shout to those around me for them to see Him at work in my life. In fact, many won’t listen unless you speak softly. Christian literature is for Christians. Atheists and agnostics do not purchase the latest Love Inspired titles. They do not read Karen Kingsbury books. Christians do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There is a place for those works.

There is also a place for the works of Christians that do not keep to those tight restrictions of content. There is a place for works by Christians that are relatable for non-Christians. There is a place for Middle Earth and Narnia, worlds where perhaps the Gospel is there, but it isn’t obvious and it doesn’t beat you about the head. That place is where my foul-mouthed, gypsy-cursed Hungarians belong. That is the place where my timid, pyrokinetic redhead belongs. That is the place where my genetically-altered government assassin belongs. That is where my writing belongs. It belongs on a shelf not labeled Christian, where someone might pick it up, and believe that it is beautiful and be interested in the soul that it came from. And when they go looking for that soul, they will find this place. This little spot on the internet where I have poured out my heart about what God is doing in my life. And I have been vulnerable and imperfect and I’ve shown a true face to the world. And maybe, on that day, they’ll believe.

And maybe they won’t.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that all things beautiful show God’s face to the world. And I want to write beautiful things. And no matter what I think a Christian should be writing doesn’t matter. Because a Christian should be writing what is inside them to be written. Especially when God tells them to.

Posted February 18, 2015 by Maidenfine in God, Writing

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Posts Not Written   1 comment

It’s been a weird year. And I’ve thought of more posts in the last few months than I normally would in a whole year. But I’ve been struggling. What is worth writing? What matters enough to put out into the world? I’m sure these are questions every writer asks (probably over and over and over and over). But more than any other time, I’ve been answering those questions with “When in doubt, don’t.” Sadly, that means not much going on in the post writing department.

Another hurdle has been my relationships with other people. I feel like I’ve spent the last year or two putting more effort into my relationships. For that reason, most of what I want to write about involves other people. Where is the line between writing something thoughtful and writing something that will hurt people close to me? How many of my thoughts and observations are not appropriate to be shared because I wouldn’t just be sharing me, I’d be sharing them too? Private things about me, don’t necessarily bother me to be shared because it’s my choice to do something public. But my husband didn’t start this blog. My mother didn’t start this blog. My children didn’t start this blog. So when my life intersects with theirs, it become hard to decide if what I’m writing is okay to share, or if it needs to be in my own personal journal instead.

These are the things that stop me from writing. These are the things that have left countless blog posts as simply wanderings in my own mind. I am hoping to get some things started in 2015 and hopefully they will lead to more blog posts here from me. But no guarantees. Life is good. God is good. But not everything about it all is meant to be shared. And I’m trying to figure out where that line is.

Posted January 4, 2015 by Maidenfine in Writing

A Decision To Be Made   Leave a comment

Something is going to be cut out. I’m not one hundred percent sure yet what it’s going to be, but I’m leaning toward the blog. I enjoy it. But I don’t always have time for it. And the only way to be a “good” blogger is to be a consistent blogger, so when I realize a week has gone by without a post, I feel shades of guilty and wonder if I should be apologizing, or if, since it’s my blog, I should just do whatever I feel like and who cares if other people decide not to read anymore because I just wasn’t feeling it for a couple weeks.

I’ve been enjoying doing the book reviews. Though I’ve slowed down considerably in my reading. I had a couple weeks in there where I was just devouring anything I could get my hands on. And while I’m still reading, it’s not as much, or as quickly, and the couple things I still need to review just haven’t grabbed me like past items. The urge to share them with everyone right now so they can get their own copy just isn’t there. So the reviews haven’t been written.

Then there’s the computer issue. For various reasons that make me want to spank every single person that lives with me and then go find the electrician who wired our house and spank them too, my netbook battery is fried. So it will only work when plugged in. Which is, unfortunately, more difficult than it sounds. The plug-in that’s hidden enough to actually keep the thing plugged in, is part of a group of things that like to randomly have power outages that leave the rest of our house unaffected. Plugging in to an outlet not affected by this random wiring issue that I hope doesn’t burn our house down before we have a chance to move out of it, means using an extension cord that my children then step on because if there’s an empty room with one small item on the floor, they will find a reason to step on that small item. Please tell me this is not restricted to my children.

The result of all that is that I haven’t been spending much time on my computer. And when I’m on there, I usually have a bazillion emails that need to be dealt with because I can’t do a lot of things on my phone so any email that requires an action gets left for me to deal with “Later, when I can get on the computer.” And then there’s the fact that I’m the education director for my church now and I have this grand plan for our front bulletin board. But it requires me to spend some time making the various elements to put up. And then, through God’s crazy workings, I’m the Sunday School teacher for kindergarten through 3rd grade, and that is definitely a class that requires preparation. They are so easily distracted, if I don’t know what we’re doing, they’ll have us dancing around listening to music for the whole hour.

Plus, we’re getting ready to move. Sometime. We have to wait for someone else to move out before we can move in, so right now we’re just waiting and hoping we don’t lose our house before we can move.

And while all of this is perfect fodder for blogging, and I seriously have moments when I’m out and think “I need to write this down so I can blog it,” the reality is that I’m too busy living it, to blog it. Maybe if I had an easy way to get things from my Kindle to my computer, I could do it. But I don’t currently have an app that would allow me to create a document on the Kindle and get it to my computer. And I hate handwriting stuff that I want to blog because I just don’t have time to do the retyping later. When you barely have time to write, you don’t want to cut that in half by making yourself repeat work.

So. All that to say that I don’t know how long I’ll be trying this. And really, my hosting runs out at the end of November, and unless life takes a drastic turn for the prosperous, I can’t afford to renew it. Which means going back to wordpress.com. Not a completely unhappy thought, since I actually rather liked all the things they took care of for me (like having an email list where people could get updated when I post or keeping really awesome statistics regarding visitors and such). But in the blogging world, it seems you’re not a “real” blog if there’s a “wordpress” or “blogger” in your blog’s address. But maybe I can upgrade from wordpress.com and get my own domain name without paying an arm and a leg for it. If I decide to keep going. I still haven’t decided that.

For now, I’m going to keep giving it a go. Next week, hopefully I’ll get around to talking about what we’ve been doing in school. And how in the world I ended up teaching the age group that frustrates me most. And I still have a couple reviews to write.

Should be good times if I can get myself to the computer to write it all out.

Review: Let’s Write A Short Story   Leave a comment

Let’s talk about writing. Actually, let’s talk about the writing process. It’s not just writing. Anyone can write. And most people can pull off something good. A majority of people can pull off something great. And quite a few people can pull off something extraordinary. At least some of the time. That’s where the rest of the process comes in. Prewriting increases the chances that awesome is going to also be coherent. Editing and revision pull the awesome out of the muck and highlight it, adding to it in order to increase awesomeness. And publishing. . . well, publishing is a whole different beast, but it’s the culmination of the process that takes the awesome and gives it to the world.

But how many of us get to experience the entire process? As a novelist, I sure haven’t. Prewriting, yes. In fact, I’ve gotten really good at prewriting (hence my 30 Days of Prewriting book). Over the years, I’ve used just about every method of prewriting there is. Writing, yes. I’ve written until my hands were sore. I’ve typed until my eyes were blurry and my brain had long since stopped functioning. Editing. . . well, not so much. Not that I’ve never edited. I have. But I wouldn’t say that I’ve finished editing anything. I write rough drafts and then I get started on the editing and revision and it just starts to feel so overwhelming. And then my projects die. Which is where Let’s Write a Short Story by Joe Bunting~ has changed my way of thinking.

Not only does this book go through the information you’ll need to write better short stories (and just plain write better in general), it also explains why you should bother with short stories in the first place. And the biggest reason that stuck out for me? You get to experience the entire writing process and practice your craft from start to finish. That appealed to me. And it also got my brain going. Honestly, I could have finished this book much sooner if it didn’t give me so much to ponder. And there are action steps in the book as well. Places where Bunting basically says “Now put the book down and go do.” This is definitely not some book about theory. It’s a book about practice. And it will get your mind going in new directions. It certainly did so for mine.

After reading the book, be sure to join the online community designed to continue where the book left off. If Bunting can cram so much stimulation into a fairly short book, I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can provide in a community.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Links in this post are affiliate links.

FF: Review of Eye of the Sword   Leave a comment

I accidentally did it again. I snagged a book that wasn’t the first in a series. Again, I ended up in a trilogy, this time in the second book, rather than the third. You’ll see from my review, however, that I’ve been having much better luck with sequels lately.

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley

Where angels walk the ground and the future is told in song, does a man of low rank have a chance at love with a princess?

In Camrithia, a land of shadows and mystical secrets, Trevin lives to serve King Laetham. But his heart belongs to the princess, Melaia. When the King sends Trevin on on a dangerous quest to find the missing comains—captains in the king’s army—he must leave Melaia to the advances of a swaggering Dregmoorian prince.

Challenged to prove his worth, Trevin throws himself into his quest. Striving to prove his love, Trevin undertakes a second mission—find the harps Melaia seeks in order to restore the stairway to heaven. Through fire caves, rogue winds, and murderous threats, Trevin remains steadfastly dedicated to his quest—even when he is falsely accused of a heinous crime. As Trevin’s time runs out, he realizes he must face the shame and horror of his own past and the nightmare that has come to life. Will he have the courage to finish what he has started?

The book starts out with our would-be hero losing a fight and ending up down a contaminated well, about to be boiled alive. Which doesn’t really seem like fun, but was probably better than some of the other things that happen to poor Trevin later on in the book. I really felt for this hero, without even having read the first book. He was humble and had an unsavory past. But he was loyal, determined, and honest. When someone that he’s come to care about dies, he weeps. There are a lot of male main characters these days that are “too tough” to cry, even when someone dies.

There were parts of the book that I had difficulty reading quickly. Not because it was boring, but because it took a little extra time to process all the tidbits of backstory that were being provided. By the end of this second book, though, I could pretty much tell you what happened in the first book (and before). So while the first half took me a little longer, it was still enjoyable. And I felt like details were provided in exactly the right way. I could definitely read this book, never read the first one, and feel like I could continue on with the series. However, I enjoyed this book so much, I plan to buy the first one, then loan both of them to my friend who has done tons of research on Nephilim and therefore would get a kick out of the series, so that she can read them too. And hopefully, the third book isn’t too far away. Because my first thought when I finished this book was “Oh crud. Now I have to wait for the third one.”

As a fantasy lover, I really enjoyed this book. So if you’re into swords and magical creatures (or in this case, Heavenly creatures), this book would be great. My general recommendation is to read series in order, but really, you don’t have to with this one.

You can get the first book here. Or this book here.

 

Disclosure: In exchange for an honest review, I received a copy of this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program. The free product did not influence my opinion. Also, links in this post are affiliate links.

Posted August 17, 2012 by Maidenfine in Fiction Friday, Reading

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Review: The Bride’s Bible   Leave a comment

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I’m not putting this one on Fiction Friday, since the Bible isn’t fiction. But something beautiful came in the mail for me today. It’s the Bride’s Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers. It’s a KJV Bible and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t even think that my pictures will do it justice. My family’s wedding season for this year is over, but I think this would make a really great gift for a bride. Maybe something from the maid of honor or one of the mothers. Other than the incredible cover, it’s also smaller than the usual Bible. Not quite as small as the pocket Bibles, but smaller than my Personal size one. I took some pictures to compare the size and the thickness. The green one in the back is my Personal size Bible. Since I carry my backpack with me everywhere, I have enough room to stick it in there. If I were still carrying a purse, I would definitely prefer the smaller size of the ultra-slimline Bride’s Bible.

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As you can see, their provided graphic, does not do the actual Bible justice. Yes, the pattern is accurate, but their graphic looks like it might be gray or black. In reality, it’s a gorgeous, shimmery silver. Even my pictures don’t truly show how beautiful this Bible is. It’s been a long time since I got married, but I would have loved to receive something this beautiful. At the front of the Bible, it contains the usual presentation page, but adds to it. There’s a page for documenting your wedding details, including space for wedding pictures and a message from your wedding party. It will not only be a beautiful Bible, but also a really amazing keepsake.

IMG00599-20120809-2125My green Bible, contains two maps. They’re located inside the back cover. This Bible contains 8 pages of maps at the back. They’re full color, just like the ones at the back of my larger Bible, but they cover a lot more, simply because there are four times as many.

I only have two things that I would say detract from the Bible. The first, is that it appears to only be available in KJV. Now, I have nothing against KJV, but it is most definitely harder to read than other versions. I’m pretty sure it reads at a 12th grade level (if my random trivia knowledge is correct).

IMG00597-20120809-1831Since the average American only reads at the 6th grade level, that’s something to consider. The other issue is the size of the type. Yes, it’s bigger than those pocket Bibles, but really, even little kids with perfect eyes can have trouble reading the words in those things. And really, it’s not too bad. But the type is noticeably smaller than that in my regular Bible. So if you suspect any sort of vision problems, a Bible magnifying lens is a must-have accessory. They aren’t that expensive, but you don’t want to give a gift that requires the purchase of something else, so be sure to spring for the lens.

IMG00597201208091831_thumbOverall, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m in love with this Bible. I was so excited for it to arrive and opening it was like Christmas. I think any bride would be lucky to receive a Bible as beautiful as this. So definitely keep it in mind for the Christian brides in your future.

Disclosure: In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of this Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers, through their BookSneeze program. I chose it to review because I thought it looked pretty in their picture, so if I hadn’t received it free, and knew a soon-to-be bride, I probably would have bought one anyway. Thus, my opinions are not affected by the free item.

Posted August 13, 2012 by Maidenfine in God, Randomness, Reading

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