Where Have I Been Wandering?

My preciouses, where have I been? Well, between preparing for our move to another state, wife and mom duty, and editing weddings, I’ve been a busy-bee. However, I haven’t stopped writing.

I started a new YA fantasy story blog: Through Elisena’s Eyes.

Some would call it a gift, and others a curse: Elisena can peer into hearts. What’s hidden from everyone is visible to a sixteen-year-old girl with her own heart-issues to conquer. 

Join Elisena on her journey from seeing all, yet not being seen–until she is invited to attend Knight’s Elect Academy.

There’s much growth and adventure awaiting to happen as she struggles to love herself and fulfill her purpose.

If you’re into romance and adventure in a high-fantasy setting, check it out. Here’s the first post:

My name is Elisena. I will be seventeen soon, and I live in the rigid yet beautiful mountains of Jazerland, the land of the faithful. But lately, faithfulness to our dear Supreme King has been slowly replaced with rebellion, though no one’s brave enough to say it–yet. But I could read their hearts–quite literally.

Some would call it a gift and some, a curse. I deem it both, though it has always leaned more toward the cursed side. You see, when I see into people’s hearts, I know not only what they are feeling, but what they are full of…(Read more)

 

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Don’t Just Write a Story, Bleed One.

If you aren’t passionate about the story you’re telling, stop telling it. Because a great story is like giving birth: it’s long, painful, will be very draining at times, and you’ll get to a point where you just wanna push it out already!

You have to love your story enough to go through the sweat, blood, and tears it’ll require to come to fruition and grow into something beautiful.

I edited my high-fantasy novel over thirty-three times and had a handful of eyes peruse through it before finally reaching out to an amazing designer to begin the book cover process. And as he begins (this month), I STILL have to go back through my novel to fix a few things spotted by my proofreader.

Now don’t get me wrong, there WILL be times where you feel like giving up, but if you really love your story, you won’t. And here’s the clincher, if you don’t love your story, what makes you think your audience will?

It took over two dozen edits until I came to a place of really loving my high-fantasy story. Reading it now is a breeze. When you read over your story, do you get lost in it, as if it wasn’t even your own? When your novel gets to THAT place, it’s an amazing feeling. But until then, is your story worth laboring for?

If the answer is no, then think hard about a story you wish someone would tell you, and then write it.

Want more writing tips and encouragement? Visit the home page and follow my blog. If you have a story you’d like me to help make great, visit the services page and send me a message with your genre and word count, and we can begin the process. Happy helping!

Make Your Audience Feel

If you want your audience to feel for your protagonist, to empathize with her, you must express feelings rather than tell feelings. Here’s what I mean; 

This is telling how your character is feeling:

Jenna dreaded her boyfriend’s reaction to her new cancer-riddled appearance. 

And this is expressing how your character is feeling:

Jenna’s clammy hands trembled as she raised them to her head. They met smooth, cold skin, like freshly shaved legs. She swallowed, her mouth drier than a desert. 

I expressed dread by Jenna’s actions and by showing what was happening to her body. But, to really have your audience emotionally connect, you want to add in a short, intimate interior monologue or thought:

Jenna’s clammy hands trembled as she raised them to her head. They met smooth, cold skin, like freshly shaved legs. She swallowed, her mouth drier than a desert. Chris would finally meet the new Jenna. The dying Jenna. 

Telling is writing at your worst. It robs your story and your audience of emotion and imagination. We cannot picture the word “dread,” but we can see trembling hands. 

Telling your readers a story is like having them stand outside the gate of your world, only hearing what’s going on inside of it. But showing your readers a story is like inviting them into your world to experience it. 

You want your audience to see your story like a movie in their minds. With the ability to imagine the scenes, they will be blessed with a greater emotional connection to your characters and story. 

Don’t just seek to captivate minds, but to capture hearts. If you’re able to do both, you’ll always have loyal readers.

What story have you read that had you feeling for the protagonist? Has a novel ever made you cry? Share your question or thoughts in a comment. Happy helping! 

Make Your Protagonist Problematic Tip 2: Trouble Magnet

Trouble should stalk your hero. And this trouble should of course cause trouble for those nearest to your protagonist. Trouble breeds trouble. When his trouble is contagious, this growing conflict makes for a more interesting story.

Naturally, we humans are drawn to conflict. We don’t just like drama for the sake of it, but because we desire to experience the solution. HOW are things going to get better? WHEN are things going to get better? Especially if matters become complicated and messier, we REALLY can’t wait to see how the mess gets cleaned up.

When Peeta is kidnapped and then gets brainwashed, and then is given back to Katniss, and then is having PTSD episodes, the audience is itching to discover how in the blazes this couple is going to get through it all. The trouble he brings causes trouble within Katniss’ team and as the story continues, the drama thickens, again, increasing our desire for a solution.

Now, don’t make all the troubles caused by some foolish decisions on your protagonist’s part. Audiences hate a dumb hero, especially if the mistake made was one we knew was contrived to render cheap, additional conflict. Let the troubles come on their own, more for who your character is rather than what he does, unless it’s a GENUINELY tough decision and a sacrifice must be made–that’s different and interesting.

So go on and make your hero a troublemaker !

 

“God Loves ME” Can Be A Dangerous Mindset 

Be careful about the potentially very dangerous “God loves ME” ideology. 

Yes, God is Love, and loves you, but God loves the whole world because that is who HE is. HE is good and HE is Love. We cannot win His love, or impress Him to make Him love us more. NOR can we assume since He loves us we can continue living however we want and He will accept it and tolerate it. 

Just like I love my son, Arrow, to pieces, but I cannot accept his tendency to scream and throw fits whenever he doesn’t get what he wants because it will be detrimental to him in the future when he discovers you don’t always get what you want, and it is setting a bad example for his brother and whoever else he will have in his sphere of influence, aka, everyone he ever meets. 

I also cannot tolerate his jealousy and allow him to hit his brother, or demand me to pay attention to him at the expense of his brother’s needs. It is destructive not only to him, but to the relationships he has with those closest to him, and those whom he meets outside of the four walls of our home. 

God is good and God is a Father. He expects and requires obedience. There is sin that leads not unto death, but there is also sin that DOES. 

Be wise. Read your bible, take time to get to know the God you claim to love, just as you would get to know a human being you say you love, so that He can show you how to be right with Him and protect you from His righteous judgement, because God does not lie, and He promises to, “render to each one according to his deeds.”

Why Did God Allow Satan to Destroy Everything Job Had?

God disciplines those He loves, and often times, that discipline comes through the trials and tribulations we face in this cursed world. Sometimes, the trials are brought on by Satan, a very real enemy who has free will to incite evil, but apparently, has to at times–if not always–ask God before inflicting physical harm to His children.
 
Job had God’s hedge of protection around him, as the Bible records in Satan’s discussion with God about Job. Satan challenged God regarding the character of His servant Job, so God, in order to do something great in Job, removed His protection and allowed Satan to do what he wanted to Job. This included destroying his wealth, killing his family, and then inflicting a horrible leprous disease onto Job.
 
Now this is serious. This is extremely difficult to comprehend. If God is good, WHY would He allow Satan to do SO much damage on a FAITHFUL child? Our human minds cannot understand this, unless we allow the mind of Christ, which He has graciously and unnecessarily given us (alas, we are deserving of NONE of the amazing and good gifts He gives us), to set our mind on things above. We have to raise our perspective to God’s.
 
1.) God did not allow Satan to harm Job’s soul.
 
Satan was able to attack everything that would fade and die in this world eventually, but he was not permitted to harm or take what would last eternally: Job’s soul.
 
2.) It grieves God when His servants die, but He knows it is not the end for them, and that where they are sent to after their earthly bodies die is a far better place, in fact, it is the best and safest place for them to be, where all their tears will be wiped away, and they never again have to suffer or experience death, and ultimately, when Christ returns, evil will be completely wiped clean from the earth and a new, perfect land will take its place.
 
“Good people pass away;
the godly often die before their time.
But no one seems to care or wonder why.
No one seems to understand
that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
For those who follow godly paths
will rest in peace when they die.”-Isaiah 57:1-2
 
3.) Death, sin, and sickness are all inescapable curses on this earth that are brought about by our OWN sin. All have contributed to the earth’s corruption, however, God is so extremely good, He made a way for us to pass through this fading, painful valley into an eternal, perfect one. Not only that, He provides His children comfort for the pains this sin-fallen world brings by offering access to Himself, 24/7, by giving us the highest supernatural power anyone can attain: the Holy Spirit, and by preserving and providing us with hope through His incredible wisdom and promises revealed in the Bible.
 
4.) God was strengthening and building Job’s character, revealing things to Him, using the trials to do something eternal in Job’s heart. Job was not a perfect man, indeed, only Christ was the perfect man. Like all of us humans, Job needed character work.
God is a Father; He desires a right-relationship with His children, above sacrifice. Job had a fear for God, but since everything was going so well in his life–wealth, health and a big family, he didn’t realize how much he didn’t know God intimately. He was righteous, but he didn’t have this strong hope and intimate love and closeness with God, and his wealth and family had taken first place in that area.
 
I make this claim because of how he continued to react after the grief hit. He said some very hopeless, depressing things. Yes, he lost all of his earthly possessions, but since all of his joy was in that, rather than in the Lord, he wanted to give up and just die. He wasn’t thinking about witnessing for the Lord’s glory, for staying alive, hanging in there and living whatever life he had left for God’s glory. He was so destroyed and wrapped up in what he lost, he had no desire to proclaim all the good God had done for him until that point, and to tell others about God. He falsely believed the prosperity gospel, and when everything was taken, though he did not forsake God, He did view Him differently.
Job allowed his loss to make him bitter. Clearly, there was something off in his heart. There are many Christians who suffer incredible loss, like Job, but they don’t throw in the towel and beg the Lord to kill them and behave as if they now have nothing else to live for. Job was unconsciously saying God wasn’t worth living for. Job was living for his family, but once they were gone, he wanted to go with them.
 
I am reminded of all the Apostle Paul suffered, and yet how when he thought of death, it wasn’t out of despairing all he’d lost and suffered in the world, but rather, it was out of a joyful longing and expectation to be with Jesus eternally. Yet, knowing that since God had not yet allowed him to die, he knew he still had work to do on this earth, and thus proclaimed:
 
“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith.”-Philippians 1:20-25
 
I am sure there was more God was doing, but I hope this helps anyone who may be grieving to the point of wanting to just die. Who and what are you living for? Sometimes, only trials will tell.

Make Your Protagonist Problematic Tip 1: Fear

Your protagonist has to have at least one fear that needs to be squashed throughout her journey. Whether it’s the fear of failing, or the fear of losing a loved one (like Katniss from Hunger Games), the fear needs to be real, relatable, and a reminder to her and your audience at crucial moments. 

The fear shouldn’t be an easy one to overcome. And don’t be afraid to let it be a setback, even a major one; that can cause her (and your audience) to hate it and want to conquer it all the more, and can cause interesting conflict between other characters. 

When her fear costs someone’s life, it won’t only create conflict among those impacted by the loss, but add more internal conflict; guilt, insecurity, self-loathing, maybe even denial. 

Conflict is the engine of your story. If it’s too simple or minimal, you’ve got a weak story. The more complex the problems, the more gripping your story will be and the more satisfying the resolution. 

We are amazed at how conflicts resolve. When someone had a very difficult situation, but it works out, aren’t we quick to ask: how did that happen? What changed? And when the story is said and done, we stand in awe.

Make your protagonist’s journey one that wows us. I’ll have more tips on how to accomplish this next Monday. 

What do you think? Comments are welcome here 🙂 

Happy helping!

Making Your Readers HATE Your Villain For the RIGHT Reasons

Divergent’s villainness was not detestable–at least the movie’s version wasn’t. I definitely didn’t care to read the book after watching the first movie, and the villain was just one of many reasons why.

You want your audience to hate your villain, and not because he’s a boring stereotype, but because what he does is purely evil.

Don’t get me wrong, killing innocent bystanders is evil, but the villains that hit us where it hurts the most are the ones who attack our loved ones.

Villains who get real personal are the ones who make us cringe and seethe.

President Snow was such an intimate villain. His attacks against Katniss were oh so personal; (SPOILER ALERT FOR THE 2 OF YOU WHO DIDN’T READ THE BOOKS OR WATCH THE MOVIES) brainwashing her love against her; destroying her district, killing her good friend/stylist, and because of the Games, another sweet little companion died who reminded Katniss of her own baby sister. Ouch. Readers couldn’t wait to see him get his. Can the same be said of your villain?

I know sometimes we dread making it too personal. We don’t want our beloved heroine to suffer too much, but ya gotta do it. You gotta hurt her, badly.

Your villain’s goal shouldn’t be merely to stop your protagonist from winning, but to cause your protag to give up before the war is over. The only way to accomplish this is to assault the heart, to hit home.

And isn’t that life? Jesus said in this world we would suffer tribulation. But the hope is that no matter how powerful a blow–or multiple blows– your hero doesn’t throw in the towel. He presses on until his dying breath and he inspires your audience to do the same in their own lives.

Yes, hurting him will hurt you and your readers, but when that villain gets served a hearty plate of justice, it’ll all be worth it.

Which villains did you find detestable and why? Share your thoughts in a comment, and be sure to warn of spoilers. 

Happy helping!

Why Are My Sidekicks Outshining My Hero?

I still struggle with this very thing: thinking my main character isn’t as interesting as his friends and other characters. So in this post, I invite you guys to share your thoughts, opinions, and any advice you have on this subject. Do you relate? Or is your MC/hero the most lovable person in your story? If so, why is that the case, and how’d you pull that off without purposefully making your other characters less interesting? Share away in the comments!

 

Is God Helping You Build? 

​Careful, Christian, [preachin’ to myself, too] if you’re so busy building up your house first (your wealth, your name, your career) and put building God’s house second (bringing souls to Jesus and loving them in deed and in truth), or this will happen. But watch what will happen if we flip our priorities:

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”  This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord . “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”  Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord .  Then Haggai, the Lord ’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord . So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.-Haggai 1:5‭-‬15 NIV

If we build our house first, the Lord won’t be apart of it, He won’t support it, and our labor will be in vain since it isn’t everlasting and from love of God and others, but selfish and temporal. But if we build His house first, genuinely care about strengthening our brothers and sisters in Christ, looking out for them, He will support us and give us the power to accomplish TRULY great things, spiritual things, everlasting things that will follow us into heaven.

“But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord . ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord , ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’  “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”-Haggai 2:4‭-‬9 NIV