Monday, August 28, 2017
Let your characters go out to play. Take them on a scene you hadn’t planned. Take your ultra-male character shopping in a dress boutique. Take your frilly female character to a sporting goods store. Take them out for fun and see what happens. Put them in a totally different place than you had intended. Your characters might surprise you.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
I read this and wanted to share with my author friends...
|“These are the words of him who is holy and true … What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open” (Revelation 3:7).|
You only have a short amount of time on this earth.
But as long as your heart is leaning into God, He can fast track anything. His Word says that He can open doors that no man can shut – promotion does not come from the north, south, east or west; it comes from God. And if God wants to set you somewhere at a specific time and place, He’ll do it.
Today, you need to know that if God has marketed you, you don’t need to be marketed by man. You don’t need to come up with the greatest marketing campaign, because you’ve got the God of the universe on your side. He’s got the best GPS, and He knows where to find you when He wants to elevate you and put you in a specific place.
Choose to trust in Him alone, and you will end up in the perfect place at the perfect time!
Thursday, November 19, 2015
What if you met your 23-year-old self in a dream? What would you say? No matter how young or how old, there’s a part of us all that wishes we could go back and tell ourselves what we should have done differently. It’s a desire award-winning author James L. Rubart explores in his new novel, The Five Times I Met Myself (Thomas Nelson/November 10, 2015/ISBN: 978-1401686116/$15.99).
Q: The Five Times I Met Myself explores the main character’s desire to go back in time and change certain decisions. Was the idea behind the book driven by any of your own regrets?
Actually, no. While my novel Memory’s Door was definitely driven by my own regrets — and having to figure out how to deal with them — The Five Times I Met Myself was more driven by hope for the future. I don’t think it’s ever too late to start living with freedom. I don’t think there’s any brokenness God can’t breathe healing and life into. So while my main character, Brock, does deal with regret, in the end this is a story about restoration and great hope going forward.
Q: What would you say to your younger self if you had the opportunity?
Wow, you’re not trying to make me get vulnerable, are you? Such a great question. There are many things I’d say, but I’ll mention just three for the moment. I’d tell myself to take more risks — that you’re never ready to take them, so just “jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down” (Ray Bradbury). I’d also tell myself to stop worrying about what anyone else thinks: about you, your dreams, your life, who you should be or shouldn’t be. Worrying can be such a deterrent from living a life of freedom. Finally, I’d tell myself this life is shorter than you can imagine when you’re young, so live like it.
Q: Why did you choose to make dreams such a big part of this story? What is lucid dreaming?
Dreams are powerful. Sometimes we know exactly what they mean, and they speak to us deeply. Other times we never figure them out. But haven’t we all told a friend, “Wow, you’re not going to believe the dream I just had”? I think most of us are fascinated with dreams. Plus I wanted a way to have my main character talk to himself in a way that didn’t involve time travel. This isn’t science fiction, so I wanted to discover a way for the older and younger Brock to connect that could actually happen in real life.
Lucid dreaming is simply being conscious or aware you’re dreaming. Most of the people I’ve talked to about lucid dreaming have had this experience. After researching lucid dreaming, I discovered it can be a powerful tool, among other things, to help people overcome their fears, bring emotional healing and find a new level of creativity in their lives.
Q: What does the Bible teach us about dreams?
The Bible teaches that sometimes dreams are much more than our subconscious minds working out the events that happened during the day. Sometimes God uses them to speak to us and to shape significant events in our lives and the lives of others. In the Old Testament Joseph had dreams that changed all of Egypt. In the New Testament, God told Joseph not to divorce Mary in a dream. Acts 2:17 says, “In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’” I believe God is still using dreams to change the lives of his children.
Q: How seriously do you take your own dreams? Have you ever had a dream that changed your life?
I take them very seriously. I don’t think it happens all the time, but there are times where God will speak to us through a dream.
In fact, I’ve had a number of dreams that changed my life. I’ve gotten story ideas from dreams as well.
Q: Much of Brock’s validation in life has come from his work. Do you think that’s common in this day and age?
I think it’s common in every age. We are tempted to look outside ourselves for validation: money, friends, accomplishments, success, awards, children, spouses. We search for validation in many things other than God that will never fill us in the end. When Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had, it wasn’t to crash the guy’s party. Jesus simply knew if the guy hung onto to any of his things (in his heart), it would ultimately drain him of all true life.
Q: How will readers be able to relate to Brock’s efforts to reconnect with his wife in midlife, after years of drifting apart?
I think for readers who might have drifted apart from their own spouses there will be one of two reactions: Either they won’t want to face the light the book shines on their relationship, or they’ll get a massive dose of hope and encouragement for healing — life will be infused back into their union.
Q: Has sibling rivalry ever been an issue in your family like in Brock’s?
A great many of my own experiences find their way into my novels, but not in this case. I was watching the reality TV show Survivor a few seasons back where two brothers were on the show together. I saw massive amounts of pain between them and, at the same time, huge amounts of love for each other. All that pain and love were mixed together and painted an intriguing portrait of brothers who loved and hated each other in equal measure. Fascinating, and I think quite common between siblings. So that dynamic made it into the novel.
Q: Is the kind of hope and restoration many are looking for possible without actually being able to go back and change something from the past?
Without question. As I mentioned earlier, this life is short. If you believe this is all there is, then I understand why people would despair. However, I’m one of those who believe in an afterlife, where Jesus says all things will become new. He doesn’t say all new things. This is important. He says all things new. All things. All those moments of pain and longing and regret will be made NEW. A good new. A tremendous new. Restored. Redeemed. Made right. Jesus came to restore that which was lost. I think there’s going to be a lot of celebrating of the things that will be restored in the coming kingdom. As for the present? There’s no point in looking back. It’s gone. But we can start living each day, this day, this moment, with hope and a determination to change our actions, to make choices that bring life to ourselves and those around us and to step into freedom in a way we never have before.
Q: Your desire to become a writer was inspired by one of the greatest Christian thinkers in modern history. Tell us about that.
I’m 11, and my mom buys my sister and me The Chronicles of Narnia for Christmas. I’m tearing through the books, falling massively in love with Aslan, and there’s this moment when I get to the final pages of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader that blows my mind.
Remember the scene where Aslan tells Edmund and Lucy they can’t come back, but that He’s also in their world even though he goes by a different name? My little 11-year-old pea brain explodes when I realize Aslan is Jesus, Jesus is Aslan. Even at that tender age, I realized that telling a story about Jesus was much more powerful than learning facts about him. In that moment I started to dream that someday I might have the chance to immerse people in stories the way Lewis had done with me and show them Jesus and God in a whole new way.
Q: Describe for us your secret writing room, where you wrote The Five Times I Met Myself.
This will be painful since my wife and I recently moved, and I had to give up my writing room! We lived in a house built in the late 80s when the style was to have a 20-foot ceiling in the entryway with a chandelier hanging down.
Picture an elevator shaft going up to the second floor of our house when you first walk in. I always thought all you’d have to do is build a floor to get a secret room. The walls, ceiling, and even a window were already in. So I did it. The room was accessed through the back of my youngest son’s closet. You stepped through a little door into our attic, and about ten feet into the attic, you stepped through another small door that led into the writing room. I have a photo of it on my website: http://jameslrubart.com/about/.
Turns out the folks who bought our house are James L. Rubart readers, so they could truly appreciate the secret room. On top of that, they’re aspiring writers themselves. It’s fun to know the legacy of writing in that secret room will continue.
Q: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
My wife isn’t a big fiction reader, but she’s brilliant at nuance and relationship. She shapes my novels to a greater degree than she realizes. I ask her if something rings true or not, and she’s always spot-on with her counsel. Extremely grateful for her.
Q: It sounds like you and your wife have a great relationship. Other than her, tell me about two or three of the other most important relationships in your life?
Without question I have to mention our two sons, Taylor and Micah. I dedicated The Five Times I Met Myself to them by saying, “What dad could be prouder?” So true. I’m crazily blessed because Taylor and Micah are not only seriously outstanding young men, they are two of my best friends.
Q: What message do you hope readers to walk away with from The Five Times I Met Myself?
I believe there’s a part of us all that wishes we could go back and tell our younger selves what we should have done differently, whether we’re 20 or 40 or 60 or 80 years old. We wonder how our lives would have turned out if we’d made different choices. And we want hope and restoration and freedom in the midst of examining those choices we did or did not make.
I wanted to explore those questions and give readers the chance to search through those questions in their own lives. By the end of the novel I want to offer hope and restoration for the choices they would or wouldn’t have made if they had the opportunity to do things over.
Andy Andrews describes the book as being life-changing. That’s exactly my hope: that people’s lives would be changed after reading The Five Times I Met Myself. I’ve had people say my books are not fluffy reading, that they stick with people months and years afterward. I hope that’s true. I want my stories to seep into people’s minds and, more importantly, their hearts and help them step into greater freedom for a long, long time.
Ever since he was a little boy, Rubart dreamed of writing novels but didn’t begin his journey as an author until 2002. Since then, he has become a bestselling and Christy award-winning author of seven novels, including Rooms, Soul’s Gate and his most recent, The Five Times I Met Myself. Rubart is also a professional speaker.
Rubart says he feels like a 28-year-old trapped in an older man’s body and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons. Rubart has spent his whole life in the Pacific Northwest and now lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington.
To keep up with James L. Rubart, visit www.jameslrubart.com. You can also follow him on Facebook (JamesLRubart) or on Twitter (@jameslrubart).
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Hauck’s The Wedding Chapel (Zondervan/November 17, 2015/ISBN: 9780310341529/ $15.99), a slip time story set in the late 1940s/early 1950s, captures the romance and hope of a post-war South while the contemporary timeline wrestles with the challenges and complications of commitment in the modern world.
Q: What inspired the plotline of The Wedding Chapel?
This book came from the old saying, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” I needed a new story idea, and while on vacation in Tennessee I drove past a wedding chapel called Chapel in the Glen. I pitched the title to my publisher a few minutes later. She and the team loved it. And I was off to find a story to go with it.
Q: Why did you choose to marry a classic love story from the 1940s with a modern tale of romance gone off-course?
I like to look at all aspects of life in a novel. Maybe it’s hindsight or the Golden Age of Hollywood, but romance seemed sweeter in the post-war 1940s. Coming out of a depression followed by war, men and women seemed devoted to getting back to basics, just living life, and loving each other and family. (I’m sure it was not as rosy as I imagine.)
In our day, people can walk away from a relationship so easily at the slightest sign of trouble. It’s easy to decide it’s not worth time and effort. However, the chapel itself stands for enduring love, even when love looks impossible.
Q: What would you say is the major thread or theme that runs throughout The Wedding Chapel?
This book takes a long look at the complications of family yet champions the power of enduring love. Tragedy such as war destroys lives, destroys dreams, but the zeal of the human heart helps people to carry on. The book also looks at how selfishness and greed are just as devastating as war, destroying the family and tearing down dreams. But with a little prayer, guidance and Divine intervention, we can find a way.
The book also confronts lies and misconceptions and calls for forgiveness. The story furthers the enduring power of love to bring wrong things right.
I’m sure it has! I can’t think of any because I try not to let communications or misunderstandings hinder my relationships. I’d rather humble up, apologize and make it right.
Q: Taylor and Jack marry impetuously, eloping only a few months after reconnecting, and they almost immediately start having issues. Why is the first year of marriage so hard? What advice can you offer to young married couples?
I don’t think the first year of marriage has to be hard (though it is for a lot of people because it’s the merging of two lives, two wills and wants). Marriage, as a God-breathed institution, calls for selflessness. And that’s just hard for most of us — the whole dying-to-self thing.
For couples who find themselves in conflict, I say breathe out, calm down. Sometimes situations seem large and impossible, but trust in the Lord to help you through. Get on your knees and pray! Go to a Godly couple for help. Learn to listen.
Don’t take everything so seriously. Love well. Listen to each other, but even more, “see” each other. It took me a while to “see” what my husband did to show his love for me. If I’d waited for him to show love the way I did or the way I expected, we’d have had a lot of conflict. I prayed a lot too. There’s no wisdom like God’s wisdom!
Q: How can we defeat negative patterns such as bad relationships or substance abuse, which sometimes seem to run in families?
I’ll be blunt here. Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit. There’s no program or pill that can do what He can do in our hearts.
In Him, we can break those family iniquities. We don’t have to carry forward the abuse or alcoholism or whatever our ancestors did.
But it takes leaning into Him, fighting the good fight. But it’s so worth it. “Old things have passed away,” Paul writes. “All things have become new.”
Romans 12:1-2 says it best. “Be transformed by renewing your mind.” We take those old thoughts and patterns captive and replace them with the truth of God’s word.
We’re given the command because it’s possible. Dig in and don’t give up!
Q: How have you seen God at work even after you or someone in your life made a poor decision?
I usually come out the other side of a trial a bit more humbled. God loves humility, and the best response I’ve ever had to trial was to get on my knees and pray, to lean into Him. I’ve seen God redeem relationships, finances and hearts, even bring physical healing.
Q: Those who have a complicated relationship with their earthly fathers may struggle with a having healthy relationship with God as Father. How can they reconcile what they believe about God with what they’ve experienced with their earthly dads?
I’ve been mulling on this a lot lately. God is our Father. He’s holy, which means He’s “totally other than.” He’s like nothing or any one we’ve ever encountered or experienced. That’s exciting because God is also love (1 John 4).
For those hurt by their earthly fathers, my heart goes out to them. I think it’s probably the hardest thing to overcome. Abuse, neglect or rejection from fathers so molds a young heart. But God the Father is much greater. He extends His love to us even before we fully understand who He is. That’s the message of the Cross. Even Jesus, His begotten son, earned God’s pleasure and love without doing a thing!
Remember when Jesus went to John to be baptized? At that point, He’d not yet started His ministry. When He came up out of the Jordan, everyone heard a voice saying, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” Up to that point, Jesus had not entered His ministry. But He believed the Father — which pleased Him.
Same with Abraham — he was just living his life when God the Father called him out of Ur. Abraham’s only response was, “Yes.” Faith and belief.
God tells him, “I am your exceeding great reward.” Wow. The God of heaven and earth wants to be OUR great paycheck. There’s a powerful punch in that notion!
So for those who’ve had a troubled past with fathers or mothers, believe in the Father who says He loves you. He’ll move in and through your heart.
Q: Are there ever moments when we should give up on our dreams?
That’s a great question! I think we have to evaluate our dreams constantly to see if they are realistic and if we have the heart, the time, the talent and the drive to do them. Don’t ever give up dreaming, but do make sure your dreams match who you are.
Psalm 37 says God gives us the desires of our hearts; as we seek Him, He gives us dreams to dream! Joseph would’ve never imagined being a ruler in Egypt on his own. God put that dream in him then tested him until he was ready.
Q: You feature a villain in the book whose life has become rife with bitterness. Have you ever been tempted to give in to anger or jealousy? What do you hope your readers learn from this character?
I work in a competitive business. Jealousy is always knocking. I just try to never open the door to it. God’s love and blessings are great enough for all of us. His blessing of another author does not take away His blessing from me!
Never let your bitterness get the best of you. It only leads to pain and hurt, maybe even physical issues, and a distorted view of life. It’s not worth it.
I see so many public figures functioning out of their wounds and bitterness, and their life view is based on experience, not truth. And it creates a distorted view of others as well as themselves.
Get God’s perspective.
Q: In your book The Wedding Dress, you included some rich symbolism that showed how God impacts history and our lives in ways we don’t always see or understand. Did you incorporate any of that imagery in The Wedding Chapel?
Every book is different, but in the back of my mind I want to show, in a physical way, God touching the lives of the characters. I think He’s doing that for us every day. In the “real world,” we can’t always see God moving; that’s why our relationship with Him is a walk of faith, but He is working on our behalf daily. We just have to be willing to believe, to see with our heart.
With The Wedding Chapel, the heroine, Taylor, is aware that she once heard God, but after some choices she made, she no longer hears Him. She begins to long for those days again.
The chapel itself is a symbol of love, of one man’s devotion, which is a small reflection of Jesus’s love and devotion to us.
Like The Wedding Dress, there is a family thread, connecting generations. Two of the characters hear a sound whenever they are in the chapel. It creates quite a mystery for them. For me, that sound is God’s eye and attention on us. He wants good for us. He wants us to believe He is with us. It’s symbolic of God’s desire for us in the quiet, intimate place.
Q: When you sat down to write The Wedding Chapel, what impact did you hope it would have on its readers?
I always hope my stories leave readers uplifted, hopeful and aware of God’s love for them. In this book, I tried to show how His heart beats for us, even when we are running the opposite direction.
Hauck has a journalism degree from Ohio State University and is a huge Buckeyes football fan. She worked in the corporate software world before she began writing full time in 2004. Hauck serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is also a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, a conference speaker and a contributor to Southern Belle View Daily.
Hauck lives in central Florida with her husbandwhere she writes from her two-story tower.
Learn more about Rachel Hauck and her books at www.rachelhauck.com or on Facebook (RachelHauck) and Twitter (@RachelHauck).
Friday, October 23, 2015
By Kimberly Rose Johnson
I am often asked about my writing process, but it’s difficult to give a straight answer since it depends on the story—specifically if it’s a holiday story or not. I love writing Christmas stories, but my process is very different for these books than my others.
For example, when I wrote Island Christmas it wasn’t Christmastime. Somehow I had to get into the holiday spirit even if it was ninety degrees outside. For me the quickest and easiest way to do this is to put on Christmas music. J I began writing Island Christmas last spring and completed it the final week in June.
I had to completely immerse my mind in what I considered to be the perfect Christmas setting and wrap that spirit of Christmas around me as I wrote. Every Christmas story I write must have snow. It’s the romantic in me that demands a white Christmas. J I was a little concerned about Island Christmas though, because when I think of the Puget Sound Islands, I don’t think snow. Thankfully my cover artist who lives in the area where my series is set, assured me that although it is rare, they have had snow. That was the best news!
I suddenly had permission to create my perfect Christmas setting and the creative juices started flowing. Little by little I plugged away at the story, and it all came together in the end.
Below is an excerpt from Island Christmas to show you what I mean about snow and Christmas.
Snowflakes cascaded in soft puffs, creating a hush in the night. The snow creaked as it compacted under their feet. Rachel breathed in deeply. “I love the smell of snow.”
Chris chuckled. “I can’t smell it.”
“Not everyone can.”
“Describe it to me.”
“Clean. Fresh. It’s difficult to explain.”
He chuckled. “I think I can smell it after all.”
The sidewalk had been cleared, and they strolled around the building until they came to a sign that welcomed them to Reflection Park. “I didn’t realize this was a park. I thought it was part of the hospital,” Rachel said as they entered the park-like setting she’d viewed from the window. She stopped to soak in the sight. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
He slipped his arm from her hold and instead draped it across her shoulder and pulled her close. “Yes. Very. I’ve never appreciated the lights of Christmas as much as I have since being on Wildflower Island.”
She gazed at the colored lights on the huge fir tree. “We should take a selfie with the tree.”
“I’m game if you are.” A snowflake landed on his cheek and quickly melted.
When I sit down to create a new story idea, I have a three-step process. Setting, then characters, and finally plot.
For me location is king and can make or break a story. If the locale doesn’t fit the story it doesn’t work, therefore I must begin with setting, then go from there.
What is most important to you when reading or writing a story? I think we can all agree that a story must draw us in as readers and be well written. What specifically makes or breaks a story for you?
Sous Chef Rachel Narrelli returns to Wildflower Island looking for a fresh start for herself and her young son, but discovers that life has a lot of bumps in the road even on idyllic Wildflower Island. She is grateful when new friend Chris Campbell offers support as she faces obstacles with her new job and new life. She cares for the Chris but must decide if she is willing to risk her heart to a man with an uncertain future.
Buy on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LS1ofi
Kimberly’s Website: http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/
Kimberly’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyRoseJohnson
Kimberly’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimberlyrosejoh
Monday, September 14, 2015
Writing Opportunities for Christian Writers (September 2015)
Writing opportunities for Christian fiction: Splickety Prime
· Theme: Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and we want stories that warm the heart like hot cocoa after a snowstorm. This Christmas list is by no means complete, but here are a few of my favorite things: Silver bells, sleigh rides, snowball fights, surfer Santas, blizzards, the perfect gift, a Christmas card stamped “returned to sender.” Our wish list is for stories that make us feel the Christmas spirit, alive and well.
· Deadline: 9/25/2015
· Website: www.splicketypubgroup.com
· Sourced from: Splickety
Cookbook Love Family Memories Writing Contest & Anthology
· Theme: Cookbook Love is inviting writers to enter its Family Memories writing contest. Submit a story or poem that shares your memories about kitchens and cooking past. The judges will evaluate your entry based on your ability to elicit emotion, convey a sense of time and place, and draw readers into a fully imagined scene.
· Deadline: 9/30/2015
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles
· Theme: There are events that happen in our lives that we cannot explain and that cause wonder and astonishment. These events give us hope for a better future, for the resolution of our problems, for miracles. Amazing things happen all around us — often without an earthly explanation. Have you experienced something otherworldly or miraculous? Or had a personal experience with an angel or divine being? If so, please submit your story!
· Deadline: 9/30/2015
· Website: http://Chickensoup.com
All We Can Hold: A Collection of Poetry on Motherhood
· Theme: The genesis of a “motherhood” poetry collection came when we had trouble finding one. Motherhood essays are on the shelves, parenting guides, and honeyed collections of mothering exist. We needed, and we believe others need, a range of voices about what it means to be mother: witching-hour poems of sleeplessness, first smiles, miscarriage. The poems of broken windows and broken hearts, of first school and college days. The poems of lament and poems of fulfillment. We hope to serve as a forum for all voices, for we all have a mother. We are seeking poems by mothers, poems about mothers, and poems from a range of styles and voices. Submit no more than 5 previously unpublished poems.
· Deadline: 9/30/2015
· Website: http://www.allwecanhold.com
The Athanatos Christian Arts Festival & Contest
· Theme: promoting, defending, and proclaiming the Christian faith through the arts; several genres
· Entry Fee: $210 – provides access to several items, including writing courses; see website
· Deadline: December 31, 2015
· Sourced from: http://christianartsfestival.us
Connect with Christina at:
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Here are a few writing opportunities for aspiring authors:
Good Housekeeping Silver Linings Writing Contest
· Word Count: 1,500 to 2,500 words
· Deadline: September 1, 2015
· Theme: non-fiction story about a time in your life when something good came from a seemingly bad situation
· You'll be entered for a chance to win $2,000 and possible publication of the winning story in a future issue or on goodhousekeeping.com.
· Word Count: 1,000 or less
· Deadline: 9/25/15
· Theme: Merry Everything
· Sub-genres: Winter, Seasonal holidays, snowmen, Christmas, etc.
· Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and we want stories that warm the heart like hot cocoa after a snowstorm. This Christmas list is by no means complete, but here are a few of my favorite things: Silver bells, sleigh rides, snowball fights, surfer Santas, blizzards, the perfect gift, a Christmas card stamped “returned to sender.” Our wish list is for stories that makes us feel the Christmas spirit, alive and well.
· Website: http://splicketypubgroup.com
Blue Mountain Greeting Cards
· Poetry for Valentine’s Day Cards
· Written from personal experience, the prose or poetry piece must be topical, based on real-life, and express genuine feelings.
· Submission Deadline: September 12, 2015
· Payment: $300
Connect with Christina at: