Friday, January 27, 2012

A Heart-Felt Memoir from a John 316 Marketing Network Author

Have you experienced heartache? Has emotional trauma turned into physical pain? Are you tired of life's setbacks and looking for reassurance from God? Journey to Fulfillment is for you. Through this encouraging and often humorous devotional, author Theresa Franklin will show you how to turn life's impossible stumbling blocks into stepping stones toward a fulfilled life.

In Journey to Fulfillment, Theresa chronicles the painful events in her life and how they changed her character and her principles forever. She challenges you to remember your childhood and how events from your past have influenced your today. God uses each milestone as stepping stones to strengthen and prepare you for His service. Learn to achieve your goals by letting the painful events of life strengthen you.

And consider what could be or has been accomplished because of these adversities. Consider each person who has gathered strength from you because of the journey God allowed you to travel and join author Theresa Franklin on her Journey to Fulfillment.

Theresa Franklin and her husband, Sam, live outside of Beaumont, Texas, where their three children grew up. She became a teacher twenty-four years ago with the goal of showing children unconditional love. Now retired from education, she enjoys writing and is the author of the children's book, Don't Forget Daddy.

As a memoir author also, I can relate to how difficult writing a memoir can be. But Theresa has done an inspiring job of sharing her life and leaving behind nuggets of wisdom to help us all in this difficult journey called life. Here is a CBM book review:

A Must Read Book, June 26, 2011


Join Author, Theresa Franklin, in her tender and delightful memoir, Journey to Fulfillment, as she shares her life experiences that have molded her character into the woman God intended her to be. Theresa, honestly and brazenly discusses heartaches, tragedies and triumphs from childhood through adulthood. With an open and compassionate heart, the Author lays bare the adversity she has faced through life to include the loss of her first love to marrying and the challenges one can face in being a wife and a mother, and notably her struggles in teaching special needs children. Throughout all, there has been one constant in her life, the unconditional love of her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Gain the proper perspective in regards to your life and glean from Theresa Franklin's many years of experience as a Director of Special Education to discover your destiny in life and find fulfillment by transforming the adversities and hardships of your life into stepping stones that will lead you to a life well lived through Christ. This book will help you find the fulfillment you are searching for as your reflect on your upbringing and causes one to re-evaluate what is really most important in life, regardless of circumstances. Her desire is to see others find their fulfillment in life through Christ and she writes, "May God show you the stepping stones in your life."

Find encouragement, guidance and strength for your soul within the pages of Journey to Fulfillment, and turn life's stumbling blocks into stepping-stones to transform your own journey into a life well lived and a completely fulfilled life in Christ.

A Highly Recommended Read!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review of "Writing Fiction for all You're Worth" by James Scott Bell

Regardless of how busy I am, I always have at least one book I am reading on the art of writing. I just finished a great short book by James Scott Bell, Writing Fiction for all You're Worth. Written for authors, it is full of great advice, interviews of fellow authors, and answers to questions about writing that perhaps you never put into words. You will learn a lot about yourself by experiencing a peek into others' writing habits and styles. This is a book that can be read more than once. Here is an example of great advice from Bell's book:

1. Make a list of all the things in this world that make you mad. Write it fast. Keep going. 2. Make a list of all the things that make you feel alive, things you love. 3. Refer to these lists when you are considering your next story. How can you get one or more of these items in the tale?

Too pedantic for you? Try this:

The ancient philosopher Epicurus wrote: "Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."

In Writing Fiction for All You're Worth, James Scott Bell shows that writing is an art, a part of who we are, and that we should always strive to get better and learn from others. The more I learn about writing, the more I realize there is not one way to write a book, and that frees me to be myself and probably do it way differently.

Long ago when I was going through a difficult time in my life, I questioned, "Am I okay?" As an author, I think deep down we all deal with insecurity. This book helped me to see that all writers are a bit ecleptic and that no one way is "the way." I can relax, try new things, and disregard those that don't work. Bell writes in a way that meets my need for encouragement. Writing Fiction for all You're Worth is a great read for all authors and writers.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who is a Better Story-Teller, C.S. Lewis or J.J.R. Tolkien?

J.R.R. Tolkien vs C.S. Lewis

Who is a better story-teller, C.S. Lewis or J.J.R. Tolkien? Probably it depends on who you ask, but it fascinates me that the two were good friends and rose to fame and notoriety even in their own lives. I don't believe we would have had a C.S. Lewis if we had not had a J.R.R. Tolkien, and vice versa. What is the probability that two of the greatest Christian fantasy writers of all time would live within a few miles of each other and sit in a local British pub night after night critiquing each other's stories? (Unless their critiquing made it so; writer critique groups should be a part of every serious writer's life). And critical they were. Stories of their divergent writing philosophies abound; but they helped each other to create masterpieces which have been enjoyed by millions and turned into magnificent Hollywood movie productions.
As a broadcast captioner, I caption a lot of sports, and occasionally I am called upon to caption boxing. Boxing is quite unique in that to have an undisputed winner, one of the boxers must deliver a knockout punch to his opponent. Sometimes the fighter is not able to deliver that fatal blow. When that happens, the judges are called upon to rate or assign values to various aspects of the fight since both are left standing. No one ever seems happy when that happens, particularly the loser, because the criteria for scoring are based on the perceptions of the judges, and we all perceive the world through different lenses depending upon our life experience.
In the same way, my analysis is biased, based on values drawn from a lifetime. I can't deliver a knock-out punch to one or the other and declare unequivocally that there is only one that deserves the award as the best story-teller in each category that I suggest. One observation I can make: I admire both more having read major compilations from each.
As you immerse yourself in superior writing, you become keener in appreciating the value of "goodness" and what is possible; the bane and mundane become boring and trite. You know the average is just ordinary, and having tasted the marvelous, your craving will remain unquenched until you find the next great story. It's like finding a piece of heaven here on earth. Once you "taste and see the goodness of the Lord,"' why would you settle for anything less?
In addition, not only are the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien extraordinary, but the Christian worldview reassures me that good will prevail. Without a Christian worldview, there is no good story.
To help me evaluate and compare their writings, I thought I would apply a set of standards often used when you submit a piece for one of those contests to declare your book the best in a certain category. I thought about theme and motif and setting and dialogue and symbols and all those "critical" concepts that we rely on when judging. I even went to Spark Notes and looked up The Lord of the Rings to see what they had to say. Having won several Academy Awards, I knew there would be a plethora of ideas to get me in my thinking mode. Plus sitting here at Starbucks with my vanilla latte does wonders. I found, though, while I didn't disagree with the details found in Spark Notes, what I analyzed about "story telling" from these books had nothing to do with what they highlighted. So I came back to my blank screen to write my own thoughts and how I feel about each author's masterpieces.
Specifically, the books I read from J.R.R. Tolkien were The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. I had not read these books before. I had previously read The Hobbit, so when I began reading, I had that background. I had also seen all three movies, though by the time I watched the third one in the trilogy, I was pretty much lost in Gondor somewhere and missed the battle. I think I fell asleep.
The book I read from the Narnia series was The Horse and His Boy. I had not read this story before, though I am fairly familiar with the most of the other Narnia books and have also seen the movies The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Dawn Trader. At some level, prior knowledge of works by both authors influence my assessment here.

Light versus Darkness:
I found The Lord of the Ring Series to be very dark; for example, the emphasis on evil stemming from the one ring that needed to be destroyed before it was too late. Sometimes the things we loathe are the things that most fascinate us, however. I started questioning, what in my life is the ring? What evil taunts me, consumes me, distracts me, overwhelms me? And the more power I give it over me, the more of myself I lose to it. So while the idea of the ring is captivating and thought-provoking, it is also dark and foreboding.
I found the Narnia Series to be more anticipatory of goodness despite the darkness. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the snow is melting. Aslon is back, and the direct and indirect references, as well as Aslon's personal appearances in The Horse and His Boy, were uplifting and encouraging.
Aslon is the recurring motif in the Narnia books while the ring serves that purpose in the Lord of the Rings. Because I preferred the goodness of Aslon over the evil influence of the ring, C.S. Lewis wins out on this comparison.

Story-telling -- which content did I enjoy more?
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in a very classical style. I cannot imagine the kind of talent it requires to spend 50 pages getting from point A to point B without immense repetition, which did not happen. His imagery was breathtaking as I felt transported to the world of hobbits, elves, and dwarves in Middle Earth, where epic battles had been fought for thousands of years around the tiny world of the shire which seemed unaffected by it all.
I was disappointed in the end that the shire had not escaped the evil. I like to think that there are some things that evil cannot penetrate, and for me the shire represented that paradise, that special place that will always be there despite whatever else bad in the world happens. It reminds me of a comment that Jesus made in Matthew 8:20, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head," referencing the fact that His home was in heaven and not on Earth.
In the midst of the journey, though, I got impatient. I wanted to get to the fires of Mordor and destroy the ring that I was helping Frodo to carry. I became frustrated, reading through pages and pages about prominent kings and characters from the past that added little to the story. But I trudged through it because I wanted to get rid of that darn ring. And, of course, the ring was destroyed quite a ways before the actual end of the story. I wasn't sure I cared enough about the characters after the destruction of the ring to keep reading. I figured everything would end happily ever after anyways. I was relieved when I did finally get to the last page.
In contrast with C.S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy, and all of the Narnia books, I didn't feel bogged down in a never-ending journey that was almost doomed to end in failure. In fact, there was sadness when I finished The Horse and His Boy. As has been true with all of the Narnia books, I wanted more. I wanted to see Aslon again. I wanted to linger in Narnia. I didn't want the story to end. I have yet to read The Final Battle, and I tarry to do so because once I have read it, there won't be any more Narnia books to enjoy.
So on content, C.S. Lewis won out again.

Story-telling -- which style did I enjoy more?
C.S. Lewis incorporates one ingredient into his writing which J.R.R. Tolkien lacks: Humor. I relished those lighthearted, silly thoughts and playful moments; i.e., the horse who didn't want to give up his habit of scratching his back by lying on the ground with his legs up in the air.
J.R.R. Tolkien's style represents a battle of epic proportions with serious consequences. If the main characters fail, Middle Earth is doomed.
In The Horse and His Boy, while there is a battle between good and evil, with Aslon's help, you know that goodness will prevail. The story ebbs and flows with suspense, unpredictability, and action. The light nature of C.S. Lewis' storytelling is refreshing. While probably artistically inferior to J.R.R. Tolkien, I preferred it. I just wanted a good story, not a literary masterpiece. Perhaps less sometimes is more.

The Take Away -- who wins out?
While I will probably read the Narnia books  again (some I have already read twice), I will probably never re-read any of the Lord of the Rings books. However, that being said, for me, I believe the takeaway from J.R.R. Tolkien is greater. The overarching feel of the story, its grandeur, the meaning of the ring and how it applies to my life, the insignificant hobbits playing such an important role in destroying the ring (although in the end Frodo failed), the mental images of a decaying world (reminding me of ours), the wise, slow-talking Ents (I need to slow down), Stridor who was a woman's man (will I ever meet someone like that), and Gandalf, the fearless wizard, and many others, these images will grow over time and become a part of me. Some parts of the story were understated. I will see or experience something that will trigger a reflection back to those scenes which have etched themselves in my memory forever.
Some of my favorite movies and books I have read or watched only once. Perhaps they stir within me feelings that I haven't fully explored, thoughts that I don't have answers to, or motifs that still await redemption and therefore are painful to relive, much like reading about Christ's crucifixion in the Bible. It hurts too much. I can think of many such examples; e.g., the movie A Beautiful Mind and the book The Exodus.
So to sum up the results, who is the better story-teller, C.S. Lewis topped J.R.R. Tolkien in light versus darkness motif, story-telling content and style, but J.R.R. Tolkien came in first with takeaway-- long-term impressions that will grow with the passage of time and increase in measure and fullness of meaning.

By Lorilyn Roberts