LINKS TO BOOK PAGES TO ORDER
- Tails and Purrs for the Heart and Soul
- Seventh Dimension - The Door, Book 1, A YA Fantasy
- Seventh Dimension - The King, Book 2, A YA Fantasy
- Seventh Dimension - The Castle, Book 3, A YA Fantasy
- Seventh Dimension - The City, Book 4, A YA Fantasy
- Seventh Dimension - The Prescience, Book 5, A YA Fantasy
- Seventh Dimension - The Howling, Book 6, A Young Adult Fantasy
- Seventh Dimension Inspirational - Am I Okay, God?
- Children of Dreams, An Adoption Memoir
- Food for Thought: Quick and Easy Recipes for Homeschooling Families
- The Donkey and the King, a Story of Redemption
Thursday, February 17, 2011
My comments are based on Ken Kuhlken's book, Writing and the Spirit.
1. Begin with the Spirit
I have discovered the greatest killer of creative writing for me is lack of sleep. The second greatest obstacle is worry—about the future, my family, my career, or not being in control.
In recent years, I have made sleep a priority, but I haven’t conquered this dragon. On some days he roars out and I am beat completely. I tell myself, this, too, shall pass. Tonight I will get a good night’s rest and tomorrow I will begin again. The first step, though, is recognizing the need and then pursuing the need with commitment. I have found the commitment is attainable, though not without sacrifice. Sometimes other things don’t get done. But to be creative, I must get sufficient sleep; no ifs, ands, or buts.
The second obstacle presents a more slippery slope. I call this the battle of emotions. My human nature is to worry; my spiritual nature is to trust God. As pointed out in the chapter, I must begin with the “spirit” to even have a chance of winning this battle. Without God, I can’t do anything. My writing is stale and I don’t even have a desire to write. All my energy is consumed with whatever I am besieged with, and the result is depression.
I have come to realize there is something circuitous about this; I write not to become depressed, but I can’t write if I am depressed. So it begins with the Bible, focusing on God, and prayer. These tenets of the faith help me to be in the right mindset to overcome evil, and I believe it is evil that prevents me from writing. It is a battle of the mind for control—worry versus trust, belief versus unbelief. These battles, though, can be woven into wonderful stories with redemption. That is why I write.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Preconceptions can set us up for failure if we are rigid. But what if we use our preconceptions to catapult us to a level of excellence not limited by our finite vision?
A couple of years ago, I wrote my memoir about the adoption of my two daughters as creative nonfiction. I meticulously researched facts and details I had forgotten. I scoured the Internet to verify locations, names, dates, and chronological order of events. I pulled out every document I had saved from both adoptions and poured my heart and soul into my writing.
I asked many friends, professional acquaintances, and editor-journalism-communication types to read Children of Dreams and offer suggestions on how I could make it better. I listened and made revisions that created an almost unbelievable story.
Two weeks before the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference in 2009, I sent off my completed manuscript to be reviewed by an editor attending the conference. I spent $50 and downloaded a file to prepare me for the right attitude while at the conference. I had attended this conference twice before and came away both times disillusioned. This time I was determined not to let that happened.
I couldn’t think of anything that an editor could say to me for which I would not have an answer. I launched my website before the conference and signed up for the marketing class with Randy Ingermanson. I was ready to dive in and market my book if an editor or agent offered me a contract on Children of Dreams. I did not feel like I was setting myself up for failure. I always set lofty goals and then leave the outcome in God’s hands.
The conference arrived and I was excited to be there. I couldn’t wait to share the joy of my book with others. But when I showed my manuscript around, I was surprised by comments.
“No one is publishing memoirs right now,” one person said. “Oh, a memoir,” another stated. People stepped back from me like I had bad breath. Nobody would read one line and acted like I had written something “C” rated at best. But I remained positive. I was certain when I received my manuscript back from the reviewing editor the next day, he would be interested.
The moment arrived when all the reviews were handed out to the attendees. When mine wasn’t, I went up and inquired. Despite the volunteers looking everywhere, they didn’t have mine. While my book was “lost,” all the remaining slots to meet with other editors filled up. Nobody knew where my book was. If the editor who had received my manuscript didn’t like it, I would have no opportunity to present my book to someone else.
To say I was disillusioned is an understatement, but it didn’t come close to what I felt when my manuscript was found. I read the note the editor wrote. “You might consider submitting this to a magazine.”
If the editor had read one paragraph of that 235-page manuscript, he would have known the story couldn’t be condensed into an article. I had presented part of it to a “Focus on the Family” editor a year earlier, and her comment was, “It’s too long. If you can shorten it, we would love to take another look.” I was unwilling to cut it down any more, and it was that comment that made me realize I needed to write the whole story. It took 235 pages to do the story justice.
I did meet later with a couple of editors at the conference and was told by them—as well as an agent, “When you have one thousand people on an opt-in list, come back and talk to us.” While I was nice to them, I thought to myself, if I had one thousand people on an opt-in list, why would I need you?
As a result of that experience, my “gumption” kicked in. I reassessed what I really wanted. What was important to me? Sometimes “no’s” become wonderful opportunities to think “outside the box.” We are free to pursue goals we never would have considered if we had been given what our preconceived ideas told us we wanted.
The key is to be open to change, to give up something to receive something better. Since God controls the outcome, we should focus on the process and what we can do to enhance our chance to achieve our goal.
I have never met an author who didn’t have a lot of gumption to become published. Good writing and successful marketing are key, and money helps the process to go faster as far as exposure, but without the seed within us never to give up, the chances are we won’t go anywhere with our writing.
Today I have forty-three reviews with five stars on Amazon. I thank all my friends and professional contacts every time a new five-star review goes up, knowing without their honest input—and yes, some of it hurt—Children of Dreams wouldn’t have all those wonderful reviews.
My gumption not to give up is still intact, and I am more determined than ever to share my writing with others. Preconceived ideas have long gone out the window. I am setting a new path into the unknown with the John 3:16 Marketing Network, writing a new young adult fantasy novel, obtaining my Masters in Creative Writing, and hopefully someday will teach at the university level in China when I finish my education.
God gives us a cup overflowing with opportunity when we commit our way to Him. Gumption is the human quality He endears us with to get us started. If God is for us, who can be against us?
Monday, January 24, 2011
An Interview with Lynn Dove – author of the “Wounded Trilogy”
Lynn Dove is a graduate of the University of Calgary, where she earned her Bachelor of Education degree in 1981, she has spent the last thirty years teaching children in the private and public school settings. In 2007, she earned a Masters of Religious Education degree from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.
Tell me something about yourself?
I am a Christ-follower, a wife, a mom, a soon-to be grandmother, a teacher and a writer (in that order). I wear so many different “hats” that I find prioritizing them tends to focus me better. I have been married to my best friend, Charles for 32 years and we have three wonderful children: daughter, Laurelle (husband, Matt) are expecting our first grand baby in February, and we have two live-at-home teenagers, Brett and Carmen. I have been a teacher most of my adult life, and I still substitute from time to time at the private Christian school my teenagers attend. I love volunteering and working closely with the youth in our church as well. Lastly, when I’m not writing, I’m reading. I love to blog and when I’m not blogging, I’m working on my next book.
Do you have a life verse that you have claimed and why is it so meaningful to you?
My husband, Charles and I have claimed this life verse: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 Through our nearly 32 years of marriage, this verse has sustained us through all the ups and downs of life knowing we may make our plans but God is always in control… AND He allows U-turns!
What led you to write your “Wounded Trilogy” books? Why did you target youth with these books?
Having been an educator for over thirty years, and I discovered that there are still very few good contemporary Christian books for a young adult audience.
Youth today are under such a spiritual attack from the enemy. He wants to destroy their spirit and he does it subtly by surrounding them with worldly messages that make them question their looks, their intelligence, as well as their hope for tomorrow. I wanted to write books that deal with relevant themes, but with a definitive Christian message running throughout: the hope in Jesus Christ.
I also wanted my young readers to know that everyone makes mistakes; Christians are not excluded from that. Scripture teaches us to “love one another” even when they make mistakes, however our actions speak louder than our words at times. I have seen wonderful young people crumble from the constant barrage of cyberspace bullying, malicious gossip and innuendo. Insensitive words and blatant lies can lead to deep emotional scarring sometimes with tragic consequences. My books deal with gritty topics such as “cutting”, bullying, gossip, family violence and cancer. We are not excluded from tough situations just because we are Christians, on the contrary it is exactly in those tough times that God comes alongside us and helps us. I want my young readers to understand that they are never alone; God is their ever present comfort and strength in everything they are going through.
Could you tell us a little bit about your books?
Shoot the Wounded, the first book of the Wounded Trilogy, is written for youth and young adults. It addresses how lies and gossip destroy a person's spirit and speaks to the heart of relevant themes such as bullying, teen pregnancy and family violence. The story points the characters, and ultimately the reader, to hope in Jesus Christ. STW was a finalist in the 2010 Readers Favorite Book Awards.
Heal the Wounded, is the much-anticipated sequel to STW and the second book of the Wounded Trilogy. HTW delves even deeper into the real world of teenagers trying to live out their faith in the midst of upset and struggle. Heal the Wounded, continues to follow the characters, Jake, Leigh, Mike (Jake's best friend), and Tim (Ronnie's brother) each of them dealing with the aftermath of their friend’s death in the first book.
Jake is especially dealing with a variety of disappointments (“Job” experiences I call them) that cause him to question why God allows bad things to happen to good people. A new character is introduced into the story, Cassidy, a young cancer patient whose unquenchable spirit and faith impacts Jake, Leigh, Mike and Tim in a way that allows them all to experience God's grace and the power of His healing in each one of their lives.
Both STW and HTW have been selected as helpful resources on the world’s largest anti-bullying website: www.bullying.org
I hope to have Love the Wounded, the final book in the trilogy published next year. I am also writing an autobiographical account about my experiences and personal battle with breast cancer, and I am working on putting that book proposal together to submit to prospective publishers next year.
What advice would you give to young writers who are thinking about becoming published authors?
I have been asked often to give advice to young writers and truly the best advice I could give is this:
I believe everyone has a story inside of them. As a teacher, I encourage my students to write poetry, journal, write short stories and novellas. The more one writes, the more you improve and polish your craft. Write about things that appeal to you, write from the heart and write from experience. Much of my writing is based on my personal experiences and I believe God allows us to go through these experiences for a reason. Writing allows us the opportunity to share our life lessons with others. If God has called you to write…just WRITE!
I actually wrote Shoot the Wounded well over ten years ago. It started out as a short story and after I had written one hundred pages I knew I couldn’t consider it a “short” story any longer. Then the manuscript literally (hahaha) took up space on the hard drive of my computer for ten years. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and battled the disease for two years. My family and I experienced God profoundly through that time and certainly to many I am considered a “survivor” today but I hope I have done much more than survive, I hope I have “thrived”!
I wanted to share part of that experience with my readers, so in Heal the Wounded, the main character’s mom is going through breast cancer and I write about how a family copes with that in the book.
The next piece of advice to young writers is:
I don’t think it is possible to be a writer if you don’t like to read. I read all genres and because I write primarily for young adults and teens I try to read all the books that they may be interested in.
Do you have any publishing and/or marketing advice for new writers?
I am still a “rookie” for all intents and purposes when it comes to publishing and marketing a book. For me, I find that writing a book is a relatively simple thing, but marketing a book can be extremely challenging, time-consuming, occasionally frustrating and discouraging. I have learned over this year to network with other authors, especially Christian authors who have experience with publishing, and those like me who are new to it. Some online social networking sites have given me the opportunity to meet some wonderful writers and authors who have been more than willing to share their expertise, their successes and failures with me. I have learned that book signings can be fun, only if you go into them with the attitude that you might not sell one book, but you’ll meet lots of interesting people.
One thing I would tell new authors is to not feel shy about purposefully promoting yourself in the marketplace. I think that was one of the hardest things for me to do initially. As Christians, we value a humble attitude, but as authors the louder and bolder we are in promoting ourselves to our readers the more books they will buy and read. Some self-published or POD (print on demand) authors are quite content to write for a select audience, family and friends, but for those of us who want to reach a larger, more world-wide audience, we need to be prepared to create a “buzz” about the book. The only way to do that is to get people talking about it. Word of mouth is huge!
That said, I think it is also important to ask yourself the questions ahead of time about what your personal goals are with publishing a book. I applaud my publisher, Word Alive Press for asking some pointed questions up front in their publishing questionnaire. One question in particular prompted me to prayerfully consider my personal goals: “What is the one thing, (the most important thing) you would like to accomplish with your manuscript (book)?” I remember I wrote, “My hope is that teenagers and young adults who read this book will be touched by the message in the story and ultimately that this book and any others I write will bring Glory to God.”
To celebrate the launch of Heal the Wounded, Lynn will be hosting a contest on January 25th on her blog, Journey Thoughts http://lynndove.wordpress.com/ Just click on the picture for details!
Readers may also connect with Lynn on Twitter, Facebook and on her website: www.shootthewounded.org
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
A PowerPoint Presentation with over 50 links and 35 pages of information to help you jump-start your book marketing efforts, including ideas and ways to market your book for free or almost free. Great for new authors!
To receive it, all you have to do is click above on left-hand side to "follow" my blog. Then go to http://lorilynroberts.com/name.html. It's automatic, so you can have the file within a minute:)
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I am thankful the writing of the fictional dream has no rules. This allows our fictional dream to explore “where no man [or woman] has gone before.” Jon Gardner admonishes in The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, don’t write what you know; write what you don’t know. Is there enough creative artistry within me to pour out my soul—and write my fictional dream? I cherish the freedom to risk. As someone who becomes bored easily, I cannot write only what I know.
As I think about Gardner’s words and the fictional dream, I have come to realize seeking a Masters in Creative Writing can be risky to an artist. The creative process can be killed as one takes captive every tidbit of advice. With the earnestness of a perfectionist, zealous corrections may creep in which destroy the fictional dream. The broken threads threaten to braid themselves into a twisted nightmare which may be technically sound but artistically wanting.
But there must be limitations unless we are God. When I wrote my memoir Children of Dreams, I sat down at my computer on a Sunday morning and started writing. I didn’t study any “how to” books or even question if I knew what I was doing. I just started writing. The more I wrote, the easier the task seemed. But this “fictional” dream was rooted in reality. Once I had tasted the sweet victory of finishing a book, I wanted to write another one. I also realized at that point I had attained the highest level of writing I could achieve. Raw, God-given talent can take you only so far.
What happens when you want to go to the next level? The reality of ignorance rears its head. Like when you study the Bible for the first time seriously, you soon realize how little you know. A writer is much like an artist. I studied creative writing and books by Jon Gardner, Linda Seger, James Scott Bell, Charles Dickens, Linda Pastan, Edward Hirsch, Carolyn Wheat, William Zinsser, Jon Franklin, Mark Jarman, Jack Bickham, Graham Greene, Michael Tierno, Robert McKee and Ken Kuhlken. My mind became overwhelmed with rules of do’s and don’ts, plot and structure, complication and denouement, point of view, scene, style, arc, and creating believable characters.
On the marketing side, voluminous sites on the Internet promised shortcuts to success. One even claimed, “Pay me X dollars and write a book in a weekend!” Would I even want to read my own book written in a weekend?
But anything worth achieving has no shortcuts. Gardner points out you must learn the rudiments or you will never become a Master. I felt my fictional dream floating away from me. Derisive voices shouted at me convincing me I couldn’t write anything anybody would want to read. My fictional dream became filled with demons disguising themselves as truth. “You can’t do this. You are no good.”
Pain and doubt plagued me, “Am I going forwards or backwards?” I questioned. I slammed the book down and screamed back, “Shut up!” But as one continues on this journey into the unknown of the fictional dream, slowly, but painfully, mastery sets in. We come to the realization, “I can do this, and now I can do it better.”
If we are human, we will never quit dreaming. Our job as writers is to take that dream and put it on paper. Fiction gives us the freedom to state it more real and dreamlike if we use the tools in the right way. We can escape into another world that we create through use of verisimilitude. Verisimilitude allows us to tell our story in a convincing way through proper use of voice and devices. We must persuade the reader that what we are telling is true. Details should paint a setting that’s real. Characters need to be lifelike. Problems must appear unsolvable; and the protagonist must beat overwhelming odds. We may move the reader to tears or hilarity, to disgust or anger. But we must move him emotionally. Otherwise, he will stop reading and say, “This is not believable. I am bored,” and put the book on the shelf. Not only have we failed to achieve success with the fictional dream, we have lost an opportunity to change a life (and will probably lose the reader for future books).
My most recent example of a fictional dream that failed is The Shack. The beginning of the book was surreal. I had to put it down. I was terrified that one of my daughters would be kidnapped and murdered. I still have a hard time looking at ladybugs the same way, deliberately not counting the number of spots on them. The detail in the writing drew me into the fictional dream and I was terrified.
I eventually picked the book back up and started reading again. I was too hooked to not finish it. But then something happened. I read the scene where the Trinity was split into three life-like people. The God part of the Trinity was called “Papa.” Immediately the fictional dream was no longer real. While the writing was creative and the rudiments were in place for a great story, the fictional dream in this case interfered too much with what I know as truth. I couldn’t turn off my unbelief. The fictional dream deviated too far from my core values, much as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof could not bless his daughter marrying a non-Jew. His acceptance of her marriage would have broken him. I put the The Shack down in disappointment several months ago. I retrieved it from my bookshelf as I thought about the fictional dream and attempted to read it once again. But I couldn’t.
From The Shack experience, I believe Gardner left out one important point about the fictional dream: If the core beliefs of a person are too violated, the fictional dream cannot become real. The fictional dream has limits of believability that for me, at least, can’t contradict the Bible. But recognizing the limits of the fictional dream shouldn’t dissuade us from pursuing it. In the process, we will elevate our writing to a higher level than we would have achieved otherwise.
I see the Bible as the greatest story ever told, and the proof-texts in the New Testament are well documented in the Old Testament. It was the proof-texts that validated the Old Testament that convinced me that the New Testament was true. Jesus was born into the world to save mankind from his sins. As I think about that, I am struck with the importance of building the proof-texts into the story We must authenticate every detail, provide a colorful history, present the vividness of our world in 3-D, create characters that are striking, and a story that the reader will care enough about to forego going to the bathroom until he can no longer bear the pain. The fictional dream becomes his world now, leaving him in suspense. He worries about the characters as if they were his friends, his family, or himself.
As another example, the fictional dream should be like our dreaminess when we sleep—where we absorb everything into it like a vacuum. The thunderstorm outside the bedroom window becomes part of the reality of our dream. The characters who pop into our dream out of nowhere are people we know in that other world. Some of those people are found in the real world. Some aren’t, just like in the fictional dream. In the dream-state, I have places I have visited time and again, places that do not exist in reality. I have friends, jobs, crazy things I do that seem perfectly normal in that other place. I recently woke up one morning and wondered who that man was I married during the night. Our dreams take us to places we have never been consciously, but unconsciously, have touched us in ways we may not be aware. We work out our fears, our hopes, our drudgeries, our unsolvable issues, and wonder the next morning, “Why did I dream that?”
The fictional dream may reveal the answers to some of these perplexing questions. Are not most of our stories borne out of the frailness of our human nature, our fall from grace, our sinful condition, and our hope for resolution? Like stardust from a star, even a child knows fear, worry, pain, sadness, and death, and the fictional dream can promise insightful answers. We write as a lover woos his mistress, convincing the reader to discard his logical thinking and embrace our creativity. We ask him to risk embarking on this fabulous journey that has become our fictional dream. Can we offer hope of escape from reality, even redemption? The choice is ours. If I was possessed, I could present a terrifying world of despair and hopelessness. As Gardner points out, however, be careful. The written word can’t be erased easily from a sensate individual’s memory. Our words will live on in books long past our existence on this rock suspended in space. We possess the power of demigods from hell or messengers from God. How we touch the lives of those around us, even many years into the future, for good or evil, comes from deep within us.
Let us not disappoint. May we give the reader the roller coaster ride of a lifetime, with all the thrills he hoped for; and then surprise him with more. Let’s not waste the opportunity or gift of writing God has shared with us. As an author hoping to emulate the Greatest, let us begin our journey with one word, and then another, and then another, as an artist draws on a canvas, until the fictional dream becomes a masterpiece. And hopefully, the reader will say, “That was good. I wish I had more to read,” close the book, and relive the fictional dream.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Captions play an important role in the lives of many. They are vital for disseminating information related to news, weather, sports, entertainment, and national security. Captions enable hearing-challenged individuals to live a healthy lifestyle.
Please enjoy my newest (and greatest) video on Youtube to promote quality captions on television:
Then please sign the petition to the FCC. It only takes seconds: