Monthly Archives: August 2012

What goes in matters

My wife just looked at me, laughter escaping around the hand she’d pressed over her mouth. Seconds before, she’d confessed to me that the brownie I’d just nibbled on had a secret ingredient in it:  black beans! I’m not kidding.

Black beans all smushed up and put into brownie mix. That’s just wrong. Some unstable person had put a recipe in a cookbook and claimed that it was a healthier way to make brownies. Why do I think that person tries to convince her family that the tofu she’s shaped into a ham for Christmas is “really good for you.” She needs help. Who thinks of stuff like that? And why?

The ingredients in a recipe may allow for some fudging (pun intended), but the heart of Christian Fiction doesn’t.

Content matters. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can by what’s between the covers. And there’s no substitute for a writer’s heart and soul, especially if that heart and soul are in close fellowship with God. Christian writers are Christians first, writers second. And we must zealously guard that order of priorities so it doesn’t get flip-flopped.

As writers, we are responsible for what we are “feeding” to our readers. True, they may not be able to tell if my heart is right with God when I’m writing a story, but I know. And so does God. And that matters.

Before we claim to write words for God, we need to be sure we are reading the Word of God. The Way, the Truth, and the Life are things we ought to be intimately connected to, so we can share it with others.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, reading, Uncategorized, Writing

Reclaiming the Power Of Story For God

The secular world lives under the delusion that writing is a neutral art form. They applaud literature that carries humanistic themes, claiming that such writing is agenda-free. And they look haughtily down their upturned noses when we Christian writers dare trespass into their territory and dabble at the task of fiction writing.

Imagine me sticking out my tongue and making a slobbery sound.

I, for one, reject their premise.

As Christian fiction writers, we are not trying to infuse a neutral art-form with good, we are seeking to reclaim a nobel art form for God!

Our God is a communicator–a best-selling author, in fact. He knows something about writing. And He’s never surrendered that area of communication to secular man. Christian fiction not only belongs in the discussion of important literature, it should be the standard! Anything that deviates from wholesome, God-honoring, and Christ exalting themes is substandard writing at best.

Christian writers, we should write with boldness, never apologizing as though we’ve wandered into an area in which we don’t belong. We should stand boldly in the realm of fiction writing, because it belongs to our heavenly Father.

And don’t the themes lauded by secular writers–such as love, renewal, redemption, overcoming, courage, sacrifice, etc…–belong to God anyway?

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Fiction, Writing

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Writing is the gift that keeps on giving. Or at least it has the potential to do so. I’m not suggesting that everything we write will eventually become a “classic”, but one of the thrills of writing is that when we capture words on paper we might just create a story that will actively outlive us. One that readers will be enjoying years after we have left this life to be with our dear Lord.

The power of the written word is one reason to approach the calling and craft of writing with proper respect. I’m convinced we should write, not just for the “here and now” readers but for the “then and there” readers. I understand the way stories are told changes over time, and being alert to those changes is wise. But the exciting reality is that truth is timeless.

What truths do we believe are important to our generation? What truths do you assume will be needed in future generations?

I’d love to have you take a moment and answer these questions. Thanks.

3 Comments

Filed under reading, Writing

The Day I Died

cjange, I was seventeen years old when I died. That was thirty-two years ago, and I’ve never regretted the decision to end my life…my OLD life. I’m talking about the day in January of 1981 that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Not only did I die on that day, but I was also born-again at the same time. I traded death for life, darkness for light, despair for hope, condemnation for forgiveness, deserved wrath for undeserved love. And I’ve tried to communicate that ever since. Treasure in an earthen vessel. A song says, “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free…” Well, I write Christian Fiction because I’m saved, and, like the Heavenly Father Who saved me, I’m not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Life, Light, Hope…these are key ingredients in the stories that I write, because they are essential parts of my life. As a Christian, I have a message. The format used to relay that message may range from sermons to stories to one-on-one evangelism, but the message is not mine to change.

When I sit to write, I pray that God will use what I’m writing to change lives. I may not ever know how or to whom it happens, but the possibility is exciting. To know that God may use what I write to revive someone’s spirit or convict someone’s soul is a serous matter indeed.

Can you remember a way that a specific book you’ve read changed your life? What way did it impact you? Did the message in the book give you courage or conviction?

Share your comments on what stories touched you and how. I’m looking forward to celebrating the power of story with you. Just hit the comment button and share. Thanks.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Growth, Writing

THE EDIT

I’m now entering into the next phase on my latest book. I just sent it off to the editor!

I love the editing process. It’s not always easy, but seeing my story get stronger is worth every stroke of red ink that goes onto the pages. After all, it’s all about the story isn’t it? Shouldn’t I want the strongest manuscript I can produce?

Another reason I love going through the subtraction/addition dance that is editing is because I learn more about the craft of writing. And that helps me to become a better writer. It’s a win/win.

As a Christian, I’m being “edited” also. God refines me daily, and that isn’t always an easy process. But it’s worth it. He wants to make me the best living testimony I can be in this life. He takes and He gives according to what best fits HIS purposes for me. It’s the clay/Potter thing. He has the right (& perfect knowledge) to “edit” me as He wishes.

I want to grow as a writer. But it’s far more important to grow as a Christian, because my life as a Christian is published every day.  If I humbly submit to God’s loving hand, I will see His work in my life. He will shape me. And He knows what He’s doing. I pray that I stay teachable before Him. And the wonderful truth is, that if I’m growing as a Christian, I’ll be growing as a writer at the same time! I’ll have more stories–deeper stories–than I would otherwise have the maturity to write.

Christian Fiction Writer, let me ask you a pointed question: what steps are you taking to grow as a Christian

We write out of relationship. If we’re not walking with God, we have little to say. But if we are walking with God–and our relationship is daily feeding us–we have more to say than our lifetime will allow.

What helps YOU grow as a Christian? I’d love to hear your comments.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Growth, editing, Writing

Your Last Story

If you could only write one more story, what would it be about?

I’ve been preaching through Second Timothy, and have been struck with the “lastness” of it. (Yes, I realize that’s not a “real” word). Paul sensed his end was coming and he penned a last letter to his child in the faith, Timothy. He had parting words to put down on paper…last things to pass on.

As a writer, especially if you write Christian fiction, what if you were told that you had enough time left to complete one final novel–what would be your story? If you can put the idea down on paper, when are you going to write it? Why aren’t you writing it now?

Each story that we write is seen by the eyes of God first, before anyone else takes a peep at it. Is He pleased with what you’re writing? How do you know?

I’d love to hear how you’d finish this sentence:  “If I could write just one more story, it would be about ______________________________.

Shouldn’t we be living–and writing–like our current work-in-progress might be our last?

1 Comment

Filed under Writing

Salute to Christian Fiction Writers

I’m not sure if it’s harder to become a published author or to remain a published author. But I do know that I have immense respect for both realities, though I myself have not experience either one. With that gratitude in mind, I offer the following “Thank You” list to all Christian Fiction Writers:

  • Thank you for the sacrifices you make so that we readers can enjoy the thrill of being taken on a worthwhile journey.
  • Thank you for you respect for your audience, which is shown in the many ways that you labor to connect with us.
  • Thank you for your humble and teachable spirit that motivates you to continue to study the art and craft of writing.
  • Thank you that you seek to show God’s truths in your stories, because you know that His truth can make your story powerful and life-changing.
  • Thank you that you believe so much in the value of Christian Fiction that you take time to encourage and mentor writers who are working to become published authors also.

 

There are no doubt many other reasons to say “Thank You” to your favorite published authors. Can you tell me what some of those reasons are? And after you post your reply here, would you take the time to send that author a note too?

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

To Suffer With Them

Soon I’ll be finishing my second novel–tentatively entitled INFIDEL–and it is impossible to tell you how emotional of a journey this has been. It started with an idea, based on a passion that God has placed in my heart.

It all began with the true newspaper story that I read about a woman named Asia Bibi in Pakistan. You can learn more about her by going to The Voice Of The Martyrs website. (That ministry has recently gone through a difficult time, but hopefully will find peace and healing under new leadership). She was arrested, then sentenced to death under Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law 295 a/b/c. As far as I know this mother and wife is still in prison.

What did she do? She spoke out about her Christian faith. What you and I–as Christian writers–so easily take for granted, comes at a high price for fellow Christians around the globe. They are threatened, persecuted, and often killed for following Jesus Christ.

They count the cost of discipleship that few of us in America would be willing to pay.

It’s time for us to wake up to the suffering of persecuted believers around the world.

Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.”

Will you join me in praying for our brothers and sisters around the world who suffer unthinkable types of persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ?

I’m working hard to tell their story. I hope you will be able to read it someday.

1 Comment

Filed under Persecuted Church, Uncategorized, Writing

Support System

     Many of the blessings that have come my way as a writer can be directly credited to other people. In fact the last year and a half have been full of growing experiences because of my association with American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the resources they provide.

    • The local chapter (South-Central Kansas chapter meeting in Wichita, KS) has provided monthly fellowship opportunities with other writers. These dear people have become friends, sharing a common bond with me.
    • The national ACFW conference which provided friendships that have blessed me over the last year. This year’s conference is only a few weeks away, and if I get any more excited I’ll be bouncing off the walls. Being with other writers who sacrifice time to teach me how to be a better wordsmith is priceless. There truly is a spirit of servanthood among the members of ACFW. They celebrate each other’s successes, and offer a listening ear when someone is struggling. The craft is highly respected, but people are too. It was at last year’s conference that I made friendships that have been so important to me. I can’t wait to see these people again this year!
    • THE JOURNAL, ACFW’s new print magazine is another great resource that offers advice and information about the craft and business of writing Christian fiction. I was honored to have written an article for the premier issue.
    • THE LOOP of emails that goes out every day of the year provides an opportunity to engage in conversations, ask questions, seek advice, or just “listen in” as others do all of those things.

          The above resources mean a great deal to me. However, as wonderful as they are, they take a back seat to the real heroes that provide my most important support system: my wife and kids. They deserve the credit for anything good I write, because they sacrifice so much so I can write. Since I’m a full-time minister (which I love–thanks Gracepoint!), that means I don’t write full-time. I have to carve out time to write in the mornings and evenings. My family sacrifices time with me, allowing me to hunker in my bunker and bang away at the keyboard…or just stare at the screen and mumble whatever yiddish words come to mind (& I’m not even Jewish!). My family takes money from our family budget so I can go to conference & chapter meetings (we live an hour away from Wichita), buy books, get a laptop, etc…, all of which means that they give up something so I can write. They believe in me when I doubt myself. They deserve better than I give them.

     Who are the people who have made your writing journey possible? Have you thanked them yet?

1 Comment

Filed under family, Uncategorized, Writing

Nearing “THE END”

     Don’t panic! This isn’t a post about the cataclysmic conclusion of history. I haven’t secretly been working to break a previously unbroken biblical code, so that I can reveal exactly when the last grain of salt dribbles through the hour-glass of time.

     That’s not THE END that I’m referring to at all.

     (Cue drumroll): I’m talking about my second novel! In spite of obstacles, I hit the 80,000 word mark a few minutes ago, and am working hard to finish the manuscript tonight or tomorrow. Now keep in mind that the word count is the “pre-editing phase” word count. My freelance editor will no doubt put my manuscript on a diet. And I’ll have rewriting to do.

     It’s been a challenging journey to get the book finished. The last couple of weeks has been a comedy or errors…including two hard drive “glitches” that required my computer to go see the doctor, a big steaming pile of outside items that have pulled me away from writing time, and a trip to Barnes and Noble. Ahhhhhh yes, let me tell you about my trip to B&N. I took a personal day yesterday, intending to spend the entire day at B&N writing, drinking snooty (over-priced) coffee drinks, writing some more, editing, writing…writing…and finishing my manuscript, so that I could enjoy a great supper at Freddy’s with my best friend, then glide into my ACFW South-Central Kansas Chapter meeting with a smug glow, and announce, “Look at me, Look at me! I’m holding the flashdrive that has my freshly completed novel.”

     But pride cometh before the fall.

     Pop Quiz: Who do you think showed up at B&N at 10:00 am, opened his computer bag, and discovered that–for the first time in his life–he’d forgotten to pack the laptop’s power cord? Any guesses….hmmmmm?

     So I ran to a nearby electronics store to buy a new ac cord for said laptop. I stared at them…the price didn’t change…so I left without one. Long story short: by the time I drove 30 miles to purchase a used power cord, then drove back, I’d wasted a couple of hours.

     Then the computer worked, but my brain didn’t. All told, I put in about three hours of writing time. Hence, I never got to type “THE END.”

     One piece of advice has glowed during this challenging time:  successful writers are those who refuse to quit.

     If you’re a Christian writer, you’ve been called by God (see earlier posts) to write for Him. And the devil doesn’t want you to do it. Are you going to quit? God wants you to write…the devil doesn’t…YOU get the deciding vote.

     What are you going to decide?

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing