Category Archives: reading

Please observe the rules…guidelines…suggestions

Sometime ago, during my years as a funeral director, I was at a church preparing for a funeral. I was passing through their fellowship hall and a sign on the wall caught my attention. It read, “Please observe Parish Hall rules: NO tape on walls!”

I’ll give you one guess how the sign was attached to the wall. Yep…tape.

I have a great respect for the craft of writing, and especially for those who have earned the right to make observations about what works and what doesn’t. I am learning–weekly it seems–that there is so much I don’t know and need to learn. Since I’m an expert at nothing, I am trying to be open-minded and devoted to doing what is necessary to improve my writing skills and my story-telling ability. So I seek advice, search out critiques of my work, and try to get to know those who are recognized as accomplished writers. I work hard and long to see what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong.

And I try to follow the rules…if I can figure them out. But isn’t okay to just admit that there aren’t really that many hard-and-fast rules in traditional-style publishing anymore? Sometimes, what is a rule for one writer just doesn’t apply to another. These custom-fit guidelines are important, to be sure, but sometimes new writers are confused because they are told not to do something that others are doing. They’re told, “it won’t work” or “so-and-so won’t publish it like this.” Then you find out, however, that another publisher will.

What’s a new writer to do?

First, understand that there’s a difference between a rule and a commandment. A rule is a solid guideline that describes the way something is expected to be done at the current time. A commandment is forever (God has never amended or revised His Ten Commandments.) Rules are sometimes proactive and sometimes reactive. They are useful for structure. Rules change when it’s demonstrated that “it can be done another way.”

Humility and respect are the keys, in my opinion. The simple fact is, as an unpublished and unknown writer, I haven’t earned the right to toss the “rules” aside. I don’t have the same unspoken permission the bend/break the rules because I haven’t sold any books yet…I don’t have a track record of making anyone any money. I can pout, whine, complain, and get all snarky, but what good does that do? Or I could just say, “Well, if I can’t do it the way I want to, I’ll just quit writing.” Yeah, that’ll show them. NOT!

So I try to learn what is expected, while also attempting to develop my own unique writer’s voice.

How do YOU handle this wrestling match with your own unique personality & style and the rules that are parts of the writing craft?

NOTE:  I invite you to “Like” my Author Page at www.facebook.com/larrywtimm  If you already have, please know that I appreciate it very much.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under books, Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, editing, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

Top 10 Ways to tell if a Writer’s Spouse is needing Attention

The writing journey is hard on writers. Can I get an “AMEN!”? Pressure…hard work…did I mention pressure?

But being married to a writer can also be stressful. With that in mind, I present to you the Top 10 Ways to tell if a Writer’s Spouse is needing Attention:

 

#10:  They’re making prank phone calls just so they can have someone real to talk to. And if the person is normal, that’s a bonus.

# 9:  They come to a book signing just so they can have some face-to-face time with their writer spouse. And they keep getting in line because they’ve “got a lot on their mind.”

# 8:  They walk around the house naked just to see if their spouse will notice.

# 7:  They get in trouble with the IRS because they tried to claim the characters of their spouse’s current writing project as dependents since “they’re sooooooooo important!”

# 6:  They picket their spouse’s writers group meeting and chant, “Watch more TV! Watch more TV!”

# 5:  They call the county courthouse and offer to “Track Change” their marriage license.

# 4:  They have a shirt made that says, I got your inciting incident right here!

# 3:  They refer to their children as “precious consequences of writer’s block.”

# 2:  After planning the family vacation, they dance around the house and giggle profusely because they managed to find a spot in the desert that is hundreds of miles from a Barnes & Noble or a Starbucks.

# 1:  They call 9-1-1 and claim that an unfinished manuscript is holding their spouse hostage, and add, “the office is in the apartment above the garage…bring tear gas and those things that flash and go BOOM!

How about we just be sure to take care of the wonderful spouses that support us, so we avoid any of the above?

3 Comments

Filed under books, Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, editing, family, Larry W. Timm, reading, Top 10 List, Top Ten list, Uncategorized, Writing

Top 10 Wrong Ways To Deal With or Avoid a Sagging Middle

This is not a post filled with diet and physical fitness tips. I’m not what you’d call a real good role model in that particular area. I did buy a pair of running shoes a while back, and if you just look at my feet, I look like a runner. However, if you scan up from there, the illusion is quickly blown (but I digress).

I don’t run. I don’t even hike…wait, did I say hike? Well what do you know…hike rhymes with like! And since you mentioned it, I’d be appreciative if you’d hike over to my Author Page and click Like. It’s at www.facebook.com/larrywtimm I’d love to break the 200 mark by the end of August. Tell your friends to go there too. The person who is my 200th Like may just win something (of course they may not, but let’s not dwell on that now.)

As writers, we all have had to deal with middles (of our manuscripts) that are saggy. Perhaps even sluggish and unappealing (which is how people often describe me). We seek out advice on how to deal with and/or avoid the dreaded sagging middle.

“Larry, do you happen to have any advice on what to do?”

Thanks for asking. But…nope, I don’t know what to tell you to do, but here are some things not to do. It’s my duty & pleasure to introduce…the Top 10 Wrong Ways To deal With or Avoid a Sagging Middle:

#10:  By having a blurb on the front cover that boldly declares, “This is the first novel in history in which the brilliant author has skipped the middle all together!

# 9:  By claiming that the middle has international intrigue just because you put an “o” on the end of every other word so readers will really like the the “el-middle-o.”

# 8:  By including a bibliography of “books that have more horrible middles than mine.”

# 7:  By putting a pop up section in the middle so that when opened paper villains jump up from the page and scare people to death.

# 6:  By printing the middle on edible paper so that readers can “at least get something good from it.”

# 5:  By drawing a little cartoon character in the upper right hand corner that looks likes he’s running from a stick Grizzly bear when people flip through the middle chapters really fast.

# 4:  Put 100 blank pages in the middle so that “readers can write their own snappy middle…if they think it’s sooooo easy!”

# 3:  Fill the middle chapters with 20 car chases, 14 gun battles, 12 knife fights, 10 kissy-face scenes, 8 explosions, 6 sharks, 4 pits of nasty snakes, 3 hurricanes, 2 giant ill-tempered turtle doves, and 1 immodest partridge in a pear tree. (and, no, I have no idea what that means).

# 2:  By putting in a “Smells of the Bible” scratch-n-sniff section.

# 1:  By dedicating the book to “My dear, sweet, recently deceased mother who used her last breaths of life to dictate the middle of this book, right after she single-handedly saved 75 poor, blind children from roaring inferno that swept through their orphanage on Christmas Eve…so they could live to enjoy the box full of puppies and kittens that Mommy had purchased for them from the humane society…with the money she’d received by selling her fake leg. It was a good thing she recently been evicted from her home by evil bankers and that the walls of her old cardboard box in the alley were thin enough to hear the little frightened voices calling for help from the broken windows of the condemned building they called home. The middle of this book meant a lot to my mom…I hope you like it too.”

Now…how does YOUR middle look?

6 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Life, editing, family, Larry W. Timm, reading, Top 10 List, Top Ten list, Uncategorized, Writing

Been there, done that

 

   Recently I heard a joke about a guy who went in for surgery. After he was rolled into the pre-op area, his wife trudged her way down the long haul toward the hospital cafeteria. But two steps from the cafeteria entrance, she heard her husband screaming, and she froze in her tracks. She looked down the hall to see him running toward her.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” she asked.

He pointed at the nurse marching down the hall towards them. “I heard what she said!”

“What did she say?”

“She said, ‘I know you’ve never been through this kind of operation before, but it’s a relatively minor procedure, so try to stop shaking. There’s a good chance everything will turn out okay.'”

The wife shook her head. “But, honey, the nurse was just trying to help you.”

His eyes went wide. “She was talking to the doctor!”

Yeah, we’d all like to know that our surgeon has been there and done that before we entrust our bodies to him. I don’t want my doctor to point to an x-ray and exclaim, “Wow! What’s that d0-hicky there?” Hardly a confidence builder.

One of the challenges of being a writer is deciding who to go to for advice. Let’s face it–and this is an uncomfortable truth–there are a few self-proclaimed experts out there on the literary landscape. Doubtless, many of them mean well and can even offer random nuggets of information that can benefit any writer. But others have never really been there and done that. And, frankly, your time as a writer is too precious to waste. The stewardship of story calls for us to carefully exercise discernment.

Thankfully there are tons of people (al though I’ve never actually weighed them) out there who bring to the proverbial table wisdom gained by the experience of having walked the road themselves. They are usually very humble people who are willing to share what they’ve learned because the respect the craft, and they genuinely want to help another writer succeed. They remember the times someone helped them in the past, and the vow they made to sacrificially do the same if they ever had the chance.

How do YOU decide who will help shape your story? How do YOU decide who to go to for advice? Any experience–good or not-so-good–you care to share (don’t mention names, please)?

7 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, editing, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

The 3 word sentence that guides my writing

An unusual survey was taken in which participants were asked this question: What 3 word sentence would you most like to have said to you?

  • The third most common response was: “Supper is ready.”
  • The second most popular answer was:  “I forgive you.”
  • The answer that topped the list was:  “I love you.”

Each answer could serve as a motivation for my writing…yes, even the one about supper being ready. 🙂 You see, as a Christian writer, I want my stories to motivate people to get ready for that one great supper:  the Lamb’s supper. Or, to put it another way, I don’t want anyone to miss out on the great marriage feast where the Bride (the Church) is forever joined to the Groom (the Lord Jesus). Someday the trumpet is going to sound, and it’ll be like God is declaring, “Come on, children, supper is ready.”

And I pray that my writing will show how God can restore the broken, revive the hopeless, and declare the guilty can be pronounced innocent before the eternal Judge. I very much want my books to take my readers on a heart-pounding thrill ride through the darkness that is this world, the whole time making sure that they can see glimpses of light penetrating that darkness. I refuse to ignore or sugar-coat the reality of sin and the destructive consequences it brings, but I want readers to know that God stands ready & willing to forgive them of their sins, to transfer them from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of His Beloved Son, and to give them new life. Our Lord knows a little something about resurrection, wouldn’t you say? Jesus shed his blood–and rose from the dead–for the forgiveness of sins.

But the most popular answer gives me the reason why Jesus came to earth, hung on the cross, and conquered death and sin. I want my readers to know that God loves them. When someone finishes one of my books, I hope that they will be drawn to a deeper fellowship with the God Who loves them. Once a theologian was asked what he thought was the single greatest theological truth he’d learned in his decades of Bible study. He could have mentioned any of the various doctrinal truths that are so plentiful in Scripture. He could have tried to draw water from the deep wells of theology. Instead he replied, “the single greatest truth that I have learned is that Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

I hope my readers can know the same thing because they read one of my books.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

Advice from Stephen King

True story: recently someone who knows that I’m a writer in search of publication had a chance to ask Stephen King  a question by way of a chat session on a website. The question was:

“What’s the biggest piece of advice you could give to new writers?”

Stephen King answered, “I think the most important piece of advice I can give to a writer is let the characters lead and never try to force them into things they don’t want to do.”

Of course he wasn’t advising that we keep our characters out of hot water and never pour on the conflict. While I don’t have a way of asking him a follow-up question, I’m very confident that what he meant was that we have to have authentic characters…people who have personality traits and personal worldviews (i.e. philosophies of life) that stay consistent throughout the story. And these characters must be able to carry the story. Good characters take us on a journey, allowing us to see the story through their eyes.

Do you agree? Name one great character you’ve read recently.

Also, what one piece of advice would YOU give new writers?

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

Freedom Announced

Jesus wrote something once…on the ground. A woman caught in the act of adultery was surrounded by religious leaders who had conveniently left the male half of the sinful duo out of their ring of condemnation. The religious leaders wanted Jesus to approve of their attempt to punish this guilty woman.

And he wrote on the ground.

The snarling hypocrites pushed Jesus some more.

He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then Jesus–the Creator of the Universe–stooped down again and wrote on the ground he created.

His challenge was punctuated by the sound of rocks thudding back to the ground, and the slow scraping of people wandering away from the scene.

“Where are your accusers?”

The woman looked and they were gone. It was one on one time with the Logos–the Word made flesh–the One who could set her free from the power, shame, and guilt of her sins. “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

No one knows what Jesus wrote that day. But I know what He did that day:  He showed a broken soul the way to freedom. When I write, no matter how dark the setting, I want to make sure I let a shaft of light shine upon the liberating path that can be found in Jesus Christ. I picture a reader who’s been knocked to the ground, broken by their sin, and in need of being set free…a prisoner chained by their own trespasses and gaveled guilty by the judge.

When we write, may we work hard to be sure that people know that the Lord Jesus Christ can to set us free from the law of sin and death. May we always find ways to proclaim that the Messiah of all mankind can bring release and set free the oppressed. And let us be unwavering in the announcement that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Can I get an Amen?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

IS “SUSPENSE” A DYING GENRE?

Special note: My AUTHOR’S PAGE is now up at www.facebook.com/larrywtimm If you haven’t dropped by to “like” it, I’d be grateful if you would. Thanks.

Question: is Christian suspense fiction a genre that’s dying?

Answer: NO! NO! NO! If you think I’m being unclear or wishy-washy, let me add NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

It is my opinion that the whole mystery/suspense/thriller genre hasn’t even hit the mother-load yet. First, there will always be an interest in fiction that grabs our adrenal glands and gives them a hearty squeeze. (Okay, so I just disgusted myself with that image). Yep, Christians still like a good rush, especially when it’s part of a message that leaves hope in our hearts.

Second, I believe that the Christian market can increase its influence and impact by investing time and money into an intentional effort to attract more male readers to Christian fiction. But do men really read suspense books? YES! Men buy and read a ton of “secular” mystery/suspense/thriller books. And the major reason is because they are purposely targeted. And, sadly, the secular market is glad to cater to the fleshly desires of male readers. And there isn’t the stigma in the secular market that there is in the Christian market. Many men think that Christian fiction is only romance and bonnets. Is that a wrong perception? Yes. Are we doing enough to correct that mistaken idea? I humbly–and with no disrespect intended–submit that we are not.

I admit that I’m not sure what the answers are, but here are a few steps I think Christian writers can take to reach out to more men with the power of Christian fiction:

  • We must unapologetically proclaim the quality of Christian m/s/t/ fiction. And when men tell other men, it makes an impression. Even Christian men are largely unaware of the great Christian m/s/t fiction that is available. I’ve talked to men who saw the movie Courageous loved it. It has amazed me how many of those men didn’t know it was based on a book by Randy Alcorn.
  • We should intentionally look for opportunities to market Christian m/s/t/ fiction to men we know. This means we will be ready to recommend specific titles to men. The power of word-of-mouth marketing can sway male readers also. Can local writing groups help in this outreach?
  • We need to figure out ways to stress the “thrill-ride” aspect of Christian m/s/t fiction. Men are more likely to be open-minded to the idea of adventure than the idea of reading as an escape from real life. Many men see the “escapism” mentality as a confession of weakness. This includes the covers on the books we publish. When we understand how male readers think, we can more effectively market to them.
  • Christian writers and publishing houses are going to have to commit themselves to a serious strategy to grow the number of men who read Christian m/s/t fiction AND will need to commit to this strategy for several years.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in talking about this topic. But I really want to know what you think. is this a conversation worth having?

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

Facebook Author Page

Well, I’m about to attempt to create a Facebook Author Page. I’ll give you a minute to calm down before I continue…….go ahead and clean up the confetti, put up the whip cream, and let your hands cool down from the multiple high-fives you just gave to passing strangers…okie dokie, let us continue. I started the process–and being the techno-pee brain that I am–am already waiting for a friend to call me to explain how I might go about fixing a problem. But I am confident that it will be fixed and the page will be up and running soon.

“Is there anything I can do to help, Larry?” (Go back…yes YOU…and read that question out loud). Gee, thanks for asking!

Yes-siree-bob, there IS something you can do. You can look for my announcement on Facebook and Twitter, as well as in future blog posts, that invites you to visit my AUTHOR’S PAGE and click the Like button. Wash your hands first, if you must, but then push the button. I will be very grateful to you. In fact, I will hug my laptop and pretend it’s you. It means that much to me…not the laptop, but the fact that you would be willing to go to my AUTHOR’S PAGE and click Like.

So when will the announcement come, giving us the incredible opportunity to click Like on your AUTHOR’S PAGE? [Larry shrugs, sips his Dr. Pepper, then realizes he has to make up an answer…]

“Ummmmmm……..pretty soon.”  🙂

In all seriousness, having you partner with me in my writer’s journey is an honor I do not take lightly. I believe that I have been entrusted with the humbling stewardship of story, and I want to reach as many people as possible with the life-changing, soul-stirring truths of God, and story is a powerful vehicle with which to do it.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my posts, and I’ll look forward to seeing you over on my Facebook AUTHOR’S PAGE soon. I couldn’t do this with out you. I appreciate you all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

With Regrets

Fifteen minutes before Sunday School started, it felt as though someone had punched the air out of my lungs. I hadn’t been prepared for the news I’d just been given. A friend had just told me that someone I knew had been found dead a day earlier. “No I hadn’t heard,” is what I think I mumbled. My thoughts were a jumbled concoction of sympathy for his wife and sadness that this man’s troubled life had ended. Suddenly. Alone.

Then shame and guilt encircled me. I should have done more. I should have reached out and done…something. Should I have called him regularly? Regret haunted me that day, growing somewhat less hateful in the last few days, but not completely lowering its voice. It’s still there as I write these words.

No, I’m not responsible for all of his decisions. But the fact remains: There were things I could have done. I won’t get the chance to do them now. I will always regret that sad reality.

Writer, friend, please read the rest of this post carefully. Don’t come to the end of your writer’s journey with unwritten stories in your soul…stories that you were going to write someday but never did. Maybe God has been working in your heart, telling you to write something…please do it. It could make a difference in someone’s life. Don’t let fear or fades shove your story to the side. Don’t let laziness or procrastination lull your story to sleep. Don’t let doubt or discouragement cause that story to remain forever on the back burner. Write on. Write now.

Because now is all you have.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Life, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing