Tag Archives: writing

Germs and Jesus

The preacher’s little son was repeatedly told to go wash his hands before lunch. The youngster demanded to know why he had to wash his hands before every meal, so his mother said, “Son, there are germs on your hands.”

He looked his hands over carefully, then said, “I don’t see any.”

“You can’t see them, but they’re there,” his dad said firmly. “Now go wash your hands.”

The little boy stomped away, shaking his head and mumbling, “Germs and Jesus…Germs and Jesus…that’s all they talk about in this house and I’ve never seen either one!”

My writer friend, when you sit down to write, do you have a strong desire that readers will see Jesus in your story? How do you accomplish this goal? Is it possible?

What stories have helped you see Jesus better?

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Name your “Foes”

Take a piece if paper and write: Things I want to accomplish as a writer on one line. Then start listing your goals in any order or arrangement you want, just as long as you are honest with yourself. Rank them by priority or just randomly as they spill out our heart. Remember–be honest! Put your dreams on paper right in front of your eyes. And notice that I didn’t qualify the list with the constraints like this year…or…in the next 3-5 years…or…before my frayed mind comes completely unraveled and I wander around my yard in my underwear, giggling and making dandelion necklaces.

Now take a second sheet of paper and put this heading at the top: Things that are stopping me from reaching my writing goals.

The start listing them. One by One. Get to know your foes by name.

Fear. Doubt. Lack of money, time, or discipline. Unsupportive family and/or friends. Unresolved anger. These are just a few.

Finally, on a third sheet of paper write: My plan to overcome my “foes” and reach my goals.

Then, prayerfully and carefully, start writing out a plan to deal with each and every one of the “foes” that are in your way. This may take awhile, so take whatever time you need. It may take hours, days, or even weeks. But the investment of time may be one of the most liberating experiences of your writing life. If you can’t think of a way to overcome a certain foe, seek advice from other writers. But don’t stop until you have addressed every foe.

You can do this.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but If I can help in any way, please let me know. By the way, I’m working on my list also, so we’re in this together.

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Those Special Moments of Ministry

Dear God,

Thank you for allowing me to be your child.

Thank you that there is now no condemnation for me, because I am in Christ.

Thank you that you for allowing me to gather with others and teach your Word, for entrusting me with the soul-stirring honor of preaching the liberating truth that can lead others to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

And, thank you, for the power of story, and for the privilege of being a writer.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Friends, it is impossible for me to adequately describe the awe I feel when I stand to preach the Word of God. It is one of those “moments” that stands out as unique in my human existence. It embraces my mind, strength, and soul…leaving me exhausted but fulfilled.

Sometimes, during those moments right before I’m going to stand up and begin preaching, I’m so focused on how I intend to start the message that I simply don’t know much else. One time, a lady had called all the children to the front of the sanctuary for a little children’s lesson. That usually happened at some point in the order of service before the sermon. Well, while she was talking to the kids, my mind wandered to the opening few sentences I wanted to use to start my message when she was done. In other words, I zoned out of what she was saying and zoned in on the introduction to the message I’d prepared and would momentarily be preaching.

Then I heard her say, “And now, kids, we’ll have Pastor Larry lead us in the Lord’s Prayer.”

Folks, my mind went completely blank. Trust me, I reallydo know the Lord’s Prayer. I can usually say it in a couple different versions. But not at that moment. I couldn’t remember how it started to save my life! I mean, for Pete’s sake, that wasn’t what I was going to be preaching!

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was rummaging through my mind in a panicked rush and all I was coming up with were things like, “Eeny, Meni, Miny, Mo” or “Who built the Ark? Noah, Noah,” or “Would you like fries with that?” And, until that moment, I hadn’t noticed how incredibly warm it was in the church! I mean, come on people, let’s crack open a few windows!”

I mean the words to the Lord’s Prayer may be printed in red in most people’s Bibles, but they were written with invisible ink in my mind that day.

Finally some dear merciful saint started the Lord’s Prayer and I was able to join in.

Yep, I can get zoned in and lose track of other things going on around me. I can do it when I’m teaching, preaching, and even when I’m writing. The moment of communication (spoken or written) grabs my attention and I’m captivated by the power of words…the stewardship of story.

And more than anything, I desperately want it to matter. I want people to hear what I have to say and read what I have to write because it can help them on the path to or with God. I believe that with all my heart.

Fellow communicators, what you are doing matters. So do it with all your might. Give of your best to the Master!

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The lone writer

I’m blessed to have the support of family and friends as I travel on my writer’s journey. My wife is a source of great strength to me and my writing, even though she doesn’t read a word of it. LOL! Seriously! I write suspense and my dear wife doesn’t like to get scared to death. But she goes out of her way to cheer for me and let me know that she supports me as a writer. She, and the kids, share the ups and downs with me. They sacrifice time and money for me to be a writer.

But there are some writers who trudge through the ups and downs of writing without the strength and support from those closest to them. And that breaks my heart.

The solitude and monotony of writing can be hard enough without a writer feeling that their work is not respected and their passion is not shared by the people they love. The lows are lower alone.

This simple post is my attempt to get you to do two things:

  1. Make a list of the people who support & encourage you as a writer. And, starting today, take a few moments and send a note of thanks to one person a day until you have written them all.
  2. Be an encouragement to other writers, especially those who have confided to you that they feel alone and discouraged. Listen to what other writers say, because sooner or later a broken heart will reveal itself. Pray for them. Help them. Become their cheering section, even if it means you’re the only one sitting there at the moment.

If you are one of those who feels alone, please remember that God loves you and will never forsake you. And if I can do anything to help you, please let me know.

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Three directions of a writer’s life

A writer’s time is precious. Duties pile up, deadlines taunt and torture, and demands play tug-of-war with your attention span. The fact is a writer must walk the writing journey with the ability to maintain a 3-way focus.

*A writer must look UPWARD: Writing Christian fiction is not a task that should be attempted without the realization that we need the strength only God can supply. It is essential that we be intentional in our discipleship. Writing is a stewardship from God, and good stewards stay in close contact with their Master. We should seek His face in personal worship on a regular basis during the week. Let us love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let us be far more in love with His Word than we are with our own words. Let’s spend time in His Book before we spend time in our own.

*A writer must look INWARD:  Every one of us needs to cultivate the habit of taking a personal inventory of our writing life. We should be brutally honest with ourselves and seek answers to questions like: Why am I writing? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What motivates me to write? What stops me from writing? How can I grow as a writer? What sacrifices do I need to make? Good writers never stop learning. And great writing doesn’t happen by accident.

*A writer must look OUTWARD:  If we see our writing as a service to our readers, we will craft stories that will connect with them. In a real sense, we have a responsibility to many people–our readers, agents, editors, and even to other writers. I would not be as far along in my writing journey if it were not for the gracious help of other writers. Even though busy with their own writing responsibilities, several writers have taken time to help me with mine. I won’t forget that kindness, and will do my best to serve & encourage other writers when I can. Writers need to remember we are part of a community of writers.

What do you think?

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Too Heathen?

Has a secular writer has ever been rejected because their story was too heathen?

While I don’t want to come across as disrespectful and snarky, I do think it’s important to give some thought to the above question. Christian writers are often cautioned against being too preachy…too explicitly Christian. And, frankly, for some reason something about that concern bothers me.

In all intellectual fairness, it must be stated that there are various ways for a Christian worldview to manifest itself. A great example of this is the (Protestant) Bible. It’s a collection of sixty-six books that contain examples of multiple genres written by a host of personalities–all guided by the Holy Spirit. Some parts are explicit in their God-talk and others are less so. One book doesn’t even mention the name of God at all.

But, when it comes to Christian writers writing stories, what fuels the concern about being too preachy? By the way…[Larry slides out a different soap box and jumps aboard]…as a preacher, I take offense to the way the words “preach” and “preachy” are used. [Larry surveys the room and realized that no one else is here, so he shouts, “Amen! Preach it, brother!” Then, feeling silly, he gets off the second soapbox and returns to the first].

Are we to strike a balance between entertainment and mission?  Or do we have to choose between the two? How much is business-driven and how much is a reflection of the current state of American Christianity?

What do you think?

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Multiple Choice Test: Are YOU ready for conference?

Are you going to conference in a few weeks? Are you nervous, wondering if you’re really ready to face what awaits you? Well, fear not, my fellow writer…I’m here to help 🙂 . Below is a multiple choice test to see if you really are ready to sit down in front of an agent or editor and–with a straight face–say, “Yes. I’m a writer.” They just may ask to see your score from this test…or maybe not. But take it any way.

1.  ACFW stands for:

A. Always Crafty Fickle Wordsmiths

B.  Antsy Creative Friendly Weirdos

C. American Christian Fiction Writers

 

2.   If facing a sagging middle, a writer should:

A.  Slip into a girdle.

B.  Think about someone fatter.

C.  Revise, Cut, Polish

 

3.  What’s the best way to view a prospective agent?

A.  With binoculars

B.  From under the partition in the bathroom stall.

C.  As a respected professional.

 

4.  When told you have a POV problem, be sure to:

A. Cover your entire body in antibiotic cream and ask someone to scratch the places you can’t reach.

B.  Cover your face and yell, “Unclean! Unclean!” whenever someone approaches.

C.  Seek help from a critique partner or an editor.

 

5.  What is Writer’s Block?

A.  A neighborhood where only Authors live.

B.  The place writers go to get their taxes done.

C.  A frustrating time of little or no progress.

 

6.  What is genre?

A. A brother to Barbra. (Sound it out and think about it)

B.  A snooty Frenchman.

C.  A category of literature characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.

 

7.  What is a metaphor?

A.  For cows to graze in.

B.  Half of a meta-eight.

C.  A figure of speech containing an implied comparison.

 

8.  When addressing an editor, you should begin by saying:

A.  “What’s shakin’, Oh mighty Gatekeeper?”

B.  “I hope you brought your stretchy pants, ’cause you’re gonna feast on my manuscript tonight!”

C.  “Thank you for your time.”

 

9.  Self-publishing is:

A.  The photocopies you made of your hand, face, and whatever else before you were thrown out of Kinkos.

B.  The short story your wrote on your belly with a permanent marker.

C.  A growing trend in Fiction.

 

10. The most exciting thing about this year’s conference is:

A. That creepy Larry W. Timm won’t be there.

B.  The opportunity to see if you can break your indoor dessert eating record at the banquet.

C.  Seeing old friends and making new ones.

 

If you answered all the questions with “C”, you are ready. If, however, you chose anything else, you are sick and should wait a year before going to conference. Okay, that’s harsh, but don’t come crying to me if someone asks you one of these important questions and you get it wrong. I tried to prepare you. 🙂

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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.

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It’s God

It’s God who does the choosing of how He sees fit using and blessing us with riches of His grace.

And it’s God who sets in motion every dream, and thought, and notion, and answers us when we kneel to pray.

And it’s God who makes a winner from a helpless, hopeless sinner, and shows us how to better run the race.

And it’s God who knows the hour when He’ll show His mighty power, and all mankind will look upon His face.

 

Friend, you are not alone on the journey of following Christ. And, if you’re a steward of story, you are not alone I that special calling. You may be a published writer, or someone–like me–who dreams of that experience. But if you know God, you’ve already had the greatest blessing possible:  you are a child of the King! And, don’t forget, our God is a writer…He wrote your name in the Lamb’s Book Of Life.

Write on, my friend. You’ll never write alone when God is your Heavenly Father. Have a great weekend.

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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?

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