Tag Archives: writing

Kickin’ some “Buts”

Excuses abound. Every writer has them. They’re the “but” that finds its way into our day and brings a writing project to a halt…or stops it from ever taking its first step.

“I want to write a novel, BUT ________________________________.”

“I would finish this project, BUT _________________________________.”

“I know I should learn the craft better, BUT ___________________________.”

“I know what my critique partner said, BUT __________________________.”

“Maybe I should be more disciplined, BUT _____________________________.”

“It would be nice to attend a conference or writers group, BUT ____________________.”

“I’d enter my writing in a contest, or ask someone to read it, BUT __________________.”

BUT…BUT…BUT…BUT…BUT…BUT…BUT…………………

All together now, let’s get jiggy with it and scream, “I HATE THESE BUTS AND I CAN NOT LIE….” (that concludes the rap reference part of this post)

There are many other examples of when a “but” intrudes on our writing life. And there countless ways to fill in the blanks. I’m willing to bet that you are like me (no insult intended) and could fill in the blanks above with more than one reason/excuse/cop-out. Before you slap a knot on my head, let me hasten to add that undoubtedly there are legitimate reasons that we are unable to start or continue a project, or enter a contest, or go to conference or whatever the case may be. However, honesty and maturity will force us to face the fact that often–quite often–we are simply making excuses.

I urge you to sit down and have an honest chat with yourself and your muse and say, “It’s time to do some “BUT” kicking!

Are YOU up to the challenge?

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

A Bad Book Signing: The Poem

Disclaimer:  For the record let it be stated that I love Barnes & Noble, Ted Dekker, Sharpies and have been known to down a Frappe or two. The experience expressed by this dramatic, life-changing bit of poetry is fictional, except for the part about a van, because…well, I own a van. And I promise that no book displays were harmed in the writing of this poem. Do not try this on your own…or with anyone else for that matter. Thank you. 🙂

And now, I bring to you my poem A BAD BOOK SIGNING or THE DAY I BOUGHT $900 WORTH OF BOOKS AT BARNES & NOBLE.

 

I was sitting at Barnes & Noble, sipping a Frappe

and jumped two inches from my chair when I heard somebody say,

“What do you think you’re doing with that Sharpie and those books?”

a red-faced gal stood there, giving me a dirty look.

 

I cleared my throat and smiled, not real sure just what to do,

it was then that I noticed her full-color I LOVE BOOKS tattoo.

“I can explain,” I said, and I hoped I was not whining.

“I’m a writer and I’m here for a surprise book signing.”

 

She glared down at the table and my mind, it went to reeling.

She said, “You’re a big fat liar.” And I said, “You hurt my feelings.”

Pointing at the stack of books, she yelled, “You’re NOT Stephen King!

And you look nothing like the Tom Clancy that I’ve seen!”

 

She gasped and then continued, “And Bond? Or Brown? Or Sparks?

And I am really veeeeeeeeery sure you’re not Mary Higgins Clark.”

I knew if I could just out run her, I’d be off the hook

because I’d signed somebody else’s name in every single book.

 

I darted to the right, and then I leaped the railing,

and landed on a big display of books all about yacht sailing.

Then I found another speed when I heard her say,

“Harold, call the cops…and someone get my pepper spray.”

 

I turned left at the calendars but she was closing in,

I ran past all the Horror books, a chill upon my skin.

She cut me off at Journals, I headed for non-fiction,

and sprinted past the books on how to remodel a kitchen.

 

I flew on by the travel guides and coffee table books,

banked hard at the book lights and raced past all the Nooks,

down the aisle with the books on how to fight infection,

until she got me cornered in the children’s section.

 

She aimed her pepper spay, so I offered up a plan,

we gathered all books I signed and put them in my van.

Nine hundred dollars worth of books went home with me that day;

each and every one in which I’d signed Ted Dekker’s name.

 

I learned a real good lesson on that book signing day,

and as a public service I pass it on your way;

The moral of the story is crystal clear to see:

if I ever do get published…I’ll sign the books as me!

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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?

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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.

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Top 10 Bad Things to do at a Book Signing

As a continued service to writers, I turn my attention to another part of the writer’s life:  book signings. May this list help you avoid the Top 10 Bad Things to do at a Book Signing.

#10:  The minute you walk in the door, you grab the manager and say, “Alright, Buckaroo, let’s round up some suckers and get this party started!”

# 9:  Over the store intercom system, announce that you’ll be signing books in the last stall in the restroom because “that bean dip from last night is really kicking up again.”

# 8:  Stretch out on top of the table and take a nap.

# 7:  Sign every book in the store, whether you wrote it or not.

# 6:  Glare at the first person who starts to walk by your table without stopping and say, “Ohhhhhhhh, I’m gonna get you in my next book,” then do those hand signals for I’ve got my eyes on you.

# 5:  Offer to sign people’s bald spots.

# 4:  Announce an in-store give away that the store didn’t even know about.

# 3:  Tell people they can get the book cheaper at that place that rhymes with “Ramazon.”

# 2:  Put a sign by your book that says, “Better than the Bible!”

# 1:  Throw books at people and yell, “Pay up front, Miss I-Don’t-Have-Time-To-Stop-By-The-Poor-Author-Table-And-Be-Civil! My kids need shoes too, ya know!”

Now, grab that Sharpie and get going!

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We Write For An All-Knowing God

“It occurred to me that nothing ever occurs to God.”

Read that quote again.

A friend shared it with me several weeks ago, and it blessed my socks off (I’ve since put clean socks back on). Seriously though, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what he said. I still find myself recalling that quote and thinking, man that’s cool.

God never turns to Gabriel and says, “Ya know…I never thought of that!” He never gives a holy shrug and confesses, “Wow! I sure didn’t see that coming!” Nothing ever just occurs to God. He knows everything…and that means He knows everything about you and me.

Writer, do you believe that? What catches you by surprise and pulls the rug out from under you, never shakes God out of control. Lean on Him. Spend time in His Word. In all your efforts to write for Him, be sure to take time to read what He’s already caused to be written in the Bible. Trust Him to lead you. You may not know where you’re going…but He does. And He’ll walk with you. He knows what is best for you. He knows how to correct, and refresh your soul. And He’ll never throw up His hands and proclaim, ‘This is more than I can handle. I’m not sure what to do. I’m out of here!”

Relax. Pray for wisdom and understanding.

We write for an All-Knowing God.

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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?

 

 

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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.

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“The Ballad of Shakespeare & The Floating Body Parts”

Welcome to a moving ballad that is sure to add depth and inspiration to your writing journey. And it will undoubtedly leave you asking the emotional question: Floating Body Parts–To be or not to be?

I stood toe to toe with Willie Shakespeare

and he tried to make me lend him my ears,

so I put my foot down and held out my chin,

and my eyebrows flew up and then down again.

I threw up my arms and then dropped my face,

and then rolled my eyes all over the place.

I tossed back my head and held out a hand,

and my fingers went flying all over the land.

He got so mad he hurled his fist,

I kicked up a leg and threw out my hip.

I curled my toes and my skin started to crawl,

and my feet took off running right down the hall!

I twisted my neck, my hair flapped in the breeze,

My heart climbed in my throat, I started pumping my knees,

then wild Willie stopped, his mouth screamed, “Et tu, Brute?

And my mind started asking, “What did he say?”

His gums rambled on about the smell of a rose,

till my cheeks flushed red and I turned up my nose;

I shrugged my shoulders and nodded my head,

Why was I running from a dude who was dead?

I awoke from the dream and gritted my teeth,

it wasn’t real…oh, what a relief!

The lesson, my friend, is quite plain to see:

Shakespeare and floating body parts just aren’t for me!

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“Plot or Characters?”

Do not fear the road of imagination…walk it boldly…take in the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells…the textures. Imagine your characters reaching from the pages of your story, and inviting your readers to take their hand and walk with them. Take your reader somewhere unique and believable. Make them hate to see the journey end, and leave them filled with regret that they have to bid the characters farewell.

I am the least qualified to answer the questions as to whether captivating characters or provocative plots drive a story from The words “Chapter One” to the words “The End.” People more capable than me have plucked the strings of that debate for decades, and the dueling banjos will be heard long after I am gone. But I know that plots without characters are like a musical score without an orchestra , and characters without plots are like an orchestra without any musical score.

Characters move me. Plots move them.

I have several characters packed in my imagination. Some are harmless. Some are funny and fun-loving. Some are broken. A few are well-intentioned but flawed. Some are capable of incredible good, while others sink to revolting depths of evil. Some are born out of the happy times in my life, and others are represent my deepest pains and my most unrelenting sorrows. And others…well, I’m not sure where they came from. But I’m sure we’ve met before.

And I also have stories blooming in my head. I can think of six story ideas that are demanding my attention right now. Two are sequels to books I’ve already written. One is a story idea that was plopped in my lap at a recent writers conference (thanks J. K.). Another is probably going to be the beginning of a series. And two are story ideas that started as contest entries and are begging to be fleshed out.

So, as a writer or a reader, what’s most important to you…plot or characters? Who are some of your favorite characters from books or movies? What are the most intriguing plots you’ve been caught up in?

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