Thursday, November 13, 2014

There are no Depends for the Soul

I can't claim that post title as my own creation. My pastor/Bible teacher, Jon Courson, said it last night during our Wednesday night through-the-Bible teaching. He taught last night through Psalm 51.

You probably know Psalm 51. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy spirit from me. (vs 10-11)

It's one of the psalms in which King David, having been confronted by the prophet Nathan about his adultery with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder-by-battle of her husband, Uriah, stops burying and covering his sin and pours out his broken heart in repentance before God. He gets it out. He deals with it. Eventually he is restored (with consequences... there are always those).

Now to reach our church is about a thirty minute drive from our home. It meanders first through our town, then out through a historic gold mining town in the foothills, then up over a mountain pass and down into the neighboring valley. You need to watch for deer. Sometimes turkeys. Bear and mountain lion have also been seen, though not by us. Often Brian and I are listening to music on this hour long round trip, sometimes to an audio book.

Last night we talked about his mother. She's 88 and struggles with dementia. We are her primary care givers, emotionally. There are always challenges. The little practical things she can no longer manage or remember to do, so we have to talk her through them again and again. And again. And the big things that cause heart pain, as issues buried deep in her soul are coming up, issues difficult to deal with because they aren't based in reality, or seem based on things that might have happened to her long before we both were born.The people involved have long since passed on. It can make a son and daughter-in-law feel helpless to help, at times.

As we drove last night our discussion turned to what we might be able to do for ourselves, to help prevent such issues from swelling out of proportion and dominating our minds, should we find ourselves still on this earth at such an advanced age. Of course there are studies that deal with what we eat, how we exercise our brains. Advice abounds. But I was thinking more along the spiritual lines.

One thing was clear to me, and I tried to put it into words. "We have to be practicing walking in trust, knowing God's promises for us (especially those that apply to when we're old), and believing them now. Get them so engrained in our souls that that's what comes out when our minds are on the way out."

In other words, we need to sow now the crop we want to reap when we are much older, and weaker in body or mind. Not that this is a cure all for what ails so many of our elderly. But... I believe it when God says a man (or woman) reaps what he sows, so why not sow to our future selves a crop of truth, faith, and an eternal outlook of promise? The seed is there at our fingertips, in the pages of God's word.

So, after that rather weighty discussion, we arrived at church, and Pastor Jon began teaching through Psalm 51.

See me sitting in the back row against the wall (my introverted need for being on the periphery of a crowd in play). I'm scurrying to take notes. This whole dealing with the sin in our souls, one-on-one with God, getting that junk out of us in confession and being restored, with a clean heart--wow, is this ever relevant to the novel I'm working on.

One character in particular (you'll meet him in The Wood's Edge, next spring) has buried and refused to deal with a terrible sin committed not, as in King David's case, about nine months earlier, but TWENTY YEARS earlier.

And then.

And then... Pastor Jon began to talk about a woman he'd spoken to recently, whose elderly mother is suffering from dementia, and has begun to spew all sorts of vile things from her soul, and how difficult that is as her daughter to deal with and bear...

And Brian and I looked at each other, knowing this was one of those times when the Holy Spirit was saying... listen. Listen. I am speaking to you. Not just for the book you are writing, but for you

So we listened.

If you are also caring for someone with dementia and finding it a challenge and burden hard to bear, will you listen?

If you need to work out something between you and God by means of confession, will you listen?

If you want to do something to help prevent your own soul from spewing gunk over those you love, now or in the future, will you listen?

^Audio and Video available^

There are no Depends for the soul

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A devotional & a giveaway

Today I'm visiting with Charity Lyman, aka The Giveaway Lady, sharing a devotional I wrote with tie-ins to The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn....

2014 Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide with Lori Benton!

And giving away two copies of the book! Please drop by, hope you'll be blessed, and don't forget to enter the giveaway (if you have a USA mailing address). If you've read Tamsen's story already, books make great Christmas gifts! :)

Monday, November 03, 2014

Thanksgiving Book Giveaway (I'm talking 20 books!)

Here's a different kind of contest for readers of Christian books…win by giving thanks/praise. And the more praise and thanks you give, the better your chances to win a pack of 20 AUTOGRAPHED BOOKS!!
Author Lisa T. Bergren (Waterfall, Remnants) has invited me and other authors to share what we are thankful for this year. And she's giving away copies of our books. Two winners will receive a signed set of the books below.

That's 20 autographed books!

I'll share what I'm thankful for below, but visit Lisa Bergren's website to read what all these authors have to give thanks for this November, and for details on how to enter this drawing. 

Here's what I'm thankful for this year.

1. I’m profoundly, joyously thankful that my sins are washed away by the blood of the Lamb, Christ Jesus. Without that, the greatest earthly blessings would be hollow. With that, the toughest trials are put into their proper perspective—a light affliction not to be compared with the eternal joy and wholeness that awaits the child of God.

2. I’m thankful God grants us the desires of our hearts. In my case, the opportunity to share my stories, and His grace, with readers. For nearly twenty years I prayed a specific prayer regarding this. “Lord, if You don’t desire my stories to be published, then change the desire of my heart. Make me to desire what You see is best for me.” I’m thankful He maintained that passion for storytelling in my heart through nearly two decades of waiting, and writing.

3. I’m thankful for my godly husband, Brian. During those twenty years I was writing and waiting—and not earning a penny—he was steadfastly providing for us, allowing me the time I needed to hone the craft of writing, and find my place in the publishing world. He did this all in faith, never knowing if the day would come that God might open one of those doors I kept knocking on. Without his support, I’d have given up long ago.

I'll close comments here, and see you over at Lisa's!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Did you know...?

Did you know that my literary agent, Wendy Lawton, is also a published writer? She has a wonderful series of historical fiction, Daughters of the Faith, based on the lives of real young women, written for the middle grade market (8-12).

Though I'm far more middle-aged than middle grade, I enjoy them too! I've read several, but have just come across another that looks right up my reading alley.

Ransom's Mark

When 13-year-old Olive Oatman's wagon train is raided by outlaw Yavapai Indians, she and her sister are captured. After enduring harsh treatment, they are ransomed by a band of Mohaves. Olive struggles to adjust to her new life, but finds comfort in her faith and in an unexpected friendship. When the time comes for her to return to the white world, she is afraid she will never fit in. But she learns to see the Mohave design tattooed on her chin as a sign of God's love and deliverance, a mark of ransom.

Publishers Weekly said: Like its predecessors in Lawton's Daughters of the Faith series, this fourth installment offers an invigorating blend of historical information and imaginative writing.

I'd seen photos of Olive Oatman, with her striking facial tattoo, online in past years, and have been curious about her story. I just didn't realize until today that Wendy had written a book about her. Now I can't wait for my copy to arrive, and learn more.

If you're a fan of historical fiction, I hope you'll check out Wendy's books. Here's a link to her website, which lists all the titles. There's one or two more I've yet to read that have caught my eye already.

While you're visiting her website, check out her Dolls page. Yes, Wendy has been a doll maker too! She created beautiful dolls of several of her Daughters of the Faith heroines.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's all Dutch to me!

Introducing a new version of Burning Sky:

"The Land of My Father"

(Dutch version)

November 11, 2014
(the release date listed by online booksellers)

I'm excited to announce this first translation of one of my books! Even though I can't read it myself, as a writer I'm so pleased and honored that my book will be available to more readers around the world. My deepest thanks to the publisher, Kok/Voorhoeve, for taking Burning Sky into their fold.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Linsey-Woolsey Writing: Weaving Fact with Fiction

Linsey-woolsey is a fabric woven from linen and wool. Linen is used as the warp, wool as the weft. It was commonly worn in the 18th century and is, in fact, an ancient form of cloth.

Writing historical novels is, for me, something like that linsey-woolsey weaving. Story is the warp. History is the weft. I do my best to weave the two together, leaving as few unsightly gaps as possible.

It can be tedious. It takes months of preparation and planning. But the end result is always worth it to me personally.

How I Do It, in 6 Easy (!) Steps

1. Create a document and call it something like Historical Time Line for (title of story).

2. Read everything I can on the historical event/s that will form the spine (or background) of my story. If it's the spine of the story and not just a historical backdrop, this process takes much longer. "Everything" includes books, websites, historical treaties, correspondence, newspapers, etc.

3. (concurrent with #2) Fill the Time Line document with everything that strikes me as important or interesting as I glean from all those research sources, combining it all in chronological order by month, day, hour of the day, whatever is needed for this particular historical event/period. Note: the Time Line document for the sequel to The Wood's Edge (my next release) is 30 pages single-spaced.

4. Plot my story, at least the broad strokes, using all that research and the handy Time Line I spent weeks or months creating. This step will inevitably begin somewhere in the midst of #3.

5. (often concurrent with #4) Open that Time Line document and see where my fictional story can intersect, what events or situations my characters can take part in, or be influenced by, along the way.  Slot notes to myself about these possibilities into the relevant spots in the Time Line, or just integrate notes about that bit of history into the plot that I'm still fleshing out.

6. Write the book, referring back to that Time Line however often is needed (depending on the book, this can be daily). This process will take anywhere from 8 months to a year.

And that's how I do it.

I've written this post less for instruction than for entertainment--in case you ever wondered how a historical fiction writer might go about the process of weaving a story through the historical record. Other writers may have vastly different methods that work for them. I hope they do. Mine, as I said, is tedious. But it works for me because my memory for historical detail is not to be relied upon months after I've done the research. My Time Lines serve as my brain's back up.

Q 4 Readers: anything you'd like to know about this process that I didn't cover in that sketchy overview? Ask away!

Loom photo by David Amsler Flickr Creative Commons