Share Your World Week 41

To join in the fun of Cee’s Share Your World Challenge, just follow the link to her site and get all the details.

MUSIC STAFF - MULTICOLOREDQuestion # 1:  What genre of music do you like?

Easy Listening/Swing/Soft Rock.

 

 

BAKING DAY - TABLE BRIGHTENEDQuestion # 2:  What is the worst thing you ate this last week?

I love food. Nothing I ate was bad.
.

 

BOOKS - DARKER - w. textQuestion # 3:  Would you like to be famous?  In what way?

I  would like to be so famous as an author that the world would be literally clamoring for my books.

 

MOUSE 1Question # 4:  Complete this sentence:  This sandwich could really use some …

This sandwich could really use some cheese — more cheese — lots of cheese. A sandwich isn’t a sandwich without cheese!
`

Teaching on Computer

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m super grateful that the Lord provided some extra money to put towards paying off the mortgage on my house. I’m getting very, very, very close now!

I get to teach my blogging class and the healing school classes again this week. I do love both of those experiences.

 

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Behind the Scenes During the Writing of ‘Quenton’s Honor’

QUENTON GLOBE EXPERIMENT - TRQUS - w. keyboardPeople often ask me where I get ideas for my novels, and they also like to know the “behind-the-scenes” details of the actual writing. So periodically I share some of those details — especially the ones that I found personally enjoyable or that helped me grow as a writer. The writing of Quenton’s Honor taught me much about dedication and commitment to a project — the kind of commitment that refuses to throw in the towel because tracking down those miniscule details takes multiple phone conversations, some with foreign speaking individuals, and hours poring over dusty facts and figures and then double-checking to see if any of them have changed since I started the research. But it also taught me that even the drudgery work has its own rewards in the positive results of self-discipline.

Quenton’s Honor was actually my third novel, but it was the first of all my novels to be published, with the first printing coming out about 7 years ago. The basic story had been hanging around in my mind and my heart for months before it took enough shape to send me to the keyboard to write the first words. Once I was started, however, there was no stopping. I had to do a considerable amount of research where Pakistan was concerned, and I had to keep reminding myself that I was dealing with a huge time difference between St. Louis Missouri, and Karachi, Pakistan. That time difference didn’t cause me nearly as much trouble, though, as the loss of 12 whole days when I decided — after finishing the novel — to substitute Chapter 3 for Chapter 1.

As often happens in writing a work this long, once it’s done, the author can look back and see new possibilities for the beginning chapter — scenes that will better help grab the reader and get him involved with the story immediately. I realized that Quenton’s Honor would be a better story if I took Chapter 3 and gave it to the readers first. It was a beautiful trade, and I was very happy with it, except for the fact that I had lost 12 days of action. Not to be thwarted, however, I managed to squeeze in a little flashback to grab those 12 days. Of course, I’ll admit it took me 3 days to figure out how to make it all work. But in the end, all was well.

Another editing change came when I turned it over to a friend who reads all my novels critically. I like to have him read my works before anyone else, if possible, because he is very particular about the quality of books he reads and is eager and quick to speak up if a book is lacking in any area. When he read Quenton’s Honor, he loved the book overall and was genuinely touched by several parts, but he was not at all happy with one scene where Quenton’s life is about to be snuffed out by his terrorist guards, and the men sent to rescue him have not arrived. My friend insisted the scene needed more energy and physical action.

Now, this friend is a very shy, introverted, quiet-spoken person, and definitely not the physical confrontation type. However, when I asked him for his ideas about changes to that particular scene, he got up from his desk and began to act out all the parts of the physical confrontation for the scene. I sat and watched him with my mouth open. Here was an entirely different person from the one I’d known several years. He was so energized as he acted out all the parts that he made a believer out of me, and I went home and re-wrote that scene exactly the way he had acted it out. Of course, I acknowledged him gratefully in the front of the book.

So far, readers seem to find the changes I made very agreeable. Any of the rest of you who read the book are welcome to let me know what you think as well —  about the beginning, the short flashback, and the fight to save Quenton’s life — or just about the story in general.

The printed version of Quenton’s Honor is available from St. Ellen Press, and the digital version is available from Amazon’s Kindle Store. The publisher plans to make the print version available on Amazon this summer.

[Background globe photo by Prawny. Used by permission. Edited.]

~~~

The Birthing of a Hero

I wrote this piece last year as part of a 20-minute writing exercise. I thought it deserved to have a post as a short story.

WOMAN AT COMPUTER - w. man & cityThe Birthing of a Hero

Matthew couldn’t breathe. Well – no – that wasn’t right. He could breathe, but he felt as though he were being pushed through a very narrow tunnel, and it was squeezing the breath right out of him.

Whooooosh! Ah — now — now he could breathe normally again. But what had just happened? He looked around him.

“Holy cow! Where am I?” Surrounded by buildings taller than anything he could have imagined, with traffic rushing past him just to his left, he felt a little dizzy and disoriented. He shook his head to try to clear it, and that’s when he noticed the girl standing about four feet way from him.

“Hi.” she said, almost bashfully.

“Uh … hi yourself. Uh … do I know you?”

She giggled. “Not yet. But you will.”

“What does that mean?” He looked around in all directions as if trying to locate something. “And what on earth is that racket?”

“What racket?”

“That incessant tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.”

She tilted her head to listen better, and a moment later she answered. “Oh, that. I’ve learned to just close it out after all these weeks. It’s the sound of the keys on the keyboard.”

“What keyboard?”

“Melissa’s, silly. She’s the author.”

“What’s an author?”

“Oh, I forgot that you couldn’t know all that yet. It takes a while to figure things out once you get here, but I’ve been here so long that I’ve pretty well gotten acclimated to everything.”

Matthew tried clearing his head with a shake again. “Wait … what? … What are you talking about? What’s going on? Where am I anyway?”

The girl let out a huge sigh. “Okay. I’ll start from the beginning. Melissa Pendergast is an author, and she writes romance novels. She’s writing one now. I’m the heroine. My name’s Abigail, by the way,” she said, extending her hand to him.

He shook her hand but eyed her suspiciously. “And just what does that have to do with me?”

“Why you’re going to be the hero of the story.” She paused, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “And … the love of my life.”

“You’re crazy! I don’t even know you.”

Abigail sighed again. “Of course you don’t — yet. You just got here. Melissa has just now decided who you will be. Well, just a couple of days ago anyway. I heard her talking to her best friend, so I know what the plan is now. She decided to call you Matthew because her very first boyfriend – in sixth grade – was named Matthew, and she did it in honor of him.”

“Whoa — wait — start over, will you?”

Abigail began to get a little irritated. “I don’t need to start over. You just need to pay attention. Melissa is writing a love story and you are my lover. We are supposed to meet on the street right in front of that store over there on the corner. I’m supposed to get my heel caught in a grate at the edge of the curb, and you come to my rescue before a horde of people practically mow me down in their hurry to cross the street in the short time the light says ‘Walk.’

“So I’m in a book?”

“That’s right. And I understand it’s supposed to get a little steamy.” She smiled broadly now. “But I have to say that I’m not at all sorry. You’re quite a hunk, you know.”

“Well … thanks … but … I’m not sure I want to be in somebody’s book – even this Melissa’s.”

“Oh, don’t worry. She’s a great writer, and thousands of people love her books. We’ll be two of the most popular people in the world before too long. At least … I hope it’s before too long. She had a hard time sticking with this story. That’s why I’ve been around so long – waiting for you. She hit a block of some kind, but now everything seems like a go, and I can hardly wait.”

“So, when I felt like the breath was being squeezed out of me, that’s when I was being birthed into this story, so to speak?”

“That’s right. That’s exactly how it feels! But you’re okay now, aren’t you?”

Matthew looked himself over, took a nice deep breath, relieved that he could, and answered. “Yeah, I think I’m okay. But what do we do now?”

“Just relax for a few minutes. I think Melissa just finished the second chapter, and she’s about to have us meet. This is so exciting. I think I’m falling in love with you already.”

~

2014: THE YEAR OF THE AUTHOR — Part 2

BLACK TYPEWRITER - YEAR OF AUTHOR

PART 2:  GET IT OUT THERE!

In Article I of this series I mentioned that I am currently seeing the doors opening to one of the most exciting era’s of writing the world has known since the invention of the printing press. Those doors are opening primarily in the area of publication.

In this day, writers have so many avenues to choose from for the publication of their work. We are no longer constrained to grovel at the feel of the “big name” publishing companies, who periodically throw a bone out to one or two new writers, but who demand such absolute control of the work produced by those writers that the original creator of the work has very little – if any – say in how it is produced and marketed to his future readers. He also receives a mere pittance for his blood, sweat, and tears.

So many of those houses have genre molds that they use to produce their books, and no matter what an individual author is capable of writing, he is forced to make his work fit that mold: a specific number of pages, hero & heroine meeting within so many pages, a specific number of love scenes, action scenes, etc. Moreover, almost every one of the mainstream publishers has closed their doors to communicating with individual authors on a personal basis (unless those authors have already produced a couple NYT best-sellers for them). Authors must now hire agents to do the communicating for them – and to take part of the profits.

Now, for writers who have no problem with being pressed into molds, or with putting some of their hard-earned money into the agent’s pocket, that avenue is still a very viable option. But for those writers who believe their work is worthy of being produced at the length and in the format that they choose personally, and who don’t want to pay a third party to talk for them, there is an ever increasing number of options that are just waiting to be accessed.

For example, there are very small, independent publishers all over the world who can offer writers high quality products and help with marketing, but who often get overlooked in the rush to get to the big names. There are university presses that are also a good possibility – especially if your work is in any way academic in nature. And there are numerous channels for publishing your work yourself.

Author published books were once looked down on by the market place, but not any longer. In fact, one of the biggest markets in the world, Amazon.com, offers modern authors the tools with which to put their work into book format and the platform from which to sell it. Their CreateSpace program is growing by leaps and bounds, and offers both a free program as well as one that allows the author to pay moderate sums for publishing help. That program offers the opportunity to publish books in print.
Amazon also offers the Kindle Direct Publishing program that allows publication in digital format — again giving the authors a choice of using a free program or paying for editorial and production help.  E-books, in general, have become the most popular thing since ice cream, and there are numerous online programs — other than Amazon —  that allow authors to format their work into that highly-marketable form. A few of those are also free.

Amazon is not my favorite company in the world, but let’s face facts: it is the biggest marketplace. If the company is going to offer an author a chance to put his book into print (or digital format) and then offer to put it in the online store, what does any author have to lose?

I would suggest staying away from most of the vanity presses out there. If you’re not familiar with the term “vanity press,” I’m talking about those publishers who ask you to pay them to publish your book. I have more than one friend who has been badly burned by such companies. Now all of them are not a bad choice. But many of them are, so you want to be very careful. You want to be sure, first of all, that the price they charge is not going to force you to price your books so high (in order to recoup your money) that they won’t sell.

Also, vanity presses tend to take the money and give you a stack of books, but that’s where they stop. If they are not going to help you market the finished product, then you are better off to lay out your own material in the format you choose and simply pay an independent printer to print up however many copies you want to start with. If you think your work needs more editing first,  but  you can’t afford a professional editor yet, try hiring a college student who is majoring in English or journalism. They’re less expensive than professional editors, but generally quite knowledgeable, and usually very careful because they love composition.

Often, depending on what kind of look you want your books to have, you can even purchase very low-priced equipment that will allow you to produce your books entirely on your own, using a staple-stitch, a coil, or a plastic comb for the binding. Those bindings are becoming more and more popular. Since most of my books are put out by one of the smaller, independent publishers I referred to, I have final say in binding options for my books. I have chosen to have several of my soft-cover novels produced with plastic comb binding because the books then open flat and stay open – or can be folded back like a magazine – for much easier reading. They also hold together better than many of the cheaply produced “perfect-bound” paperbacks.

One other thought worth mentioning here is that collaboration can be a wonderful thing. If you find yourself just too timid to step out in the beginning — or if even the lesser expensive channels are just too much for your pocket book right now — you might consider combining your efforts with those of a fellow author or photographer. A combination of photographs and inspiring words that match them makes a pretty impressive book. Or a collection of short stories from the pen of two completely different kinds of writers offers readers a greater variety in one book than one writer alone can offer.

Now, obviously, once you have copies of your books in hand, you must think about marketing. If you choose a program like Amazon’s CreateSpace, it comes with a package deal that automatically markets the book via their own webstore. If you have your own copies printed, you will have to do the leg work contacting bookstores and other retailers. But that part is often great fun and can make you many new friends in the book world. Offer book-readings and signings in local libraries, local stores, community events, etc. Even an occasional ad in a newspaper is not super expensive and can pay off well.

I should mention that there is one publishing cost that is somewhat exorbitant (at least in my opinion). That is the cost of ISBN’s. In the U. S. we must order them in sets of at least 10, and that, along with matching bar codes, can get a little pricy. However, remember that ISBN’s are not mandatory – at least in the U. S. (Check your own nation’s laws on this one.) They are extremely helpful in marketing books, but many local bookstore owners prefer adding their own bar codes to the books from their own accounting system, and will often willingly offer your book as part of their stock without an ISBN. There are definite advantages to having the ISBN, of course, especially as it allows your books to be listed in a huge directory of books available to the general marketplace. However, author-publishing programs like CreateSpace, as well as a few others, can take care of supplying the ISBN’s for any books you create through them.

Another publishing avenue that has worked for some authors is to offer their work (whether short stories, essays, or novels broken up into chapters) to periodicals. Many a great novel has seen its first audience via the pages of a magazine or newspaper that offered the story one chapter at a time, and then went on to win itself a place on the best-seller lists. There are also multiple online magazines that offer stories/articles by free-lance writers, and like e-books, they are definitely here to stay.

What about copyright? Most people are not aware of this fact, but in the U.S. (Check your own nation’s laws) as soon as you complete a work, that work is considered under copyright to you. There is no need to send copies anywhere or pay any government office to file the work and send you a verification. The work is copyrighted, and it is your responsibility to post the copyright emblem and date with every published copy of that work.

Now, you can send your work into the copyright office and have it registered for a fee. When you do that, the office then has a record of the date they received it, and should you ever want to take someone to court for infringement of your copyright, the copyright office can supply documentation of your authorship from that date. However, there are other ways to document your authorship. For example, some authors mail themselves a copy of the manuscript so that it is postmarked with a certain date, and if unopened, that date stamped by the post office department is generally considered valid proof.

But the point here is that you do not have to “pay” for the copyright privileges for your work in the U. S. They are automatically guaranteed by the government upon the moment of completion of your work. One other point of note: In the U.S., there is a law requiring every author (or publisher) to send two copies of any work published in the U. S. to the Library of Congress. There is no charge for this action, but it is technically required by law and can result in a fine if the author does not comply with it.

Of course, the publishing ideas and suggestions presented here are just that: ideas and suggestions. You may have other ideas of your own that work just as well or better. The main purpose of this second article in the “Year of the Author” series is to get you started thinking about getting your work “out there” for people to read and enjoy.

If you prefer a mainstream publisher, by all means, contact them, but if you find yourself waiting for years — or wading through a pile of rejection letters — you might consider starting with one of the other publishing alternatives. (And by the way, just because some people say your book is not acceptable for publication doesn’t mean that it isn’t. Some of the most-loved and best-selling novels in the world were rejected multiple times before they ever found a place on the bookstore shelves.)

But whether you lean toward the big names in publishing houses or not, get rid of the stigma that used to be attached to author-published books. Many of the best-known authors in the world published their own work at one time or another. And many of the best-selling authors on the market today began by publishing their first books themselves. In fact, a few who are already published authors are now moving in the direction of publishing independently because of the greater control and greater profit that method offers.

For other information about the various open doors to publishing go online and type in a couple well-worded questions about the subject. One place that generally has a plethora of information is the Writer’s Digest website. That might be one of your best starting places.

Bottom line here: Get your work out into the hands of the public! I’m encouraging each and every one of you who knows you have something to say, through words or pictures or both, to share it with the rest of the world. Dig out that manuscript that has been collecting dust — or pull together several dozen of the stories/poems you’ve posted on your blog – or assemble a collection of your best photographs along with inspiring captions — or sit down and finish that novel you started two years ago – and get it out there!  Your readers are waiting!

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Part 3: “Power In Them There Words”

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2014: THE YEAR OF THE AUTHOR – Part 1

BLACK TYPEWRITER - YEAR OF AUTHOR

Hear Ye!  Hear Ye!  I am deliberately, and with significant forethought, declaring 2014 to be ‘The Year of the Author’!  Who am I to have the authority to make such a declaration???  Well, for starters, I am an author, and who better to declare that this is my year than I?  But I am not simply an author; I am also a writing teacher, an editor, a publisher, a journalist, a columnist, a poet, an essayist ….  One might say that I have worn all the various hats of the writing world at one time or another, and I am currently seeing the doors opening to one of the most exciting era’s of writing the world has known since the invention of the printing press.

Unfortunately, I am also seeing and talking with many writers who have been through an extremely discouraging year and who are about to lose their vision and the thrill of writing. This article, then is the first in a three-part inspirational series on writing and publishing that I hope will renew that vision and that thrill. I am not trying to cover all the bases or give a seriously academic lecture. Nor am I going to post long lists of sites to contact. You are very capable of going online and finding information for yourself. I am merely wanting to light a fire and create a beacon at the beginning of this magnificent year that lies ahead of us. I want to stir up the author in you to come forth and make his voice heard — loud and strong — this year!

PART 1: SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER

(This first article is a re-post of a portion of my writing curriculum Releasing the Creative Writer in You. I posted it on here about a year ago, but I hope it will stir you once again to move forward in your own writing.)

So you want to be a writer? Then DO IT!

Mystery author Agatha Christie once said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement.

You know, you don’t have to live a weird life — or even a particularly exciting life — to be a great author. In fact you can live a very ordinary, chicken-frying, auto-repairing, laundry-washing, diaper-changing kind of life and still write books that will lift people out of the ordinary and into a place where imaginations rise to peak places, where new dreams are ignited, and where hope and faith bring victory into life’s struggles.

So pick up that pen, sit down to that computer keyboard, or start dictating into that recorder — whatever method works for you.  If you’re sure you want to write, START WRITING.

Now that you’ve started, you come to your next decision. Do you want to be an “occasional writer” – sharing an idea or a complaint only now and then – when the mood strikes you? Or do you want to be a “serious writer” – making writing one of your primary goals in life and, therefore, at the top of your list of priorities.? If your answer is the first option, then you are free to write or not, depending on how you feel on any particular day. However, even in that situation, the more you write, the better you will be at it when you feel it counts.

But if you are serious about writing – if you feel it is a necessary part of your feeling successful in your life – then you must live by a different law: You must commit to writing on a regular basis and stick with the program, regardless of how you feel on any particular day – or how anyone else feels about your work.

Unfortunately, this decision to be a serious writer must be made anew every few days. The “new” wears off after a while. The excitement turns to frustration after several days of reaching for just the write words and falling short time after time. The bright ideas seem to fade a little when the family and friends don’t find your first chapter exciting enough to want to listen to you talk about it for three hours non-stop. But if you really do want to write, you must make yourself write faithfully and regularly, regardless of the struggles involved. If you sit at your keyboard three hours and type onto the screen only one sentence worth keeping, you have accomplished writing a sentence that never existed before.

And therein lies the intrinsic value of writing. Everyone who writes becomes a creator. Once you have written an original piece – no matter how small or how large – you have created something that never before existed!  That fact is not dependent upon whether anyone else reads it.  Or whether anyone else likes it if they do read it. The proof of your creativity does not rest in your work’s boasting a publisher’s imprint or finding a place on a bookstore shelf.  Get this straight: once you have written an original piece, you have created an entity that never before existed. I repeat that point because it is a powerful reality that very few writers recognize.

And another related fact that many unpublished writers seem to miss is that once you have created a written product, you are a writer. You’re not “going to be” a writer. You’re not a “would-be” writer. You’re not an “aspiring” writer. You are a writer. You are an author. You are a creator. When you do recognize these two truth, they will empower you to keep creating and to create even more effectively.

Also, once you recognize them, you will come to realize a third truth that is just as important: As a writer, you have a heavy responsibility to your readers. From the moment an individual picks up your work and reads the first sentence, you begin to influence that person – for good or evil. And the more of your work people read, the greater your influence grows.

So it is important to remember that, although you may feel you are writing for yourself, if you intend to allow your work to be read by anyone else at all, you are responsible for what that work does to influence that reader. There is a passage in the Bible, Luke 12:48, that says, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”

Although the statement is found within the pages of Scripture, it is a truth outside of those pages as well. One does not have to be of the Christian faith to recognize the validity of the point being made. In accordance with that law of life, when we are endowed with the powerful gifts and talents that allow us to create through the written word, we then become accountable for what we do with that word.*

We’ll talk just a little more about that point later, but for now, let’s turn to Part II of this series — “Get It Out There!” — coming up in my next post.

~~~
*(Releasing the Creative Writer in You © 2013 Sandra Conner)

~~~

You Say You Want To Be A Writer?

CARTOON WRITER CLOTHED - editedYou say you want to be a writer? Then START WRITING!

Mystery author Agatha Christie once said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement.

You know, you don’t have to live a weird life — or even a particularly exciting life — to be a great author. In fact you can live a very ordinary, chicken-frying, auto-repairing, laundry-washing, diaper-changing kind of life and still write books that will lift people out of the ordinary and into a place where imaginations rise to peak places, where new dreams are ignited, and where hope and faith bring victory into life’s struggles.

So pick up that pen, sit down to that keyboard, or start dictating into that recorder — whatever method works for you.  If you’re sure you want to write, START WRITING. 

 

BLACK TYPEWRITER - sepia regular sizeNow that you’ve started, you come to your next decision. Do you want to be an “occasional writer” – sharing an idea or a complaint only now and then – when the mood strikes you? Or do you want to be a “serious writer” – making writing one of your primary goals in life and, therefore, at the top of your list of priorities.? If your answer is the first option, then you are free to write or not, depending on how you feel on any particular day. However, even in that situation, the more you write, the better you will be at it when you feel it counts.

But if you are serious about writing – if you feel it is a necessary part of your feeling successful in your life – then you must live by a different law: You must commit to writing on a regular basis and stick with the program, regardless of how you feel on any particular day – or how anyone else feels about your work.

Unfortunately, this decision to be a serious writer must be made anew every few days. The “new” wears off after a while. The excitement turns to frustration after several days of reaching for just the write words and falling short time after time. The bright ideas seem to fade a little when the family and friends don’t find your first chapter exciting enough to want to listen to you talk about it for three hours non-stop. But if you really do want to write, you must make yourself write faithfully and regularly, regardless of the struggles involved. If you sit at your keyboard three hours and type onto the screen only one sentence worth keeping, you have accomplished writing a sentence that never existed before.

And therein lies the intrinsic value of writing. Everyone who writes becomes a creator. Once you have written an original piece – no matter how small or how large – you have created something that never before existed! And it does not matter if anyone else reads it. It does not matter if anyone else likes it. It does not matter whether it ever sees a publisher’s imprint or a bookstore shelf. The fact remains that you have created an entity that never before existed. I repeat that point because it is a powerful reality that very few writers recognize.

And another related fact – one that many unpublished writers in particular seem to miss — is that once you have created a written product, you are a writer. You’re not “going to be” a writer. You’re not a “would-be” writer. You’re not an “aspiring” writer. You are a writer. You are an author. You are a creator. When you do recognize these two truth, they will empower you to keep creating and to create even more effectively.

Author Jules Renard said, “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” Well, I’m not sure that’s entirely true. When I was earning no money, I had a significant number of people tell me that I should put my writing aside and apply myself more diligently to “real work.” That being said, I would have to come into agreement with Mr. Renard to some extent anyway, because for the writer who feels the desire strongly enough, it really is not about money at all. It is about pouring out the rich treasure that is inside, just waiting for its release. If you truly are a writer, you must write – for yourself.

But to return to my main point, once you have realized that you are a writer and that you have created something that had no existence before your efforts, you will then come to realize a third truth that is just as important: As a writer, you have a heavy responsibility to your readers. From the moment an individual picks up your work and reads the first sentence, you begin to influence that person – for good or evil. And the more of your work people read, the greater your influence grows.

So it is important to remember that, although you may feel you are writing for yourself, if you intend to allow your work to be read by anyone else at all, you are responsible for what that work does to influence that reader. There is a passage in the Bible, Luke 12:48, that says, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”

Although the statement is found within the pages of Scripture, it is a truth outside of those pages as well. One does not have to be of the Christian faith to recognize the validity of the point being made. In accordance with that law of life, when we are endowed with the powerful gifts and talents that allow us to create through the written word, we then become accountable for what we do with that word.

QUILL & SCROLL - sepiaAs long ago as 1839, English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton stated this truth most succinctly when he wrote, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Centuries prior to that date, Martin Luther proved the truth of that statement when his words shook a corrupt religious system to its very roots – as did Thomas Paine in his endeavors to move men in the “New World” to fight for their freedom. By the use of the pen (or keyboard) nations can be established, but societies can be destroyed just as easily. Personal lives can be blessed and lifted to a new level, or they can be pulled down into sordidness and filth – depending on what flows from the point of that pen.

A poem I wrote not long ago echos this truth as well:

Weapons

One man may wield with ease a sharp-honed sword,
And drawing blood, strike death with that long knife.
Another for his weapon chooses words,
Yet with dead aim, he too destroys a life.

‘Twould seem that power resides in reservoirs
And can be drawn and used for peace or strife.
Ah, yes, and ’tis the Master Wordsmith’s Word
That teaches in our words is death and life. *

Powerful? Yes. Exciting? Indeed. Scary? You bet. Because with so much power comes an equal amount of responsibility. We must never lose sight of the fact that words really do create — for good or evil. And words move people — to good or evil.

But isn’t it a great joy to know that the power works both ways? As writers, we have the opportunity to build lives – to bring encouragement, hope, revelation, and even laughter. Allow me to quote from one more passage of scripture. The book of Proverbs, chapter 17, verse 22, says, “A joyful heart is good medicine.” And in the last century, medical science told us that scientific tests had proven that laughter really does change the physical condition of the body in a positive way. Yes, even writing something that makes another person laugh can change a life.

If you want to be a writer, you are aspiring to a high calling. Go for it, always remembering to use your power wisely.

And as you pick up that pen or set your hands on that keyboard, you can count on two things coming your way for sure:

# 1 — Frustrating, taxing, aggravating challenges.

# 2 – The exhilarating, elevating, life-renewing joy of having created something out of yourself that never before existed. There is no other experience like it in the world!

HANDS AT KEYBOARD - SEPIA

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*Scripture reference: Proverbs 18:21

This article is an excerpt from the curriculum Releasing the Creative Writer in You, © 2013 by Sandra Conner.

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So You Want To Be A Writer, Huh???

So you want to be a writer, huh? Then DO IT!

Mystery author Agatha Christie once said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement.

You know, you don’t have to live a weird life — or even a particularly exciting life — to be a great author. In fact you can live a very ordinary, chicken-frying, auto-repairing, laundry-washing, diaper-changing kind of life and still write books that will lift people OUT OF the ordinary and into a place where imaginations rise to peak places, where new dreams are ignited, and where hope and faith bring victory into life’s struggles.

So pick up that pen, sit down to that computer keyboard, or start dictating into that recorder — whatever method works for you.  If you’re sure you WANT to write, START WRITING.  Your life will never be the same.



The Writer Writes

by Sandra Conner


I think I’ll write a poem …
Type, type, type …
Words, words, words …

‘Twill have to be a story …
Type, type, type …
Words, words, words …

No … I guess a novel …
Type, type, type …
Words, words, words …

A saga will be better …
Type, type, type …
Words, words, words…

A trilogy is called for …
Type, type, type …
Words, words, words …

My editor now reads it …
Delete, delete, delete …
Delete, delete, delete …

I have a two-line stanza.

In Memoriam: Dora Saint

My world is sad right now: I learned this week that one of my favorite authors passed away very recently.  Dora Saint (better known by her pen name Miss Read) was a prolific writer of novels, as well as magazine articles and British television programs. But it was her novels that endeared her to me.  They were truly some of the most uplifting, comforting, life-appreciating novels I have ever read.  I have read most of them over and over again — and in fact am in the middle of one right now.

I’m always saddened when someone with such a powerful gift and talent from God departs this earth and leaves us a little poorer. But she wrote scores and scores of books in her 90+ years, and her gift to the world is still very much alive.

I post this memorial in honor of Dora Saint, in gratitude for her legacy, and for the joy she has given and continues to give.  I only hope that I can at least come close to being as influential and life-affirming for my readers as she has been for me and for the tens of thousands of other readers who have loved her dearly.

Can Anyone Help Me Find ‘Miss Read’?

I have just conceived this “brilliant” idea  which I hope will help me conclude a search that has been going on intermittently for the past couple of years.  But it’s only now that I have found some “friends,” via the blogging community, who, because they live in England, just might be able to help me.  I have exhausted all the resources I can find, but to no avail.

I am looking for Miss Read (actually Dora Jesse Saint) the English author of  scores of the most delightful novels I have had the privilege of reading.  Although she has written of other things, her most popular works — and my favorites — are her lighthearted renderings of the everyday life of people in the fictional English villages of  “Fairacre” and “Thrush Green.”  For those who are unacquainted with her work, I might say that you could liken their tenor and quality to the stories of The Andy Griffith Show in the United States, with their unobtrusive, kind-hearted, home-made comfort for the soul.

When I am stressed, troubled, down-hearted, or just in the mood for a quiet, relaxing evening, I pick up a Miss Read book, prop my feet up, and live happily ever after — at least for a while. I have read most of these books at least three times each, and some a few more.  But for some reason, I never tire of them.

Knowing Dora Saint was born in 1913, I guess I had just assumed she was no longer with us. However, only recently I discovered that she is evidently still very much with us and is currently living in a hamlet near Newbury in Berkshire.  But there is no contact information for her online anywhere that I can find, and my experience in the past with trying to go through publishers to pass on information to authors has proven useless.

I would very much like to just send her a message to say how much joy and refreshing her books have given me.  I’m sure, with all the praise she has had from more worthy sources throughout her career, my words would seem small.  Nevertheless, as an author myself, who is always thrilled to know my work blesses anyone, I believe that she would appreciate hearing that ‘thanks’ from even one more person. And I feel it’s important for me to tell her.

If I knew she lived in a small town in the U. S., I would simply call the local post office, tell them I was sending a letter to her in that city, and ask if they would be so kind as to make sure it gets delivered to the correct house.  Post offices have done that in the past.  But I have no idea how the postal service works in England — or what other means of communication might be available in a Berkshire hamlet. So I’m calling on any of my English “friends,” whom I have recently met through WordPress,  for help: if the names of these communities are familiar to you, and/or  you can add to the information I have concerning where Miss Read lives and how I might mail, e-mail, or fax a message to her personally, I would appreciate the input very much.

Also, I do know that her husband (now deceased) was named Douglas.  They had one child, a daughter named Jill. Perhaps even that information could be of help to someone who understands how to obtain contact information in England better than I do.

What a treat it is to be able to communicate with people from all over the world through the technology available today.  I am blessed to have that opportunity, and to live in what really is “a small world after all.”

Thank you for any help you can offer.  It is really a “long shot,” as we say in the States, but for me it is important enough to at least try this avenue!