Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Writer - Good Enough?


In recent days there have been announcements made commending writers in the Christian world of publishing. Lists of finalists have been posted for several writing contests. Congratulations to all! Undoubtedly you worked hard to hone your craft and polish your stories. Thank you for honoring God through your gift of writing.

While I cheer on my colleagues, I am certain there are some writers who entered   who were not recognized and now feel discouraged. You may even wonder if you're "good enough" to call yourself a writer, good enough to achieve your dreams, good enough to fulfill God's purpose. I feel your unsteadiness, your vulnerability. After all, I'm a writer too.

Whether or not your book made the final cut in one of the recent contests or not doesn't define who you are as a person or as a writer. You worked hard. You took a risk. You followed your dream. All of which are highly commendable qualities. Do not forget that among the books submitted, winners or not, there are many unique and spectacular stories. 

Being recognized as one of the "best" books of the year has so much to do with God and His purposes ... not ours. He chooses whom he will lift up. We can trust His judgment and His perfect timing. 

I'm sixty-four years old and have been reading for most of my life. Very few of the books I digested were award winning, but I loved them anyway. I am grateful to the writers who spent hours creating and crafting stories for people like me. I've been entertained, encouraged, and inspired. 

Thank you! 

If you are called to write, please push through the insecurities, the long hours, and the agony of creating and keep at it. Without your brilliant stories my life would be less bright. I'm grateful for your sacrifice.

As friends, colleagues, and word-crafters pray for one another and continue to follow your passion.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie






Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Writer's Life - God's Best




When I first started creating stories it was just a hobby. I never dreamed it would be anything more. But after being side-lined by an auto accident, God gave me a new vision, a new way to serve Him through the gift of writing. Though I didn’t fully understand what I was saying yes to, I was committed to the call. God threw open every door, and it was clear that writing novels was part of His plan for me. I vowed to remain faithful until He led me elsewhere.

I often hear writers speak about weariness of spirit. The job of writing (which is huge) along with discouragement and the general difficulties of living can wring the energy and joy from their lives. Writers work hard. Not only do we create stories, but there can be mountains of research to do before we can even begin. And the editing process can feel endless. Plus there’s marketing, which begins long before we’ve completed a book. It eats up huge chunks of our time.

Often, what is required is more difficult than we’d imagined. I’ve heard writers voice thoughts of walking away. I’ve been there myself a time or two. Each time the Holy Spirit calls me back, reminding me of what God asked me to do and of the vow I made to Him. Ultimately my spirit is refreshed and I continue this unpredictable adventure ... for now ... until I am called elsewhere.

God has a purpose in choosing the paths He places us on. We each have a journey and commission chosen by Him. If we walk away we lose something precious—God’s Best.

 When we set out on this writing quest did we really believe it would be easy? If you’re new to the world of writing get ready to be surprised by its joys and its sorrows. And if you’ve been traveling this road for a while, I pray you’ll hold fast to the dream, remembering God has a bigger picture in mind—it’s not about sales numbers, awards won or achieving fame. It’s about doing what we love and doing it with intention. It can be grueling, but it’s also full of fun, discovery and remarkable people. I know no greater sense of accomplishment than writing “The End” when I’ve completed a novel.

Expect rough patches, dry places where we thirst and valleys so dark we fear passing through them. Tribulations can throw us off track, but there is always a way back. Reach out to God. He will set us back on our feet.

I’m grateful that I get to write. Despite poor wages and long hours, it’s fantastic fun to create characters and leap into their stories. And what a blessing it is to do something with my life that makes a positive difference in the world. I’ve received many letters thanking me and my characters for being an encouragement or helping someone find their way, even some who discover Jesus for the first time.

When we find ourselves worn out or uncertain remember God is our Father.  Seek Him. Talk with Him. Rest in Him. Lay your troubles, your disillusionment, your fatigue and sorrow at His feet. He will reach out with love, mercy and wisdom. His strength will lift us up and once again help us see the path laid out for us and know the joy of serving others.

Sometimes we need rest. Don’t push forward when God says stop. Resting is not deserting our call. It is good to be a wise steward of the gifts given. If we keep going when God says stop, we’re working in our own strength not His, which is no strength at all.

Turn your hearts toward Christ and find joy in service. Remember that as writers we have the privilege of glorifying God through our gift of writing. No matter how difficult it may seem don’t miss God’s best.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Friday, April 08, 2016

The Writer - Have We Arrived?


I've been having fun mentoring this month. I've met new writers and I've been learning ... yes ... learning ... from them.

Open minds provide space for growth. A young writer I met this week provided a special opportunity for me.

While going through her synopsis and first chapter I came across a point of view (POV) I'm not familiar with - First Person Present. Though the writing was good the POV felt awkward to me. I spent a bit of time maneuvering the POV into First Person, then sent it back to the writer with suggestions. Courageously she asked me about the POV change and pointed out that teen books often use this POV.

Hmm. I decided to check it out and did some research. I also asked some of my writing friends what they knew about it. I discovered that First Person Present is often used in teen books. I was also told it is difficult to do well. I doubt I could master it. I went back to the manuscript and looked at it with new eyes, accepting the POV. The beauty and power of the writing emerged.

Learning never ends. We never arrive.

How amazing are our minds and our hearts. They can be fertile soil if we embrace changes and creativity ... cultivate growth. We can continue to improve, but first we need to be brave and put aside our pride. There is so much wonder waiting for us. We need to go after it.

Growing and learning makes life more fun. I can't wait to see what's in store for me today. How about you? Have you learned something new this week?

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Monday, April 04, 2016

A Day of Rejoicing










Today is a day of rejoicing!











Matthew 10:29-31

"But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid, you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows." 

Don't you love these verses? God is so good all the time. He sees us, everyone. Even when we are invisible to the world, we are never invisible to The Father.

A friend sent me a note of encouragement today and reminded me of these verses. How precious are the words of the Lord. They uplift me. They remind me of who He is. They make me strong.

We have had a couple of really awful years (so many challenges), but today, is a day to rejoice. 

My grandson was badly injured in an ATV accident two years ago.


Day of Ezra's First Surgery
Recovering 



Two years later, riding bikes with his Mom.

He is struggling with a traumatic brain injury and when he moved to Central Oregon his nightmare intensified. The kids in the new school just didn't get it ... and it appeared they didn't want to. Ezra suffered from indifference and brutality. It was a grueling year.

Today is different. Ezra has come home to Glide where he is known and loved. And the kids and teachers at school let him know how glad they are to have him back, that they love him, care about him, and will support him. Bless you Glide!

God never took His eyes off Ezra and He never will. 

God loves His children. He cares about us and for us. We can count on Him. Even on the darkest day we are never alone. He is the one who gives us courage and hope ... and a new day.

I have no idea what Ezra's future holds, but I am certain God does and He has already laid down the foundations for the rest of his life, just as He has for our lives.

Praise you Lord.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie Leon

Monday, March 21, 2016

A WRITERS LIFE





Where the Rubber Meets the Road.

Just a quick note. The developmental edits for In the Land of White Nights dropped into my email box today. This is a 100,000 word book and I have only ten days to complete the changes and get the manuscript back to my editor. 

Time to work.

If I don't get back here before March 31st please know I am not ignoring you. I will return ... and if all goes well it will be soon. But I have to work now. There is a deadline that cannot be breached. And I have to do whatever it takes to complete the work, to do my job. That means my manuscript and the contract between myself and my editor takes priority. 

That's how it is, when you're a writer. 

See you all soon.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Monday, March 14, 2016

A WRITER'S LIFE - The Dreaded Synopsis


A synopsis. What is a synopsis?

I've heard more groans from writers about creating synopsis than any other topic. And today I received a request to help a fellow writer with a synopsis, so I'll do my best.

Bad news first. If you're going to write you can't avoid creating synopsis. They are mandatory. 

Why mandatory?

  • It is a tool, a succinct guide to help authors nail down a story. 
  • Helpful reference tool as we work.
  • Agents and publishers require a synopsis to provide a quick glimpse at the main components of a story.
  • Reveals weaknesses and strengths of a story line.
I like writing a synopsis. The process helps me find the heart of the tale I want to tell. Often when I set out I feel lost, but by the time I complete a synopsis I am anchored. I know why I'm writing the story, where it begins, where it's going and why. I cannot create a book until I've got a synopsis completed. It is like a photograph of my tale and without it I don't possess the nuggets of truth and texture of the story I hope to create.

Sometimes all I need is one page, but my personal synopsis can be as long a ten or fifteen pages (double spaced). It depends on the project and how complicated it is. When a publisher or agent requests a synopsis they will have a required page length - generally 2 - 5 pages. Make sure to follow their guidelines.

So, what is a synopsis? It is a compressed version of your story. Think about what you'd say if you only had a couple of minutes to explain what your book is about. What would you say? That's what you need to do when creating a synopsis, only with a bit of flair. 

Everyone has their own style and expectations about what a synopsis should look like. Here's what I hope to find when I sit down and read a synopsis. 
  • Begin at the beginning with a strong opening. Make sure to include your precipitating event (what launches the story) and the place of no return. On occasion, there are exceptions to this. For the first time in all my years of writing I've included backstory in the opening of my synopsis and got a thumbs up from my agent.  :-)
  • Include your main characters soon, and when first introducing them write their names in capital letters.
  • Don't skip the middle of your tale. Include major plot twists and turns. 
  • Write in third person, active voice.
  • Avoid cliche ideas and cliche catch phrases.
  • DO NOT leave an editor or agent guessing about the end of the story. They need to know so make sure to include the resolution.
  • Every story has a core, make sure it's clearly revealed.
  • Flair. I've read many synopsis that sound like a grocery list of story ideas. This is a turn off for me. I encourage you to create a flowing expose that reveals who your characters are, unveils the story and introduces your special writing style and voice. Make it sing.
  • Sell the story. Write in such a way that the reader will fall in love with this tale and can't wait read more. 
Keep in mind that a synopsis may be your only opportunity to introduce your story to an editor or agent. It's got to be your very best writing. (no pressure here)

Okay, that's some of the basics. I'm sure you have questions, so fire away. I'll do my best to answer them. And I'm sure I've missed some important points so please don't hesitate to share.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie


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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Hanging On




While spending time with the Lord this morning I went to my devotional Jesus Calling. As I read I broke into tears. Here is what it said.

Save your best striving for seeking my face. I am constantly communicating with you. To find Me and hear My voice, you must seek Me above all else. Anything that you desire more than Me becomes an idol. When you are determined to get your own way, you blot Me out of your consciousness. Instead of single-mindedly pursuing some goal, talk with Me about it. Let the light of My presence shine on this pursuit so that you can see it from My perspective. If the goal fits into My plan for you, I will help you reach it. If it is contrary to My will for you, I will gradually change the desire of your heart. Seek Me first and foremost; then the rest of your life will fall into place, piece by piece. 


I'm sure the tears came because the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart. I went on to read the suggested scriptures and want to share one of them.

Psalm 37:23 - 24 says this, "The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. 

I'm overwhelmed by this kind of love. The God of the universe delights in every detail of my life. How can that be? I am forever stumbling and falling short. I let people down. I let myself down. And I let the Lord down. And yet scripture is clear - He loves me anyway. And He hangs on to me, saving me from myself.

So often I feel as if I'm striving for goals that I have set forth, not God. And when I recognize this I feel like a failure and a poor disciple. Do you ever feel like that?

We can be encouraged and confident because God will direct us, in spite of our own desires. He will change our heart and we can trust Him ... always, to show us the best way.

So, dear friends. Take heart. Seek God first. He will care for you.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

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