Friday, August 31, 2012

Relationships -- An Ordinary Evening?

I spent Tuesday and Thursday evenings with my mother. We got together specifically to watch the Republican Convention. I'm very much into politics. I know it's not for everyone, but I'm hooked. My mother isn't passionate it, but she cares about her country and who our leaders are so she tries to stay informed.

Throughout the two evenings, while we listened to guests and speakers we laughed, cried and cheered for them, for hope and for our country. We both voiced a wish to actually be present at the convention, thinking about how amazing that would be.

While we have much in common politically that common bond is not what our time spent together was all about. No--it had everything to do with our mutual love of country, our spirit of hope and a desire to see our country take a fresh breath of life.

When it was time for me to leave. Mom said, "I loved sharing this with you." Her eyes shimmered with tears and the light of promise and love lit her face.

We expected politics and fun, but we were given so much more. Together we were lifted up. We were given hope for a better future. And we were reminded of our shared values. We have a long history together--eighty-seven years. I don't remember the beginning, but my mother does. And to still feel that exceptional bond after all these years is a precious gift.

These two nights will be filed away in my memory bank where they will whisper to me from the past and make me smile. Find something to share with the ones you love. The choice of activity may not seem special, but you never know what you may discover in the ordinary.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, August 27, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- Light in the Darkness

Yesterday was Sunday and as on most Sundays I was in church. Much of the sermon was about God's healing hand. He heals hearts, minds and bodies. At the end of the service those who needed prayer were encouraged to go forward so they could be prayed for.

Oh, how I longed for healing.

There was a line so I remained in my seat. With tears in his eyes, my dear son-in-law held out his hand to me. Then he led me up front.

Oh, how I longed for healing.

I'm weary of the prison of my wounded body. While I waited I prayed. A nice gentleman anointed me with oil, laid his hands on me and together we sought God's healing. I knew He could heal me. But yesterday was not the day.

I was disappointed but not disillusioned. God is good all the time. He works in me and through me, even though I am physically weak. But . . .

Oh, how I longed for healing.

I hoped yesterday would be the day. And I admit I'm a little sad today. But God is good all the time and when I turned to my devotions this morning He had a treasure waiting for me. I found this in reference to an imprisoned apostle Paul. What precious messages of light came from the dark shadows of his captivity.

Thank you, Lord, for these precious words. I am reminded once more that there is beauty in suffering. With your hand upon me you have carried me through the years. You continue to work in me and through me. I trust you.

I will continue to seek God's healing touch, but above all I long for His will.

If you are suffering, He knows. Trust Him to bring light into the dark places.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Books & Writing: Exciting Announcement!

Book three in the Alaskan Skies series, TOUCHING THE CLOUDS is FREE 
on Kindle, Nook and other ebooks!

If Alaska fascinates you, you'll love this story of Kate, a female bush pilot, forging a new 
life in the Alaskan wilderness of the 1930's.

Happy Reading,


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Books & Writing: Creating Characters

How are you doing with your characters? Are they becoming real to you? I hope so. I'd love to hear about some of these interesting people who are coming to life.

Something you might like to think about while developing the people who live in your books is . . .

Character Traits

I've listed some traits. As you go through them, ask yourself which traits your character has. It may be more than one. Remember to think about what the motivations are for the traits.

• Image Trait
This person is someone who wants to put forth a certain image to others. It is often not who they are. At least not completely. Often this characater is obvious to spot because who they want to be is exaggerated. Generally, they are not authentic. 

They may not realize who he/she really is. Writing the scene where they discover the truth is a lot of fun. This truth will evolve and come to light at the end of a story. What is even more fun is when the reader doesn't know who the person really is and it comes as a surprise at the end of a tale. 

• Human Trait
A character who is late all the time, or clumsy, or overweight, or has some other weakness they struggle with. They may be viewed as mentally slow or irritating. In my Matanuska series I have such a character. Her name is Miriam Dexter. She was especially fun to create. Miriam suffers from chronic allergies, so she's sniffling and snorting and using a handkerchief a lot. She also has a funny habit of pushing up her glasses by using her cheek. I know someone who does this--they gave me the idea. 

Miriam can be irritating, but she’s also an endearing character because she's a sweet woman with a good heart. 

Generally a human trait character will draw a chuckle from readers and helps to lighten a dark story or ease tension within a scene. 

• Self Discovery Trait 
This is a character who makes discoveries about him/herself. He wants to know the truth, even the ugly truth. This person is often introspective.

• Mistaken Idea Trait
This person holds a wrong belief at the beginning of a story, but discovers the truth by the end of the book. Anna, in my first book The Journey of Eleven Moons is a good example. Throughout the story she discovered the truth about many things, but the biggest misconception she had was that the white man's God was cruel and unfair. The truth is gradually revealed to her and by the final pages she gets it.

• Wrong Attitude Trait 
Is generally an embittered person. They can be a sympathetic character because he/she understands what it means to live a life of pain or challenges. He may have lived through hardship and is unwilling to release the resentment accumulated. Sometimes this character discovers the truth too late to change.

• Flawed Character Trait
This is the guy everyone loves to hate--the bad guy. Even bad guys aren't all bad (not usually anyway) so find a way to balance him by giving him some redeeming qualities or a reason why he behaves the way he does. 

And if you want to satisfy your readers, he needs to get what's coming to him. There was a really bad man in my second book, In the Land of White Nights, named Jarvis. I had so much fun writing the "he gets what he deserves" chapter.

• Supernatural Trait:
A good example of this trait would be Yoda from the movie Star Wars. He was never changing and even continued on after death. This type of character isn't found only in fantasies or science fiction. There are lots of people in our lives who are special and I don't mean weird. This character should have special gifts or insights, whether he uses them or not.

Have fun writing. 

Grace and peace to you,


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Relationshps -- Don't Wait For A Funeral

Today, I've been thinking a lot about
relationships . . . actually I've been thinking on this for several days. I'm out of touch with my friends.

And I miss them.

I don't know when it happened, but I know it was a gradual process that was speeded up by the additional injury to my back two years ago. I spent most days at home, and I had to step out of church ministry, which created more distance. When I was young, my girl friends and I used to hang out a lot--we'd go shopping, to movies, work out, go to the park. We liked to be together.

Bit by bit, the shopping fell away . . . then the movies . . . coffee out . . . . until it became just Sunday morning hello's and Bible Study.

I'm in a new church now and I'm just beginning to meet people. I don't see my "old" friends at all. I stay in touch with family and old, old friends, my writing buddies and readers, but I can't remember the last time I got together face to face with anyone outside of family.Most of my contacts are on Facebook. That's sad. I'm sad.

I miss my friends.

When I die (I know that sounds morose, but let's face it none of us gets out of here alive) my friends will show up at my funeral. They'll  have nice things to say about me. And those who don't will be silent. When I lose people I love I'll go to their services to say farewell and I'll wish I'd spent time with them while I could.

I don't want to wait until my friends are gone, and I don't want them to wait for my exit either. It's time to do something about the distance between me and the people I care about. I'm going on a campaign to make time. I'm going to rediscover my social side. It will be a challenge . . . I'm out of practice and my back is non-cooperative. But I'm determined.

How about you? We may not have more tomorrows. Make time today, even if it's just a phone call or a card. Stay in touch. Love on someone and have some fun.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, August 10, 2012

Books & Writing: Creating Characters

Before I plunge into the next step of creating characters I need to crow a bit. 

Joy Takes Flight received a starred review from Libary Journal. Woo Hoo!

Okay. Got that out of my system.  : )  Now on to creating characters. By this time you probably have a pretty good idea of who your characters are so creating tags for them should be fun.

External tags.
Tags are characteristics that distinguish one person from another. They will help readers recognize the characters. They can be positive or negative. 

You definitely need these for your primary characters. The more deeply involved a character is in the telling of your story the more important are the tags. Those who come on stage and then leave . . . well only you can decide if they need a tag.

Types of tags

A name can be descriptive. In Steinbeck'sbook, The Wayward Bus there is a character called Pimples. It provides a good picture of a teen boy. We immediately get a visual when the name is used. 

Just a word about names. Be careful to use names that fit the time period and the place where your story unfolds.

Action/body movement. 
People don't hold still. They do things like drum their finger tips on a table or crack their knuckles, twirl their hair or chew their fingernails. Think about who your character is and make their little idiosyncrasies appropriate to the individual.

A person’s tone of voice, or the way they deliver their words should be distinctive. They may speak with a drawl or toss out words like rapid fire. Or speak without thought and always seem to say the wrong thing. My mother hums. Everyone knows she does it. One time she was in a public restroom at an antique show and went in to use the restroom. Another seller who knew her well walked into the restroom and my mother was humming while sitting on the toilet. The newcomer said, "Hi Elsa." She didn't need to see my mother to know it was her.  : )

A character's occupation can be a tag. Make sure it works with the plot of
your book. 
You also want to consider a person’s age, education, religious background, and
where they were raised. Again, make sure the background fits in with the plot.

The way a character looks or smells would be sensory. An example would be a man who wears a spicy, heavy cologne that arrives before he does. You'll always know who he is even before he comes on scene. Using my mother as an example once more--she wears White Shoulders perfume and if I were designing a character after her that character would use White Shoulders. You can know who the character is simply by this type of identifier. 

The way a character thinks can be a tag. It can be demonstrated through dialogue or the things they do or the way they react to circumstances. An example that comes to mind is my own home town. When my husband and I moved here more than thirty years ago, there were to primary groups of people--rednecks and hippies. There was a distinctive difference in the way they spoke and what they talked about. What they did for fun. How they dressed. Their views on life. Just close your eyes and picture the two types of people standing side by side--the differences are stark. A caution here, however. When using something like this be careful not to become cliched in a character's development. Be creative.

If you do a good job of using tags a reader should be able to identify who is speaking without you, the writer, having to tell them who it is.

Have fun!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- It's All About Love

This morning when I settled down to write my blog, I thought I knew what I wanted to say. I even had it written out. But God said, "No. That's for another day. Today I want you to talk about love." So here's what's on my heart.

I've watched people I love tear one another down. They've come to the brink of no return and yet, they persevere in their selfish need to be "right".

And they're not the only ones.


I'm just as guilty as the next guy. I've hurt people I love . . . on purpose. When I stand before the Lord I will see all the snipes and back talk, the slander, unforgiveness, impatience, rudeness and the demands for my own way. And I will be thankful for God's perfect love.

1 Corinthians 13 has a lot to say about love. Today, I'm including it here. Please read . . . slowly. Consider each word. Are you loving others? Let's see.

"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge and if I had such faith that I could move mountains but didn't love others I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wrong. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses  faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever. Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture. But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever--faith, hope and love--and the greatest of these is love."

God's measuring stick is not the same as the world's. Surrounded by less than Godly standards, it's easy to forget what love really looks like.

  • Love is patient.
  • Love is kind.
  • Love is not jealous.
  • Love does not boast.
  • Love is not proud.
  • Love is not rude.
  • Love does not demand its own way.
  • Love is not irritable.
  • Love keeps no record of wrong.
  • Love does not rejoice over about injustice.
  • Love rejoices when truth wins out.
  • Love never gives up.
  • Love never loses faith.
  • Love is always hopeful.
  • Love endures.

I don't know how you're doing, but I need improvement.

Remember -- The greastest of these is LOVE. Let's get to it.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Books & Writing -- Creating Characters

I've taken several weeks hiatus from our subject of creating characters and it's time to get back to work on the people who live through the joys and heartaches we throw at them in our stories. We've got work to do. 

I encourage you to take lots of time when you're creating your characters. Remember, if they aren't real to you they won't be real to your readers. If readers don't care about the people in your story you'll lose them. They'll set your book down and not pick it up again.

I really liked this from Myers-Briggs. "All I have to do is ask the four key questions (intro or extro? Intuiter or Sensor? Thinker or Feeler? Piler or Filer?) Immediately personalities jump into my head.As we work through the creative process keep these basic traits in mind.

Because I've been away for a while how about a reminder of what we've talked about so far. You can refer to earlier blogs for more details.
  •       Create real characters.
  •      The Basics -- What do they look like?
  •      Beyond Basics -- Who are they?
  •      Creed -- What is their system of belief?  
The next step is . . .

Personality Type

It definitely helps to consider  personality types. Myers-Briggs have a great start with their questions, but I need to find out more and so when I'm developing the people who tell my stories the questions continue. Characters grow and become more complex.

It's important to be thorough in your development and then record what you find or it's possible a character could become someone they weren't meant to be. It can be a challenge to remain true to a personality type. That's why I create detailed character outlines. Frequently ask yourself, “Would this character react this way? Or would they do this or say that?  Why or why not?"

Personality examples: 

  • Withdrawn 
  • Gregarious 
  • Mystical 
  • Powerful 
  • Fragile 
  • A complainer 
  • Argumentative 
  • Dreamer 
  • Practical-Get down to business type 
  • Creative
  • Impulsive

     These are just a few ideas to get you started. I bet you can come up with a lot more. If you think of something add it to the comments at the bottom of the page. Let's see how many we dream up. Remember, for today, we're focusing on personalities. We'll get into some of the other details in the weeks to come.

Grace and peace to you from God. And happy writing!