Eight weeks until “Shine!” time. Are you registered for W2I yet? You don’t want to miss our keynote speaker, Tim Shoemaker. He is the author of eleven books and a regular contributor to Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine.Tim is also a captivating speaker. We’re excited he is teaching several workshops in addition to presenting the keynote address. Today, Tim shares some of his reflections.
Tim, tell us three of your favorite moments from 2014.
There were so many good moments… it’s hard to narrow it to three. Here’s a short list…
- Finishing Below the Surface… getting the series finale in the hands of friends.
- Seeing Super Husband, Super Dad come out… and hearing how it helped others.
- Started speaking at schools in a bigger way… and found I loved it.
- Youngest son graduated paramedics’ school.
- Down time with my wife and family on Lake Geneva, WI this past summer.
- Vacation with the family in Florida.
- New baby granddaughter born in December… Claire Rose.
Claire Rose. What a beautiful name! Is she your first grandchild?
Claire Rose is our 4th grandchild… which is unbelievable. But they are all three years old and under… which is a riot when they’re all in the same room.
I bet they are! I’m sure it’s all play and no writing when the grandbabies visit. Tim, at what point in your life did you know you wanted to pursue writing?
When I was younger, I never dreamed I’d pursue writing. It wasn’t even on my radar. After I started a family, I used to love telling stories to my kids… and to nieces and nephews. I’d like watching their faces… seeing when I totally had them wrapped up in the stories.
They often asked me to write the stories down… and at first I resisted. But when I finally did—I found I loved it. I wrote more and more on the side… writing for my kids, mostly. I had one son who struggled with reading… so writing in a way that held his interest (but at his reading level) was a challenge. Eventually a dream began to develop… I hoped to move to part time status at my work and devote more time to writing. By God’s grace and in his time, and through circumstances I couldn’t predict, I was able to pursue that writing dream.
Looking back at your writing journey, what is one thing you wish you had known earlier?
There are so many things… but here’s one. I didn’t realize that writing was a skill that I could strengthen and develop. I used to think that writing was a “gift”. It was a talent that was deep inside… something I had or I didn’t have.
When I went to my first writers’ conference and got my first critique… I was devastated. The chapter I’d sent in was really slashed up with red ink… and at that moment, I thought I didn’t have the “gift” at all. I thought I’d better just forget about writing and go back to my job… back where I belonged.
I decided to leave the conference early. Since I didn’t have the “gift” of writing, there was no point staying. Thankfully, someone caught me in the hall on the way out… and that little encounter changed everything.
Oh, that is something to remember the next time we attend a conference—not only to be encouraged but also to encourage others.
Do you remember one of your favorite books from your childhood? What made it special?
I loved the entire Hardy Boys series. A bunch of Alfred Hitchcock ones, too. I loved some of the biographies… guys like Davy Crockett. I also loved WWII stories… read many of the Landmark series of great battles. I loved adventure… mystery… suspense… and the way I got swept away with the story as a reader.
What three helpful hints would you recommend to writers to make their work shine?
Here’s a half dozen hints…
- Really get your head into the perspective of your POV character and stay there. Don’t write anything other than what your character sees, hears, thinks, feels, etc.
- If you’re writing for kids… don’t talk down to them. They’re smarter than you think. You don’t want to sound like a parent.
- If you’re writing Christian fiction… resist the urge to get hokey. Characters recalling and reflecting on whole sections of a recent sermon, for example. Keep your spiritual footprint subtle… and real.
- If you’re writing fantasy, I’ve got some thoughts to help you relate better to your readers… but too many to write here. Catch me in the hall or at a meal and ask me what I mean by these…
- “Lose the magic sword.”
- “Give it to me in English…”
- “Be fair to readers… ”
- Pray. He’s the creative one. Ask him to help you.
- Keep your hands clean. If we aren’t living the life we should… what do we really have to offer others?
Fantastic advice! Thank you, Tim. I look forward to asking you about “losing the magic sword” when I see you at the conference. Thanks for sharing with us.
Readers, you can connect with Tim at the following social media outlets-
Twitter: @TimShoemaker1 https://twitter.com/TimShoemaker1