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Are You Thankful for Troubles? Building Character Through Trials by Jarm Del Boccio

William Shakespeare
Image from biography.com

Although my husband and I live in an almost-empty-nest, sometimes I catch myself reminiscing. Our homeschool history course many years ago includes a mini-unit on Shakespeare and his works.  We’d listened to an excellent 3 part DVD series by Schlessinger Media called, “Shakespeare for Students.”  The concepts are simply explained, but meaty.

In The Characters of Shakespeare (Part 1), we learn there are two types of characters in Shakespeare’s works. static and dynamic. Here is a summary:

Static (or Stock) Character: A person who does not change during the course of the story. A shallow two-dimensional figure used to carry along the story, add comic relief or provide a menacing presence. The Fool in King Lear is one example (which, by the way, is the most “tragic of his tragedies . . . nothing good comes from it unless it is a lesson for the readers!) A villainous character would be Iago in Othello or Edmund in King Lear.

Dynamic Character:  A person who changes, for better or worse, in the course of the play.  A deeper, three-dimensional character, such as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. She matures into a complex young lady by the last act, but, unfortunately, it’s too late.  Another example is Macbeth, who moves from a valiant war hero to a paranoid murderer within the course of the play. So, this got me thinking . . .  Not only is this good to know as we develop our own characters in a story (too many static characters spoil the broth, and vice versa), but ponder this:

What sort of character are you?  What kind do you wish to be? 

Hopefully, it’s obvious that you can’t be a dynamic character if you have no trials and tribulations. How many people do you know who have everything they want and need – are they shallow, or complex?

What character is God forming in you this Thanksgiving? Be thankful if God allows troubles in your life. It will make you a more well-rounded 3D character who will be wiser, more compassionate and helpful to others.

Now that’s character!


*This post first appeared on Jarm’s travel and inspiration blog.

Jarm Del Boccio’s debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer, released with Ambassador International April 26th. You can connect with her at https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/

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Overcoming a Writer’s Fears by Attending Conferences


As a writer, I often find myself bogged down in fear.  Fear that my writing may not be good enough. Fear that I am too old. Fear that I don’t know how to write. Attending conferences gives me the insight to overcome those fears through encouragement, instruction, resources and reminding me that my writing needs to be covered in prayer.  Continue reading Overcoming a Writer’s Fears by Attending Conferences

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Sneak Peek: Lori Hatcher’s Workshop, “The Day I Wanted to Quit”

Your proposal is rejected—again—and your head swirls with doubt, disappointment, and confusion.

You pour your heart out in a blog post, take hours to format it just right, click Post, and wait. The only buzz you hear is from the ceiling fan above your head, and the only comments you receive are from your mother and Aunt Fran.

Every writing conference you attend seems populated by successful, profound writers and brings new battles with jealousy and insecurity. You compare your blog, book, or platform with that of your superstar colleague and wonder whether you’re deluded in thinking that God could ever use you or your story to influence someone else.

I felt this way at my very first writers’ conference. I sat there as a new writer, the ink still wet on my fingers. I’d written quite a few articles for our homeschool newsletter, had two published in a local magazine, and had no clue what a blog was.

To my left was a two-time Christy Award winner. To my right was an author of fifty (not fifteen) books.

And then there was me.

Stuck in the middle like the ketchup in a ketchup sandwich. Colorful, but not much substance.

They talked about POV—first person, second person, and third person. And third person limited, third person multiple, and third person omniscient. I didn’t know whether I was in a theology class or in a psychology class, studying schizophrenia.

“What am I doing here?” I thought to myself. “I’ve never wanted to write a novel. I don’t even understand half the words they’re tossing out, and Google Translate is no help! What if they find out I’m a poser? They’re going to sit me in a corner and put a dunce cap on me . . . or worse—write about me in their next novel: The Girl Who Thought She Was a Writer.”

I wondered how quickly I could excuse myself to go to the bathroom and never come back. That was the first day I wanted to quit.

Have you ever felt this way? Perhaps you’re feeling this way right now.

In my 2018 Write2Ignite workshop, “The Day I Wanted to Quit: Tackling the Mind Games That Discourage and Defeat Writers,” we’re going to talk about comparison, insecurity, and competitiveness. We’ll examine the biblical roots of each issue, walk through a three-step personal evaluation, and craft a unique mission statement designed to silence the voices that imprison our writing potential. After attending this workshop at another conference, one attendee confided, “I didn’t just identify my writing mission, I identified my life mission!”

Most writers leave a conference pumped up and empowered. Then they go home. The doubts, fears, and insecurities they left behind begin to whisper in their ears again. Head games—writers play them every day. Is winning the battle in our minds really just a matter of positive thinking, or does God have something to say about it? I look forward to examining these thoughts with you at the 2018 Write2Ignite conference.

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Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books: Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women (the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year) and Joy in the Journey: Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A blogger, writing instructor, and women’s ministry speaker, Lori seeks to help women connect with God in the craziness of life.

You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

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Teaser Post: Trust and Obey

“Am I rich?”

“Am I famous?”

“Am I on a bestseller list?”

Often, we writers ask questions like these as we try to measure our success.

The problem? Most of you, like me, have to say no to these questions. Unless we’ve been fortunate enough to author beloved children’s books or a series of YA novels that launch a box office smash, most of us aren’t household names.

The questions listed above point toward the world’s measurement of our success and threaten to place our writing focus where it doesn’t belong. Too much reflection on these thoughts can tumble us into the Slough of Despond, where we wallow like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress.

The real problem? Those questions don’t reflect how God measures success. While it’s wonderful to craft a picture book that ranks high on Amazon or a nonfiction hardcover that funds a major purchase for the family, perhaps we need to consider the questions God asks.

“Do you trust Me?”

“Are you obeying Me?”

Hopefully, we’re saying yes to those questions about our daily living. But we should also apply them to our writing:

  • Are we obeying God by writing the truths He wants us to convey?
  • Are we pleasing Him by being good stewards of the gift of words He gave us?
  • When we’re writing in obedience to His prompting, do we trust Him with the words He gives us?
  • Do we trust His timing for those words?

The solution: In the push to finish manuscripts, find an agent, sell a series, and so on, focusing on God’s questions can take the pressure off. We can trust that God has a plan for us and our gifts.

As we move forward in our writing journeys, let’s be sure to ask the questions that measure success in God’s eyes. Will we trust and obey?

During the 2018 Write2Ignite conference, Kim will teach several workshops, including “Is My Manuscript Ready for an Agent?,” which will help writers evaluate their manuscripts. 

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Kim Peterson mentors aspiring writers. She has taught writing for twenty-five years, working extensively with both published authors and those seeking careers in writing, editing and publishing. Currently, Kim teaches in the online professional writing program of Taylor University (Upland, Indiana). She also leads two productive online writers groups—one for mixed genres and one for writers of children’s books and articles.

Kim, who is a regular conference speaker, previously served on the writing faculty at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana, and mentored writers through the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. A long-time professional book reviewer, Kim reviews novels for CBA’s Christian Market magazine. She recently concluded more than eight years as fiction reader for the Les Stobbe Literary Agency until Stobbe’s retirement.

Working as a freelancer for forty years (she started young!), Kim has written for Indiana newspapers and various periodicals and websites, including AppleSeeds, Encounter, Evangel, Vista, and devotional markets. Her work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Rocking Chair Reader, the Moments series, and other anthologies. She blogs about nature and loves writing for children.

Kim says of her childhood, “My mom made reading a priority. She surrounded me with books. When my morning chores were finished, she let me disappear up our cherry trees with a good book and a thermos of juice. I don’t climb trees to read anymore, but I can still disappear into a great story.”

 

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If Your Future Could Speak

tony-quotesMondaysWhen I was in the 3rd grade, Mrs. Wheatley, my teacher, gave my mother a warning. She said, “Mrs. Snipes, we just can’t let his imagination run off with him.” My mom didn’t heed that warning . . . and it’s the reason why I still daydream today!

One of my favorite daydream scenarios might actually involve you.

Here’s what I mean:

I love science fiction, especially stories about time travel!

What if I were a time traveler from the not-too-distant future, sent on a mission back to this decade? Let’s imagine that I’ve been here for a few years now, so I’ve blended in very well. (I know it’s not real, but humor me for a moment!)  :)

But what if the mission I was sent on involves you?

Let’s imagine that where I’m from, your creative endeavors have already grown and have been the key to lives being impacted, prayers being answered, and people being changed.

You just don’t know it right now.

i-believeRewind back to this point in your creative life. What if you, like many creatives, are at a crossroads?

  • You’re not really sure you have what it takes, but you know it’s a passion you can’t ignore.
  • You’re frustrated because you know you have talent, but you don’t know what you should be doing with it.

 

What if you find yourself asking these 3 age-old questions:prayer of the creative

  • Who am I? (Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist, teacher, musician, etc.?)
  • Why am I here?
  • What should I be doing? (What’s the purpose for my talent?)

This is what my session at Write2Ignite will tackle head on. The session is based on my book, God’s 7 Keys for Creative People. We will discuss:

  • How to know your creative identity.
  • Why your talent is important to God . . . and significant to the enemy!
  • Why it’s not too late to pursue your creative dreams.
  • How to stay creative, even with a schedule that doesn’t allow you to!

I’m so looking forward to meeting you in person at the Write2Ignite conference! In the meantime, here’s a super short video clip to give you a better idea about what I plan to share during my session: God’s 7 Keys for Creative People—2016 (from Tony Snipes on Vimeo).

Want to hear more? Visit my website, ArtLessonsfromGod.com, and follow me on Facebook! Take a peek at video from my LIVE art events: ArtSlamLive.com, or just email me at tony@artlessonsfromGod.com.

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Daniel Blackaby’s Earthshaking Confession

Daniel BlackabyI have a serious confession to make.

Ready for it?

Promise you won’t tell anyone?

Okay, here it is . . . I’m a fake author.

You see, I get asked all the time: “What does it take to be a writer?” People think that because I’ve published several books I’m a somehow a guru in all things writing, guiding inspiring novelists along the beaten trail to find the secret “author success” formula at the end of the rainbow. The problem is, I’m not even sure I’m a real author myself!

When you think of an “author,” what do you see? A man with a knee-length gray beard in a secluded mountain cottage surrounded by nothing but paper, a pen, and the mystifying wonders of nature? Someone who gleefully arranges his alphabet soup into compound sentences? Speaks in Shakespearian English? Reads War and Peace to relax in the bathtub? The problem is that I’m none of these things (seriously, my cheeks grow less hair than a naked mole rat).

Exhibit A: I currently sit in a La-Z-Boy recliner with my laptop propped atop a flimsy TV-table “desk.” To my right, littering my makeshift bookshelf/side-table is an empty can of Red Bull and several crumpled granola bar wrappers left from the days I was too distracted (read: slothful) to cook lunch. There’s also a bottle of extra-strength lavender Febreze to combat the potent stench wafting from the one-eyed dog at my feet. The rancid mutt and I daily engage in a cosmic battle for noise supremacy between my European heavy-metal and his grating snoring. In short, my life falls miserably short of the standards to be a “real author.”

My complications started early on. In 5th grade, my lowest mark was in English, prompting my teacher to conclude that my “responses reflect difficulties in understanding and interpreting literature.” When I reached college, I thought my fortunes had changed . . . at least I did until my first advanced grammar exam was returned with the words “Boo Hiss!” scribbled on top in thick red ink. Later that semester I would find an earnest note pinned to my midterm reminding me “English majors must achieve at least an C in the course.” My loathsome grades highlighted what I already knew: I’m an atrocious speller and can’t comprehend the correct grammatical use of commas if my life (or college graduation) depended on it!

Wait, but aren’t you supposed to be an author? Exactly! Are you beginning to understand my dilemma? Can you imagine the pandemonium that would transpire if the world caught on to my ruse and realized that all along I’ve only been a fake author?

By now you must be wondering how a fraud like me managed to dupe this blog into letting me contribute a post on writing. Well, here’s the most bizarre part of the whole story: amid all these monumental shortcomings, I’ve somehow managed to write 5 published books, exceed 25,000 sales, receive several nominations for year-end book awards, and have my work featured at some of the largest book conferences across the country, all before my 29th birthday! Wait, what!? Pretty crazy, isn’t it? Wondering how such a blatant “fake author” achieved all that? The answer is simple—I wrote.

It’s inescapably clear that I will never be the world’s premier technical writer. In fact, I had dozens of peers at school with oodles more talent than me. I’m also certain I will never sit atop the totem pole for creativity. I’ve had several aspiring writers share ideas that blew my own shabby concepts out of the water and sent them plunging to the dark depths of Davy-Jones’ Locker. However, the one thing I have done that far too many aspiring writers do not do is actually write.

You may be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in grammar and possess mind-blowing fresh ideas, but if you never put words on paper, none of it matters. Sometimes we become so preoccupied with what we must look, act, or be like to become a “real author” that we neglect the single most important task that all writers must do—write. The reality is that for every Steven King, J.R.R. Tolkien, or J. R. Rowling, there are thousands of “fake authors” just like me. So don’t sweat it if you don’t live in a mountain cabin or know the function of an ambitransitive verb. So what if other people try and tell you will never succeed as a writer. None of those reasons can stop you from putting words on paper. Do that, and you never know all the crazy places it could take you. If a “fake author” like me can do it, what’s stopping you? Hope to see you at the Write2Ignite Conference in April!

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Heavenly Herald

Heavenly Herald

I know the cliché well: “You only fail if you refuse to try.” While I don’t doubt the truth of those words, it’s of little comfort when I am staring at another submission I was sure I had “just right” only to see it returned—again. Red ink loudly announces, “You missed the mark—AGAIN!” I lift my eyes to Heaven and begin to pray. I stop, suddenly doubting my ability to choose the right words. My eyes fall to an envelope on my desk I hadn’t noticed before, a SASE I didn’t remember sending. The postmark reads, “Glory.” Sliding my finger under the flap, I tear it open and unfold the parchment-colored paper inside.

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Heavenly Herald

A Division of Eternal Revenue Publishing 

Thank you for your interest in the Heavenly Herald. Below, please find the submission guidelines you requested.

Submissions should be directed to:
Office of the Publisher
Heavenly Herald
7 Alpha and Omega Street
Heaven

Author’s bio—No author’s bio is needed. There is nothing you can tell the Publisher He doesn’t know—including the number of hairs on your head.

Scripture version—The Publisher does not wish, at this time, to endorse a specific Scripture translation. However, in the matter of accuracy, the Publisher requests you do not pull a verse out of the original context to better suit your submission.

Response time—Response time is instantaneous. Since the Publisher is personally familiar with your work, He is simply waiting for your submission. See Psalm 139 for further details.

Multiple submissions—The Publisher encourages multiple submissions and will review every one.

Rights—Upon submission, all rights are immediately surrendered to the Publisher aka the Lord of all Creation and the Source of the gifts utilized in drafting your submission.

Editorial support—Wisdom, encouragement, and editorial support are available upon request. Please contact the Publisher via His direct line any time of the day or night. (See the Lord’s Prayer section of Matthew 6 for further details.)

Guaranteed acceptance—Acceptance is guaranteed upon submission from a humble heart. The Publisher may contact you for further revisions and refinements.

The Publisher looks forward to accepting your submission.

Sincerely,

Office of Chief Editor, Publisher, Author and Perfecter of the Faith
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Bonnie-Rose-Hudson-200x200Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.