Christ Simply: A Chronological Self-Guided Study of the Life of Christ

518m-ne32cl__sx331_bo1204203200_My new book is now available on Amazon. If you or anyone you know wants to read through the life of Christ in chronological order, this book is an excellent guide.

This book would make an excellent gift for a new Christian or a young person who has just been baptized.

Christ Simply guides the reader through the life of Christ using the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The five parts of the life of Christ covered in this book:

  • Jesus as a boy
  • Jesus begins his ministry
  • Jesus and his ministry in Galilee
  • Jesus and his ministry in Judea
  • The final week of Jesus and beyond.

The book is laid out simply and can be customized for a small group study. The person reading it can choose to keep a journal and answers questions.

The book is available in print or for Kindle.

Everyone is invited … this book is for anyone who has wanted to read through the life of Christ in chronological order. Anyone who wants to journal his or her thoughts reading through the life of Christ. Anyone who has wanted to be introduced to Jesus Christ for the first time. The invitation is always open.

Christ Simply: A Chronological Self-Guided Study of the Life of Christ

What are the most important scenes in a novel?

theatre-1459597To overcome feeling overwhelmed by finishing your novel, a writer might want to keep these writing principles in mind:

  • She doesn’t have to write chronologically.
  • She can write her most important scenes first and then fill in the blanks.

Now, if she has planned your novel with some kind of outline, then these principles become even easier.

So the question is, what are the most important scenes in a novel?

This doesn’t mean some scenes are less necessary than others. In the final draft, all the scenes should be necessary and move the story along. A post from C.S. Lakin’s blog called The First Ten Scenes You Need to Plot for your Novel offers a list of scenes on which the writer should focus.

I concentrated on finishing these scenes and now I am writing the final draft of the “in-between” stuff. If you get stuck in your writing, jump ahead work on the The Midpoint scene. This is the scene, roughly 50% of the way through your story, where the character asks whether or not she wants to continue. She questions who she is. She decides to go on, or maybe decides to take a different tactic. Then write backwards from that scene, or write forwards.

Here is what the writer should remember: if she gets stuck writing the novel chronologically, she can jump around and write one of the scenes listed in Lakin’s article.

There’s no rule against doing that.

What are the most important scenes in a novel?

Checklist for writing a scene

clapper-board-1420048I didn’t realize until I was a young adult that some scenes in a movie didn’t make it into the final cut. Today we have DVDs where we can see the parts of the movie the director cut and left on the editing room floor.

When it came to my novel, I honestly didn’t think I’d have to do that. But, here I am, the stage of my novel where I am going over each scene, and I  am “killing my darlings.” I want to keep most of the scenes, but I have a criteria I go over that may tell me otherwise.

If a scene doesn’t fit the criteria, slash. It’s gone.

I don’t actually trash the scene, I just put it in a folder called “unused material.”
  • Is it a scene or sequel?
    A scene has a goal, a conflict, and a disaster. A scene that is a sequel has reaction, dilemma, and a decision. Both are okay, but it’s good to know which is which. Read Randy Ingermanson’s article Writing the Perfect Scene for more details.
  • What is the conflict?
    If no conflict exists in the scene, either find a way to rewrite it into the story or cut it.
  • What is the purpose of this scene?
    A scene can have several purposes: introduce a character, build suspense, establish a mood, create a resolution, and on and on. If you can’t figure out the purpose of the scene, cut it.
  • Do you have a consistent point-of-view? Would the scene be improved by changing the point-of-view?
    I wrote some scenes from the viewpoint of my antagonist. However, I felt they were to “on-the-nose” so to speak. No subtext. So I rewrote the scenes from the viewpoint of another character in the same scene, and I felt the story became more effective. Why? Because it created suspense and mystery for my antagonist.
  • Are you using sub-text in the action and dialogue of the characters? Are you avoiding on-the-nose writing?
    Instead of telling what the characters are doing and saying, pay attention to what they’re NOT doing and saying. They may say one thing, but really mean another. It’s what is going on beneath the surface. Here’s a great article about using subtext.
  • Does your character do something surprising?
    Keep your readers on their toes by surprising them with your character’s reactions. In each scene, the character should do something unexpected.
  • What emotion is the character feeling at the beginning of the scene? Does he or she have a conflicting or contrasting emotion by the end of the scene?
    If the character is laughing and playing around at the beginning of the scene, is she pissed off at the end of the scene? May sure your characters express a range of feelings and moods throughout the scene.
  • Does your character have expectations at the beginning of the scene that contrast with  what happens during the scene?
    If your character is expecting to win a competition at the beginning of scene, show him or her losing. Or something else unexpected. Or maybe the character expects to lose and ends up winning by cheating or something else. Surprise the reader.
  • Are the characters only talking in this scene? If so, does it move the story along?
    Your scene may only be a conversation, but it better move the story along.
  • Does your scene have a beginning, middle and end? Does it seem like a mini-novel?
    If you consider them a mini-story, then you’re more likely to write stronger scenes. C.S. Lakin talks about scene structure in her article.

I have a file in my Scrivener document called “Tool Box.” It has several lists to use for keeping my novel in check. One of those tools is a Scene Checklist. I review a scene using all of the above criteria. I hope you find it helpful.

Checklist for writing a scene

22 Summer 2016 Books You Won’t Want To Miss

reading-in-a-park-1312435From the Huffington Post:

Soak up these family dramas, advice column collections and near-future hijinks.

This summer, in addition to the obvious 2016 warm-weather pastime of drinking watermelon water while listening to “Lemonade,” we’re looking forward to reading new books! Because, although we are big proponents of couch lounging, reading in the grass while using a book to shield your eyes from the sun has its particular joys.

Thankfully, there’re a lot to choose from. It may not be the summer of “the next next ‘Gone Girl,’” but there’s a meticulously wrought new thriller out in June, one that examines a violently broken relationship between sisters. There’s also a wry adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” a screwball story set in 2052, and a new slate of advice columns from Heather Havrilesky, aka Ask Polly. Choose wisely, dear readers; in our opinion, you can’t go wrong with one of the following.

22 Summer 2016 Books You Won’t Want To Miss

Four quick reads on writing

When I was on vacation earlier this month, I read some e-books on writing. Even though these gems were inexpensive and quick, they provided me with some valuable lessons to apply to my writing craft.

Here they are:

  • 2940045351874_p0_v2_s192x300Self-publishing a Book
    By Hank Quense
    Quense has a great series on self-publishing and this is the second one I’ve read. He’s great about explaining why he does it the way he does, but let’s the reader know everyone needs to self-publish the way that is best for himself. Good advice on what publisher to use. I will be coming back to this book as a reference.
  • 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love
    2940152280371_p0_v1_s192x300By Rachel Aaron
    I loved Aaron’s Eli Monpress series and I can’t wait to read more of her stuff. She gives advice on how to increase the amount of writing that gets done during a writing session by applying her triangle of knowledge, time and enthusiasm. Now, if that sounds vague, she does get specific about what they mean in this book.
  • Writing from the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone In Between
    By James Scott Bell
    9780910355117_p0_v1_s192x300I love Kill Zone, a blog for which Bell contributes as part of a community of writers. This book provided a fascinating piece of advice about character development for novel writing: the “Mirror Moment.” Once again, it’s something I knew already, but didn’t know I knew. This quick read will change the way you plan your novel–and it’s easy to apply to a draft you’ve already started.
  • Scrivener Superpowers: How to Use Cutting-Edge Software to Energize Your Creative Writing Process
    By M.G. Herron
    2940157649920_p0_v1_s192x300I already read several books on Scrivener when I first learned to use it. The difference between those books (although they were wonderful and helpful) and this one is that Scrivener Superpowers gets into the nitty-gritty of not just learning to use it, but how to use is as a writer. His No-Nonsense Novel Template is also great.

So if you’re looking for some quick lessons for improving your fiction writing with maximum impact, you should check these books out. I highly recommend them.

Four quick reads on writing

How I Use My Bullet Journal

 

notebook-1174776My closest friends know my deepest secret: I use a bullet journal. I rave about it. I’m a little obsessed with it. I’ve been talking about it so much, I suspect they are planning a bullet journal intervention.

However, if they saw how a bullet journal could change their lives, they would turn the intervention on themselves and say, “Yeah, using a bullet journal organizes my life with minimal effort.”

I think everyone should use a bullet journal, but, of course, not everyone gets it or sees how great it is. It’s a special club. Anyone can join, but few understand why they should. If you are still reading this, it’s probably because you already use the bullet journal system for organizing your life and want to see how I do mine.

That’s what I’d be doing.

You see, I’m always looking for tips on bullet journaling. It’s organic. It’s customized. It’s what you want it to be. Everyone does it their own way.

So instead of going over what a bullet journal is (just click on the link in the first paragraph of this blog post to get the basics), I’m going to tell you what works best for me.

My Best Practices for My Bullet Journal:

  • Start the INDEX from the back and work forward. When your entries meet the INDEX page, then it’s time to get a new notebook. Most people leave some blank pages at the beginning of the journal. By starting on the last page, there’s no guessing how many pages to reserve.
  • Use ONLY ONE NOTEBOOK. This is a standard best practice, but I didn’t realize how important it was until I consolidated all my to-read booklists into one notebook. I had lists on my computer, in folders, on my phone, etc. Now they’re all in one place.
  • Use a HABIT TRACKER. Each month, make a chart that lists daily habits you want to incorporate into your life. By keeping track, you can see where you need to improve. The tracker also motivates you to keep up with habits. It’s like a game: see if you can check off every habit for today. Also, on my DAILY LOG, I list habit tracker and that covers all my daily habits so I don’t have to write them out everyday. Saves space in the notebook as well. See my HABIT TRACKER below.
  • On the first page, list your CONTACT INFORMATION. In case your bullet journal gets misplaced, someone can get it back to you.
  • Include a page of Bullet Journal GUIDELINES and TERMS. At the beginning of the notebook, I include a page of guidelines I will be using. On the next page, I list and define all the common terms used with bullet journaling, like collections or tasks. This can be a great refresher when you start a new notebook as well as an excellent reference.
  • Use THREADING to keep track of a collection. If I start a collection that takes up more than one page, I write the all the pages numbers the collection is on at the bottom of each page.
  • Use GATEWAY PAGES to index related collections and other listings. For example, I had several book lists (each a different collection) in different places of my journal. I used one page to list them all and the page numbers where they could be found. I called the gateway page Book Reading Plan.
  • Take notes for a class, etc., on separate paper then TRANSCRIBE them into your bullet journal. Not only will going back over your notes help you retain what you heard, but you can write them more neatly. I do this for webinars, videos, sermons, meetings or any situation in which I take notes.
  • Join the Bullet Journal community on Google+. This is a great way to see how other people use their bullet journal. You can incorporate their best practices into your notebook and get ideas on what kind of listings you find helpful in your everyday living.

So watch out. If you are thinking of starting a bullet journal, be careful: you might become obsessed. Remember, do it the way that works for you. Some people decorate their journal with all kinds of doodles and colors. That is great for them, but I prefer to keep my bullet journal Spartan.

Here are some links to get you started:

bjhta
HABIT TRACKER: As you can see, I don’t exercise enough. A chart like this can show where you need to improve. And how lazy I am.
How I Use My Bullet Journal