What I’m Reading …

file-nov-15-8-01-35-pmI have been a fan of Connie Willis for a long time. Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog are two of her books I love. I just finished rereading Doomsday Book for the upteenth time. This is  unusually, because only a few books have been written that I read more than once, let alone several times. I just got a copy of her new book from the library. It’s called Crosstalk. Here’s the blurb:

“Science fiction icon Connie Willis brilliantly mixes a speculative plot, the wit of Nora Ephron, and the comedic flair of P. G. Wodehouse in Crosstalk—a genre-bending novel that pushes social media, smartphone technology, and twenty-four-hour availability to hilarious and chilling extremes as one young woman abruptly finds herself with way more connectivity than she ever desired.”

Hope it’s good.

Find my latest book on Amazon: Christ Simply, A Chronological Self-Guided Study through the Life of Christ.

Christ Simply: Who is this book for?

gospel-reading-1167792“Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

I’ve heard of the KISS principle for years, and I used it as my guide for creating my new book, Christ Simply.

Let’s go back to the beginning: I grew up in church. I attended a Christian university. I took courses in the Bible. I’ve worked for two Christian publishers. I’ve been on staff of a small church and a “mega-church.”

But I had never read through the life of Christ in chronological order.

Through osmosis, I  had put together the order of the life of Christ through the sermons, Sunday school lessons and personal Bible study I’ve done my whole life. But I had never read the story of Jesus Christ from birth through ascension.

So I did a little research and found several charts and articles on the web, and I spent a year and a half putting together my own parallel of the four gospels on my computer. Now, I didn’t do anything new. I know it’s been done a million times before.  But it was my own work.

What would mean more: a table you bought at Wal-Mart or a table you built with your bare hands?

That’s the idea behind this book. It has a simple structure: each page has an event from the life of Christ, and the reader is encouraged to keep his or her own journal of thoughts and  prayers. I have no commentary, just a few notes to help lead the reader. I kept it simple so the person reading it would not feel overwhelmed.

By encouraging the readers to do a little online research of their own, by suggesting they keep a journal as they go through the book, by asking them to look up where Galilee is on a New Testament map instead of just showing them, Christ Simply would bring forth a more meaningful end result the readers built with their own hands.

So, the next question is, who is Christ Simply for?

  • A new Christian. A person of any age who has just accepted Christ into their life may be interested in learning about the earthly life of their new Lord.
  • A young person who wants to know more. This book is put together in such a way, that a young person–or anyone–can customize their study in a way that works best for his or her learning style.
  • A non-believer. Even if a person does not believe Jesus is the Son of God, or even if that person believes Jesus Christ never even existed, this book can lead them through the historical documents–the four gospels–to give a complete picture for academic purposes. What they do with that information is up to them.
  • A veteran Christian. This would be the category I fall into. After reading through the life of Christ in chronological order, it renewed my love for the Son of God and made him more real to me.

518m-ne32cl__sx331_bo1204203200_Simple is better. Christ Simply, used in the correct way, can lay a foundation for further study of the life of Christ. It is my hope anyone who comes across this book will draw closer to our Lord.

Christ Simply is available both in print and for Kindle from Amazon.com.

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.

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.

Checklist for writing a scene

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.

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.

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.