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Don’t Build Me Up, Buttercup–Give Me the Shred

Just for Funzies…My first contest entry, on LegendFire.com. The prompt was “key” and it was the fantasy genre. I was so proud…

Micah gently untangled the necklace from his sister’s gaunt fingers. Forgive me, he pleaded silently, scanning her torpid body for signs of life.

Creeping into the shadows, he clutched the gold chain so tightly that the tiny charm dug into his malnourished hands. He stumbled through the cemetery, pausing before an onyx headstone. Half-kneeling, half-collapsing, he fell to the stone and kissed the bronze plaque.

“I…I…miss you…father,” he whispered, panting. He lifted the plaque and set it aside, revealing a tiny keyhole.

Even in dim moonlight, the necklace sparkled, momentarily distracting from the task at hand. Micah forced himself to concentrate; pressing the charm firmly into the hole, twisting until it clicked. The rusty door creaked open, exposing a small vial and a worn page. Shuddering at the sound, he quickly grabbed them and replaced the plaque.

Heart pounding, he drank the contents of the vial he had found within. The restorative power pulsed in his veins, making him feel alive again. The brittle page—the recipe—he folded carefully and tucked it away in his pocket. He slipped the gold chain around his neck, and kissed the headstone once more before disappearing into the night.

And then I read all this:

“The setting is skipped over, so it’s hard to tell what time period this is supposed to be.”

“I wonder about torpid. It seems another word would be better.”

“Sorry to say, but there is just too much mystery and nearly no character here.”

“I don’t feel very compelled to read on.”

“Had this been a book, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far.”

“Some of the sentences are pretty clunky.”

“Your main character doesn’t seem very memorable.”

“I think it would be stronger after a few rounds of editing and rewriting.”

“Cryptic for the sake of being cryptic annoys the reader. Hurry up and let me in on the secret, or I’ll pass on this one.”

Ouch, right? Once the voting started, I was mortified. Comments like this hurt, for one, and two, everyone was going to know this was my piece. They’d all know I was a terrible writer! What to do? What to do?

Every time I enter a contest with public voting like this, some of the entrants withdraw. Others get mad and start lashing out in their votes for others. But after I got over my pride, I learned a few valuable lessons from this contest, once I answered a few questions.

1. Was I posting/entering for the wrong reasons?  After a while, I realized I wasn’t in this to learn, as I’d claimed–I was in it to be read and appreciated. Look at me! Look at me! I’ve written this fabulous entry and you should all bow down and give me a high score. Seriously? I mean, the contest was even CALLED the shredder contest. So, I changed my attitude and started sifting through the feedback to find something to add to my writer’s toolbox.

2. Could I use this (embarrassing) critique to find my bad habits?  There were a few comments that highlighted the same mistakes. No setting or character development. Poor word choice. Sentences that have too many things going on. Some voters marked things inline and gave me a bit of explanation as to why a particular phrase didn’t work. After the contest, I researched each of them and my writing vastly improved.

3. Did all this mean I was a bad writer? Should I stop trying? It was hard to see them at the time, but buried under all this criticism were quite a few lovely comments.  So no. I wasn’t a bad writer. Just a good writer making a lot of mistakes. I kept going, and eventually started placing in contests. Haven’t won yet, but I’m hoping that’s just around the corner.

So, here’s the deal. No sugar coating…

If you are in this to get a pat on the back or become famous, GET ANOTHER HOBBY!

Don’t go out there and write dribble, then self-publish it and wait for the readers to pour in. As I’ve said before, your first writing samples will be terrible. You’ll revise them, and they’ll still be terrible. You’ll revise them again, and guess what?…still terrible. The only way to learn is to accept the shreds.

These days, I’m hungry for the shred. I want critiquers to rip my work to pieces, point out every minute error, and be brutally honest. Cut me no slack. Help me learn. The traditional publishing world is brutal and only the best survive. I want to get there. One day, I will 🙂

Writing as Art: Is it really my prerogative to write however I want?

Final post  the discussion from Richard Bausch’s “Letter to a Young Writer.”

I could sing the praises of forums all day long. In fact, I’ve had a free education from them and owe them many dues. Still, I hold this one offense against them.  They are full of people who refuse to listen to helpful advice and keep on writing bad stories.

An argument that’s often made is that the author has the liberty to create whatever they wish. If they want to self-publish their dribble, they’re the ones out the money and it doesn’t hurt anyone except for them and the ten people that purchase their books. Maybe so.

It’s always hard to listen to criticism, even when it’s given in the kindest spirit. Still, it’s 100% essential.

At the same time, sometimes it’s just as important to not listen. Not everyone who gives you writing advice will give GOOD advice. Also, it’s important to find your own voice and style.

Bausch’s final piece of advice is “Be wary of all general advice.”  He says:

Destroy everything that precedes this commandment if, for you, it gets in the way of writing good stories. Because for every last assertion in this letter, there are several notable exceptions. Finally, try to remember that what you are aiming to do is a beautiful, even a noble, thing _ trying to write or make the trust as straightly and honestly and artfully as you can.

Once, I had an art professor lean a broom up against a crate and challenge the class, asking us if it was art.  After much spirited debate, we decided that it depends on who you ask. I think a story is the same way, even a poorly written one.

After all, at the end of the day, why do we do it? We all have a story burning inside us that we want to get out. And audience or no audience, fame or no fame, there’s a lot of merit in just getting the words down on paper. True writers, I believe, write for themselves with the tiny sliver of hope that someone else might someday read and enjoy it.

Bausch says this much more eloquently than I can, so we’ll finish this post up with his words.

It is also always an inherently optimistic act because it stems from the belief that there will be civilized others whose sensibilities you may affect if you are lucky and good enough and faithful to the task at hand. No matter how tragic the vision is, it is always a hopeful occupation. And, therefore, you have to cultivate your ability to balance things, to entertain high hopes without letting those hopes to become expectations. To do your work without worrying too much about what the world will have to say about it or do to it. Mostly, of course, the world will ignore it. And so, you will have that in common with many very great writers, good men and women who came before you.

Putting Dreams to Paper

Post eight in the discussion from Richard Bausch’s “Letter to a Young Writer.”

My favorite quote in Bausch’s entire essay:

You are trying to tap a part of yourself that is closest to the dreaming side, the side that is most active when you sleep.

A few years ago when I read the first Twilight book, I remember being insanely jealous that Stephenie Meyer could just have a dream and jot down a story that sold like wildfire. After all, I’ve had dreams that would make a great story. can do that. I realize now that she must have put in a lot more effort than just penning a dream, but she made it seem so easy.

For several years, writing was on my mind, but I credit this moment for being the turning point that made me decide to be a serious writer. First, I got a notebook and started writing down every dream I had. I churned out some crazy, bizarre stories that would make me blush if anyone ever seen them. And then I shared them with a few people who most likely had inward groans going on behind those polite smiles.

I used to get frustrated when I’d go to sleep and wake up dreamless. I’d even take naps just on the off chance that I’d dream something. To me, dreamless meant idea-less, and I’d turn to writing these stiff responses to challenge prompts.

Then, one day I realized that writing IS dreaming–dreaming while you are awake.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve strayed from my outline because I’ve gotten “lost” in the story. The characters have taken me places I didn’t mean to go. The setting has turned into something completely different from what I’ve envisioned. And it’s been a great thing.

Bausch advises:

Dream the story up. Make it up. Be fanciful. Follow what comes to you to say and try not to worry about whether or not it’s smart or shows your sensitive nature in the best light or delivers the matters of living that you think you have learned. Just dream it up and let the thing play itself out as it seems to want to. And write it again, and still again, dreaming it though.

I’ve had similar advice from people on the forums–get the story down and then you can rewrite it to get it where you want it to be.

Bausch continues:

And then, as you educate yourself each time through more as to what it is, try to be terribly smart about that. Read it with the cold detachment of a doctor looking at an x-ray for a lump. Which is to say, you must learn to re-read your own sentences as a stranger might. And say everything out loud. Listen to how it sounds.

Great advice, but I think sometimes it means you have to put the work aside and let it simmer a while before that detachment can be achieved.

Keep the Politics Out

Post seven in the discussion from Richard Bausch’s “Letter to a Young Writer.”

Bausch’s seventh piece of advice could stand alone.

Eschew politics.

Period.

But is it even possible to leave it out entirely? Maybe not, but it’s essential to try. In his elaboration of the point, Bausch cautions against being the writer who pays too much attention to their personal life, and advises using even history as backdrop, if even that. He says:

The person who has it in his mind that he will write to engineer better human beings is a despot before he writes the first line.

This discussion is highly relevant to my current dilemma. I’m in the process of setting up a dystopian society in my WIP. The event that sets it off is a presidential assassination and following secession of several states, who form a new government. The issue?

Well, if I choose the president to be a Republican, I might make my Republican friends upset. If I choose a Democrat, I might alienate those readers. Am I inadvertently trying to say something with my choice? Of course not, but it could certainly come across that way.

I’ve always been one of those people who think political opinions are best kept under the table. I’ve seen more friendships ended over those kinds of discussions than I’d care to admit. Don’t ask me if I voted for Obama or not, because I’ll never tell. At the same time, setting up any kind of society in a story means you have to draw on history and characteristics of currently existing governments.

Someone advised me to write in new political parties altogether, which is a great idea, but even then I’d probably have to face criticism. Readers would inevitably interpret certain actions as “right-wing conservative” or “liberal” even if I didn’t intend them that way.

As a result, in my story, I’ve just called it the ??? party. I’ve researched totalitarian and socialist governments and tried to piece together something original. Hopefully inspiration will come soon.

In the meantime, I’ll defer to John F. Kennedy on this one:

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

That, to me, sounds like a great overarching theme.

On Being Bad

Post six in the discussion from Richard Bausch’s “Letter to a Young Writer.”

My students always want to get things right the first time and get frustrated when they can’t. My go-to answer is inspired by a quote from Thomas Edison. I often tell them, “Congratulations!  You’ve just found one of the ways that won’t work. Now, go find another way.”

Writing can have the same effect. You pour sweat, blood, and tears into trying to paint a picture and it comes out all wrong. Someone critiques it and rips it into shreds. Unfortunately, that’s part of the process.

I cannot stress this enough. THE ONLY WAY TO BECOME GREAT IS TO FAIL!!!

Bausch’s next piece of advice is simple to understand and hard to do. 

Be willing. Accepting failure is a part of your destiny _ learning to be willing to fail, to take the chances that often lead to failure in the hope that one of them might lead to something good. Be open for business all the time. You must try to be that person on whom nothing is lost. This does not mean that you are taking notes while people around you suffer. You are not that kind of observer. It means in the workroom you are willing to follow whatever you are dreaming presents you with – openly, without judgment or attitude or even opinion. 

 

As in any life venture, nothing is gained if no effort is made. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve  met who want to write but are afraid to do so because they think they can’t write anything worth reading.

So, here are a few things a beginner needs to accept.

1. At first, everything you write will be bad. Not just a little bit. All of it. And it will be very, very bad. That’s okay, though, because the more mistakes you make, the more opportunities you will have to learn. The only way to get better is to keep trying.

2. Someone, perhaps many people will reject your work in the early stages. Don’t be surprised if you get that same reaction you gave Aunt Lula when she handed you that ugly Christmas sweater last year. “Oh. That’s… nice.”

3. Every time you start to think you’re good enough to finish in one draft, someone will point out how bad you still are. You know who writes successful books? I’m convinced it’s really the editors. The author has a fabulous idea in their heads that they get down on paper, and the editor shows them how to reign it in and shape it up into something publishable. Even the greats, I’ve been told, rely heavily on their editors. That old advice you were given in school is always going to be true. You will never reach a point in your life where your writing does not need revision and reflection. That’s why I’m currently reading Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Best-case scenario is that you learn how to be that editor for yourself.

4. There is nothing so bad that it can’t be revised into something great. Professionals might disagree with me on this one, and that’s fine. I’m far from what I’d consider a proficient writer, but through critique groups, I’ve worked with many novice writers, and seen some terrible work. Some of them, I’ve helped the writer revise six or seven times before the piece has been shaped into anything resembling a story, but still, it gets better every time. 

5. There are some things that just need to be discarded. Even though every bad piece of work you’ve ever written CAN be fixed, that doesn’t mean it should. Sometimes you have to just get rid of those “ugly babies” that are tainting your work and rewrite from a fresh angle. Don’t be afraid to let go of anything you’ve written, even if that means starting the story completely over from the first word of chapter one.

I love Bausch’s line that we must try to be the person on whom nothing is lost. It’s okay to be bad. We all were at first. Some of us still are. But as long as we are embracing every opportunity to learn and add something to our writer’s toolbox, it’s worth every drop of sweat, blood, and tears that we pour into it.

When you get bad feedback, don’t crawl up into a hole or whine about it to anyone who will listen. Just push up your sleeves and give it another go!

 

Writing… with Children

Post five in the discussion from Richard Bausch’s “Letter to a Young Writer.”

I should have started writing twenty years ago. All that time I spent sitting around watching MTV and playing MOO games on the Gopher in the days before the World Wide Web could have been put to much better use. If you’re too young to remember that, then you haven’t really lived.

These days, we all have such a media and emotion overload that it’s hard to set aside time to do anything, let alone crank out a 100K novel. Add a couple of kids to the mix, and it’s next to impossible.

Here’s how it works. You sit down at the kitchen table, power up the laptop, and open the file.

“Mo-om. I’m hungry.”

“You’re not eating anything. Get out of the kitchen. I just fed you.”

She hits you with that pitiful face, big brown eyes. “But I’m hungry.”

You resist.

She jumps around the room minion style. “Hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry.”

Sighing, you shove back the chair, pick her up, and deposit her in her overindulgent bedroom. “Find something to play with. You have a million toys.”

You sit down at the kitchen table and look over the last paragraph you’ve written.

“Mo-om. I’m thirsty…”

And so it goes.

Your choices are pretty much to:

a) Let chaos reign, ignore the munchkins and write anyway. (You’ll pay for this later).

b) Play with your munchkins and take the writing time away from sleep.

c) Wait until your munchkins are old enough to not need your constant attention (I’ve heard this happens somewhere around their 30th birthday)

d) Forego your dream and find a new one that revolves around your children

In the early days of writing, I opted for choice B.

Bausch describes the scenario all new parents fall into:

Once when our first child was a baby, my mother came to visit. And after the baby went to sleep, I began tiptoeing around trying to make no noise. My mother said, “What the hell are you doing?” I said, “The baby’s asleep.” She said, “Have some friends over, put some music on, rattle some dishes, make noise. You’re training that kid to be a bad sleeper.” 

We’ve all done this. Some of you are probably doing it right now. But one of the great mistakes parents are making these days is to run around doing everything for our kids and forcing them to operate in our closed, “perfect” boxes.

When I was in college, there were a few semesters when I worked sixty hours a week and took eighteen hours of classes. It was an insane schedule, but one thing I learned is that I could literally study anywhere. I used to make flashcards and tuck them into my waitress tablet. While people were stalling and trying to figure out what they wanted to eat, I was learning that two pyruvates are made from glycolysis.  Sitting at the break table, scarfing down a grossly unhealthy snack, I rewrote my notes and read my textbook. I read my flashcards on a small cassette player and played it in the car. It was easy back then to be resourceful with my time.

The thing is, making writing time for yourself is a choice–children or no children, job or no job, busy life or simple one.

Bausch’s advice is that we should train ourselves to be able to work anywhere. He says this:

If you set up a certain expectation about when and how you’ll be able to do the work, you train yourself to be silent. Shostokovich wrote his famous 7th Symphony, the Leningrad Symphony, during the siege of Leningrad. Bombs were falling all around him and he understood perfectly well that there was a very good chance he would die within the next few hours or days. Teach yourself to write in busy places under the barrage of noises the world makes. Work in rooms where kids are playing, with music on, even with the television on. Work in the faith that if something is really good, it will not escape back into oblivion if you get distracted from it. It will turn up again. There is no known excuse for not working when you are supposed to be working.

It’s so easy to fall into the excuse trap. “I didn’t get anything done today. The kids were wild.” No, you didn’t get anything done today because you chose not to. You chose to let the kids being wild be the reason you didn’t get anything done.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting aside a time when you make limits for your children and refuse to accommodate their every whim. Sure, it might take a few days of you standing your ground and them having a little bit of a temper tantrum, but when they realize that you’re going to set aside an hour every day, and they’re going to have to wait until that hour is over before you’ll give them that drink or get that toy down from the shelf–guess what? They’ll wait. And honestly, you’ll both be better for it.

That’s not to say you should shut the kids up in their bedrooms and write for four hours. I don’t think it’s necessary to even send the kids out of the room. Learn to write with them in the background. Learn to pause and smile every so often at their inventive play, knowing you’re teaching them that it’s okay for them to take time out of their day and pursue their own creativity. They will be ever grateful for this gift when they are older.

Bausch finishes this point with the following:

Remember that it is an absurdity to put writing before the life you have to lead. I’m not talking about leisure. I’m talking about the responsibility you have to the people you love and who love you back. No arduousness in the craft or arts should ever occupy one second of the time you’re supposed to be spending that way. It has never been a question of the one or the other and writers who say it is are lying to themselves or providing an excuse for bad behavior. They think of writing as a pretext for it. It has never been anything of the sort.

There has to be a balance. If I block off an hour of writing time, I try to make sure I block off time for reading books with my daughter, singing songs with them, or watching my son’s imaginary basketball league.

All you have to do is be purposeful about it. Set yourself a schedule, set your boundaries, and get to writing.

Lazy Writers Never Publish Books

Post four in the discussion from Richard Bausch’s “Letter to a Young Writer.” 

I usually don’t keep New Year’s Resolutions past a week, which is why it’s pretty remarkable that I’ve already made over ten posts on this blog. It’s so hard to start new habits in your mid-to-late thirties. Kids, soccer, church, work, housework–everything seems to conspire against you when you try to take out time for something like writing. 

Without habitual diligence, the likelihood of finishing anything developed enough to publish is minuscule. This is just like anything else in life–reading the Bible, praying, completing random acts of kindness–you must persist or you fail.

The title of this post is a piece of advice I was given from one of the first people to critique my work. They said I’d relied too much on adverbs, left out too many details, and it felt like I’d just rushed to get something down on the page. I’ve come across some nonsensical dribble from authors in my time, so I’m sure that a few are falling through the cracks and getting published anyway. Still, it takes quite a bit of work ethic and staying power to complete a full novel manuscript.

While participating in NaNoWriMo, I set a goal of 2000 words per day. There were days I could only manage about 50. Other days I wrote 10,000. By the end of the month, my fingers ached, my mind swam, and I felt like I’d just finished a 5K. But I finished because I kept coming to the computer every day, opening the file and reading the words until I felt compelled to type new ones.

In his third point to young authors, Bausch says this:

“Be regular and ordinary in your habits, like a petty bourgoise, so you may be violent and original in your work.” This comes from Flaubert and is quite good advice. It has to do with what I was talking about in the first paragraph and is, of course, better expressed. The thing that separates the amateur writer from the professional, often enough, is simple the amount of time spent working the craft. You know that if you really want to write, if you hope to produce something that will stand up to the winds of criticism and scrutiny of strangers, you’re going to have to work harder than you have ever worked on anything else in your life æ hour upon hour upon hour, with nothing in the way of encouragement, no good feeling, except the sense that you have been true to the silently admonishing examples of the writers who came before you – the ones whose company you would like to be in and of whose respect you would like to be worthy. 

I often tell my high school students that any good grade is worth the hard work, and I think the same applies here. One can’t just decide they’re going to write a book, get the story on paper, and drop it off at the publishing house. 

One of my favorite Ernest Hemingway quotes supports this idea.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

In other words, writing a novel is kind of like undertaking a second job. You have to be committed, dedicated, motivated, and habitual. So, in the spirit of being habitual, stay tuned tomorrow for another glimpse into the Mind of Mynk.

Write Like the Greats

This is the second of several posts discussing Richard Bausch’s essay Letter to a Young Writer,” which offers some of the best advice I’ve seen about the craft of writing. In the last post, I discussed his advice that writers must be readers.

Here’s his second point:

Imitate. While you’re doing this reading, you spend time trying to sound like the various authors, just as a painter learning to paint sets up his easel in a museum and copies the work of the masters. You learn by trying the sound and stance of other writers. You develop an ear, through your reading and imitating, for how good writing is supposed to sound.

It’s been said of Hunter S. Thompson that he retyped stories from Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald to mimic their styles. The strategy certainly worked for him, but I can’t imagine where he found the time to do it. Still, I think there’s some merit in studying the way a good writer puts a paragraph together.

That said, I don’t think this advice can necessarily be interpreted as to imitate the best sellers. David Baldacci is by far one of my favorite writers, but I sometimes get frustrated in his books with the pages of dialogue that have no speech tags or action beats. I sometimes have to read those pages six or seven times to figure things out. If I submitted something like that to an agent or editor, they’d send it straightway to the bottom of the slush pile. He can get away with it because he’s sold so many books.

To write like the ‘Greats’, it’s essential to have a clear definition of what being great actually means, within the scope of your goals as a writer. If you want to write thrillers, it’s probably not best to write like a romance novelist. If you want to write young adult fiction, you might not find inspiration from a nonfiction author.

I think Bausch brings up another good point–great writing is something you can “hear” when you read it. In my early days of writing, I was told by several critiquers to consider my voice and try to define it and make it stronger. It’s important to not just take on the voice of someone else. Still, there’s a transition and flow to good writing that’s painfully absent from the work of a newbie.

That’s where critiquing is so important. When you learn how to identify those errors you “hear” in the words of others, it’s easier to stop making them in your own.

Taking Time to Read

Here’s the first in a list of ten pieces of advice Richard Bausch gives in his “Letter to a Young Writer.” 

Read. You must try to know everything that has ever been written that is worth remembering and you must keep up with what your contemporaries are doing. Fitzgerald’s advice to his daughter, Scotty, is as good as any there is on the subject. “You must try to absorb six good authors a year.” This means that you do not read books as an English major is trained to read them. You swallow them. You ingest them. You move on. You do not stop to analyze or think much. You just take them into yourself and go on to the next one. And you read obsessively, too. If you really like something, you read it over and over through the years. Come to know the world’s literature by heart. Every good writer I know or have known began with an insatiable appetite for books – for plundering what is in them, for the nourishment provided there that you can’t get from any other source. 

While reading writing help blogs and articles, I continually find advice for a writer to read from the genre they hope to write in. As a new writer, you might not know that, so my suggestion is to look at the top of the New York Times list of bestsellers.That’s where I found my favorite book, Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. The title intrigued me, the story gripped me, and I might have never found it, had I not looked over that list.

I love Bausch’s advice about not stopping to analyze, and just losing yourself in the book.

If you don’t like to read, you should know that when you write, there’s a lot of time spent reading your own work to try to make it better. Write, read, revise. Write, read, revise.

Though I do think it’s important to not stop to analyze, I also believe that analysis at the end is essential. Some have called Stephenie Meyer brilliant; others do not have much nice to say about her writing. No one argues that she doesn’t know how to sell a story.The Twilight series speaks to people in a way that many other books can’t. The same is true for The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments, Harry Potter, and The 39 Clues. Ask yourself questions, like why there are so many middle-aged people devouring these books that were written for a young adult audience.

Well, off to follow my own advice. Can’t wait to read Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed!

Why Christian Fiction?

At times, people on forums will make comments that something I’ve written might sell better in a secular setting. In no way do I mean I’ve experienced any persecution from critiquers. On the contrary, most of them have been highly supportive and more than fair. Still, I get the occasional one to ask why I’m so bent on publishing in that market. Other than the obvious, “Well, I am a Christian,” I had to stop and think about what that answer might be.

One reason, I guess, is that I love to read Christian fiction. There’s not a good way to explain this, but writing is sometimes as good as reading. The characters take over my fingers and I get caught up in their journey as if I’m reading someone else’s work. I enjoy being moved by someone having an emotional response to what God has done for them and growing in their faith. If I write it, I get to feel that way with the characters I’ve developed, and it’s more personal.

Second, I want to write things that will make my parents proud and that I don’t have to hide from my children. I watch or read about some of these people on TV (for about 10 seconds before switching) and it makes me wonder how they can do it. Surely their parents cover their eyes or don’t tune in at all. Surely they don’t want their children to see their inappropriate pictures and read their crass talk.  I try not to judge, but I don’t understand.

But then I got to thinking about the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, and how God gives us our gifts to use to glorify him. So now, my answer to that question is how can I not write Christian fiction?

When the cast of Duck Dynasty became a household name, and I read some of their comments about why they were willing to put their family on national TV to share their faith, and the message really hit home. A lot of Christians complain that they’re trying to talk to people about God but they aren’t listening. Say what you will about Phil Robertson, in spite of his lack of tact. He’s got people listening who probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

If I publish one book and one person reads it, sees my bio, and decides to figure out where my faith comes from, then it’s worth everything I put into it.

My dream is to write a Young Adult novel with that Hunger Games feel that will speak to young Christian women and encourage them to embrace a steadfast faith.

Many thanks to everyone who is supporting me on this ride!