Some of you may remember one of my very favorite series TV programs JAG. From the first time Marine Colonel Sarah MacKenzie (Catherine Bell) was introduced we wanted to see the sparks fly between Mac and Navy pilot and JAG attorney Lt. Harmon Rabb (David James Elliot) and oh how they did ignite. As is the customary trajectory of Donald Bellisario productions, we would be teased unmercifully with their UST until the final episode of JAG when the couple arrived at a coin flip plan to be together.
It took several seasons before Castle's Kate Beckett and Rick Castle joined more than forces on their homicide solving partnerships. Their taunting and teasing mixed with some critical cases that found them trapped together created a silent bond that grew between them and finally resulted in an engagement as the couple found themselves in separate locations until Kate eventually returned to the NYPD. As they planned their wedding, the latest Season Finale ended with a fiery crash before their vows were said. And since then things are definitely different with little spark and much confusion.
NCIS gave viewers the flippant but dedicated Tony DiNozzo stacked up with the nerdy Timothy McGee and the former no-nonsense Marine LeRoy Jethro Gibbs as their boss. When one of their agents (Kate/Caitlyn) is murdered by a sniper, Israeli Ziva David enters the scene with flash, intensity, and a low-key chemistry between her and Tony. Over time, Ziva and Tony explore moments of closeness and then withdraw until Ziva's final episode when they at long last share a meaningful expression of their feelings for each other and Tony leaves Israel without her.
What we want as we watch these characters pursue their careers and their affections is for them to experience the rush of romance and to fall in love demonstrating that onscreen chemistry isn't always easy to find with co-stars but is sensational when it happens. Included with that must be good and complex stories where their dilemmas are cast aside in order to do their jobs but never eliminated. The methodology often includes other attractions for them, creating conflicts in their relationships. The viewer wants them to be together with each other, but then what?
When the UST is resolved, the tension is released, and there is less romance between them. It's almost as if the air leaks from the balloon and the very thing we thought we wanted isn't it. Because it's very hard to pull off love when all we want to see is romance. The secrecy, the tension, the stolen moments, looks, innuendo, all cease to exist as if falling in love somehow dampens the relationship and takes all the steam out of the attraction. It takes immensely talented writers to pull off love after tantalizing audiences with romance. Love is comfortable while romance is daring. Love brings trust while romance brings intrigue.
It takes amazing writers and good actors to keep the romantic tension going when characters commit. It shouldn't but it does. Probably why romance novels tend to follow a formula with a generally happily-ever-after ending. It seems there's nothing left to say after the couple falls in love. Now that's a shame.
Father, you designed us for both romance and love but not without commitment. Let us experience what you have for us in every arena and seek after all that entails. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The price of pain . . . physical, emotional, spiritual. To endure it, to overcome it, to get rid of it dominate the existence of pain. So much pain in this life of all kinds, experienced by all people.
Pain serves a purpose, but when in pain it's hard to care, to value, or to survive it. Most of us just want it to go away. We don't want the residual memory of it, we don't want it to be repeated, we certainly don't want to cause it again, and if it lasts a long time, we can't help but ask the question "Why?"
If asked about the benefit(s) of pain, most of us would be hard-pressed to give any. Only in hindsight can we gain some understanding of its purpose. Those who live in pain demonstrate immense courage. Pain brings a reality no one wants to experience: life is difficult, it requires endurance much of the time, it reminds us of both our humanity and our mortality, and it proves we are not in control.
Relief is the endgame of pain. We want it to go away. Some will, some won't. Pain is inevitable in this life except for those rare souls who cannot feel it and oddly enough are in danger because of what some would undoubtedly consider a blessing. However, without feeling pain we can be seriously damaged without knowing how much.
I can give no advice to those in pain other than to pray for mercy and grace. There are no simple solutions to real pain. If we've caused our own pain, we must learn the reasons for or behind it. If someone else has brought pain upon us, we need to survive it. We will be stronger for having endured it, but beyond that, we must decipher what the experience meant to us.
Will God help us figure out our pain? Yes. And no. It's His choice whether or not He chooses to explain it all to you if you ask Him about it. Purpose, value, even a blessing? It's up to Him. And you and me.
Father, I can't say truthfully that I'm grateful for pain of any kind, but I can say I've discovered some value in some of the pain I've endured. And I can pray for those who are deep in pain for whatever reasons. I do ask for your mercy and grace for those in pain. You're the only One who provides real comfort and relief. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Autumn . . . fall . . . a favorite season of many. I was born on the first day of fall, and it always makes me slightly melancholy when it arrives. But its beauty is indisputable and breathtaking. Hope you enjoy these lovely shots.
Father, you're the Creator of all things beautiful. Thank you for letting it remain. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
A lovely picture capturing more than physical features. This is the job of an artist. Whether a sketch artist, a painter, a sculptor, whatever the medium, it is the objective to create an accurate portrait of the one where you intend to center your attention - both for yourself and for those who want to view what you do.
And so it is with story writers. Painting with words is not as precise. Some authors choose to make their physical descriptions of characters vague, leaving their "portraits" up to the readers. I'm a character-study kind of writer, and I want you to see what I see. I might give you too much information, but that's how it goes with me. These characters are as real as I can make them, and although actually "seeing" them is not a visual I can give you, I can help you to see what I see because, for me as a writer, that character does not depend on you and your imagination, it depends on me and mine. Now not every character will be given an in-depth description so you will have some leeway to lend your imagination to "my" people, but the main characters? You will read their features, their gestures, and, yes, probably the color of their eyes.
When you read, do you prefer vague or actual images in your characters?
Father, apart from you, I can do nothing. Help me to be who you designed me to be. In every way. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
2. Perfume (I have three I use for spring/summer, fall, winter)
4. Lipstick (I have a zillion tubes)
5. Eye makeup
Lord, thank you for the fun things we are blessed to experience in this free country. It's all thanks to you. Help us to never forget your benevolence and generosity, forgiveness and grace. Apart from you we can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Lauren Carter moved to Portland, Oregon, from her home in Alaska several years ago when a mistake she made with her boyfriend Blake caused her to run away from all things loved and familiar. Finding a way to make it on her own with the help of a doctor and his wife who hired her and took her in with them, Lauren now lives in an apartment with a roommate and is traveling home engaged to a doctor and expecting her fiancé to follow her up to Alaska before they marry to meet her parents.
Her parents have no idea of the secret she's been hiding, but there's more than one secret in the Carter family, and, as it turns out, her fiancé has one of his own.
Some people react with anger to shame and embarrassment, others feel gut-wrenching guilt, and still others run from the messes they've created in order to cope. Human beings can drive themselves to isolation over mistakes made and end up making their mistakes even larger than they are. Forgiving oneself is sometimes harder than forgiving someone else for the huge hurt experienced by doing the wrong thing in desperation.
Unraveled is the story of Lauren Carter's battle with herself. The pain of her youthful indescretion grows greater when she faces the one whose heart she broke by running away. Blake has never gotten over her, and Lauren learns she's never really gotten over him either. When Lauren's life begins to unravel seemingly the moment she steps off the ferry, it continues until all the truths are exposed. Raw pain crushes hearts and somehow forgiveness needs to surface and redeem the lives so desperate for the freedom it can bring.
Personally, I think the audience for this novel lies primarily in the 20 - 30-something range although some older female readers will find it reminiscent of youthful experiences and failures. Faith is prominent but not overt because Lauren has lost hers. It's not atypical of the romance formula, and the happy ending is expected. If you enjoy that formula and the drama that comes from this age group, Unraveled by Heidi McCahan will satisfy that preference.
Father, please bless Heidi for her efforts to be the one you designed her to be. Please give her stories to tell and direct all of her steps to honor you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
You might remember I loved the Castleepisode before the Series Finale of 2014 and hated the actual Series Finale.
Well . . . the Season Premiere was just as disappointing as the Series Finale. Using amnesia as the vehicle for Castle's unexplained appearances in his two months' absence after the wreck on his wedding day really did not show much creativity. It was a face palm experience, and I wonder if the show has lost its focus and is closing in on "The End".
Small details were ignored in the search for the missing Castle and resulted in the assumption that he staged his disappearance - slash - kidnapping. The fact that someone had to drag him from his wrecked car which was forced off the road didn't even earn an honorable mention as the story progressed. Castle's devotion to Kate became a non-factor as more "clues" turned up to suggest his abandonment of Kate at the altar was purposeful.
And then to use the worn out amnesia theme? Weak. And disappointing. Hoping it will be interesting to learn exactly who's behind this setup. And will Castle and Kate ever get married?
Lord, we rely on you for everything, creative and otherwise. Help us all to realize apart from you, we can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
"So what makes up those 'unique selling points'? Professional marketers and publicists will no doubt agree on many things and dispute others. Exposure is a must and not always tenable. But stripped down, bare naked? The unique selling point is you."
Your voice is yours alone. Your concept belongs to you, no matter how borrowed, tried-and-true, or even if it's failed a thousand times. If you think you can do it better, you own it. You might sound similar to another writer and write in the same genre/storylines, but you are the one who must produce that tiny or huge difference which singles you out or separates you from all who've done it before or since. Only you can do it.
Some of us writers/authors operate in the shadows.We have virtually no audience outside of those who've willingly read or dared to read our work. Whether trusted friends or valued strangers, we need their responses to affirm our writing and encourage us to keep the writing gig from sinking even further into oblivion. We may have attempted to slink out of the shadows by attending conferences, engaging other authors, or whatever the publicist gurus have suggested, but it seems we remain obscure. We are, after all, who we are. And that something "unique" about us isn't selling much.
So. Do we change our dynamic? Do we get more aggressive with our efforts to force through invisible barriers? Do we embrace the platitudes of professionals which suggest "only the best get published"? And decide we're certainly not one of those "best"?
I can only speak for me, and this writer/author knows my "success" depends on God's intent. That can but doesn't necessarily mean I keep hanging around, do nothing to forward my "position", or just wait. I practiced "the plan" suggested by most publishing professionals, and I elected to go the do-it-yourself route when things didn't seem to be working. But that's me. Now? Now I occasionally work on my three unfinished novels, access feedback, and know that I must finish the work assigned to me. Beyond that I will admit there is only a ragtag plan to do ebooks for my novels.
What about you? Are you inspired to follow a plan, set a goal, write through the frustrations and/or demands, keep banging on doors until one opens for you? Or are you content to write and wait it out, come "success" or "failure", have the confidence to allow the Lord to do the construction of the road ahead for you?
Whatever you decide for yourself, you are the selling point, the unique individual with something of value to offer to whomever will take a chance on you. You are designed by a magnificent God who put you together with loving hands. Your talents were His gifts to you, and how He desires to use them will be the best. Admittedly, sometimes, accepting that is hard to do. But well worth it.
Father, thank you for all you've given me. I'm blessed. And once again thank you is never enough. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.