As a Christian, as a person, and as an author, I'm not responsible for your walk with Christ. As far it's possible for me to do, I am to keep peace with others. If that indicates I must compromise my knowledge of the Lord and the coinciding belief system which results in my actions, then peace is not attainable. True peace comes from the Prince of Peace and even He could not establish a physical peace with those Pharisees and unbelievers who crucified Him. I must also be aware of those who surround me, being cognizant of what they can handle hearing, seeing, and discussing.
While these biblical principles guide our Christian lifestyles, they do not logically apply to fiction writing. No one demands a reader indulge himself in a novel of any sort. This simple factor absolves authors of damaging another Christian's walk with God. Christians are responsible for what they read, view, discuss, or teach, and the standard with which they conduct their walk is the one on which they will be judged as to how it stacks up with the Word.
We all know other Christians who don't quite walk their talk, who don't quite measure up to our standards of how we think Christians should act, speak, or lead their lives. Let's be honest here: sometimes certain people who claim the title of Christian do not live up to that holy reference, and we're embarrassed when they make those claims because it reflects negatively on us.
Readers need to take responsibility for their choices. If offensive language, circumstances, individuals, or scenes cause you to react in shock or distaste, put the book down. Burn it if you like. But understand this: what you might deem shocking or distasteful doesn't even register on another believer's moral meter. The reason for this is because some readers prefer stories which tackle reality with clear vision, and we all must admit reality can be harsh, vivid, shocking, and lovely.
Dark and light can be acceptable in the same story. What is dark to some is light grey to another. These preferences do not indicate strong or weak walks with our Lord Jesus Christ. They prove that authors have taken different journeys in their lifetimes, experienced the wicked and the sublime, and, for the sake of themselves and others, have been directed to portray the unlovely with the lovely.
If you're a fan of pristine stories and want your novels "clean and chaste", God has given you a cadre of authors to fulfill your desires. You have no need to investigate those stories which you feel might somehow threaten your relationship with Christ. Nor do you have any need to "protect" other readers from making their responsible choices. And, while you're of course entitled to your opinion of a novel, for you to make a public display of your judgment after having decided to complete a novel that offended you, well . . . why did you elect to finish it? To castigate your fellow believer?
Authors answer to God. Both believers and unbelievers will answer to Him. Not to you. The Christian Fiction Police stand guard at the publishers' doors. They're called editors subject to each house's list of restrictive measures for Christian fiction, some far more demanding than others.
Each Christian reader selects the fiction he most wants to read, hoping to find a story that entertains or ministers to his particular expectations from a story. That reader takes personal inventory to validate his spiritual well-being. It seems difficult for some Christians to allow others to be their own judges, to seek the Holy Spirit's counsel without interference from self-appointed fiction police. Authors do not need to seek permission to write what God has put upon their hearts to create. And readers should not be issuing "tickets" for stories that don't fit into personal demands for "appropriate" Christian fiction.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
It's not easy to forgive anyone who's deeply hurt you. For some people it's nearly impossible. This quote explains the concept of forgiveness. If you've been affronted, harmed, or worse, it's going to take supernatural awareness and intervention to get to the place where you can offer forgiveness.
The forgiveness you give is to set yourself free from the hold the other individuals have over you. For those offenders who truly are sorry for doing you harm, yes, they desire forgiveness. But there are those who don't care anything about how you've been wronged by them. They won't request forgiveness and might not even be sorry for their offense(s).
People often think that by forgiving someone you also must "forget" the actions or words which harmed you. No. You will most likely never forget what was done to you if it was severe enough. Forgiving is a heart action to free yourself from the pain and burden another caused you. By forgiving it, you separate yourself from the deed(s) and give yourself higher ground to walk on. You rise above it to a place where they can't continue to cause you harm.
The Master Forgiver hung on a cross and offered forgiveness for all the insults and evil mankind had perpetrated and done to Him. He took the punishment to provide forgiveness for the multitude of sins exercised on earth. We need His forgiveness because without it, our eternity is bleak and filled with judgment. By acknowledging our need for that forgiveness, we begin to understand why we need to offer it to those who hurt us. To reciprocate. To find a way to emulate what Jesus provided for us when we didn't deserve it any more than the person who hurt us. But there it is.
He set us free. Free to forgive others just as He forgave us. It's not easy, but few meaningful actions in this world are.
Father, help us to forgive. We really can't do it without you - whether we realize it or not. Thank you, Jesus, for forgiving me. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The best years for music? The sixties and seventies. Fabulous bands and musicians if you like rock 'n' roll. Too bad "drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll" was the prevalent theme of those days.
If you listen to these typical-of-the-day lyrics, you get a picture of a character. The one I created is named Dale Rivers. Hope I finish this novel. I love the guy. Title: . . . in a love song of course.
Lord, it was a time of sinful struggles and major rescues. Thank you for the many you collected for your glory during and after those trying times. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I'm not a man. Although I appreciate the male species, I can never fully understand the way they're wired. Their brains are constructed differently from women's brains.
Keeping these things in mind, one would tend to think a female writer would choose not to feature a male protagonist and use first person point of view. Admitting it's a challenge to crawl inside a man's skin, it's an interesting and formidable place to be. And sometimes it's much more meaningful to create a satisfactory and enticing man - "enticing" in that the personality attracts empathy, understanding, and appreciation from a reader, not mirroring a worldly stereotype.
As an author who writes love stories, it's essential to give the male protagonist accurate and complex traits without minimizing or demonizing his innate masculinity. In order to do it well, the attention to the heart and soul of the character must produce depth even within his potential simplicity.
Not being a man makes the effort more difficult but certainly more rewarding when achieving success. Studying men is a worthwhile endeavor. Creating good male characters: priceless.
Father, thank you for the amazing and utter beauty of your creation, male and female. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Italics drive some editing professionals crazy. I don't get it. From the standpoint of difficulty reading italics in fine print, yes, that I understand, but the specific use of italics in novels serves a viable purpose. Certainly they're not a necessity, but neither are they a liability. The separation they give to characters' thoughts, to the emphasis of word or phrase, to quoted letters, and legitimate titles used within a story, all provide a function not easily equaled with the regular font.
Some preferences are just that: someone's own acquired taste in the mechanics of writing.
Is there some element of writing you don't like or prefer?
Father, you've given everyone gifts and talents. Help us to appreciate the creative spirit. Every good and perfect gift comes down to us from you. Thank you for your love and grace. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The world of indie publishing has increased the need for cover designers hired by individuals producing their books. Since I've self-published mine, I've always had the last word on the cover designs. Although two of the three required more communication than the other one, the artists succeeded in expressing the novels' tone and substance.
So, for those of you who write novels, do you see your covers before, during, or not at all when working on your book?
I may be e-publishing another novel, and I have seen the cover for this one since its inception. Whether or not the image in my mind translates well to the finished product remains a question mark at this time, but I'll attempt to describe it accurately and hope it makes a good cover.
I've never liked covers with a predominant focus on the author's name - where the name overrides the title, the design, and most everything else. There are ways to feature the author without overtaking the title's message, such as different fonts, bolder color, or black. For me, the title and design are the most important part of a book cover.
I love great book covers and am a self-confessed judger of books by their covers. Doesn't mean I won't read a book with a cover I don't like, but without a specific interest in that particular book I'll put it right back on the shelf or skip over the Amazon description if I'm not attracted to the cover. Covers matter to me, and I want mine to appeal to me. That way maybe others will enjoy them too.
Father, thank you for all the people you've gifted with designer talents. Their art contributes to the satisfaction of writer and reader alike. So grateful for your never ending generosity. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I spent about a month buying Bride magazines when I got engaged to my boyfriend of three years. I was 18 years old. Crazy to think of it now. Bridal magazines were definitely not me, but I indulged them for a short season.
Females come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. We claim some of the same emotional makeup, but we can be vastly different in how we relate those emotions to circumstances. We can be soft, hard, and in between for our personalities. We can love glam and frou-frou or prefer low maintenance and style. We can be outdoorsy and love to camp or crave luxurious accommodations. We fuss over our makeup and hair or we go sans makeup with wash and wear hair. Athletic, demure, clumsy, and average, we are what we are.
I seriously doubt real men thumb through bridal magazines or spend much time selecting a tuxedo or whatever they plan to wear at their wedding. Yes, men manage to prefer certain styles - some definitely more than others - but to spend a great deal of time pouring over pictures of what to wear? Don't think so. Some men probably allow their brides to pick out their wedding-wear.
Males seek to control or at least manage their emotional reactions, contrary to most females. Many want to be perceived as strong and reliable while others are slothful and messy. Far more demanding of others' respect above all, males desire love but love to be desired. More apt to "fuss" over their vehicles or their pet projects, whatever those might be, some will look rugged and others aim for suave. Men are who they are and many of them like to keep it simple, which is why the female persona often causes great confusion for them.
Females and males struggle with communication because they're different from their brain structure to their bodily parts. Made to complement each other, in this sin-stained world they spend far too much time in conflict while striving for harmony, the perfection of creation a distant dream.
Because of the God-given role for a male and the prophecy after the Fall of how the woman would try to usurp her power over the man, we see the conflicts of today between the sexes amplified and exploited by both sexes. With either impatient couples rushing to the altar or to move in together without establishing godly parameters for their relationships, marriage becomes a ritual which can be remedied by divorce, and those who live together can simply quit merging their bodies and their homes and walk away from commitment.
Females and males, males and females, work together or in opposition to each other in the home, in the workplace, or even in spiritual arenas. The lost human soul needs redemption from sin to help each one through the mine field of life. And even then the course is hard and wearisome but well worth the challenge. There's nothing better than people willing to make an effort to invest in each other, to overcome the obstacles, to rise above situations in triumph.
Father, we're sinners. You love us. You help us. You save us. We're all desperate for you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I don't know about you, but I've worked for both men and women. I've had bad bosses of both sexes, but I will say when I've had a bad woman boss, they're the worst.
When women are hard-hearted, power-hungry, and clearly lack people-management skills, they're by far more unlikable than men with the same poor qualities. Women who are calloused and uncaring demonstrate the reasons for acquiring certain unpleasant nicknames. They give orders as if their employees are sub-humans. Everything they want done is for their own self-serving agenda. Most of the time these particular women are hypocrites who stroke favorite workers to get what they want and easily cast them aside or as the current popular phrase goes "throw them under the bus" if the higher-up finds what these individuals were instructed to do doesn't work. These women usually shred their employees and lose a fair amount of them while schmoozing their bosses to make everything seem perfect under their direction.
Maybe I mind it less with men because they're not women. Only women with a similar opinion as mine will understand this. Sometimes we expect these above characteristics from male bosses who demonstrate a certain personality type so when their expected conduct becomes a reality, we're not surprised.
To be fair, I've had a couple of great women bosses who looked out for their employees, going the extra mile to accommodate all kinds of issues while still being on top of everything pertaining to business. These were exceptional women on all levels and really a pleasure to work for, but, for me, they weren't the norm.
I don't know what your experiences have been with either gender, but whether male or female, working for these types of people is no fun and usually not productive in the long term. Some people should not be allowed to manage other workers.
Father, we need to be where you want us to be, doing what you want us to do, with grace and mercy and straightforward conduct. Help us to be what you want us to be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God.
Words hold far more power than the old phrase "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me" wields. Words can hold a person prisoner even if consciously they're unaware of their effect.
A classic example of this is the sad story of the young sister of the talented singing duo "The Carpenters". A reviewer wrote a remark about her weight which ultimately caused her downward spiral into anorexia leading to her eventual death. The threat and insult of her being "pudgy" or "fat" made an indentation to her soul she couldn't logically remedy or shed.
In the throes of anger people say things which can leave scars on psyches and weaken all kinds of relationships to the point of destruction. Words wield power. They must be used carefully and with caution.
Authors who write serious literature will, hopefully, affect those who read their words. Words shape ideas, opinions, form thoughts, and elicit reactions. Novels tell stories which can prove to be life-changing, frightening, encouraging, or thought-provoking. They evoke emotional responses. Stories can be hilarious giving moments of comic relief to refresh the soul. Fantasy can give room to the imagination and explore thematic concepts.
Words matter. Use them wisely.
God, your Word matters above all others. May we take heed from your instruction and never forget your power. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I don't like to read novellas. They're too short. Even well-written and well done, I will rarely read a novella. I prefer long and involved stories. And I've always hated short stories.
Every once in awhile we make exceptions to our "soft" rules. They're movable. They're not critical. They have no dangerous side effects - at least in the case of long or short novels, they don't.
I don't even like to read short novels that hover between a novella and a medium length novel, but I've read more than a few.
Christian fiction has produced some longer novels, but usually they're written by the blockbuster authors who sell well. Again, exceptions surface but not often.
I don't have an indisputable reason for preferring the longer novels. The very reason I love some of them is because of the minute details concerning locations, characters, and situations. Give me well-developed and defined characters and you've definitely got my attention. I love subtleties in writing them. How they stand, expressions, asides, you name it. If unique or even commonplace characteristics or defining moments come from the author's words, I'm entranced.
However, if I'm supposed to review a novel that happens to be long where none of the above qualities exist, it's a struggle to grind through the pages. If an author chooses to write a long story, they risk losing readers who don't wish to spend much time on a novel. Long intense thrillers are most likely to maintain a reader's attention.
Tuesday musings on reading books and stories . . .
Father, help us to write what you have for each of us to do. You've made us unique. You have specific desires and plans for us. May we fulfill them. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
What are you afraid of? Real fear sends adrenaline shooting through your blood vessels. Your heart ricochets inside your chest. Decisions come in torrents or freeze inside your brain. Paralyzed or springing into action, fear causes diverse reactions.
And fear is one of Satan's strongest, most effective tools. Fear can stifle. It can rule. It can impair. It can triumph. It can ruin lives.
Most importantly it can nullify in the mind's eye the truth of this proclamation: "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." (John 4:4)
Each of us will face traumatic experiences in our lives. Some will be rectified and turn out well. Others will not. On this earth we have only One viable option to overcoming fear, and it's supernatural. Death is inevitable for all of us. How we die isn't always an option. To allow fear to dominate what we choose to do can be wise or foolish. If we fail to consider the spiritual source of fear, we'll react in a two dimensional process instead of the necessary three dimensional consideration.
Initial fear is often uncontrollable. What happens next depends on how we're able to handle the situation. Is it life threatening? Is it a mere provocation? Is it genuine? Can it be evaded? Is it really dangerous? Is it all in your head?
What scares you?
Father, you've written that fear is not of you, yet humans flinch and are terrified when facing your ministering spirits. The supernatural often horrifies us until we hear your soothing words, "Fear not." Help us to be alert and on guard, not subject to the enemy's schemes. Keep us strong in you and in your mighty power. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.