Whether you use a pen or pencil, a keyboard, tablet, or recording device, if you're writing fiction, you better write it from the heart. No matter if you're a planner, organizer, legalistic outliner, or you fly by the seat of your pants as "they" say, if you're not writing something from your heart, you can follow all the rules, can compose a story, but can you make the reader feel your passion if, in fact, you don't have any?
You might not like my style, my "skills", my stories, or my characters, but one thing you can never say about my writing is it lacks passion. Or you can say it, but it won't be true.
Write from your heart and don't be fooled or misdirected by instructions. Rules and instructions must be learned. Once learned, let your style flow, your voice be established, your passion felt.
Passion comes from the heart. It can be imitated but not duplicated. It's original according to who you are at your core. Whether you sizzle or silently strut your stuff, passion is inherent in good writing.
Write your heart out.
Father, thank you for the passions of our hearts - especially when directed by your careful, loving artistry. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
There is a limit to how much we can take of certain ideologies, practices, events, actions, and many more things. But since we discuss a lot of writing issues on this blog, let's start there.
Recently a well known and very talented novelist wrote a letter to her publisher and fans and the publishing world in general to inform them that she was bowing out of the writing circus. She gave more than one reason, but the main reason was because she couldn't do what was being asked of her. She couldn't market like this new season in publishing demands because admittedly she had no talent for it, no desire to promote, and no incentive to attempt it. She is, or was, after all, a writer and never pretended to be anything else. Since some of her novels didn't become bestsellers, she felt her bottom line for earnings didn't warrant any loyalty from her publisher, nor did her publisher offer to pick up any slack her lack of marketing skills incurred. For those of us who appreciated her wonderful abilities to write, it came as a huge surprise.
For me, I got it. There is a heavy load on today's authors to do all or most of the primary marketing for their books. Indies definitely must promote themselves and their work in order to break into any kind of recognition for their self or custom published works. But some of us simply cannot do it effectively - or willingly. Regardless of all the demands and with the understanding of what's at stake - i.e. the hope of selling a number of books - no matter who says what about the absolute "must-dos", marketing is for a particular group with a remarkable skill set who can be fearless in selling a product. It is possible that others of us have no such skills in self-promotion and selling our wares no matter how much we might want to.
There came a time in this author's life when she decided for this season enough was enough. Whether or not she will ultimately stay away from writing for good, only she and the Lord know. I think it's a sad day for publishing when a genuinely good writer lays down her pen/keyboard because of the demands which don't pertain to her actual talent. Authors are innumerable. Really good ones: not so much.
Enough was enough. And in this case it's too bad.
Father, whatever you have for her, please bless the next step. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
For such a laid back contemporary western drama, there is more conflict in each episode than can hardly be contained. The search for the murderer of Longmire's wife is finally concluded, but who survives the discovery remains for another day along with several other unfinished and much needed resolutions.
A talented cast where every actor contributes to the whole, information is revealed in complicated pieces with an underlying tension permeating nearly every scene.
Well written and well done. Two few episodes at a time but the wait has been worth it in each new short season.
Father, to watch people use the talent you've given them can be amazing. Please lead them to yourself and help them to know the One who's blessed them. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Jack Noble has had enough of his line of work, but he owes an old friend, which in Jack's business usually means a former working associate, a favor, and in order to complete what he's intended to be his last job, he must go to London to do it. His former SIS boss Frank Skinner has erased all red flags on his name worldwide, clearing the way for his freedom from government attention being drawn to him - or so Jack thinks. As it turns out, for this trip, as with so many others in his life: nothing is as it seems.
Jack Noble is spotted upon his arrival at Heathrow by multiple government agencies. However, one former SAS individual in particular is eventually able to catch up to him after Jack dodges him at the airport. He later discovers this is his "friend's" bodyguard, and he is taken to see her during which time her niece Erin arrives with her striking little daughter Mia. Erin and Jack have a history and it goes beyond what Jack remembers.
Suffice it to say, unknown to either of them, both Clarissa and Jack are on "jobs" which will eventually intersect. Clarissa is undercover and assigned to discover what kind of terrorist operation her "boyfriend" Naseer is planning. Naseer's plan includes Jack's target, but neither Clarissa nor Jack are aware of the operation.
Jack can't shake the feeling that he's being set up, that things don't add up, and he's stumped as to how certain events aren't making sense. When there is a huge explosion at a hotel where he was supposed to stay but never checked into, "coincidences" are proving to be decoys. Suddenly the Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff show up at the rubble, and Jack reunites with the PM and his main man, all having served together years ago. With news erupting in the states about the supposed terrorist act at the hotel, Bear and Mandy show up to make sure Jack's okay, and all of them head to the Prime Minister's lodging.
The convoluted mess has them all suspicious of one another with the exception of Bear and Jack and the PM. It's looking very much like there is a mole in MI5 - and maybe more than one. Nobody trusts anybody, and Jack is beginning to wonder who's conducting this chaos.
L. T. Ryan creates a chaotic mess with perfect misleading characters and circumstances. His novels defintely don't give you literary masterpieces, but they certainly keep you guessing and wondering and hoping for good outcomes. Jack is always at the center of everything, often not expecting to be, but undeniably so. People inevitably die, there are many surprises, and fear always plays a huge role when certain individuals are threatened and endure undue pain.
Jack's efforts to do this one last job end up compromised with interferences he never expected. The resolution to get to the source of all the threats and betrayals without complete knowledge of who to trust makes for a final effort.
The ending is a semi-resolved cliffhanger, the kind you expect with those loose ends dangling at the finish. Exciting, conflicted, and hard-hitting, Noble Intentions(Season Three) by L. T. Ryan keeps the game going and Jack Noble just keeps getting better with age.
Father, you know hearts and souls. Please minister to those who don't know you and bless their use of the talent you've given them. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I've been the straggler when it comes to reading Charles Martin's novels. Shame on me. Unwritten is my third venture into Charles Martin's work, and it seems he has yet to disappoint. A few years ago - you Charles Martin experts will know exactly when - he switched from the Christian fiction genre to the general market. Some of his devoted readers were disappointed with a book or two of his after his decision. After reading Unwritten, I can imagine he decided to do this because of the restrictions generally placed on certain language and innuendoes in Christian fiction, but that would be a guess based on this particular novel. Those who are more familiar with him probably have read or heard his explanation for making this change.
Unwritten, published in 2013 by Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group, is a story about two individuals who have been shattered by life's experiences and have one person in common before they meet each other in the worst possible way. Their common denominator is an 80+ year old Catholic priest who goes by the name of Steady. He's in the rescuing business and has a phenomenal ability to plan the merging of two broken people, who couldn't be more different from each other, in order to save them both.
Katie Quinn is a world famous actress of the stage and screen who's carried unrelenting pain which originated in her childhood, carried over into her youth, and has intensified to a level she can no longer bear.
"Sunday" is a mystery man, a recluse, who fishes and hides out on the shores and islands off the Florida coast. Somehow he's made enough money in his younger life to sustain his minimalist existence. His friend Steady joins him to fish and visits with him when Sunday stops by the church to talk.
When Steady realizes what Katie is about to do, he convinces Sunday to go with him to see her. Once they are able to reach her, life changes for both Katie and Sunday in a huge way - a way neither of them appreciates in the beginning.
What Charles Martin is able to do throughout this interesting story with three unusual characters is to slowly develop each one and weave their lives together as their revelations sneak out from the obtrusive walls Katie and Sunday have built to conceal them. Broken by different assaults, Katie and Sunday share empathy they're slow to discover, mutually unwilling to allow trust to be a factor in their odd new friendship.
Damaged and disguised, they venture together toward a realization neither of them expects to find - or really even wants to. A tiny hope on life support flutters in each of them, neither ready for what happens when clarity strikes them.
Unwritten is a contemporary story of breaking free from those things which hold us captive and torment us with their painful prodding and terrifying threats of even more hurt. Those things that keep us bound to the pain and refuse to relinquish us to find a workable freedom enabling us to live.
Although Steady brings the presence of godly wisdom and faith, both Katie and Sunday in particular never quite embrace the fullness of God. There are still some grudges and blame placed on God which Sunday can't quite overcome, but the story leads us to believe the faint glimmer of hope recognized and experienced in the ending of this tale could lead to a recognition and amplification of faith.
I would say the appearance of God is visible but obscured by the elements of the story which features two people who haven't decided to allow Him a place in their aching hearts. Steady keeps them aware of the goodness of God and the unconditional love he and God has for them. He is the one constant in their tumultuous emotional reckonings.
Unwritten displays the unique storytelling and imaginative, lovely, and intricate prose of Charles Martin. With compelling characters precisely because of their oddities, they lead us on a journey of discovery which elicits raw and all-consuming pain with the hope that in the end they will survive its terror. The ending of which remains unwritten.
Highly recommend the work of this gifted novelist.
Father, please continue to supply the stories to Charles and give him what he needs to write for your glory. Bless and encourage him as only you can do. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Characters. One of my all-time favorites is pictured above. Played by my absolute favorite actor Johnny Depp. If you're familiar with Johnny Depp, you know he plays very diverse characters, and his appearance changes dramatically with each one. Developing Captain Jack Sparrow took on a bit of acting genius to sustain him through four films, reported to be creating a fifth. From Sam in Benny and Joon to The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland to Tonto in The Lone Ranger, Johnny has proven his ability to accentuate and take on the unique flavors of many characters ranging from the serious to the absurd.
As a writer, characters in my stories play their first roles in my head. I watch them, sometimes visualize their physical appearances, hear them, and eventually know them. Not unusual to hear this from a writer, but often they consume my imaginary lifetime as I walk in their shoes. Critical to the writing process is making them as real to the reader as they are to the author. If readers can't vividly see or experience who they are, there's no way they can care about a story.
This identification or observation of characters doesn't mean the reader must be able to relate to their choices or their habits or their peculiarites. It means, in some manner, the reader must be interested in them.
Antagonists fall prey to clichés. Whether it's a serial killer or an ex-boyfriend, it's hard to find unique qualities to sustain interest in them. So many evil traits have been repeated ad nauseum. What separates one from another? Do you tire of predictable villains or do you accept their bad guy personas?
Now my question for you writers is this: How far into your characters do you get when you're creating them and writing them?
Father, thanks for imagination. You are the Creator. Thank you for sharing so much of who you are with us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
My guy is holding out. Disappointing. I love Marshawn. Please honor your contract, Beastmode. Please.
Okay. There is no defending domestic violence. Nothing can be said to justify either spouse or people in a relationship whipping up on each other. Nothing. Having established the ground floor on this subject, I'm going to say this: everything concerning Ray Rice's and his fiancée's fiasco in Las Vegas has been dealt with by the couple and by the NFL. Tough if you don't like it. That's right: tough! Deal with it. Two adults, obviously not having a good time with possibly alcohol playing a role, acted aggressively and stupidly toward one another. One report said she spit on him, and he cold-cocked her. Another report said they slapped each other silly. Regardless of what truly transpired, it's long over, and all the pompous judges on sports radio and sports TV added to outraged women voicing their disdain for the discipline assigned to Ray Rice for his personal conduct need to shut up and mind their own business now.
Football is becoming just another victim of governmental and social intrusion. I for one detest the interference. I don't even like the pink accessories promoting breast cancer on the football field. Football fans love the sport, not the opinions of those outside the sport or those who think they're authorites on what should and shouldn't happen to these athletes. When there's a criminal investigation involving a player or coach, the authorities and/or courts decide the outcome.
Some players make stupid mistakes that become public gossip and sports' tabloid fodder. So be it. But there's a limit to who should be passing judgment. I won't argue that it can seem like some athletes receive favored status in the courts. I won't argue that sometimes their punishments seem light. And I'm not saying either case is justified. I am saying that once the judgments are made and the NFL designates a suspension, fine, or whatever judgment they bring down, it's over.
Father, help us to better see through your eyes. Impossible to rightly see with our flawed and sinful gazes, but you can help us discern the good and evil. Thank you for that. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Recognize yourself in any of these? How would you classify your emotional makeup? Author Brenda Andersonsays she rarely cries, and her husband calls her "The Ice Queen". Other authors note their various emotional - or lack thereof - statuses and how those affect their writing.
I've declared multiple times here I'm a sap. And I've found my emotions tipping into serious sappiness in recent times. You'll find it in my stories, but I hope it's not as effusive as in my real life.
My anger tends to be subdued, certainly less demonstrative than my tearful eruptions and rarely spontaneous.
I love to laugh but haven't been able to find a lot lately to express that wonderful emotion of unabated frivolity.
Silly? Oh yeah. I can be silly with the best of them if the mood strikes. In a good way, you know.
So how about you? If you're emotional - or not - how does it affect your writing? And your reading?
Father, I'm grateful for the deep emotions. It's difficult at times, but I'd rather feel deeply than very little. Thank you, Lord. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
In the ongoing Jack Noble Novels by L. T. Ryan, it's imperative for the reader to start at Noble Beginnings and continue to experience these stories in order. It's not because the novels won't stand on their own, it's because for maximum benefit and to understand the progression of the characters in this series, each book takes the reader to another level of how their "business" plays upon their psyches, personalities, and faint grasps of some kind of morality.
The problem in reviewing the series at this point is the inability to divulge important plot points that have carried over from the previous episodes without ruining the experience of each collection. You know I rarely include spoilers - and always mark them when I do.
What I can tell you is I like Jack again in this edition of the series. He's weary, has lost a bit of his sharpness, but is anxious to get back to the "things" he left undone. In order to do that, he and Frank Skinner must cooperate on certain assignments, so he teams up with one of Frank's best female agents (Jasmine) to clean up a critical mess that threatens the security of America in multiple ways.
Jack feels responsible for this particular mess although he had no idea what he was hired to obtain when he did it for the all-world gangster called "the old man". When "the old man" sold what Jack had provided for him to the Russians, Jack learned just what kind of dangerous information he'd secured for the gangster. And he intended to get it back.
In the meantime, Clarissa's assignment merges with Jack's and Jasmine's while both Bear and Pierre plan a rescue of little Mandy when she is kidnapped again, this time during a strange bank robbery.
Once again these jobs take all the players to different parts of the country and world and eventually back to New York City. Action, killing, distrust, betrayal - all present in Episodes 6 - 10 of Season Two. Jack wants to retire, take Clarissa and make a life for them. As you might expect, their lives can never be easily resolved. Obligations, both professional and personal, seem to always keep them apart except at critical moments when they save each other's lives.
There's a lot going on with each character in this installment. Internal and external struggles, emotional upheavals, and always trying to stay one or two steps ahead of trouble but rarely allowed that opportunity.
Season Two ends with another cliffhanger from Jack's not-too-distant past, and it works perfectly to keep the reader pressing on and ready to venture with Jack to London on a more personal mission.
I recommend these Jack Noble Novels if you're a fan of intense international intrigue, high crimes, good guys and bad guys, and the muddled mess of deciphering who's who and what's what. L. T. Ryan does a good job of concealing, mingling, and amping up the conflicts. Minimum profanity. Definitely violence.
Father, please continue to provide Lee with stories to tell. Bless his life and home. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.