Tuesday, May 31, 2016

More Ways to Write Through Grief by Angela Arndt

Last week we discussed the 7 Ways to Writing Through Grief. Here’s a link to it, if you’d like to take a look at it. Today we’re going to look at the seven stages of writing through grief.

If you’ve lost a loved one, a job, a pet or even a material item, you’ve probably grieved. There are all kinds of medical literature arguing the number of stages of grief and how long each stage should last. Just remember: no matter who or what you've lost, they are precious to you.

Shock, Denial, and Bargaining. Last week I talked about losing my friend after an illness. She’d been sick for a while, but hadn’t let anyone know how serious it was. Actually, I'm not sure she knew herself. For two Sundays following her death, I sat up in the choir loft and cried. The entire service. I couldn’t help it, I didn’t get to say goodbye to her.

If you've gotten stuck because a loved one has died or a job or marriage has ended, then try writing a letter. Nothing can truly help except God and time, but this is a way to say goodbye and to acknowledge that your life has changed. It can be a formal letter, a simple a list of what made her/him special or anything that helps you process that hole in your life. In addition to being a writer, I'm also an artist. 

In the past, I've also drawn or painted portraits of the one who died, but you can do anything that helps you commemorate their life and the impact they had. This helps so much and may let you skip the next step.

Guilt, Anger, and Depression. In the case of my friend, I kept wishing that I’d insisted she go to the doctor. Then I got angry at her doctors, thinking they should’ve known what was wrong with her. When I cried those two Sundays, I'd gotten stuck on my loss. I kept asking, "why?"

We don't know God's will. We never can, but we can write these thoughts out, too. This can also be a letter, a list of adjectives describing your feelings, or better yet, add full descriptions of the guilt, anger and sadness you feel to your emotion journal. As I said last week, refer to this journal later on for true-to-life reactions and feelings as you write later.

If you're stuck in this stage, then examine your relationship with the deceased. How did you treat them? Was something left unfinished? What can help you resolve the issues you had? You can still talk to him or her, write a letter or even write and sing a song to them. Instead of asking "why did they die," ask "why am I stuck?"

is the final stage. That’s where our mind and heart has finally reached a point of healing. As Christians, we have the hope that we’ll see our loved one again and the acceptance that we can go on without them.

Add these thoughts to your letter or as another entry in your emotion journal, not only for your books but to complete your healing.

Writers and other creatives sometimes experience emotions more intensely. By expressing out our feelings, it not only helps our brains process these feelings, but it also helps us create rich characters that can also help others heal later on.

Have you found anything that has helped you heal after a devastating loss?

Angela Arndt was a corporate trainer before health issues sidelined her. These days she’s active in her local church, ACFW and a regular contributor to MBT's Weekly Spark. In addition to being a team member of Seriously Write and she'd love you to join her on her personal website.

Angie is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. She’s currently working on a series of novels set in small Southern towns. She and her husband live in the middle of a big wood outside a small town in South Carolina.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Never, Ever Give Up! by Jean Ann Williams

This Memorial Day, your hostesses here at Seriously Write are so grateful to those who have sacrificed for our country. Thank you! Today we have some encouragement from debut author Jean Ann Williams. If you're in a season of trying to decide whether to keep writingread on! ~ Annette

Never, Ever Give up!
by Jean Ann Williams

Never, ever give up!

I’d like to elaborate on this and tell my writer story.

Twenty-two years ago, I was in a car accident and became bedridden because of my injuries. I was normally an active person, but people had to help me get up and walk. By week two, I made myself baby-step to the front door and back, a whole ten yards. By the end of two months, I was very blue. I called my daughter and told her I was suffering from boredom and in too much pain.

She said to me, “Mom, you’ve always wanted to become an author. Write a book.”

Of course.

I had my husband take me to the library, and he carried out a stack of how-to books on the craft of writing. By then, I was able to recline on the sofa, instead of flat on my back. I couldn’t see the TV for the three-foot high stack of books on my coffee table. This suited me just fine.

One year later, I’d published a couple of articles. I was hooked on publishing.

Just Claire was conceived from a quickening of an idea, and with my pantster brain, I began to write not knowing where the plot would go. This is one of the reasons Just Claire took almost nineteen years to become published. I didn’t know how to write a book, and I didn’t know where the story would take me. The good news? Just Claire was my learning-how-to-write-a-novel story.

At year ten of the creation of Just Claire, my critique group said to trash the manuscript. 

My heart trembled within me. I couldn’t quit on a story I felt would later help tweens and young adults.

I quit my critique group. Not because of their consensus about Just Claire. No. It was because they had given me tons of wonderful ideas about how to make my story better. I needed alone time to figure out what to keep and what to discard. I wrote, rewrote. Edited and re-edited. At year eighteen of creating Just Claire, I took the plunge and hired a freelancer to give a line-by-line edit. This was the best business decision I could have made.

Within a year, Clean Reads Publishing accepted the manuscript. The publisher allowed me to keep the title and on January 1, 2016, Just Claire moved into the world like a baby born.

I never, ever gave up!

Just Claire by Jean Ann Williams
One mother damaged. One family tested. One daughter determined to find her place.

ClaireLee’s life changes when she must take charge of her siblings after her mother becomes depressed from a difficult childbirth. Frightened by the way Mama sleeps too much and her crying spells during waking hours, ClaireLee just knows she’ll catch her illness like a cold or flu that hangs on through winter. ClaireLee finds comfort in the lies she tells herself and others in order to hid the truth about her erratic mother. Deciding she needs to re-invent herself, she sets out to impress a group of popular girls.

With her deception, ClaireLee weaves her way into the Lavender Girls Club, the most sophisticated girls in school. Though, her best friend Belinda will not be caught with the likes of such shallow puddles, ClaireLee ignores Belinda’s warnings the Lavenders cannot be trusted. ClaireLee drifts further from honesty, her friend, and a broken mother’s love, until one very public night at the yearly school awards ceremony. The spotlight is on her, and she finds her courage and faces the truth and then ClaireLee saves her mother’s life.


Author Jean Ann Williams, the eldest in a large family, enjoys digging into her fascinating childhood to create stories for children. Having written over one hundred articles for children and adults, Just Claire is her first book. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and she writes regularly on Putting on the New blog and her own blog. Jean Ann and her husband live on one acre in Southern Oregon where they raise a garden, goats, and chickens. Her favorite hobbies are hiking through the woods and practicing archery with her bow.

Learn more at these sites:

Read the first chapter of Just Claire here.
See the trailer for Just Claire: https://youtu.be/s8x5lJKZFHU
Downloads available at Amazon: http://ow.ly/XmCJ5

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Reason for Being by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

Lajos Egri, in his book The Art of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Emotions, calls it premise. He says that without a premise, a writer doesn’t know where he or she is going. The writer is wandering through a self-made, literary desert, looking for a reason to continue and having no earthly idea which direction to go.

Rick Warren, in his book The Purpose-Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission, believes if a church doesn’t know it’s purpose, then it can easily get sidetracked or bogged down in earthly matters which have no heavenly relevance.

Robert Marzano, in his book The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction, gives the basis for his growth model which focuses on the Learning Goals in a classroom. If the goals are not the focus, then much of what is taught in the classroom denigrates into simple but boring busywork, or it shapes up into well-intended but misguided assignments which leave the students wondering how their work is relevant to life and worth their time to complete.

It seems that no matter what profession you enter, you can find a book, read an article, or hear an expert say virtually the same thing. I find this interesting and opportunistic. To me, it proves our world is searching for answers to the eternal. People inside and outside the church long for meaning to this life. The “Why am I here?” question arises within all souls, I believe. And Heaven knows they try to find the answer in everything but God, it seems. Nevertheless, the fact they are looking for it is good news for us as writers.

Within the realm of writing, Egri states other writers have used different words to describe this concept: theme, thesis, root idea, central idea, goal, aim, driving force, subject, plan, plot, and basic emotion.[1]  Of course, he believes the term “premise” encapsulates all of these ideas, including the term “purpose.” I believe arguing over which word best describes what an author is to do is a bit of a “potatoe-pototoe” squabble, personally.

The point is, if a writer starts a fiction manuscript, a poem, a non-fiction article, or whatever floats her boat, and she doesn’t know where it will start, doesn’t know how it will end, and really doesn’t understand why the piece needs to be written in the first place, then the writing will show it. It will wander aimlessly, filling page after page with helpless details and hopeless dialogue. The reader—if she gets very far into it—will plow through these meandering sentences searching, even hoping, for anything meaningful. Why? Because there was a purpose in their purchasing of the book.

They spent money making a decision to buy your book over the 10,000,000+ books out there from which to choose (Wow! Chew on that for a minute.). They also made a conscious decision to set aside valuable time from their busy schedule to read your work. So, why would an author sit down and start plucking away at the keyboard if he or she doesn’t have a clue what they are ultimately writing? Egri would say you need to be very specific. Writing about love isn’t good enough. What kind of love are you targeting? How deep does that love go? What direction? And is it engaging? Does it have a goal? A purpose? A reason for being?

We would call a family who jumps into their car and takes off for the family vacation with no destination in mind a bunch of buffoons, right? Who does that? Not only do they need all those things decided BEFORE they start the engine, they also need to ask some deeper questions, like did they want to stay busy? Or do they want to relax? Did they want to sightsee? Or do they want to “get away from it all”? City or country? Hotels or camping? With no specificity—i.e., a reason for being—vacations, like writing forays, become beyond silly.

When I write, I have overarching themes which drive the tenor of the book or series. There might be underlying themes—subplots which carry their own reason for being—but they are subservient to the overarching purpose of the story. For example, in The Serpent’s Grasp, the purpose/overarching theme is, “What is truth in light of scientific discovery?” In other words, science isn’t going away, nor should it. But how do we as Christians take scientific discoveries—viewing them through the lens of scripture—and help explain it all to a world searching for its own reason for being?

In my Blake Meyer series, the purpose/overarching theme is: “What is true peace in light of patriotism and nationalism?” In other words, where does being a patriot and protecting your country—while trying to bring about peace to your country—cross paths with what true peace is and is not? Can they coexist? And if so, how?

These bedrock questions help keep me grounded when I want to write my way off the grid or into a corner.

If you want your writing to be money and time well spent in the mind of your reader, then before you type the first word of the first line of the first chapter, figure it out. What is the premise to your story? Why are you writing it in the first place? What is your story’s reason for being? If your answer is, I just want the reader to feel good or be entertained, that’s not good enough. There are too many other things clamoring for people’s time and money that can bring about the same end result.

How do you determine your story’s reason for being? How do your novels’ premises differ from one story to the next?

[1] Egri, Lajos. The Art of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Emotions. Touchstone; New York, NY. 2004 ed. p. 2.

A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.

Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.

But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge—A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Website: www.ckevinthompson.com   
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog: www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com  
Kevin’s Educational Blog: www.thehelpfuleducator.blogspot.com   
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson