Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 9)

Resolving to Handle New Year’s Resolutions Differently: Making Resolutions with God

Here we are, standing on top of a new year, the future months waiting as unrevealed opportunities. What are your hopes for the New Year? Do you long to become a different person? Do you wrestle with any lingering behaviors or past downfalls that continue to haunt you? Would you like to get out of a relational, emotional, or professional rut?

Many of us attempt to grab hold of new opportunities by making New Year’s resolutions and gritting our teeth to change ourselves through discipline and sheer will. We beat ourselves up about never getting to the gym, eating too much chocolate, or spending too much time on our devices, so we set goals to be different in the coming year. Then the following year we find ourselves making the same resolutions because white-knuckling our way through a major life change just did not seem to stick.

How about resolving to handle New Year’s resolutions differently this year? By inviting God to set the agenda for the months ahead and make the changes in us, we could all take our resolutions to a new, deeper level, allowing him to whisper our unique needs and create an individualized plan for our growth. He might even surprise us, leading our growth in an unexpected direction.

Begin by finding a quiet place with him, bringing only your journal, a Bible, and a listening ear. Do tell him where you would like to grow, but listen carefully in case he has surprising ways he might want to grow you.

Maybe he’d like to veer your heart away from grumbling and turn it toward thankfulness, filling you with expressions of gratitude for a warm house, hot coffee, kind Christian community, music, books, and his guiding spirit.

Maybe he sees how you focus too much on yourself—either thinking too highly of yourself, or too little of yourself by believing you have nothing to offer others. God’s perspective always brings us back into balance.

He might encourage you to work on forgiveness this year, pointing you to people you need to reach out to. Maybe he feels the time has come to reveal a secret, allowing others to truly know you by seeing both your strengths and your past mistakes.

God wants to grow us at any age. In Chris Fabry’s latest book, Under a Cloudless Sky, the main character is an elderly woman struggling to maintain her independence as her kids take away her car keys. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s favorite radio preacher stirs up something within her that needs the touch of forgiveness, she sets out on a journey to face a long-held secret from her past and feel the freedom that comes with forgiveness and being known.

Many of us may need to take the same steps as Ruby. But whatever his plan is for you in the coming year, it will be uniquely yours, offering the freedom that comes with obedience, replacing darkness with light.

Do you have a way you like to welcome in the New Year with God? Please share in the comments below.

NaNoWriMo – Are You Taking the Challenge?

What’s NaNoWriMo, some of you may ask? It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Yup. People write 50,000-word novels in a month. Not yours truly, but some crazy, die-hard, devoted, energetic writers—like Sarah Rubio, an editor for children and nonfiction at Tyndale House.

Sarah is a NaNoWriMo pro, having taken part since 2007. She feels NaNoWriMo has taught her to achieve really ambitious goals, which she meets by calculating in advance how many words she’ll need to write daily to stay on track. Producing 2,000 words a day after her kids are in bed usually takes her about 1.5 to 2 hours. “I try to have a general idea of where I want to take the story so that when I sit down to crank out words I don’t have to spend too much time thinking.”

For anyone feeling a desire to attempt NaNoWriMo for the first time, here are a few suggestions to prime your pump when you’re freewriting in the beginning to familiarize yourself with your story:

Begin with brain dumping, pouring out those unedited, unfiltered ideas onto paper and seeing where they take you. Often the results surprise even the writer. Who knew what odd, interesting ideas lurk inside your brain! Type continuously to keep a flow going during a freewriting session. Sarah uses a version of freewriting with uninterrupted typing during her designated writing time. “If I get stuck on plot, I’ll start writing descriptions, fleshing out my characters or setting, or writing notes about what might come later or something I want to change about what I’ve already written.”

Writing prompts can familiarize you with your characters—their quirks, voices, problems, and wants. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Try beginning a series of paragraphs with one of the following phrases:
    • The unspoken apology hindered the . . .
    • Everyone knew who was lying by the way . . .
    • If stories could have scents, this one would carry the aroma of . . .
    • The last time we saw him . . .
    • Don’t ever forget the day . . .
    • He should’ve known better than to . . .
    • The sounds outside the window bring to mind . . .
  • Put your main characters in a scene together and create a power struggle, allowing the power to shift from one character to the other by the end of the scene. This can be done verbally or through action.
  • Write a letter to your main character empathizing with her struggles, encouraging her to get over her struggles, or chastising her for her selfishness. Cast a vision for how you’d like to see this character grow.

You get the idea. To become better acquainted with your story and characters, clarify your characters’ wants by brainstorming those wants and their influence on your story’s conflict, plot, and tension.

Setting: Freewrite about where your novel takes place. How does your setting contribute to the mood or metaphor of the story?  Is it an urban or rural setting? What is the novel’s time period—modern, futuristic, or historical?

 

Point of View: Brainstorm about who you want to tell your story and why. Remember that a unique point of view adds interest for your reader. How would your story change if you switched from third person to first person? Consider introducing a very unusual narrator—like Death (The Book Thief)—or a collective narrator, as in “we” when a group of cousins tells a story in During the Reign of the Queen of Persia. Experiment!

Characters: Sketch out and introduce unexpected and unusual characters. In Chris Fabry’s novel The Promise of Jesse Woods, the author introduces us to a young boy who moved from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, with his pastor father. Feeling out of place, Matt forges a fast bond with two unlikely friends: a mixed-race boy and a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

Revision: We wouldn’t recommend anyone write a novel in six months and then send it to an agent or publisher the following day. Revisions are important and offer you the opportunity to layer and deepen your work. Take advantage of these opportunities—but take advantage of them after November.

Most of all, be kind to yourself. Anyone who attempts to write a novel in a month is a rock star. Sarah Rubio didn’t make the 50,000 word goal her first year attempting NaNoWriMo, but she’s reached that goal every year since. The moral of the story? Don’t quit!

One of the best ways to get story ideas is to read voraciously. If you’re in need of a new book this month, consider picking up one of the many great e-book deals we have . . .

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

Visit E-book Extra  for more great deals available this month!

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Thanks for reading! Are you trying NaNoWriMo next month? Let us know in the comments!

September New Releases + #BookGiveaway

Hey there, readers! Don’t miss out on a chance to win one of these new must-reads, hitting shelves this month!

Rule of Law by Randy Singer

Rule of Law asks the question: Is the president above the law? Available in bookstores and online.

Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore

Crisis Shot is the perfect read for fans of Castle and romantic suspense. Available in bookstores and online.

Loving Luther by Allison Pittman

Explore Loving Luther, a novel unearthing the love story of Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther. Available in bookstores and online.

How Sweet the Sound by Amy Sorrells

“With poetic prose, lyrical descriptions, and sensory details . . . this story dives into the Gulf Coast culture of pecan orchards and debutante balls, exposing layers of family secrets and sins. In the end comes redemption, grace, forgiveness, and faith. Bravo!” —Julie Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author

Available in bookstores and online.

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Enter to win one of the above novels through the Gleam app below. One winner (US only) will be chosen for each novel.

Good luck!

September Crazy4Fiction #BookGiveaway

Are you Small Town or Big City? Quiz + Giveaway

Hey there, readers! To start a good story, you must first develop a compelling setting. Whether on Mars, in a small quirky, lakeside town, or in the tundra, this setting sets the stage for your characters to go off on their adventures.

Romantic suspense author Janice Cantore has explores small town life and big city living in the context of her stories. Life as a small town police officer, for example, will bring some unique challenges; Janice enjoyed testing these waters in her upcoming novel Crisis Shot.

We invite you to take the quiz below and find out where YOU fit: small town life or big city living?

Comment on this blog with your results and be entered to win a copy of Crisis Shot

US entries only. Winner will be announced on our Crazy4Fiction Facebook page Monday, September 4th.

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