Sunday, February 27, 2011

Learning the Impossible

Life can change in a heartbeat.

I was actually starting to get a little ahead on my finances, when BOOM goes the dynamite--I found out I'm NOT getting that tax refund I was expecting. Not even close. Rather, I found out on Friday that I'm having to pay a significant amount to both the Federal and NC governments. It's not as much as it could be, I suppose, but it's a pretty hefty amount. As it turns out, having three jobs pushed me into a little bit of a higher tax bracket. The problem is, since I have three jobs, each separate job was only taking into account the money I was making for that particular job. Long story short, only one of my jobs withheld any money. I have to pay A LOT back to the IRS. I don't have A LOT of money to pay back to the IRS.

My first reaction was utter disbelief and denial. I was expecting refund. How could this happen? I got a refund LAST year and one of my jobs didn't withhold anything. There must be something wrong. So I immediately went and tried to do my taxes on another program. Same result. So I slowly shifted to the state of denial to the state of "Oh crap. I'm going to have to sell a kidney to pay my taxes."

This DOES have something to do with my writing. This has something to do with a lot of different areas of my life. In fact, it has a lot to do with something I wrote about in my last entry. As a Christian, I believe that nothing is impossible with God. The problem is, I don't always believe it as much as I should--I don't believe it completely. I don't always get that knowledge to move from the back of my mind to something firm that I can believe and live out in my faith. I want control. Often, I think I have control. The truth is, I don't have control and never did.

Because life can change in a heartbeat. I can go from foolishly thinking I have it all together to knowing that I don't have anything. Everything I do have is a gift.

The last thing I said in my previous entry was: "And here's...where I remind myself of something that is impossible for me to grasp: Nothing is impossible with God. If I can ever wrap my brain around that, I guess anything will be possible." In other words, it's impossible for me to believe that nothing is impossible. But God is teaching me, and I'm learning. I'm learning that nothing is impossible with God--and since I'm learning that, He's already shown me that He can do the impossible, by teaching me to believe that nothing is impossible through Him.

Hmm. I'm not sure it's possible to understand what I just wrote, but I hope it makes sense.

I first started thinking about that yesterday afternoon. And God did something else that I thought was impossible. He changed my attitude completely. I was still in the stage of "Oh crap! I'm going to have to sell a kidney to pay my taxes," but God moved me to a completely other stage. It was one I couldn't have expected or even believed, but He did it.

I'm now in the stage of thankfulness. I'm in the stage of absolute, amazing, knock-me-to-the-floor gratitude. Why? Because this is something the Lord wants me to go through. This is something He has given me, just like all the other gifts. I guess it's weird to think of financial trouble as a gift, but I'm weird, okay. And God is weird (sorry if that offends you, but if you really think about it, He is pretty strange).

The Lord has given me this situation for reasons I don't yet know, but I'm already seeing some of those reasons. Apparently, I've been under the illusion that I am in control. God pulled that rug out from under me. I'm not in control. I never was in control. One thing I've learned, the Lord is faithful to humble those who ask for it--and I asked for it. I'm overwhelmingly grateful that the Lord loves me enough to give me something that will make me more like Him--to make me more aware that I belong to Him. He's jealous. He won't let me go. He won't let me delude myself in thinking that I'm the main character of my life story--it's not even my story. It's His. He's writing it, and He's writing it for His glory.And this chapter right here is one for which I'm extremely grateful.

I've still got a lot to learn, obviously. It's hard to remember my ultimate goal. It's hard to remember that life is about glorifying Him instead of myself. It's hard to let go of all the control I think I have (though I never really had it).

What does letting go of control even look like? I don't know, but I think it might possibly look like getting over this fear of sending queries. It might possibly look like me taking a few chances by just WRITING instead of trying to have all my proverbial ducks in a row before I start.

One thing it definitely looks like is trust. Letting go of anxiety. Believing that life is more than what I will eat or drink or wear. I honestly have no idea how I'm going to pay my taxes. One thing I do know, it's going to be okay. It's going to be fine. If I end up living on the streets in a cardboard box, I'm going to be just fine. (But I really don't think it's going to come to that. In fact, I don't think I'm even going to have to miss any meals.)

I learned about this tax thing on Friday. Yesterday, Saturday, just one day later, God completely overwhelmed me by giving me this grateful attitude (sorry, I just CAN'T bring myself to say "attitude of gratitude"). It's nothing I could muster up myself. The Lord has done this impossible thing through me. I know He's going to do more. I believe He's doing something in me right now that's preparing me for things further down the road. Those things might have something to do with having published books, or they might not.

But I'm going to be okay.

By the way, I just have to brag on my God some more. Last night, I babysat--long story short I ended up babysitting for kids in three separate families. All of them paid me and they paid me well. The extra babysitting money I got was a drop in the bucket of what I owe, but I have to admit, it was a pretty big and a pretty encouraging drop. I have little doubt that God's going to provide the rest one way or another.

I'm learning. In time I pray He will obliterate even that "little doubt." After all, nothing is impossible with God.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Want To Fly

Maybe it's not good to write a blog when I'm emotional, but here I am. It's a good kind of emotional, I think. I was just reading a blog an author had written some time ago after she got her first book deal. She posted all the different stages of insane emotions she went through those first few days after realizing that she was, in fact, an author.

And then she posted a pic of her book sitting on a shelf in a major bookstore.

And I'm just now drying the tears that exploded from my eyes at the sight of that. I want that to be my book on that shelf. I want to be that person. I want to be an author. I've wanted it for longer than I can remember.

Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I get so caught up in whatever I'm dealing with at the moment that I lose the dream--the vision. As I've realized fairly recently, this is NOT my ultimate goal, but I have to admit, I want to be a published author pretty badly.

Lately...since like December...I've been in this major funk. I've written some. I've edited some. But it's not been very much. I'm not even sure what's going on. I think I've gotten into some kind of mindset that I'm just not good enough to compete with the current market. I'm not talented enough. My writing isn't good enough. I'm not competitive enough of a person.

Really, what I seem to be saying is, "I don't want it enough."

And it's really quite funny, because just today I finished writing a very short fairy tale about a peasant who became a king just because he was too simple-minded to realize that his goal was impossible. Since he didn't know it was impossible, he tried anyway, and he succeeded, shaming noble knights and wise princes.

But I'm not like that peasant. I get too distracted by the things I think I can't do to focus on the things that I need to just do anyway.

Clearly there needs to be a change. If I'm ever going to see my book on a shelf, if I'm ever going to see my name on a book's spine, if I'm ever going to be able to call myself an author--I've gotta start trying.

Douglas Adams is one of my favorite authors. He wrote the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is a completely nonsensical and hilarious series of books. One of my favorite sections of these books is when he talks about how to fly.

Now, he's being completely ridiculous, but I have gleaned a lot of truth from what he wrote:

"There is an art...or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.... All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt. That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard."

What do published authors have that I don't have? A lot of scars. Unless they're Stephenie Meyer, who just lucked out on her first try and created a monster (literally and figuratively...and literary-ly), published authors probably have to fail to miss the ground a lot before they learn to fly.

So here I am again, trying to muster up the courage it's going to take me to learn to fly. I know I'm more than likely to fail to miss the ground. I just hope that I'm trying hard enough to fail to miss it pretty hard. Because I have a feeling that when I finally do fail to miss the ground, all the failed attempts are just going to make that success sweeter.

And here's the part of the blog where I remind myself of something that is impossible for me to grasp: Nothing is impossible with God. If I can ever wrap my brain around that, I guess anything will be possible.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Favorite Writery Things

I feel like making lists. Here goes!

My Five Favorite Fiction Books:

1) A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle
2) Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
3) The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
4) Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
5) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

My Five Favorite Non-fiction Books:

1) Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven by James Bryan Smith
2) A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
3) A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle
4) Jack's Life by Douglas Gresham
5) Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul David Tripp

My Five Favorite Authors:

1) C. S. Lewis
2) Madeleine L'Engle
3) Lloyd Alexander
4) J. R. R. Tolkien
5. J. K. Rowling

My TEN Favorite Book Series / Companions:

1) The Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle
2) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
3) The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
4) The Austin Family books by Madeleine L'Engle
5) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
6) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
7) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "Trilogy" by Douglas Adams
8) The Anne of Green Gables books by L. M. Montgomery
9) The Winnie the Pooh books by A. A. Milne
10) Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis

My TEN Favorite Things to Listen to While Writing/Editing:

1) Rich Mullins
2) Mitch McVicker
3) Jars of Clay
4) Tenth Avenue North
5) The Beatles
6) Star Trek soundtracks (don't hate on my nerd's beautiful--no words to distract me)
7) John Williams
8) Switchfoot
9) Chicago (the band, not the musical)
10) K-Love Radio

What are some of your favorite authors, books, series, and things to listen to while writing or...whatever?

Friday, February 18, 2011

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

I started my first book almost a decade ago. It was September of 2001. I didn't write it consistently. When I was in school, I didn't write much at all. It was when I finally broke up with Seminary (it's not you, Seminary, it's me) that I finally got the book finished. Well, for this entire almost decade that I've been working on my first book, I've always intended for it to have a prologue.

I've written a prologue, in fact, I've written and rewritten a prologue. I have edited it many times, making it what I thought was something pretty good. But in my latest agent research, I've learned that a lot of literary agents just don't like prologues. I've discovered that they especially don't like prologues that give a huge back story or that take place years and years before the actual story takes place.

My prologue is one of these.

Now, I think it would be fairly easy to eliminate my prologue completely by putting the details of it into my story. I can think of a way to do this without changing too much to the story line, if anything at all. And I guess that would probably be the wisest thing to do--to just get rid of my prologue and make sure to put any pertinent details from it into my story. That would make the agents happy...maybe.

The trouble is, I've worked hard on this book and on this prologue over the years. I've always envisioned this book as a series, and I've always envisioned my prologue for the first book to be kind of a prologue to the whole series. I've always pictured the first two words of this series to be the first two words in my prologue, and nothing else ever seemed right to me. If I get rid of the prologue, then all these things I've envisioned will be gone.

I'm torn between a couple of different thoughts. On one hand, since I've put so much work into this project, it's probably a good idea for me to put just a little more work into it by making it something that more agents would appreciate--and that means nixing the prologue. On the other hand, since I've put so much work into this project, I really have come to love it just the way it is. That's not to say there are not still some minor things I can do to edit it and polish it up a little more. It's just that after I've already done so much, I kind of don't just want to throw that work away.

And my fear is that the agents are probably right about a lot of things--I mean, they usually are. Literary agents know the market. They know what is probably going to do well, and if most readers out there are anti-prologue, then that's a strike against my book if I keep the prologue in it. But I'm also thinking that even though the agents know the market well, they don't know my book. They don't know this story that's been in my head for the last ten years of my life. I just think my story is better with the prologue than without it. I am naive enough to believe that I've written an intriguing prologue. Maybe what I think of as intrigue is really just the same cliche crap that countless other unpublished writers have written. I don't know.

And so my dilemma is this: Do I do what is most likely to get me a literary agent, or do I do what I think is best for my story? I have honestly gotta say, at this point, I'd feel like a sell-out if I got rid of my prologue, but what do I know? I'm just the "author" (I don't feel right calling myself an author until I've actually gotten something published). Do I just risk it and leave my story as it is and hope that somewhere out there is some crazy agent who actually likes prologues (or who is willing to take a chance on mine)?

Well, if I am completely honest with myself, I've gotta say that even if I do nix my prologue, there's still only a slim chance that anyone will want to represent my book. I'm not saying it's not good. I'm not saying I'm not a good writer. I'm saying that this market is tough, and I'm just not sure that my book is going to do well in the current market. It's a YA epic fantasy. There are so many of those out there, and right now readers are gravitating towards a different kind of book anyway. So maybe it's time to turn my attention back to the idea of going through a small publisher.

This is my first book. It's the book where I made tons of mistakes. It's like a first child. I had to figure out what worked and what didn't. And now that I'm done with it, I kind of just want to say, "No, I can't change it. It is what it is." And I kind of like what it is, I'm just not sure agents will agree. I kind of want to give my book a chance without having it torn apart by agents and editors who don't understand it. I know that's their job...I'm just thinking I might go small time with this one and try to find an agent for a more recent project. I've learned a lot since this first book, after all.


I'm not giving up, though. I mean, what do I always say? "Quitting is for sissies, pansies, and people who never get published." Yes. That's the one. You may quote A. R. Campbell. I think I just need to continue to try to find a literary agent. I'm just not sure whether to try to sell my book as is, or without a prologue.

What do you think? Do you like prologues? Do you hate prologues? I just want some different ideas, thoughts, whatever. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Goal

Goals have always been fuzzy for me. Whether we're talking about soccer or football or basketball or life, I really just haven't been very clear about goals. There aren't goals in baseball. That's probably why baseball is my favorite sport, but I digress...

My sister, like a true first-born child, was always the sort of person who knew what she wanted to do. And then she did it. I, on the other hand, like a true second-born child, waited around for someone to tell me what to do and how to do it. If my sister and I had been more alike, maybe that would have worked out for me. Heck, I'd be a rocket scientist. But my sister and I are not alike at all. Not at all. I love her and am very proud of the woman she is (she's a rocket scientist AND a mommy to the greatest kids ever), but she and I are about as different as two sisters can get.

I feel sorry for my parents who had to deal with me growing up. They had my sister who joined the Marching Band and National Honor Society and held leadership positions in clubs and such. She knew what she wanted to do with her life when she was like 15 or least that's how I remember it. Maybe my memories are fuzzy. I, on the other hand, stayed at home a lot. I read books. I watched tv. I moped a lot. I think my parents would have been excited to learn that I was out causing trouble with friends because 1) it would mean that I was out of the house and 2) it would mean I had friends.

And then, I was the kid who stared at her ceiling every night for YEARS (every night, mind you), and I pleadingly prayed that God would just show me what He wanted me to do with my life. I expected a lightning bolt to come out of heaven, and poof! I'd know God's will for my life.

That's not how it works. At least, not with me. I have a feeling it doesn't work that way for a lot of people.

So I went through adolescence and into young adulthood with this vague sense of purpose, not really knowing what I wanted. I dropped out of college, went back to a different school, got a degree I couldn't use--but I got an education, and that's really why I went in the first place. Went to seminary. Dropped out. Now I'm working...

...and writing...

...when I can find time to write.

And lately, I've been feeling a lot like a hamster on a wheel. I'm running with all my might, but I'm not going anywhere. I'm not sure I know where I want to go, and even if I do know, I'm not sure how to get there. So I just keep running. And I'm wearing myself out without making any progress.

A few years ago, it suddenly hit me that the Holy Lightning Bolt theory just wasn't gonna happen. And that's okay. God shows us what He wants from us in the Bible--if we're doing the little things we should be doing (including the hard things like loving our enemies, trusting and obeying), then the rest is going to fall into place. And if there's something that God's given us a passion to do, then we should do it with all our mights and trust God to show us if that's not what He wants. And I have a passion and a talent for writing. I've been given these gifts for a reason. It's time to use them.

For the first time in my life, I have a clear goal. I want to be a published writer. I want God to use me and my writing to do something...I don't know what. I just know I want to be a published writer. So I'm trying to work towards that, but I still feel like that hamster. I'm still running on that wheel trying to work my three jobs, carrying my responsibilities, keeping up with my diet and exercise plan, trying to stay in God's Word as much as possible...

When exactly do I have time to write? When exactly do I have time to figure out the query letters and synopses and sample chapters?

Last night, I had a little bit of an anxiety attack. It wasn't a full-blown one. I've never had one of those where I felt like I was having a heart attack or dying. It was a little one--where I couldn't catch my breath and couldn't calm down and started thinking I was literally going crazy and should ust shut myself up in a loony bin so I wouldn't be an annoyance to anyone else. I've had those small attacks before, but it's been years...

Well, I finally calmed down and immediately went to bed. This morning I went back and read the passage we studied in Bible Study on Sunday morning:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

(skip a bit, Brother Maynard)

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:18-21)

Sometimes, I get so close to being right that I think I'm right, but sometimes being close to being right isn't close enough. And I missed something big. I'm not sure if it's the first time I've "gotten" this, or if it's just something of which I desperately needed to be reminded.

What is my goal? My ultimate goal? Is it to find the literary agent of my dreams who thinks all my books are wonderful ideas that he/she is dying to represent? Is it to sign a book contract with a major publisher who wants to send me a large book advance? Is it to write a book that will remain on the NY Times Best Seller list for several weeks in a row? Is it to have a following greater or equal to Twilight or Harry Potter? Is it to have my books made into a wildly popular film series? Is it to win a Newbery Medal? Is it to make sure that people three hundred years from now remember the name A. R. Campbell with fondness and awe?

Those are great goals. I'll admit my biggest writing goal right now is to just find an agent and get something published. But even that isn't my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal has nothing to do with writing, and I almost missed that because I wasn't thinking along the right lines.

My goal is to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Everything else pales in comparison to that goal. There are times when I am tempted to think that the things down here are of ultimate importance. In these times, I start thinking my destiny is something temporary--doomed to eventual destruction. I start feeding the god of my stomach--of what I think I want or need at the moment. I start thinking my glory is in something I can do, but when you really think about it, I haven't done a lot of which I should be proud.

It's hard to think along these lines, but when I'm in heaven, all the great works of C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle are going to be revealed for what they are: dirty rags. J. S. Bach's amazing music: worthlessness. Mother Teresa's generosity: rubbish. Compared to the glory that is in Christ Jesus, there's nothing we can do that amounts to anything.

My goal, my ultimate goal, is not to write something brilliant and have it published for the world to see. My ultimate goal is to lose my life so that I can be found in Jesus. It is He that makes us glorious in eternity--and I think right down here, as well. When we're in Him, that's when the great composer's music becomes beautiful. That's when the acts of love and kindness become notable. That's when the poets words become poetry, the singer's notes become song.

And that's when the scared little girl can take up her pen and slay Dragons.

Not that I've attained this.

I'm...pressing on towards the goal...standing firm and rejoicing in the Lord...striving to be anxious for nothing...praying with supplication and thanksgiving in all circumstances...letting God's peace guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus...thinking about things which are true and noble, right and pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy...knowing that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength...trusting that He will supply all my needs according to His glorious riches...

Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I haven't forgotten that I want this blog to be much more than a listing of what's going on in my writing, but it has occurred to me that I really haven't talked about my projects in any detail.

Now, the reason for this is because I'm extremely wary of posting stuff online. I've know some agents don't want you to put sample chapters online (and honestly, I don't want to do that unless it's password protected). I don't want to ruin my chances with an agent because a bunch of people floating out in internet land have already read my stuff. I also have read that it's dangerous to post chapters or even specific ideas online because people can steal ideas. It's sad, but true.

Therefore, I've been cautious, and will continue to do so. BUT, I think I should at least give my readers a somewhat less vague idea of what I'm working on and what I want to do with it all. I will NOT use titles, because 1) Until an agent/publisher gives me the okay on a title, I doubt that will be its official title. 2) I don't want anyone stealin' my titles, either...even if my titles stink. It's just a risk...and I'm super cautious.

So anyway...

The first manuscript I completed, which I often refer to as "Book One" is a young adult fantasy about Dragons and stuff. Okay, so more specific. Yes. It's about a 16 yr old girl who has to readjust to a whole new way of life. She is guided by others, but some of them betray her. The remaining faithful guide urges her to run away. He provides a bodyguard for her, but this bodyguard happens to be one of her former friends--one who hurt her deeply. They travel into the forest and befriend a goblin. The guy and girl reconcile--maybe even fall in love, who knows ;). All the while, the girl is being hunted by a Dragon--the only way she can figure out her destiny is to face this Dragon.

"Book One" is the project for which I'm currently seeking representation. I'm a lookin for an agent. I'm starting to think the market might not be quite right for this book at the moment, and considering it's my first book, it might not be really all that great anyway. My friends have all said they like it. My mom loves it. I just don't think that's really gonna cut it in today's market. I'm still going to TRY to find an agent, but I'm considering getting it small-time published...if the querying keeps coming up short.

I AM planning on getting a collection of original fairy tales small-time published sometime very soon. It was originally going to be a collection of original fairy tales, retellings of classic fairy tales, and parodies, but I'm leaning more towards the original stuff, now. I've sent some samples off to the guy so he can tell me what he thinks. He's busy, so I'm expecting to hear back from him by like...March...of next year...maybe. Lol. Nah, I'm not in a hurry. I just need to keep working on more fairy tales in the meantime. It's taking a lot of time and imagination and writing and editing. Fun stuff! I'm excited about it.

The second book I've completed (which I often refer to as "Book Two"...don't you love my creative titling?) can only be described as Christian Sci Fi. It's also a romance. In fact, it might be primarily a romance, but since it happens in the distant future and mostly in outer space, I call it Sci Fi. Now, "Book One" has some Christian imagery, but I really toned it down because I'm still just not sure I want to be a Christian writer. In "Book Two" there are BLATANT Christian elements that I just can't see removing unless I rip the story apart...and I don't want to do that. There are lots of references to the Bible, directly and indirectly. It is what it is, though it still needs a LOT of editing apart from that. I don't want to go into too much detail about this book (even though lots of people have already read it because I originally wrote it as a serial novel and posted it in protected notes on facebook...and no, I'm not going to let anyone else read it as it is--it needs editing), but I will say one thing more: It also has Dragons.

"Book Three"--the third book I've completed, is a companion to "Book Two." I did not plan to write a sequel or anything like it. It's not really a sequel. It's taking one character from "Book Two" and expounding on her life, thoughts, and circumstances. While writing "Book Two," this completely minor character started speaking to me. She started talking in my head. She wouldn't shut up. And yes, writers are crazy people. Anyway, she went from being a minor character in "Book Two" to a MAJOR character in "Book Two" to getting her own book, told in first person, which is now "Book Three." I wrote "Book Three" in less than two weeks because this character completely took over my life. She possessed me. And wow, she's so much more amazing than I originally thought. I remember talking to her, saying, "Gee, R***, I don't know how to write a book about you." She said, "Just write it. I won't leave you alone until you do." I said, "But I don't know your story." She said, "Just start writing, and I'll tell it to you." And then she did. And her story is amazing. I can't believe I didn't think she was important at first. ...not that I'm ready to do anything with this book yet, I still should say that it needs a lot of editing.

I had originally called this "Book Four," but I never finished it, so now I'm going to call it "Unfinished One". "Unfinished One" is a sequel to "Book One." I've had it envisioned for about five years (I envision three books to follow "Book One" and also a companion book...or two. As long as I'm alive and in my right mind, these books WILL get written and published one way or another--depending on what happens with "Book One"). I started to write "Unfinished One" in October 2010, saying I had these grand dreams of finishing it before November (to taunt all the Nanowrimoers)...I didn't meet that goal. The reason for that was mainly because I had some published authors give me advice, saying that it's not a good idea to write a sequel until you have the first book well on its way to being published. So, I have 2/3 of a book done. I might go back and finish eventually, but I think what I've written needs a LOT of work anyway.

Right now, Imma call my newest project my, er, "Newest Project." I've had the idea for this for about five years, but I kept it on the back burner of my mind because I've got so much else going on. But I've been researching, and I've come to realize that "Paranormal" books are really big now. This book falls into that category. The time to write seems to be now. Without giving away any details about the paranormal aspect, I will say it's a romance of sorts. There's a guy and a girl, and both of them exhibit paranormal abilities, but their gifts compliment each other's gifts. I'm really liking the two main characters so far. The girl is a LOT like me--only she's like all my "negative" personality traits rolled into one and magnified. I'm not sure if other people will like her, but I think she's awesome. I don't really have a detailed plot for this book yet, nor do I have a real title--at least not one that I like. I'm just really excited to see what happens. I'm learning that sometimes I don't know what happens until I'm writing it. Honestly, I like it better that way. It gives the characters some freedom, makes them more real.

Oh, and so far, no Dragons at all in "Newest Project." I know. Shocking!

All right. That's pretty much what I'm working on. Querying. Editing. Writing. And trying to live and work around the edges of that. Yeah, I'm crazy. I love it! I'm glad God has made me the way He's made me.

Now to go edit a synopsis for "Book One" so I can get out some queries...hopefully this week.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Prayer and Writing

Refocused Blog, Take TWO!

So, a couple posts ago, I wrote that I was going to try to refocus this blog on what I originally intended for it. It took me, oh, ONE POST to forget that. My last blog was a series of what's going on in my writing and nothing more. While sometimes it's okay to write blogs like that (how else are people going to know what's going on in my writing life), I really want this blog to be something more. Yesterday's blog FAILED. Epically.

But then, the blog I wrote yesterday had lots of problems. I had this sudden surge of: OH MY GOSH! I JUST HAD THIS GREAT, THOUGH SOMEWHAT CRAZY, IDEA! LET ME GO BLOG ABOUT IT AND THEN GET TO WORK WRITING/EDITING LIKE A FAT KID AT A BUFFET! And then I wrote a blog and made a decision to go ahead and start working on several projects at once.

Problem: Did I ever once even think about stopping to pray about this decision? No. I didn't even mention God in the last blog (though I WAS thinking about mentioning God in the last blog, but I am not too sure that counts). I make these great claims about how God is breathing in me, giving me the ability and grace to write these stories. Then I jump off on a random course of action without even thinking of asking God if that's what He wants me to do.

Lately, I've been trying to include the Holy Spirit a lot more in my prayers. I've been asking God to let His Spirit guide me, help me, love through me, AND convict me. God is faithful. I've been convicted.

So this morning I DID pray, but even then, there were problems with my reasoning. I started praying, "Dear Lord, I'm going to start this project, so please inspire me and give me grace to write and write well." *insert buzzer sound here* No. Convicted again.

I was telling God what I planned to do, asking Him to come alongside me in the work that I'm doing. That's not the way it works.

The idea of prayer, I'm learning, is US coming alongside GOD in the work that HE is doing. Lots of people have said that prayer doesn't matter--even those who claim to believe in God. Why? Because God has already made up His mind about what He's going to do. I see where they're coming from because I don't believe God changes His mind either. He knows what's going to happen before it happens. But these people who don't believe in praying are cheating themselves out of something remarkable.

There's a movie I LOVE about the later life of C.S. Lewis called "Shadowlands." In this film, C. S. Lewis' character had an awesome line. "I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God; it changes me."

When we pray, we're not changing God's mind. We're asking Him to conform our minds and hearts to Him. I've learned this through a situation where some of my friends had a seriously ill child--the child almost died on more than one occasion. I prayed for them, for their child, knowing that the Lord might choose for this child to die. The knowledge that this child might die was not enough to make me want to stop praying. On the contrary, it made me pray all the harder. I knew that the only way my friends could make it through this difficult time in their lives was with God's grace. I knew that the best thing I could do for them was to keep praying that they would have strength to endure whatever happened, trusting God--all the while asking for healing for the child. Did my prayer heal the child? No. God did. But the amazing thing about the prayer was that I had this remarkable opportunity to walk through my friends' pain with them in a supernatural way. I had the opportunity to come alongside God in the work He was doing.

Prayer is amazing. It connects us with the poor widow down the street who is barely making ends meet. It connects us with the best friend who is suffering through rejection and heartache. It connects us with the missionaries and soldiers halfway across the world. Through God's gift of prayer, we're able to walk alongside those who are both far and near. It doesn't change God; it changes us. It unites us with others. It conforms our hearts and minds to God. When bad things happen, our prayer is a connection to the Lord that helps us see His will and trust His heart. When the good things happen, prayer enables us rejoice with one another and praise God for His blessing. It allows us to praise God simply because He is praiseworthy. Prayer amazes me.

And so...

My Prayer, TAKE TWO!: "Dear Lord, I have a project in mind, but I don't know if it's Your timing for me to start working on it. You know everything that's going on. So lead me to make the decision You would have me to make, and help me trust You through every step of this amazing journey. I'm going to go ahead and start writing because it's here in my hands to do, but if this isn't Your will and Your timing, then convict me of that. Let everything I write and everything I do be beneficial to others and glorifying to You."

I invite you all to come alongside me and alongside God in the work that He's doing through me and my writing. Thanks in advance for your prayers. I don't know what He's doing right now, but He's always doing something.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Decision...Maybe

Last time, on The Wonderful Writing World of Ruth, we learned that Ruth is a decent author, but she has absolutely no gumption. Stay tuned for the exciting new episode where we learn about Ruth's epic battle with indecision! Will she decide to continue pursuing agents? Will she decide to scrap this project and begin a new one? Will she stop writing and decide to be a professional yodler instead? Will she go completely insane, join a cult of spider monkeys, and be tragically eaten by savage cannibals? Let's find out!

Yeah, so I may or may not be indecisive. I can't quite decide whether I am nor not. Maybe. Maybe not. Or maybe.

While researching agents today, I kinda sorta had an epiphany. I was looking at what all the agents were looking for: Paranormal. I mean, some of them are looking for YA fantasy. Some are even looking for epic "Tolkienish" fantasy, which is what my current project is. But more and more, I'm seeing agents shying away from that epic fantasy and moving towards fantasy that happens in the real world in which we are currently living.

And it hit me. I've had this idea for a book in my head for about three years. I've even written some scenes of it. I don't know exactly what I want to do with it, but I have a lot of ideas. I kept putting this project on the backburner for so long because I had other projects. It's a paranormal sort of book. Right now, the market is burning hot for that sort of thing. I think it's a good concept. I think the scenes I have written are pretty good. I just have to write it and get it ready to try to sell...

...oh, that's right. Writing a book is hard. Editing a book is hard. Editing it again and again and again is even harder. And right now I don't even have as much time as I would like to devote to my other projects. From what I've heard, this is a problem, because the life of an author just gets harder and harder after she's sold something. When am I going to have time for all of this?

So here's the indecision. I mean, it wouldn't be a dilemma if I had enough time to devote to all projects, but I don't think I do. At least, right now I don't see how it's possible. I *COULD* become a complete loony like I did when I wrote my third book, which I wrote in less than two weeks. But honestly, that insanity came in one ginormous crazy awesome spurt, and I don't see it happening again. If I do attempt to write it while also editing my second book (getting it ready for querying) and trying to get representation for my first book, then I just see things getting a little crazy go nuts around here.

But I'm a writer. Writers aren't typically known for their sanity.

So I'm deciding to try. That's kind of what I have been going with all along. I'm going to try to do these things. I'm going to try to get an agent for the first book. I'm going to try to get my second book edited. I'm going to try to write another book. If I succeed, then yay! I'll be a crazy successful person. If I don't succeed, then it's not a huge deal. I mean, there's always that dream of becoming a professional yodler to fall back on.

Ludicrous speed....GO!