Delusions of Grandeur

Marcia Laycock is a pastor’s wife and mother of three grown daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone, and has published two devotional books, Spur of the Moment, and Focused Reflections. Visit her website –

It was a silly, pre-adolescent movie. The plot involved a group of misfits who wanted to be super-heroes. They dreamed about it, dressed like it, talked the talk and even tried to walk the walk. In the end they do save the day, of course, in a manner that would make all those who love underdogs cheer wildly. But in the end, one of the characters has learned that it’s okay to be “just Roy.” It’s okay to be just a guy with an ordinary name, living a normal life.

We all have delusions of grandeur. We all have dreams of doing something great someday, something that gets noticed, something of significance. We all would like recognition, even a taste of fame. And of course the fortune that comes with it would be nice too. Deep down inside, we all want to be “somebody.” This common human trait goes back to man’s earliest days. There’s a record of it in the first book of the Bible. The writer of Genesis tells us the descendants of Noah disobeyed God and began to scheme. It seems they wanted to be super-heroes. “Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4)

The desire for grandeur is part of us because in fact, we were created to be grand. We were created in the image of God, meant to be as glorious as a reflection of Him can and should be. So it’s natural that we long for it. But like the descendants of Noah, we try to achieve greatness in ways that God does not support. He tells us to serve but we want to be the masters. He tells us to seek spiritual food, the knowledge of God, but we want burgers and fries and everything else the world offers. He tells us to care for the poor and the oppressed but we struggle for prosperity on our own behalf. He tells us to praise and honor Him but we have better things to do with our time. Like the descendants of Noah, we want “a name for ourselves” and it is not the name God has given us.

All the things God tells us to do are meant to bring us the grandeur we seek. They are meant to make us more like Him. The irony is that we will achieve that grandeur only when we submit to Him and be content with who we are. When we discover that it’s good to be “just Roy,” a person living an ordinary life in obedience to God, we make a grand discovery. We realize we are growing into the image of God. Then the grandeur we seek falls in line with the grand creatures we were created to be, creatures who act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God. (Micah 6:8)

Book Donations Needed for Book Auction!

Here is a drive for books that I thought you guys would be interested in learning about. If you’d like to donate books, you can contact Ms. Doyle via e-mail: doyle1718 {At}

My name is Donna Doyle and I write the web site Romance Reviews ( I live in Crofton, Maryland (located between Annapolis and DC).

Crofton needs a community center – badly. The Crofton Regional Community Center (CRCC) was organized to accomplish that goal. It is a non-profit, tax-free organization. Plans are for a two-storied building on property leased from the county for $1 per year next to the Crofton Library with an adjacent Skatepark. The cost of this endeavor is estimated to be $10 million and present plans are to raise $2.5 million annually until the date of construction – 2014. Subsequent operational costs are expected to be $500,000 annually.

That’s a lot of money, but CRCC believes it is attainable and is currently engaged in serious fundraising – no easy task in these tough economical times.

As a member of the Executive Board of CRCC I am heading a fund raiser called Book Lovers Auction on September 11th. I am asking for your help. The silent auction will be held at a reception in a local restaurant’s glorious meeting room.

Please, I need your help to make this a success and to see that Community Center built. Could I count on you for a donation – such as a basket consisting of your books and other miscellaneous items? Or some autographed books? Do you have any posters or cover art to donate? How about an autographed manuscript? If you plan on being in this neck of the woods sometime after Sept. 11th, perhaps a lunch date with a winner could be arranged? Anything you could contribute would be deeply appreciated and I welcome your suggestions.

I can assure you that your generosity will be well publicized. I appreciate your interest and hope to hear back from you soon.

Thank you.

Donna Doyle, Executive Committee of CRCC

Author Steven James ~ Interviewed

Steven James is the bestselling, award-winning author of four thrillers, including The Knight, which Suspense Magazine named one of the top ten books of 2009. Armed with a Master’s Degree in Storytelling, James is a popular conference speaker and has taught writing and storytelling throughout North America, as well as in India and South Africa.

Read reviews of Steven James novels HERE.

What two or three things would you do differently if you were starting your publishing career today?

Early in my writing career, I took on whatever jobs I could in order to make some money. Sometimes these included projects I was interested in, sometimes I was just putting down words in order to get paid. Over the years, I’ve realized I would personally only feel satisfied when I’m writing the stories that are true to who I am; stories I honestly believe in. This has helped me find my voice as an author and has kept me from the cookie cutter approach I sometimes followed earlier I my career.

If I could change something, I would avoid the work-for-hire type projects I did earlier and focus on the original ideas that I have.

What one issue makes you struggle the most as an author? How do you handle it?

The editing process.

Imagine that you are a painter. You spend a year of your life on a project, then pass it on to a museum. At the museum they hand out paints and brushes to a number of artists who have only recently graduated from art school, who have 15 years less experience than you do. Then they tell the aspiring artists to fix the parts of your painting that they don’t feel are right. An artist would go insane if something like this happened, yet, this is what happens every day to novelists.

Handling it isn’t always easy, but communicating your expectations with the editor from the start will stem off some of the problems before they arise.

What is the best writing (or life) advice you have ever heard or wished you had followed? Why?

Don’t fall in love with your first draft.

Very often when we write we believe the words we are punching down on the page are the best words ever written. However, if you set your work aside, and live a little between drafts, then go back to your work, you will be able to look at it more objectively and always be able to improve it.

What one issue ignites your passion? Does your passion fuel your writing? What would you do with your life if you didn’t write?

Several times I’ve had the opportunity to visit the slums of India. Seeing the horrifying conditions that many people throughout the world live in, makes my heart ache.

Also the fact that so many innocent children are killed through legalized abortion is deeply troubling to me.

I believe that my writing affirms the value and dignity of human life, and hopefully will inspire other people to treat the underprivileged with more compassion.

If I weren’t writing or speaking, I believe I would like to be involved with some type of humanitarian work.

Author Interview ~ Diane Wei Liang

Diane Wei Liang was born in Beijing. She spent part of her childhood with her parents in a labour camp in a remote region of China. A graduate of Peking University, Diane participated in the 1989 Student Democracy Movement and was in Tiananmen Square. A former professor of business, Diane is the author of Lake With No Name, a memoir of Tiananmen and a previous novel featuring Beijing private detective Mei Wang, The Eye of Jade. Her novels have been translated into over 20 languages. She lives in London.

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

I have just finished the third installment of the Mei Wang Mysteries. Mei is targeted by a mysterious governmental organization. A private detective is killed investigating a business that has close ties to the Chinese military. Mei is under-pressure to discover the real killer amid police cover up.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I had the idea of writing my first book, a memoir about growing up in China and the 1989 Tiananmen events in summer holiday in July. I was at the time teaching at University of London. By October I had written a couple of chapters and a book proposal. I sent them to a dozen of agents in London where I lived and had a few positive responses. It took another four months for me to complete the first one hundred pages of the book, which my agent sent out together with the book proposal. A UK publisher offered me a contract. Six translations followed. Since I was new to writing, I did not think much of it.

Three years later, I finished my first novel, which was sold in pre-Frankfurt Book Fair auctions. I remember getting a call from my agent, which began with, “I hope you are sitting down.” I had read about writers getting such calls from their agents, but never thought that one day it would happen to me. All I could say at the end of that conversation was thank you.

Do you experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Yes, all the time.

What’s the worst mistake you’ve made while seeking publication?

I wish I had worked more on my book proposal and my writing before I went out with them. I now know that the more a writer can perfect her/his book, the easier for others to see its value.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

I suppose this is the standard advice from writing programs: characters first, plot second. I have never had any writing training. I followed this advice to the tee, until a friend told me to first work out the plot so that I could have a peace of mind focusing on characters. It turned out to be a great advice.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I wish I had known how important a passionate and driving editor is to the success of a book. Publishing is a very personal business. Now I look for such a person when I choose publishers, while at the same time that editor is hopefully choosing me.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

Mei Wang series are published in twenty-eight countries so inevitably there would be my editor or publisher leaving the publishing house that is publishing my books. It has which created problems.

What are a few of your favorite books?

Home by Marilynee Robinson
The Line of Beauty by Allan Hollinghurst
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

The third Mei Wang book that I’ve just finished writing. I feel that I have learnt a lot and made a great leap forward in the new work.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I am sometimes discouraged by the turnover of editors and publicists, especially if they are good.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I drop off my children to school by 9am. I either sit in my office at home or go to a café with my laptop to write (these days more and more to café), until I need to pick up my children from school at around 3:30pm. If I am not too tired by evening, I will also try to write for a couple of hours before going to bed, which is typically around midnight.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

Precision and control, from Marilynne Robinson.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I would like to write good books that will be read beyond my existence.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Yes. While I was working on the third Mei Wang book, there had been an eight months period during which I did not write anything and did care whether I carried on writing.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part of being a writer is to be able to work anywhere and anytime. My least favorite part of it is when the writing does not work, the world becomes grim – it is all consuming.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I go on book tours and participate in literary festivals. I also do a fair amount of TV and radio work, though sometimes they are not directly related to my books. From my experience, the degree of promotional success depends on the capability of the publicist. If I believe in a particular publicist, I’d do everything she sends my way.

Parting words?

Writing is the most enjoyable and enriching experience I have ever had. I hope more people will try it.