Emotional Wounds & The Lies They Cause

by Pamela S. Meyers, @pamelameyers

This past month I became one happy novelist when Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, authors of the Emotion Thesaurus and other writingthesauruses came out with The Emotional Wound Thesaurus.

Many, if not most, people believe a certain lie about themselves. In building my characters I use one of eight basic lies as the foundation for my protagonist’s character. The list, which is not exhaustive includes:

  • I’m a disappointment
  • Not good enough (this is a very strong lie, often used for men and strong female leads)
  • I’m not enough – or defective
  • I’m too much to handle and will get rejected
  • It’s all my fault
  • Helpless – powerless to fix (this leads to a fear of being controlled)
  • Unwanted/unlovable
  • I’m bad (which could possibly be used as a symptom or excuse for another lie)

There is usually a trigger early in life that moves the person to believe a lie about themselves. Figuring out your character’s lie should be one of the first steps in developing his or her characterization. Once you have the lie figured out, much of who they are will fall into place.

Thelie that I used in my novel Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, which was republished later as Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, was “I’m not good enough.” My heroine Meg had come to believe this about herself because she struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder back in the thirties when educators were just learning about ADD. When she was around ten years old, Meg overheard her teacher tell her father that Meg would never amount to anything. She believed the teacher was right. Because her father, not knowing she’d overheard the discussion, never mentioned it to her, she believed he agreed and spent most of her life trying to prove to him the teacher was wrong.

If I had access to the Emotional Wound Thesaurus while I was writing my story, I could have gone to the section about failing at school and learned what my character may fear, possible responses and results, personality traits, triggers that might aggravate the wound, and opportunities to face or overcome the wound. All of which would have helped in developing my character who, in my story,is trying to prove herself in the man’s world of newspaper journalism.

I have several craft writing resources I turn to time and again, and the Emotional Wound Thesaurus is going to be a huge help to me as I develop my next story.

Do you have a favorite writing resource you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comments.


Second Chance Love

Chicago lawyer Sydney Knight and Texas bull rider Jace McGowan have nothing in common but everything to lose when they are thrust together during a weekend rodeo in rural Illinois. Sydney is determined she’ll get Jace out of his contract and return to Chicago with her heart intact, but Jace is just as determined to help her see they are meant to be together. Can a city girl with roots deep in Chicago and a bull-riding rancher with roots deep in Texas give themselves a second-chance love?

Pamela S. Meyers lives in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Second Chance Love, and Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (a reissue of Love Finds You in Lake Geneva). Her novellas include: What Lies Ahead, in The Bucket List Dare collection, and If These Walls Could Talk, in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Midwestern spots for new story ideas.

Irritated by My Own Writing

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

Gustave Flaubert is quoted as saying: “I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears.”

I think most writers, and artists of all kinds, will relate to that sentiment. I know I do. I remember when I received the email from my publisher telling me that my first novel, One Smooth Stone, had gone to press. My first thought was, “No! Give it back! It’s not good enough yet!” My vision for that book was so much more than what it ended up being.Often I feel the same about the devotional writing I do. I sense something deeply but the expression of it seems lacking. It always seems to fall short and I fear that its impact will not be as effective as I had dreamed it would be.

I am so very thankful that the impact of my words is not just dependent upon my skill as a writer. I can depend on the Holy Spirit to do His work in the minds and hearts of those who read my writing. I can relax in the knowledge that His plan is perfect and His purposes will be accomplished through my work. I can rejoice in the understanding that it is God who changes lives, not my paltry efforts at eloquence.

I think most Christians will relate to Mr. Flaubert’s statement as well. None of us feels that we are good enough. We know our weaknesses, our tendency to fall into sin and to wander away from the One who wants to hold us close. Mr. Flaubert’s quote might well be transposed to read, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41), or, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24),or, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do” (Romans 7:15).

As writers, artists and Christians we are constantly reminded that we are not yet living in the state in which we were meant to live. We glimpse what ought to be but cannot yet attain it. We wrestle with our demons and our angels. Sometimes we come away greatly strengthened. Sometimes we are limping. Yet every time we understand on a deeper level, that, in our weakness we are strong, because in our weakness we learn to depend solely on our Lord.

We might well cry out, with the apostle Paul, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24). But then, we might well rejoice with him when he answers that question: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).


One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there his is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

 

3 Ingredients of a Great Writer

By Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

It’s November. That means thousands of writers are pounding away at their keyboards this month, hoping their manuscript will become the next #1 NY Times Bestseller.

See what I have in my hand, kids? It’s a pin. A sharp, pointy silver rod of death, and I’m stabbing balloon after balloon. Pop. Pop. Pop. Because the ugly truth is there’s only one thing that makes for a great bestseller and that’s a great writer. And there are three ingredients that go into all the greats. Look deep inside, little writer, and see if you have the makings or if you’re short an egg or two . . .

3 Ingredients of a Great Writer

1 – Guts

There’s a fine line between knowing writing rules and being hog-tied by them. It takes courage to cross the line now and then and break those rules. That implies you must first know what the “rules” are, but at some point you need to let go and freefall into your writing. Take risks. Stop caring if your story gets published. Write for the breath-stealing exhilaration of creation.

2-Reading

Great writers read. Excessively. And in all genres. There’s something to be said for osmosis. Reading great writing tends to come out as great writing.

3-Time

This is the ingredient everyone wants to skip, especially all the bright-eyed newbies out there who think their first manuscript is God’s gift to mankind. It takes time to become a great writer. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Lots and lots of chocolate and weeping. Granted, the timeline isn’t the same for all writers, but it’s a rare genius who gallops out of the gate into novel stardom. Most pay their dues one year at a time, critique by critique, workshop by workshop. Slow down, little cowboy, and enjoy the ride.

If you’re missing one of these ingredients, don’t despair. Just work toward the one you need most. Stick with it, because there’s a kingpin of all ingredients inside every great writer: perseverance.


12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar? Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters . . . and what matters most is love.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent andGallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.the next level.

Interview with Lori Benton

We are all about journeys…unique ones at that. How convoluted was your path to your first published book? Share some highlights or low lights from your path to publication. 

My path to publication was longer than most, I think. It spanned twenty-two years, from the time I became serious about writing a novel in 1991, to 2013 when Burning Sky was released. All through the decade of the 1990s (my twenties) I was passionate about writing, confident I had every chance of one day being published, and undaunted by rejections. Many rejections!

In 1999, still with nothing but rejections to show for years of writing, God allowed a detour in my journey that would last five years, by way of cancer and chemo fog. I had just turned 30 when I was diagnosed with Hodgins Lymphoma. Though it took less than a year for the cancer to be cured, during the next five years I wrote very little at all despite my stop-and-start efforts to do so while my brain recovered in 2004 from a long-term side effect of the chemo, known as chemo fog. In 2004, I began researching and writing the type of historical fiction that would eventually be published—18th century frontier stories.

As you might imagine, those five years were fraught with challenges: frustration, disappointment, determination, set-back, tears, prayers, and ultimately a surrendering of my writing dreams into the hands of the One I should have left them in from the beginning. God was waiting for me to take that idol, which is what writing had become in my life, and knock it down.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work, or struggle in a particular area such as writers block or angst driven head-banging against walls? Please share some helpful overcoming hints that you’ve discovered.

You’d think I wouldn’t experience such things after such struggle, healing, and triumph during those cancer years, and all the productive ones that have followed. But I do still struggle.

God changed me during those five years of chemo fog. He shattered my self-image of a confident, intelligent, talented writer and made me aware of my weaknesses, my limitations, and my frailty. He continues to leave me in that place of “weakness awareness” with each book I write. Each feels like an overwhelming mountain I have to somehow climb. In the climbing I have many pauses to catch my breath, many moments of doubt that I will ever make it. And yet… how thrilling to know that God doesn’t recoil from my weakness, even on those days when my faith, or my strength, or even my desire, to write another book, another chapter, or another scene, is practically nonexistent.

He is faithful to remind me that I’m not doing any of this in my own strength. That all I need to do is come to the computer each day and start working and He will show up and provide what I need. One day at a time. One scene at a time. Maybe that’s just the strength to stick it out for the day and keep plugging away even if I’m not “feeling it” or see much progress. Maybe it’s sudden inspiration, or a revelation of some deeper truth embedded in the story I’m trying to tell that I’ve been dancing around for weeks with my words and I have one of those glorious “Aha” moments with Him.

Whatever it looks like, I know He’s in this with me. Even in those moments when I’m on my face before Him, simply saying, “Lord, help.”

Plot, seat of pants or combination? What is the most difficult part of pulling together a book? Ex. Do you have saggy middles, soggy characters, soupy plots during your first drafts…if so, how do you shape it up?

When asked to talk about the practical aspects of writing, I often struggle with what to share because not one of my novels has been written with the same method. I’ve written them in a linear and nonlinear fashion. I’ve plotted them thoroughly using a Three Act Structure, and I’ve barely plotted them at all and simply written by “digging where the ground is soft” as one writer I know describes her method of writing. With most novels, I’ve landed somewhere in between those extremes. I find the juggling of all the parts and pieces that go into a novel overwhelming during the first draft, which might take me a year or more to complete. I revisit my main characters’ motivations a dozen times—and sometimes change them deep into the writing process. I devour Bible teachings and devotionals hoping for that one resonating spiritual theme to reveal itself. Again, sometimes deep into the writing process. I’m still reading craft books on structuring novels, plotting, and planning, seeking for a method I haven’t yet tried that might make the process a little easier. And I’ve been doing it for twenty-six years!

If you are a writer and this sounds anything like your own writing process, you aren’t alone! I know it can be frustrating, having no writing method you can rely on to bring you through that next novel you’re about to undertake, but if you know the Lord and are His child, I invite you to look at it as a touch from a Heavenly Father; a hip out of joint, like the Patriarch Jacob of old. When your intellect and writing craft fails you, remember that like Jacob you’ve been touched and renamed. You are Governed by God (the meaning of Jacob’s new name, Israel). Lean into Him every limping step of the way as you write. Talk to Him about it—endlessly. Ask for His abundant provision in whatever way you need. Out-of-joint isn’t a comfortable place to be, but the fellowship you have with the Author of your soul will be the sweeter. In the end, He will get the glory and others will see what He can do in their weakness and be encouraged to offer even their brokenness to Him.


Many Sparrows

Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would. . . .

In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.

When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son . . . especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of “Burning Sky,” recipient of three Christy Awards, “The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn,” Christy-nominee “The Wood’s Edge,” and “A Flight of Arrows.” Find out more about Lori at http://loribenton.blogspot.com.