Guest Post – One Form of Heroism by Jane Kirkpatrick

I’m sure you’ll be blest by this guest post by Jane Kirkpatrick. Be sure to check out her wonderful historical novels.
“And one form of heroism, about which few if any films will be made, is having the courage to live without bitterness when bitterness is justified, having the strength to persevere even when perseverance seems unlikely to be rewarded, having the resolution to find profound meaning in life when it seems the most meaningless.” Dean Koontz, The City.

For a long time I’ve avoided Dean Koontz books. I thought they would be so suspenseful I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night but my writing friends said he was a classic writer. Deciding that the new year means doing new things (“you must do the things you think you cannot do,” Eleanor Roosevelt) I decided to take the plunge and read a Dean Koontz book. The City was wonderful. And the quote above had me closing the pages and pondering.

I know so many “heroes” that meet this criteria. Most of them lived a hundred years ago. Emma Giesy whose husband drowned before her eyes while rescuing a stranger. It took her awhile, but she began to live without bitterness. Letitia Carson, a former slave who persevered despite the unlikelihood that she would win her lawsuit against a white justice system. Jane Sherar who found meaning through children, her neighbors, the Warm Springs people, when her hope for children of her own was never realized. Each of these and many more have taught me much about heroism as defined by Koontz.

I know such men and women are out there today, too. Some call them hardy; others call them pioneers. But enduring a hard time isn’t enough by this definition of heroism. It’s the state of mind that makes the difference, the courage to live without bitterness; the strength to persevere without reward, the resolve to find meaning when meaning seems most elusive.

New Year’s resolutions have never appealed to me, but I’m going to hang on to this particular definition as I write about the people who populate my days. And I’m going to remember these words when my mind might dissolve into bitterness or I’m too tired to persevere or when life seems meaningless…and yes, sometimes it does. I’ll remember that many have gone before me (you as readers, I might add) and as a result, I will take a deep breath, look out my window at my labyrinth and speak a Mary Oliver prayer of gratitude: “It is a serious thing/just to be alive/on this fresh morning/in a broken world.”
****

Jane Kirkpatrick is the NY Times bestselling author of 29
books, most of which are based on the lives of historical women. A Wisconsin
native and former mental health director, she’s a two-time Oregon Book Award
Finalist, A three-time WILLA Literary Award winner, a CAROL Award winner, Spur
award finalist and winner of the Wrangler award from the Western Heritage
Center. Many of her titles have been Book of the Month and other international
book club selections. 
Her latest novel is TheMemory Weaver based on the life of Eliza Spalding Warren, a Whitman Mission
Massacre survivor. After 27 years on a remote homestead in Oregon, Jane and her
husband Jerry now live with two dogs outside of Bend, Oregon. 
See Jane’s other books at www.jkbooks.com.

There Will Be Tears

Tears

by Marcia Lee Laycock
I made my instructor cry recently. And that made me happy. No, I’m not a sadist, I’m a writer. When I read her comment it gave me a great deal of satisfaction because I had done my job. I made her feel what the characters were feeling. I made her feel what I had been feeling when I wrote the words. And something changed.

Ted Dekker recently said, “Story is about transformation – the transformation of your characters and your own transformation.” Dekker’s premise is that if you do not change as you write, your characters won’t change and your readers won’t engage in the story enough to be transformed.

In order to be changed we must feel something deeply. That has happened to me a number of times when I’ve read an exceptional book. When I read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo for an assignment at university many years ago, I carried the book around with me for weeks after I’d finished it. That book made me cry and I kept re-reading it, in different versions, even the unabridged, and in its original French. Then I went to every performance of it on stage that I could get to. I watched every film ever produced.

Because it made me cry but I didn’t know why.

Oh yes, there was the rawness of the poverty and the infuriating injustice and the kindness of a priest that stirred things in me, but I had read about that in other books. There were strong characters and vivid setting, but that was nothing new either.

It wasn’t until I had an encounter with Jesus that I understood why Les Miserables had such a powerful affect on me. It was because the book was such a clear and brilliant story of mercy and grace. It was because, in the depths of my soul, that was what I was longing for, what I needed, and when I read those words and let that story seep in I recognized it, even before I knew what it was. And I cried.

All good story is about transformation. All good story is about mercy and grace. These are not the sappy clips we see on Facebook, not the tear-jerker Budweiser commercials, but deep, lasting works that make a difference in the lives of the reader.

They make us cry. They change us. They transform us. Because the Holy Spirit uses the words to do His work. Les Miserables was one of the stepping stones God used to bring me home to Him.

I believe He will use our words to do the same if we are willing to be changed and transformed ourselves as we write. The process is not easy. There will be tears involved. But the end result is worth it all.

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You (Job 42:5). 

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 three devotional books in print and has
contributed to several anthologies, including the Hot Apple Cider books. Her
work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark
Buchanan. 
Abundant
Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded on Smashwords
or on Amazon.
It is also now available in Journal
format on Amazon. 
Her
most recent release is A
Traveler’s Advisory
, Stories of God’s Grace
Along the Way, available in ebook and paperback on Amazon.

Sign up to
receive her devotional column, The
Spur

The Pressure of A Novelists Life

By Rachel Hauck

Last Monday I turned in a novel. My second one in seven months.

For some writers, that’s a normal feat. Producing good reads every three months, or less, is common.

But that’s extraordinary for me.

I’ve learned to become the fast novelist. In the fall I write a 105K novel in three months. Rewrote it in three weeks.

Then wrote a 52K novel. Very rough first draft. Ha! Blessed are the editors who read my manuscripts.

When my editor and I discussed my deadlines she offered to change them, but that meant releases would be delayed. Um, no, no…

“Let’s go for it,” I said. “Diamonds come from pressure.”

I had peace. I knew the Lord would be with me. It was a season to apply a little elbow grease to the ole schedule.

But you know, it’s never easy. Two years ago, that kind of schedule would’ve sunk me. I knew in my spirit not to take on a heavy load. Come the start of 2014, I knew why.

But last fall, I knew I was in a new season.

Writing always comes with a certain tension. Even on good days, there’s a small tension in my gut.

The page is eager for a story not yet fully known. And I’m the only one who can discover it.

A novelist has to hide away when others are playing. Saturdays are not a day off when on deadline. Sometimes there is no “weekend.”

When the story is finally finished and turned in, there’s an elation. A relief. I liken it to the end of a tough quarter in college.

The sun shines brighter. The warmth is deeper. Music plays from some mysterious place in my heart.

I might go shopping. Or take an afternoon at the beach.

Lunch with friends. Yahoo!

But when creating diamonds…

The pressure never completely lets go.

A week after I turned in my latest novel, I woke up Monday morning with that tautness. “Time to write the next novel.”

The next deadline is closing in. No break.

I have research books to read. Novels to endorse for friends. Other responsibilities to the writer community. To my worship team at church

Not to mention houseguests, a writers retreat, and an upcoming move by my in-laws to my town.

And the twist tightens.

The “joy” from the week off fades. Time to get back to work. The blank page is available for the pen of my words. Waiting for a story I have yet to conceive.

It never ends when you’re a writer. If you’re not writing, you want to be writing. If you’re in between those two spaces, you’re researching. Thinking. Trying to come up with the next great novel.

Some days I’d love to have a co-worker, you know?

“Hey, I’m going on vacay. Can you write the next three chapters for me? And, you know, make them brilliant.”

Or “Hey, I’m a bit under ‘it’ today. Can you hammer out 2k words for me?”

Nope. There is no such person. I’m the only one who can write my stories.

You’re the only one who can write YOUR stories.

Here’s the deal. Diamonds DO come from pressure. When we shrink away from pressure — let the read beware, pressure is different from stress — we shrink away from the very thing that might produce our best work yet.

Is that the case with the two books I wrote in the fall? I have NO idea. The readers will be my judge.

But I gave the stories my all.  In the time allowed.

Do you feel it? The subtle knot reminding you your job never ends?

The pressure is good for me. It keeps me thinking, working, paying attention to the world around me.

But I have to know when to unplug and just be “me.”

When I start to feel burdened or lost along the way, I go to the Lord. “This is your gig. Don’t let me make it all about me.”

Guess what! He’s faithful to provide peace. Hope. Joy! And everything I need for the next story.

Here’s some tips for managing the pressure life of a novelist:

1. Avoid comparison.

2. Get ahold of your time. Set hours to write and hours to play. The more you write the more you’ll realize your best routine and habits.

3. Take notes. I’m bad about this these days but jot down ideas when you’re out and about so you don’t forget them.

4. Have faith. The Lord is with you! Period. Give doubt the boot.

5. Use the pressure positively. To help you get to work. When pressure hits during your down time, tuck it away and relax.

6. Hit the gym. Or take a long walk. Exercise is always good for the mind-body connection.

7. Think long range. The “poor” only think of/plan for today. The middle class plans in terms of years. The wealthy of the wealthy think in decades. Give yourself time to become a great author. Stick with it. It will pay off.

Happy writing!

***

Rachel lives in sunny central Florida. 

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, she worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in uncomfortable chair to write full time eleven years ago.

She’s the author of USA Today, EPCA and CBA best selling novels. She is a RITA and Christy finalist. 

Her latest book, The Wedding Chapel, was named to Booklist Top Ten Inspirational Novels of 2015.


She co-authored the critically acclaimed Songbird Novels with platinum selling country music artist Sara Evans. Their novel Softly and Tenderly, was one of Booklists 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.


Rachel serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, a conference speaker and worship leader.

Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

When it All Seems Wrong


Jumbled Letters

by Marcia Lee Laycock

“It has to be here somewhere,” my husband’s voice was annoyingly calm.

“But the road ends right here!” My voice was not.

“Are you sure you have the address right?”

I sighed and dug out my cell phone to find the website and address for the courier again. I groaned when it finally came up. The number was 7476 not 4767. I opened my GPS app. and typed in the correct address. My husband chuckled as it directed us to the right spot.

I always have been a bit dyslexic when it comes to numbers but I couldn’t believe I had gotten the address so wrong. Not just one number out of place, but all of them! I sighed with frustration.

I remember having that same feeling one day when I was editing my first novel. I had put it away for a while, after writing The End, but now it was time to take a close critical look at it. I marked it up with my own unique editing notations and when I reached that last page I sighed with frustration. Many scenes seemed out of order. In fact, it seemed all wrong. I was tempted to just hit the delete button and start again, but there were segments I liked, characters that worked and scenes that had a good emotional punch. If I could just figure out where to put them! It took a while but the hard work of rearranging was worth it in the end. The novel won me the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award and I have had some wonderful responses from readers. In the end, I was glad I hadn’t hit that delete button.

Sometimes life seems like that doesn’t it? Sometimes we look at what’s going on around us, in our world, in our country, in our own local area and even in our own family, and it seems like it’s all mixed up – it’s all wrong. Sometimes we’d like to just hit some kind of delete button and start over. But then we see those shining moments when things do work, when the goodness and kindness of humanity prevail, or when right conquers wrong in a stunningly powerful way. We realize our world, our country, our city and our family is worth the effort.

And then there are those wonderful promises in God’s word: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33). And this one: The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Yes, there will always be times when things seem out of order and all wrong. But as we head into a new year it is good to remember that “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22,23).

May He bless you and your writing mightily in 2016!

****

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 two 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.

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded on Smashwords or on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format on Amazon.

Her most recent release is A Traveler’s Advisory, Stories of God’s Grace Along the Way.
Here’s Ane Mulligan’s review on Amazon – “Marcia Laycock has an inspired ability to deliver devotions that pierce the heart with a message from God. A Travelers Advisory is a unique devotion book, filled with everyday occurrences from travel, and each reached home in my heart.”

Visit Marcia’s Website

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur