Full of Character with Sara Foust and Giveaway

saraToday I want to welcome Sara Foust to Full of Character. Sara has two fiction books available, Callum’s Compass and Camp Hope. Both can be purchased on Amazon, with Camp Hope currently available as a pre-order. Sara also has stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul:Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover’s Soul.

Let’s get to it and find out more about Sara! And don’t forget to read all the way through. Sara’s giving away one of her books, and the entry information is at the end of this post!

What character from the books you’ve read has impacted you more than all the others?

Adah Knepp from Kelly Irvin’s novel A Plain Love Song. It was reading Adah’s story of learning to follow God’s plan for her life that made me realize I needed to do the same. It led me to my first mission trip this past May to the Philippines.

I’ve always loved the fact that God can use even fiction stories to grow us and challenge us. What character you created was the easiest to write? The hardest?

The female characters are always easier to write because I can put pieces of myself into them. The male characters are usually a bit harder, because, though I’ve been married to one of these male species for 14 years, it is still hard to know what they naturally think! My newest novel, Camp Hope, stars Amy Dawson, a scarred but headstrong woman. I think the headstrong, independent parts of her character were easy to write.

I wonder if that means there is a headstrong, independent woman in you. Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

This is a hard question! I’d like to think I am like Abigail, a wise and patient wife. However, I’m not sure that’s entirely true. Ruth’s story of how hard she worked is inspiring too. Ruth 2:12, The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust, was my personal verse for my recent mission trip. It reminded me that no matter how scared I was, I ultimately trust God explicitly, implicitly, all the -plicitlies, and want to be willing to follow Him no matter where He leads.

Ruth’s story is a great one. Abigail’s too, but you don’t hear about her as often. Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?

I am a planner. I usually spend a couple weeks developing my characters, their backstories, lies, flaws, etc. before I begin writing. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes they don’t still surprise me!

If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?

I honestly have no idea. I’m not great at remembering movie stars’ names and roles they’ve played. It would need to be someone a little bossy, organized, and in love with nature.

I’ll have to think on that one. I’m not sure who fits that description. And thank you Sara for participating in this interview. 

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

If you’d like to ask Sara a question or maybe even give us your idea of who might play her based on her description, please leave it in the comments. Everyone (in the US) who comments will be entered into a drawing to win one of Sara’s books! The winner will be drawn and announced next Monday. I’ve reviewed Callum’s Compass and interviewed one of her characters in my previous posts. You can find both in my archives. 

Write Stuff Wednesday 11

wolf-1352242_960_720“The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

The first book is finished. It’s accepted by a publisher. The big day arrives, and you’ve made it. You’re a published author. The story you’ve given so much of yourself to is now able to be read by everyone who’s willing to buy it. The next book idea, maybe even a continuation of your first story, is pouring from your fingertips into your laptop. Your excitement is high. You query your publisher who offers you a contract. Book two is set to be published.

Then, it happens. As hard as you’re working at it, sales seem to stall on your current book. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to grow your audience and sales with ease like everyone else is doing. You tell yourself it’s like that for everyone starting out, but in the back of your mind, there’s the whisper of doubt. Sitting down to work on your new manuscript, the words stall. You fight to work through the scene. Nothing seems quite right. You begin to wonder if maybe it was all a fluke. Are you a one hit wonder? (Not that the first one could accurately be labeled a hit, but you know what I mean.) Was your well of stories that shallow?

Doubt. It’s the big bad wolf of the writing world. It huffs and puffs. It manages to blow away your lesser built houses of simple dreams and pure inspiration. You cower in your final house, afraid your creativity has been destroyed along with your dreams and inspiration. You’re sure your time as an author is swiftly coming to a disastrous end.

But you shouldn’t fear. You don’t need to cower. This final house is strong. Its foundation is talent, both natural and learned through study of the craft of writing. Its walls are sturdy, made from the finest dedication, both your own and that of your supporters. Your passion, not for this particular project since that can fluctuate with the ease of which it comes but for story telling itself, holds it all firmly together. And housed safely inside this fortress is your creativity. It’s not buried in the rubble. It’s hidden in your final house, but it’s taking its cue from you. It’s hiding in some dark corner, afraid of the big bad wolf.  It’s waiting for you to realize the strength of your house will hold up under the pressure of the huffs and puffs of your doubt. It will make its way out of the corner when you realize the big bad wolf of doubt is powerless to destroy your final home without you first letting it in the front door. Your creativity is waiting for you to take control, turn on your laptop, and begin writing like the author you are.

What are you waiting for?

By the Book: As authors of faith, we have more than what we were born with or what we’ve learned. We have God’s leading. If you feel God has called you to minister to others through writing, He will make sure you have what you need to succeed in the way He wants to see you succeed. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to work, but it does mean we take the opportunities He puts in front of us. And it means we seek to use what He’s given us the way He would want us to. The question for us is whether or not we are listening for His voice and looking for His leading in all we do.

Full of Character with Cynthia Roemer

MRP-Cynthia-Roemer-Under-this-Same-Sky-360x570Today we’re going to spend a little time getting to know author Cynthia Roemer. Cynthia writes historical Christian fiction. I’ve read both Under This Same Sky and Under Prairie Skies. You can find my reviews of them and a Main Character Monday interview with Becky Hollister from Under This Same Sky in my archives. If I’m lucky, I may even get to sit down with Charlotte Stanton or Chad Avery from Under Prairie Skies for a new Main Character Monday interview one of these days. But for now, let’s find out a little more about their creator.

What character from the books you’ve read has impacted you more than all the others?

Probably Jo from Little Women.  I can identify with her tomboyish ways (I was also a tomboy growing up in the country with sisters.) and her resistance to change. I’m a stickler for tradition and find change difficult when it comes to those I love. I identify with her desire to keep her family together and unchanged, though we all know that isn’t possible or for the best. As with novel characters, growth and change in relationships are what keep life exciting.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve never gotten around to reading Little Women. I need to add it to my TBR pile. What character you created was the easiest to write? The hardest?

Hmm. The easiest would probably be Becky Hollister from Under This Same Sky. I understand her emotions and tendencies. There is a lot of me in her. One of the most challenging for me to get into the skin of was the heroine of Under Prairie Skies, Charlotte Stanton. She was such a brat in the first book. It was a real challenge to stretch and grow her personality into someone I liked and admired. But I fell in love with her character throughout Under Prairie Skies as I sensed her vulnerabilities and why she acted the way she did early on.

Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

I dearly love the story of David. He had such a heart for God. I love his simple trust as he faced Goliath and his desire to honor God in everything he did. I also love the story of Ruth and her devotion to Naomi. She was committed to doing the right thing, no matter what. Both of these characters had hearts of compassion and faithfulness—two traits that I hold in highest esteem.

Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you

as surprised by them as your readers?

A little of both. I start with a good understanding of who they are, but allow for God’s leading as the characters develop and change.

If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?

Oh, wow! I have to think about that one.  First of all, I can’t envision someone making a movie about my life. LOL! Secondly, I’m not up on many modern-day actresses, but I would want a Christian actress (hard to find). The best choice would likely by Chelsea Noble (wife to Kirk Cameron). Though I’ve not seen her act, she is a woman of faith. That’s good enough for me.  =)

Before I let Cynthia tell us a bit more about her newest release and herself, I want to thank her for taking the time to participate in this interview. Feel free to leave a comment or a question for Cynthia below.

UNDER PRAIRIE SKIESBook Cover _ Under Prairie Skies (Final) (1)

~ Beyond shattered dreams lies a realm of possibilities ~

Illinois prairie ~1855

Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again.

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever.

AUTHOR BIO: 

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Under Prairie Skies is Book Two in her Prairie Sky Series.Cynthia R

Contact Info:

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:

Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16785237.Cynthia_Roemer

Author Newsletter Sign-up: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cynthia+roemer

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-prairie-skies-cynthia-roemer/1128471176?ean=9781945094446

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-roemer

Full of Character Interview & Giveaway 1

For the next few weeks, Main Character Monday is taking a vacation. Instead, I’m going to do Full of Character Author Interviews. I hope it’s a fun way for you to get to know new authors or get to know those you already know a little better.

I’m starting it off this week by answering the interview questions myself. Plus, I’m going to give away a copy of my book, Faith’s Journey. To enter, simply follow my blog and ask me a “getting to know me” question in the post comments. (You must be a US resident to enter) If you already follow, mention it when you post your question.  The winner will be drawn and announced next Monday.

What character from the books you’ve read has impacted you more than all the others?

I think Lance Michelli from the Michelli Family Series by Kristen Heitzmann has probably impacted me more than any other character. He has a heart to do the right thing, but he often struggles to figure out what that is. He wants God to use him and allows Him to do it in a big way, but he’s painfully aware of his failures. That gives me hope that God can still use me on the days when I feel more sinner than saint.

What character you created was the easiest to write? The hardest?

I’m not sure about the easiest, but I definitely have one that’s been the most fun to write. In Grasping Hope, the book I’m currently working on, I’ve got a grandmother character named GiGi B. She’s not your typical grandma. She’s quirky and full of sass and wisdom. It’s a blast writing scenes with her.

The hardest character for me to write would probably be Sharon, Katie’s mother, in Faith’s Journey. I have a wonderful relationship with my own mother. It’s nothing like the one Katie has with her mother. Writing that angst into their relationship while being careful not to leave you despising Sharon is probably what made her the hardest to write.

Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

There are so many that I love for different reasons. I’d love to be a Joshua or a Caleb, ready to take the land despite the obstacles. But maybe I relate more to Peter. Ready to step out of the boat, but when the time comes my eyes drift from my Savior and I start to sink. Or maybe Elijah. He saw God do some awesome things, but still he struggled with discouragement. I’ve definitely been there too.

Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?

I’m not a planner. I never have been. After my stories get going, I can go back and fill in the details a bit, but even then, it tends to happen organically through the story. I do, however, flesh out the physical attributes of my characters before I write. Usually, I choose someone from television or movies to model the person after.  The GiGi B character I spoke about earlier has the looks of Helen Mirren and the attitude of Flo from Mel’s diner.

If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?

Stana Katic. I wish I could say it’s because we look so much alike! She’s a beautiful actress with a great deal of talent. But really, it’s just because I loved watching her in Castle. I think she could portray my personality with ease.

A Little More About Our Guest:

Heather Greer is a mom of four from Makanda, Illinois. Growing up as a pastor’s kid and now living as a pastor’s wife in small country churches, she has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of ministry life. She’s directed a local Christian youth camp for teens since she was barely out of her teens herself, and she has a passion for encouraging believers in their faith through writing. When she isn’t busy blogging, reading, or writing, Heather enjoys baking and binge watching her favorite geeky shows and Hallmark movies.

Heather Headshot 5Faiths Journey

Get In Touch:

email: bythebook724@gmail.com

facebook: @AuthorHeatherGreer

twitter: @Heather_Greer1

Faith’s Journey can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, and Booksamillion

 

 

 

When Truth Hides

background-2013633_960_720Truth is important, but sometimes it’s hard to find. We see polarizing stories on the news every day that threaten to tear our nations apart. Sometimes they even threaten to tear God’s people apart. But if we take a step back, we realize each side of these debates have often latched onto one small idea or event and run with it. Even our news sources have lost objectivity. It used to be “just the facts” and let the people decide. There is nothing objective about any news source today.

Each side twists and highlights the things that make them look better and the other side look like the devil himself. Each side has an agenda. The stories they cover, the issues they bring to light, may be important. People may need to know these things, but the way the stories are presented breeds hatred, discontent, and divisiveness. Each side claims truth. Each side has proof. Honestly, each side has people paid to make the “facts” work in their favor to push their agenda. That’s why each side can come up with data, polls, events, and numbers to back up their idea. If you know the right way to frame it, you can find information to back up anything you want. And that’s exactly what each side does.

But simple, honest truth being hard to find sometimes doesn’t mean that it’s not important. In fact, I think it makes it more important. No one understands this better than Sergeant Caleb Dockery in Her Place in Time by Stephenia H. McGee. When Lena shows up out of nowhere in the plantation house turned civil war hospital where he’s recuperating, Caleb doesn’t know what to think. She claims to be from the future. She claims to go back and forth between the two times by putting on a yellow dress. It makes no sense. She speaks in strange ways. Her manner and customs aren’t at all like ladies of his day. A lot of what she says and does is controversial and even scandalous, but is she really from the future? Her methods of nursing wounded soldiers lend credence to her claims. But she slips away unseen at times, and she’s admitted she doesn’t believe in the south’s cause in the war. Could she be a spy?

Even as Caleb wrestles with his doubts, he can’t deny he’s attracted to her, and she seems to be attracted to him as well. His doubts about her trustworthiness, her honesty, keep them at arm’s length. He can’t quite reconcile what she’s saying to be truth, and she won’t give her heart to someone who won’t trust her. What she’s saying seems impossible, too impossible to accept as truth. Besides, she’s still trying to figure out what is really going on and why it’s happening. The only question that remains for us is if either of them will find out the truth before they lose what God’s trying to give them forever. It all comes down to truth.

In an age where people try to dress lies and nuggets of truth as the complete truth, Christians are sheep in the midst of wolves. We need to take Jesus’ directive to “be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves” to heart. We can be part of the problem or the solution. It’s easy in today’s social media crazed days to spout off about everything that irks us. Even in those of us who find loving people easier than others can find our patience and acceptance stretched to their limits. We preach the necessity of loving everyone but then demonize those on the opposite side of the situational fence. We read a simplified post that agrees with our view point and forward it to all our friends, expressing disgust at anyone who dares see things from a different perspective.  In essence we’ve been neither wise nor innocent, instead becoming one of the wolves.

If we are to be wise, we need to start being responsible with the truth. When we see issues dividing those around us, we need to take a step back. Believers can’t hide their heads in the sand. We can’t ignore the things going on around us, but we can make sure all we say, do, and post falls under the umbrella of love and truth. We need to go beyond sound bites of media and seek out all the information we can get before choosing to speak. We need to seek God’s will before we choose to make a move.

In seeking truth and God’s will on how to respond to that truth, we allow ourselves to become wise while staying innocent. We refuse to be part of the problem. We allow room for healing in places where divisiveness once reigned.

By the Book: Do you seek truth instead of giving in to a knee-jerk emotional reaction to what you see or read? Do you seek God’s wisdom and way before you decide what steps to take?

See You Tomorrow

Write Stuff Wednesday will return tomorrow. It was one of those days when I got halfway through writing and then my home exploded into a noisy mess as my three sons and their cousin came in. I can’t focus with the noise. So, I’ll try again tomorrow.

Main Character Motivation Monday

why-1780726_960_720Spend a little time with a small child and you’re likely to hear one phrase repeatedly. Why? Why is the sky blue? Why did the light change? Why can’t I have ice cream for dinner? Any answer you give is not good enough. Why did you buy a hot dog? Because I was hungry. Why were you hungry? Because I hadn’t eaten. Why hadn’t you eaten? Because we were busy. Why? Why? Why?

For a small child there is never an answer good enough to stop the onslaught of questioning. Each answer begs a new why. It can be tiring and frustrating as a parent. It’s where the classics “because” and “because I said so that’s why” came from. Not a great answer, but I think all parents resort to it at some point. And as a much as it might work to stop the questioning child, we get in trouble when we take that attitude in our writing.

Characters need reasons. To be believable, they need reasons that make sense. Your character’s actions and reactions should stem from their personalities and their motivations. Our characters are no different than us. They are people who do things for reasons that make sense to them.

I’m passionate about writing, but I spend eight hours a day (nine if you include lunch break) being a receptionist. Why? It doesn’t make sense. If I love writing so much, why would I choose to use the best hours of my day doing something else? My motivation is the reality that since my husband’s unexpected job change came with a serious pay cut, I need to work so my children can eat. I’m just starting out as a writer, and if we lived on that income alone my children would starve. In light of my motivation, my decision to work suddenly makes sense.

I choose to write about books, faith, and life whether it is on this blog or in my books. Why? My faith makes me who I am. I have a firm belief that God wants me to encourage and challenge other believers in their own faith walks. I believe it was God who gave me a passion for reading and writing. I believe God wants us to use our talents and interests to minister to others. These things are my motivation for writing what I write.

Why do your characters do what they do in the ways they do it? If you can’t answer that question, study your character. Spend some time getting to know them. Their motivations don’t have to be complex. There doesn’t have to be some huge master plan driving their choices.

In my book, Faith’s Journey, Katie’s motivation was to escape the hurt caused by her fiancé’s betrayal. As the book progressed, her focus shifted to finding out how to recapture the faith she knew as a child and live it in her adult life. There were other smaller motivations within each scene, but these two played out through all of them. Her motivations, personality, and circumstances worked together in shaping her choices throughout the book.

Knowing a character’s motivation helps you stay focused on what’s important in your storytelling. It allows you to see with more clarity the things that slow your story down, the things that need cut no matter how well written they may be. When authors stay focused on the real story of our characters, the readers can tell a difference. Readers can become more invested in the character. They can understand them and relate to them with more ease. They want to know what happens next because each part of the story is building off the previous part. Knowing our character’s motivation is part of the process that deserves our attention.

Equally deserving of our attention is what motivates us in our lives. As believers, God should have the most important place in our lives. It’s easy to say but hard to live on a daily basis. Even when we do the right things, if our motivations are not in the right place, what we do loses its meaning. Galatians 6:7-8 tells us, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” If we look at Matthew 6:1-4 God’s message is plainly stated. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. ‘Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’”
It isn’t enough to simply do the right things.  We need to search our hearts and know why we do what we do. We may be able to fool some people if our motivations are selfish, but we can never fool God. Serving God is only serving God when He is our motivation.

Shattered

dark-3061610_960_720I was involved with our high school theater productions for my three years of high school. I had (non-serious) dreams of one day being an actress. Of course, it might have helped if I was ever actually in a play. But I wasn’t. I got the courage to try out for one, the last one possible, my senior year. I didn’t make it. No, my experience was with sets and lighting. My friends and I built, painted, and lit up the stage for the actors. Once I even put together a vase.

This production involved a vase shattering as it hit the floor. We couldn’t take the chance that it would fail to break. So, I got to take the vase home, break it, and glue it back together again. It’s easier said than done. It has to break in big chunks that can be adhered together again. If the pieces are too small, it’s nearly impossible to get the vase put back together in a way that doesn’t look compromised. Even being as careful as I was, I’m not sure I would’ve trusted it to hold water.

Often that’s what happens when things are broken. They can be put back together again, but they may not work exactly like they were first intended. They’ve changed. Sometimes, it’s for the better. Other times, not so much. It really depends on who’s doing the fixing and what kind of shape the thing was in before it was damaged to the point of needing repaired.

The same can be said for people. There are things that come along and threaten to break us. Sometimes they do break us, at least for a time. They throw water on the picture we’ve painted for our lives leaving our carefully chosen colors to run down the canvas. Our masterpiece is destroyed. These experiences are different for each person. The loss of a dream, a job, a family member or a person’s health could be the devastating blow. Disappointment, hurt, or betrayal could be what it takes to push you to the breaking point. What devastates me might seem like a cake walk for you. What seems hard for you might be easy for me. It doesn’t matter if others might be able to handle it better. What matters is that we’re in pain. We’ve found ourselves in the middle of a mess that we have no idea what to do with.

These times are the focus of Sheila Walsh’s book, In the Middle of the Mess: Strength or This Beautiful, Broken life. And what Sheila has to offer believers is desperately needed, freedom to be transparent. Starting with her own story, her own failures, her own hurts, and honesty about how these things affected her life and still do, Sheila invites the reader to be honest about their own issues. Her ability to share so openly about things she knows can bring judgement in some Christian circles is inspiring. It allows the readers to see she believes the message whole-heartedly. That alone is enough to bring hope. Everyone wants to feel they are not alone.

But it doesn’t end there. Sheila weaves scripture and practical lessons on how to deal with life’s devastations into each chapter. She challenges readers to honestly evaluate themselves each step of the way. And she does it in a way that makes you feel safe doing so.

While taking a faith-based perspective and encouraging practices that are fueled by belief in God and the scriptures, Sheila doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the need to take other practical steps to help deal with the aftermath of the circumstances that threaten to destroy our lives as we knew them. It’s this binding together of faith with the practical and illustrating with real life examples that make her lessons powerful.

For those who have not ever experienced the proverbial “dark night of the soul”, Sheila’s book is one to read. She has taken concepts that are hard to understand when they’ve not been experienced and makes them relatable. With greater understanding comes more empathy and love. Judgement is lessened, and hearts can find the One who can heal as His followers pour out His love on those in pain. Hope is given, not necessarily for a change in circumstances, though Sheila does acknowledge our God is the One who can make that happen, but that we can know peace and joy and love even in our circumstances. This book points us to His answer for our own hurts and to help others as they search for healing in their hurts.  And God is the One who can put back together the broken in ways that make them stronger than they ever were to begin with.

Write Stuff Wednesday 10

typewriter-1170657_960_720“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

Writers may not speak the words, but what we type can go places our spoken words may never reach.  Our tongues are our keyboards. And I doubt there is a writer among us who doesn’t love words. If we don’t, we may want to rethink our chosen career paths. If we ever doubted it, words, our words have power.  This is true whether those words are written or spoken.

During a particularly difficult circumstance in my life, I received a text about a possible negative development in the situation. My body reacted immediately. Anxious feelings began to creep in. I felt sick. My phone screen lit up with a few simple lines of written word, and I felt defeated.

Written words were also what shook me from a life of relative security and plunged me into a place of pain and doubt during the most challenging time in my life. For months after reading a fairly short letter from a loved one, I struggled to control my fear that the other shoe was ready to drop on my at any moment, knocking me further away from what little security I had left.

But even as words threatened my well-being and changed my life, they were also there to hold me up. I found strength and peace in the middle of the mess. And while scripture was a source of life for me at the time, it wasn’t the only thing God used to encourage me. As I sought moments of respite from what had become my day to day life, I turned to Christian fiction.  I was surprised to find understanding. Some books broke down my walls and drew the hurt out from deep inside. Others empathized with my plight and pointed me to truths my mind was too tired to accept any other way.

The stories I read were amazing gifts. These written words worked to restore some of what I’d lost and point me to the One who could provide complete restoration.  Words had done a tremendous amount of damage, and words helped make it right again.

This is why it is important for writers, especially writers of faith, to choose their words carefully. Our fiction and non-fiction alike should be filled with the truth. Sometimes that truth is hard. In those times, we should take care to say what we say in love and with grace and mercy.  Truth doesn’t have to be compromised to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. People are sensitive creatures. We don’t ever like being told we’re in the wrong. But we can and should be careful that our attitudes are based in love. When we approach others with understanding and love, even a difficult message can hit its mark.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing sweet love stories or murder mysteries. Words that bring life can be sewn into the fabric of each one. Even fantasy worlds brought to life only by the author’s imagination can leave a reader with a deeper understanding of God. As writers, as lovers of words, we should strive to share life through what we write.

By the Book: What books have you found life in? As a writer, do you share life with your readers?