Full of Character: Your Characters and Character

Over the last several weeks I’ve used Full of Character Mondays to showcase the characters other authors find compelling. Some have chosen real people from biographies. Some have chosen to take their inspiration from characters created in the minds of authors they enjoy. Whether real people or the products of someone’s imagination, the characters we love can challenge, encourage, or inspire us. Sometimes a single character can do all three.

While they’re busy showing us who or how we want to be in our own lives or telling us how to avoid the pitfalls they’ve become prey to, these people tug on our emotions. Even those who don’t exist outside the pages of their books have the power to make us both laugh and cry with them. For the time we lose ourselves in the pages of their books, we allow ourselves to treat them as if their stories are real. We allow them to impact us. That’s why they touch us in this way.

If people from the past who we’ve never met and people who aren’t even real can touch us in this way, how much more power to touch others is contained in each of us. Think of those in your life who have left a lasting impression on your life. Was it their kindness that moved you? Their strength and faith in times of testing? Or was it the joy they passed on to everyone around them?

What part of their character stood out so distinctly that it reached into your life and changed you?

Now think about your own life. When other people look at the story of your life what do they see? If we’re honest with ourselves this can be a scary question. There are times in my life that what others would see would be the last thing I would want them to see. In the most difficult times in my life, I’m not sure they would have seen strength, faith, or peace. Instead, would they have seen exhaustion or anger or even depression?

I wish with all of my heart that I could say otherwise, but I’m afraid I can’t. When we read characters’ stories, we get to see the whole picture. We don’t have to wonder why they act out. In fact, because we’ve seen the root of their pains we can even understand where their behaviors are coming from. We see what they overcome, and the character they portray in the end has even more impact.

Often, when people look into the story of our lives it is only for a few short chapters. They see only the part that directly touches their lives. It’s sad. When they see only the beginning or middle of story, they don’t get to see the finished product. They don’t get to experience the end results of how our circumstances shape our character for others to see. They miss the part that should have the biggest impact.

It’s a lesson we should remember when we consider the people who come into our lives. We may not be present for the beginning of their story. We may not see the circumstances working in their lives. We only get to glimpse the rough stuff of the character building process. We see the results of the refining fire they’re going through. And what we see at that time may be ugly. But it’s important to remember it may not be the end of their story.

We don’t have to like or excuse people’s bad behavior, but we aren’t powerless either. We can pray for them to grow through whatever circumstance is trying to shape them. We can pray for God’s truth to guide them into the character He desires them to exhibit. And sometimes, God can even use us to come alongside them for a time to help encourage them in the way they should go. We may never see the end result of their struggle, but we can pray that God uses their current situation to bring about such a strong, godly character in them that those who come into their story at a later time can see the beauty of their character and be touched by it

Write Stuff Wednesday: I am an Author

“I literally cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer.”- J.K. Rowling
I relate to this quote in a very real way. Like Rowling I always knew I wanted to write. And now that I am not simply a writer but also a published author, when people ask me what I do, I say without hesitation, “I’m a receptionist.”

Why do I answer this way? I’ve never aspired to be a receptionist. It was never my goal in life. It’s what I do to pay the bills. It’s not a bad job. I enjoy the people I work with. But it isn’t what I’ve always dreamed of doing.

If being a receptionist isn’t what leaves me feeling fulfilled and writing is, why does the phrase “I’m a receptionist” slip out so easily? Why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to proudly proclaim, “I am a writer”? Maybe it has something to do with paying the bills. As an author just beginning her writing journey, I don’t make a lot. My income comes from my 8-5 job. The bills I pay are done so with the money earned doing the job I never intended to do.

Or maybe it has to do with the amount of time and energy I spend as a receptionist. I don’t bring work home with me, but 10 hours a day, five days a week are spent going to and working at a doctor’s office. With 24 hours in a day and 7 of those spent in sleep, only 7 hours a day are available for writing. Those 7 hours are whittled away making meals, cleaning house, or spending time with my family and friends. A majority of my waking hours are spent doing the things a receptionist does. Maybe the old saying, “You are what you eat” translates into “you are what you do most”.

Whatever the reason for my hesitancy, it’s false. Words are my passion. My ministry, my purpose is to encourage and challenge other believers through what I write. Whether or not my income is generated through it, whether or not I spend every hour in my day but 1 doing other things, I am a writer. I am an author. I need to own that identity. It is who I am.

I’m also a Christian. Scripture says as such I’m an alien to this world. I don’t belong here. Yet the same struggles can happen in my spiritual life that happen in my writing life. I have to live in this physical world. I have to deal with the messes created by my sin and the sin of others. I need to eat, sleep, and have shelter of some kind. I have to interact with and relate to others. My life is lived 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on this earth.

But this day to day life isn’t who I am. My struggles don’t define me any more than my successes do. I do the things I do because I have to survive. Living my physical life demands a lot of my time. Sometimes, the everyday becomes so demanding I forget that scripture tells me this earth is not my home. I forget that I am more than a conqueror, victorious over sin, forgiven, a child of God, an ambassador for Christ, and every other description in scripture of those who God has redeemed. The knowledge of all these things is in my head and hidden in my heart, but I fail to live like it sometimes. I forget to be who God made me to be even living in the middle of the mess.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think maybe it’s a struggle for a lot of us. We find ourselves getting world focused instead of God focused. We give so much to the physical side of life that we forget to honor and grow the spiritual. Even though we’re still living according to our beliefs, we become wrapped up in who this world says we are instead of claiming the truth. It’s time to remember that we belong to God with all the truths that belonging includes. It’s time to make the truths of God the identity we cling to and proclaim every day.

By the Book: Think about your favorite description of who you are in God. I’d love it if you’d share it in the comments. Then, spend some time in scripture finding out who God says you are.

Full of Character with Beth Wescott

welcomeToday I have the unique opportunity to introduce you to an author whose journey is only just beginning. It’s a chance for each of us to get to know her and even a little about her characters before we get to read her book. Let’s welcome Beth Wescott, author of Meadow Song. Please check back for more information on the release date and genre of the book.

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

As a member of the Dutch Underground during World War 2, Diet Eman risked everything to help Jews escape death or imprisonment by the Nazis: her identity, her life, her freedom, and the man she loved. Her true story is told in the book Things We Couldn’t Say.  She wrote in her diary, “…When you are a Christian and profess that God is almighty, there is no single area of life from which you can eliminate God.” Her faith, courage, and sacrifice touched me deeply.

I think you may be the first person to answer that question with someone from a non-fiction book. It’s a great twist on the question, and after reading the quote I can see why you find her inspirational.

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

I think that Blythe Chambers, the little girl in my upcoming novel Meadow Song, was the easiest. As to the hardest, male lead characters, Jack Chambers in Meadow Song, making them strong, yet vulnerable and realistic.

It is a hard balance to achieve sometimes. I can’t wait to find out more about them. Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

In recent years I’ve come to appreciate Nehemiah. He had the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt in fifty-two days! A strong leader and man of faith, he let nothing distract him from his purpose. He committed each step to God in prayer and stood firm against his enemies.

We tell kids all the time to chase their dreams and work for their goals. But how often do we encourage them to seek to make God’s purpose/plan their dream? I think we’d do a lot better is we were more like Nehemiah, seeking God’s will in all we do and then following it with tenacity. Great answer to the question!

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

I’ve done both and see value in each. A character’s backstory is a tool to use in directing the character’s actions, reactions, and relationships. But like real people, a character may do the unexpected. I view an outline the same way, as a tool to help structure your novel. As in life, the unexpected happens. In my opinion, planning gives you more flexibility. The backstory and the outline are not written in stone (I know that’s a cliché). Sometimes I’ll begin writing, and then do a backstory on the characters.

I always enjoy seeing the different paths writers take to get to the same destination. Sounds like your story development path may twist and turn from time to time. I think that makes the process more fun! 

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

A movie about me? I read books more often than I watch movies, so I’m not familiar with many actresses. I suppose I’d prefer an actress who understands the Christian worldview. I’d like to meet her, get to know her.

Thank you for sharing about yourself and your writing process. I look forward to being able to share more information about your book as it becomes available. 

Write Stuff Wednesday: Grow

grow“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Stephen King

Reading is my superpower. With the current fascination with super heroes, statements of an individual’s superpower aren’t unusual. Everything from hobbies to activism is touted as superpowers. But in this case, it’s a little bit true. For a writer, reading has power.

In order to grow as a writer, all the successful writers agree, you must read. Currently tucked in amid a plethora of Christian fiction is a book by Brandilyn Collins on creating characters. I want to read it not because I know nothing about creating characters but because there is always something new to learn on the subject. There’s always a tip or trick or different perspective that I can incorporate into my writing to make it better. As I writer I read because I want to grow. There will never be a time when I’ve learned all there is to learn.

And my lessons aren’t only found in books on the craft of writing. I find inspiration in addition to pleasure in the pages of fiction. In reading well-written stories, I expose myself to writing techniques without conscious effort. I’m not trying to learn. I’m simply enjoying the story, and my brain captures lessons on technique and style and characterization I don’t realize it’s taking in. Even an occasional poorly written story isn’t a total waste as it drives home the things I want to avoid in my own writing.

In accepting the idea that I don’t have it all together as a writer, I create the environment and drive to become better than I was yesterday. I don’t stop with reading and understanding concepts about writing. I apply them to what I write and in doing so, my writing is strengthened. Reading becomes my superpower to better my writing.

But reading is more than just a superpower for writers. It’s also a spiritual superpower. There’s a whole chapter in Psalms (119, in case you’re wondering) dedicated to the benefits of God’s word. The New Testament tells us scripture is good for teaching us, correcting us, and training us in the ways a righteous person should think and act. Scripture is our way to get to know God and understand our relationship with Him. Scripture gives us direction, encouragement, strength, and conviction (both the “I know I am wrong” kind of conviction that leads us from sin to forgiveness and the “I shall not be moved” kind of conviction we need to stand strong in our beliefs).

As believers in 2018 we have an unheard of number of ways to grow in our relationships with God. We can listen to godly music everywhere we go. There are numerous Christian books and movies. Christian speakers and teachers pack conference halls to hear their messages. These are wonderful tools we have in our lives as Christians, but they can’t compare to the word of God. They are the tributaries, but God’s word is the source they spring from. It is what gives their words meaning and power.

Scripture also gives meaning to our actions and power to the way we live. It transforms us into something new, something closer to the image of Christ, as we let each word soak into our souls. Time spent reading God’s word is more than a mere superpower. Reading scripture is a believer’s supernatural superpower.

By the Book: As a writer, do you spend time growing through reading? Feel free to share a favorite book in the comments. As a believer, do you spend time through reading God’s word? Feel free to share a favorite verse in the comments.

Full of Character with Hope Toler Dougherty

Today’s guest for Full of Character is Hope Toler Dougherty. Before we begin, here’s a little more about Hope.

10479746_918926531455910_6824469307174309015_nHope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her publications include three novels, Irish Encounter and Mars…With Venus Rising, and Rescued Hearts as well as nonfiction articles. A member of ACFW, RWA, and SinC, she writes for SeriousWriter.com. She and her husband live in North Carolina and enjoy visits with their two daughters and twin sons. Visit her at hopetolerdougherty.com.

Now on to the interview:

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

Jane Eyre! She has such strength and sense of purpose and self. She stays true to her moral convictions even when choosing the amoral path would have hurt no one and would have given her what she’d always wanted, love.

What character you created was the easiest to write? 

I loved writing minor characters, Agnes, Jancie, Winnie, and Gigi. All these women are senior citizens who still have a zest for life. They know the value of prayer, enjoy hobbies and take trips, are stylish and show love with food—enormous amounts of delicious food. I’ve had several readers say they want to be like Gigi. She’s overcome many obstacles on her way to being a grandmother. She speaks her mind softly but firmly while sporting a fresh hairstyle and cute sandals. She also has her concealed carry permit that allows the little pistol under the driver’s seat of her car.

Sounds like a fun group of women. Though you might not want to mess with Gigi! How about the hardest?

The hardest characters would probably be Dusty and Skeet, the criminals in Rescued Hearts. I wanted them to be true and not caricatures. Writing their non-standard English was tricky, again, because I didn’t want them to sound cheesy. Writing double negatives even in dialog also made me cringe!

Good dialog that showcases the character’s personality, education, and background without sounding over the top can be tricky, especially when it goes against grammar rules! Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

I’m not exactly answering the question you asked, but I’d love to have the childlike courage of Moses’ sister, Miriam. I’d like to have the steadfast faith of the bleeding woman who believed just the touch of Jesus’ robe would heal her. I would love to have the immediate and zealous urgency of the woman at the well to share the Good News.

I don’t know. I think you answered the question very well. Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?

I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I don’t outline or plot every detail, and writing the story is similar to reading a book as far as discovering what happens.

I do, however, complete character sketches for the male and female leads. The sketches I use have about 125 questions ranging from surface questions like What color are her eyes to deeper ones like What is her greatest fear. I try to answer as many questions as possible so that I know as much as I can about my character. The information may not make it into the story, but it’s in the back of my mind and helps me write true to each character.

That sounds like a great balance of planning and winging it. If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?

Hmm. Maybe Sandra Bullock. We have a few overlapping years at East Carolina University, but I never met her. She’s a talented actress and has a great sense of humor.

She is talented, and she even has dark hair like yours! Thank you for taking the time for this interview. It’s been fun getting to know you more.

If you’d like to ask Hope your own question or share a thought sparked by one of her answers, feel free to do so in the comments below. But first, here are her books and  where you can get in touch with Hope:

Social media links:

http://hopetolerdougherty.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORHOPETOLERDOUGHERTY/

https://twitter.com/HopeTDougherty

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13941031.Hope_Dougherty

https://www.pinterest.com/hopetdougherty/

https://twitter.com/HopeTDougherty

https://www.instagram.com/hopetolerdougherty/

Write Stuff Wednesday -Passion and Purpose

Let God Lead“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” – Joss Whedon

With rare exceptions, I enjoyed writing in school. It didn’t matter if it was exposition on a novel we read in class or a research paper on a historic event. I wanted to write, and if writing about a war or a person from the past was the only way to get that done, then I was happy to do it. Writing was the one area where I felt totally comfortable expressing myself.

Of course, without question my favorite assignments were those that wandered into the territory of creative writing. I may not have assignments any more (of course with a publisher’s deadline hanging over my head for my second book, maybe I do after all!), but I still gravitate toward fiction. I’ve written other things. I’ve got a nature devotional for kids, lesson material for VBS, and material for a women’s retreat all completed though not currently published. But even when I’m working on those kinds of writing projects, I try to add a creative twist. I always have. You should see the paper I wrote in high school that told the story of how I didn’t have anything to write about for the assignment!

Whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction, my reasons for writing remain the same. I write to express myself. I write to create and remember. Sometimes I write to make sense of things I’m going through, and other times I write to express what a situation has taught me.

As a writer of faith, there are many times when I write with purpose that extends beyond myself. When I think of Kristen Heitzmann, Sheila Walsh, Linda Chaikin, and Liz Curtis Higgs, I cannot deny the impact their writings have had on my life. Some have challenged me through fiction, while others have encouraged me with their non-fiction. The method they’ve chosen to deliver their messages doesn’t matter. Each one has increased my understanding of faith in powerful ways. They’ve each used a God-given talent to minister to others.

This desire to minister is the reason I choose to write for others and not merely myself. Scripture tells us our spiritual gifts are to be used for the edification of the body of believers and to reach others with the gospel. While writing is not listed as a spiritual gift, I believe the God gives us talents and the ability to learn new skills that we can then use to shepherd, encourage, and teach which are all listed as spiritual gifts. I believe God wants to use our abilities and passions to pass on His wisdom and knowledge, to challenge believers to grow in faith, and to exemplify His teachings on mercy, giving, and serving. When we allow God to direct our writing, we are using the spiritual gifts God has given us and also encouraging understanding and growth of them in others.

This is why I write.

By the Book: Why do you write? Or maybe you don’t write. That’s okay. God gives us each passions to pursue that can be used for His purposes. Maybe you’re into photography, music, or crafts. Or it’s possible travel or star gazing or building things is what your passionate about. Whatever has your interest, do you seek out God’s purpose in your pursuit of it?

AND REMEMBER TO CHECK OUT MY FULL OF CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH REGINA RUDD MERRICK FOR A CHANCE TO WIN ONE OF HER E-BOOKS! ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS READ THE POST AND COMMENT TO ENTER. WINNER WILL BE DRAWN MONDAY, JULY 30, 2018.

Full of Character with Regina Rudd Merrick and a Giveaway

Before we begin today’s interview, I want to take a moment to congratulate Sarah Taylor who is the winner of the drawing for both Faith’s Journey and Sara Foust’s book giveaway. Message me, and I’ll get your information to Sara. The rest of you haven’t missed your chance to win a book. Today’s author is giving away an e-book copy of her book. All you have to do is comment below. The winner will be announced next Monday. Only those living in the U.S. can win.

reginaNow, let’s welcome Regina Rudd Merrick to our Full of Character Interview.

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

Wow. That’s a tough question! I’ve read many, many books, but I think Laura Ingalls Wilder would be the character (well, she’s a real person) that has impacted me the most. No, I don’t want to get in a covered wagon and traipse across the prairie, but her ability to make the best of whatever her circumstance might be, and her ability show us that the everyday things are what are important, whether it be “making hay while the sun shines” or “seeing” for her blind sister.

 That’s definitely an attitude to aspire to. What character you created was the easiest to write? The hardest?

I would say that Jared Benton, in Carolina Dream, was the easiest to write, mainly because I had a particular actor in mind, and had written SO much fanfiction based on a show this actor was in, so I could get the subtle expressions and nuances down. And while male characters are usually easiest for me (don’t ask me why!), Tom Livingston, one of my main characters in Carolina Mercy, was harder. I had learned, in my first book, that “wounding” your character was necessary, and I had to give Tom lots of reasons to be a somewhat different person in book two than in book one due to circumstances beyond his control. Lucy couldn’t understand WHY he was so different toward her, and I had to really agonize over that one!

Now, I’m intrigued. I want to know who you modeled Jared after! Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

You’re going to laugh at this one, but David is the Bible character that I love to hate. Last year decided I was going to concentrate on reading the Psalms through as quickly as possible. I got so irritated at David! While many of his Psalms are uplifting and do nothing but glorify God, so many have him whining! I had to switch to the gospels after that! LOL Of course, as a girl, I have probably read both Ruth and Esther more than any books of the Bible. And another woman of the Bible I’m fascinated by is Rahab the harlot. Here she is, a prostitute, but she ended up in the lineage of Jesus, right there with Ruth!

 Isn’t it great to know that God doesn’t count us out of His plan due to our failures. Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?

Another lesson learned in writing book 2 of a series is that you have to do some planning before you start. If you’re going to carry characters from one storyline to another, it has to make sense. In book 3, my current Work in Progress, I’ve done even MORE planning, because the events happen (spoiler alert!) 5 years later. I made a list of all the elements based on James Scott Bell’s superstructure plotting method, and then started filling in the blanks. That enabled me to have an outline, but guess what? Those characters still surprised me!!

Wow! That sounds like a lot of planning. If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?

Oooo. About ME? I would like Patricia Heaton to play me! She’s gorgeous (I can only dream of being that thin!), and she’s funny, and she could probably pull off the pratfalls that would have to be involved in any story about me. Let’s see – I have a scar on my hand from a cheese-cutting incident, a scar on my left foot from a fall during the march-in of a Christmas Cantata at church, I have a scar on my knee from a tumble on Mother’s Day, and I sprained my ankle stepping up on the platform at church on Father’s Day (fortunately, it was AFTER church, so only my best friend and daughter saw the spectacle that time! LOL!). 

It sounds like maybe you should avoid going out on major holidays! I want to thank you for taking time to do this interview. And for the readers, keep reading. There’s a lot more about Regina and her books following. And don’t forget to comment for your chance to win an e-book!!

Book Blurb For Carolina Mercy:

She’s always gotten everything she’s wanted. He thinks he has to give up everything.

Her best friend’s wedding is foremost on Lucy Dixon’s radar. Her biggest concern is once again meeting Tom Livingston, who has ignored her since an idyllic date on the boardwalk of Myrtle Beach the previous summer.

At least, it is her biggest concern until tragedy strikes. Where is her loving, merciful God, now?

When Tom Livingston meets Lucy, the attraction is instant. Soon after, his mother is diagnosed with an untreatable illness and his personal life is pushed aside. His work with the sheriff’s department, his family – they are more important. He knows about the love of God, but circumstances make him feel as if God’s mercy is for everyone else, not him.

Can a wedding and a hurricane – blessing and tragedy – bring them together?

Bio:

Regina Rudd Merrick began reading romance and thinking of book ideas as early as her teenage years when she attempted a happily-ever-after sequel to “Gone With the Wind.” That love of fiction parlayed into a career as a librarian, and finally to writing full-time. She began attending local writing workshops and continued to hone her craft by writing several short and novel-length fan-fiction pieces published online, where she met other authors with a similar love for story, a Christian worldview, and happily-ever-after. Married for 30+ years and active in their church in Marion, KY, Regina and her husband have two grown daughters who share her love of music, writing, and the arts. Visit Regina on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or on her website at https://www.reginaruddmerrick.com.

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Regina-R-Merrick-512257938964888/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/trmerrick64

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reginamerrick/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rmerrick/

Website: https://www.reginaruddmerrick.com

Publisher Website: https://mantlerockpublishing.com/

Sale Links:

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945094532/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1530227728&sr=8-2&keywords=Carolina+Mercy

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Carolina-Mercy-Southern-Breeze-Book-ebook/dp/B07DYXW1G2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530227776&sr=8-1&keywords=Carolina+Mercy

 

 

Write Stuff Wednesday on Saturday

My internet was acting like a spoiled child refusing to do what it was asked to do this week. Due to it’s stubbornness, I was unable to post on Wednesday. So, instead of a book review today I’m going to post the Write Stuff Wednesday I wrote on Wednesday. I hope you enjoy it!

“Every scene should be able to answer three questions: Who wants what from whom? What happens if they don’t get it? Why now?” – David Mamet

I finally finished my first book, Faith’s Journey, and I turned it over to our local writer’s group to proof read and edit it. I wanted my story as polished as it could be before sending it out to agents and publishers. What came back was unanimous.

“You need to do something about chapters 4 and 5.” But I needed those chapters. They gave some very crucial information and helped explain the tension in Katie’s relationship with her father and mother. I made some very minor changes and sent the book out. When I received the contract for Faith’s Journey and the subsequent revisions, I was ecstatic finding relatively little that needed major rewrites.  I had a scene that, due to preferences of the publisher, needed a new setting.  But I also had two chapters that either needed cut or combined.

You guessed it. Chapters 4 and 5 came back to haunt me. I still felt the information was crucial, but I needed to honor the publisher’s revision request. The challenge would be to save the information and step up the action. How could I get the same details into the reader’s mind in less time and make all of it more active?

It made me consider more deeply the why behind the backstory. It made me consider my characters’ motivations and what events could help show them to the reader. The need to revise ended up making my writing tighter. I was able to put in more action to show the same themes the back story had originally told. In the end, it made Faith’s Journey a stronger story when I went back and analyzed those scenes with a more critical eye.  If only I’d listened when my writer’s group suggested the same thing!

I think there are times I’m guilty of doing the same thing in my daily life. I want to live the life God would have me live, but I sometimes I fail to dig deep enough into the scriptures to get to the whys. If others were to question me, my only answer would be because of my faith. That’s good enough for most things, but when someone is struggling to believe. Because God said seems a little bit like back story without getting to the real reason behind it, and backstory doesn’t help answer their doubts. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”.

I’m supposed to sanctify God in my heart. I’m supposed to set Him apart from everything else in my life as the One who is holy and worthy. If I’m doing that, I’m going to give Him and His word the time and attention their position deserves. I’m going to spend time getting to know Him personally. And when I’ve taken the time to really get to know God, I will be able to answer those with questions and doubts with passion, truth, and an understanding of why I’m doing what I’m doing. When I take time to understand God’s word more deeply, I live it more honestly and consistently. I move beyond telling the world about my faith and into showing them it in a life changing way.

By the Book: Do you spend more time telling your faith or showing it? Have you seen a correlation between the time you spend getting to know God through His word and your ability to fully live His truth in your life?

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.