By the Book

where a love of God and good books meet

Tag: MRPAuthors

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/

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. 

We Are Family

I have more families than I can count. I have a literal family. I’ve had a few church families throughout the years. When my children were toddlers, I had a mothers’ group family. One especially close to my heart is my SICC camp family. The faces in that one have changed through the years, but all of them are still family.

Looking back, I see the importance of each family group in specific times in my life. My literal family has helped shape who I am from the beginning.  My moms’ group family helped me navigate the tough toddler years. Though each church family has impacted my life, my Scottsboro church family was there when I needed a little more spiritual encouragement and love. I owe them greatly for helping me find joy in serving. My camp family, well, I can’t even begin to tell you what it means to me. I can’t imagine my life without each member. They’ve been there since I was six months old, and they play a part in many of my best memories and most of my spiritual development.

Recently, God has added to my family list. In this new writing adventure, He has gifted me with two amazing groups. One is a local Christian Writers’ group. God has used this group to motivate, challenge, and encourage me. We have fun, but we also prioritize growth in our writing. They helped me review and prepare Faith’s Journey to be sent to publishers. They were the first people to know about and celebrate with me when I got the contract for publication.

My other new writing family is made up of the Mantle Rock Publishing authors. I’ve never actually met any of the people in this family. We talk only through social media. But this amazing group has taken me in as one of their own. They’ve answered questions and given tips on everything from using social media to running a book launch party. We cheer each other on and learn from each other. Some have been in the family a long time, but others are relative new comers like me. It doesn’t matter. We all have something to add to the family.

That’s the great thing about chosen families. They each have a special place and fill a special purpose in my life. Each member adds their own unique twist to the family unit. They contribute something special that no one else could give in quite the same way. And, hopefully, I bring something of worth to each of them too. We make each other better, stronger. That’s what family is supposed to do.

That’s also what the church is supposed to do. God didn’t create us to work independently of each other. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 are two of several scriptures that compare believers to a body. Each body part is unique in what it does and how it does it. Each body part is necessary to the health of the body. It’s why we are encouraged not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25). We were made to teach and encourage each other. We are meant to rejoice and cry with each other. When we show love to each other the way God intended, the world sees it and amazing things can happen. The first chapter of Acts details many times that God worked through His people and the result was an increase in believers. What starts off each of those miraculous times of ministry? Unity. The church was unified as one family of believers.

So what keeps us from working that way now? Why do so many believers choose to strike out on their own rather than being part of a body? It’s because our church families are like our literal families. If you have siblings, you know what I’m talking about. It’s hard to live without conflict in close quarters with people who are vastly different in personality and likes and dislikes. Sometimes, jealousy creates sibling rivalry. How can we admit our sibling’s idea is a good one? Won’t that mean our own idea wasn’t a good one? Why does that family member always seem to do the one thing they know bothers us worse than anything else?  Rather than holding tight to the things that unite our family, we let the differences deplete our patience, tearing us apart.

The things that creep into our literal families also threaten our chosen families, even spiritual families. What God designed to be one healthy body working in love and showing the world a different way to live, becomes a body riddled with the disease of sin. The family God gives us for our good becomes so dysfunctional that family members become estranged. As members strike out on their own, there are two losses. The person that leaves loses opportunity for the support and encouragement God meant for them to have. The ones that stay lose a little more of their ability to impact the world for God as the world judges them to be no different than everyone else. And who wants to be part of a dysfunctional family?

By the Book: Do you have a church family? If not, what keeps you from it? Ask God how to heal the hurts and find the family He has for you. If you do have a church family, is it working together as one the way God intended? Are you doing your part to help it function in love? Ask God to show you how to be the spiritual family member He designed you to be.

Mary’s Journal

I’m pretty sure Mary would have enjoyed journaling, especially journaling about her experiences with the birth of Jesus. I realize the shortage of paper and pens in biblical times prevents us from knowing this for sure, but I have a feeling about this one. Stick with me for a minute.

Jesus was Mary’s first born. She was new to everything about having a child, the morning sickness, the Braxton Hicks contractions, the cravings. First time expectant mothers often have a rosy outlook about even the worst parts of the process. Every milestone, pleasant or unpleasant, is met with unbridled excitement. With the first born, the mothers tend to keep every ultrasound picture and document every step of the journey. With the miraculous circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth, there was so much more for Mary to want to remember.

Being a new mother isn’t the sole reason I think Mary would journal. In fact, it’s really only what I think Mary would have journaled about. My belief that Mary would have a shelf full of journals stuffed with all her precious memories comes from two separate passages of scripture. In Luke 1:46-55, Mary shares a heartfelt song of praise with Elizabeth. She has given a lot of thought to where she is in life and what God is doing in and through her. That kind of praise and creativity begs to be recorded and looked back on regularly.

The second scripture is one short verse in Luke 2:19. “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” While everyone else who had been touched by the events of the Christmas story was out telling the story to anyone who would listen, Mary took the time to let everything sink in. We know from the previous passage, Mary wasn’t afraid to share what God was doing. But she wanted it to be deeper than that. She internalized the events and let them change her. She didn’t just enjoy the events. She let them become part of her. I imagine these things were what gave Mary strength at the end of her son’s life, and the fact that she wanted to take them in as deeply as she did is one more reason I believe Mary would have loved to find a journal under the tree at Christmas.

Whether or not Mary would have recorded the events of her life if possible, we can still take a page from her book, so to speak. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to lose sight of what God has done for us through the birth of His Son. We get caught up in all the things we need to check off our to-do lists, and we forget to praise Him for what He has already done. We fail to let everything He did then and all He is doing in us and for us now really sink in and make a difference in our lives. We need to learn to take time to “ponder them in our hearts”.

By the Book: Whether you journal or not, use this holiday season as an opportunity to write out a prayer of praise to God. Don’t rush it.  Take time to think about all God is doing in your life before beginning your prayer.

Mary's Journal

I’m pretty sure Mary would have enjoyed journaling, especially journaling about her experiences with the birth of Jesus. I realize the shortage of paper and pens in biblical times prevents us from knowing this for sure, but I have a feeling about this one. Stick with me for a minute.
Jesus was Mary’s first born. She was new to everything about having a child, the morning sickness, the Braxton Hicks contractions, the cravings. First time expectant mothers often have a rosy outlook about even the worst parts of the process. Every milestone, pleasant or unpleasant, is met with unbridled excitement. With the first born, the mothers tend to keep every ultrasound picture and document every step of the journey. With the miraculous circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth, there was so much more for Mary to want to remember.
Being a new mother isn’t the sole reason I think Mary would journal. In fact, it’s really only what I think Mary would have journaled about. My belief that Mary would have a shelf full of journals stuffed with all her precious memories comes from two separate passages of scripture. In Luke 1:46-55, Mary shares a heartfelt song of praise with Elizabeth. She has given a lot of thought to where she is in life and what God is doing in and through her. That kind of praise and creativity begs to be recorded and looked back on regularly.
The second scripture is one short verse in Luke 2:19. “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” While everyone else who had been touched by the events of the Christmas story was out telling the story to anyone who would listen, Mary took the time to let everything sink in. We know from the previous passage, Mary wasn’t afraid to share what God was doing. But she wanted it to be deeper than that. She internalized the events and let them change her. She didn’t just enjoy the events. She let them become part of her. I imagine these things were what gave Mary strength at the end of her son’s life, and the fact that she wanted to take them in as deeply as she did is one more reason I believe Mary would have loved to find a journal under the tree at Christmas.
Whether or not Mary would have recorded the events of her life if possible, we can still take a page from her book, so to speak. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to lose sight of what God has done for us through the birth of His Son. We get caught up in all the things we need to check off our to-do lists, and we forget to praise Him for what He has already done. We fail to let everything He did then and all He is doing in us and for us now really sink in and make a difference in our lives. We need to learn to take time to “ponder them in our hearts”.
By the Book: Whether you journal or not, use this holiday season as an opportunity to write out a prayer of praise to God. Don’t rush it.  Take time to think about all God is doing in your life before beginning your prayer.

Charlie Brown and Living Faith

I’m going to break my rules. By the Book is a blog that blends together a love of reading and a love for God. It says so right under the name. So, my posts always contain a devotional aspect and either a book review or writing insight. But tonight, as I wait for a yearly Christmas tradition to begin, I can’t help writing about it instead.

In less than an hour A Charlie Brown Christmas will begin. I have it on DVD, but there is something special about waiting for it to air on TV and tuning in with thousands of people I don’t even know to watch it, commercials and all. My kids used to watch it with me, but they are in that stage of life where they have more important, less childish things to do with their time. They haven’t lived long enough to come back to their senses and realize the childish things are some of the best things in life. I hope one day they will, but until that day, I will continue to watch this short cartoon every Christmas.

To me, A Charlie Brown Christmas is special. I mean, I love Frosty and the Grinch too, but Charlie is different. Charlie Brown includes all the fun of Christmas, while touching on enough of the adult angst of the season’s commercialism to appeal to an older audience in addition to kids. Who can’t relate to Charlie Brown’s mood when he realizes he can’t muster up the bright feelings he’s supposed to have at Christmas? But what makes this special is that it doesn’t tiptoe around the real meaning of the season either.

I love that scene where Charlie Brown has reached his limits. The gang has bludgeoned his already shaky holiday spirit by making fun of the little tree he brings from the tree lot. He has officially lost sight of everything Christmas is supposed to mean and cries out for help. What is the holiday all about? Wise-beyond-his-years Linus steps in with the answer, a beautiful recitation of the story of the first Christmas. “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” It’s a reminder for Charlie, and it’s a reminder for us.

There aren’t many Christmas specials these days that aren’t afraid to mention the real reason we celebrate. Some of the old ones did, and they have either fallen by the wayside or been edited until only hints of a Christ-centered Christmas remain. Charlie Brown stands alone or very nearly so. Its message is clear. There’s no editing it out. And it still remains a staple of the holiday viewing season. It’s proof that we don’t have to abandon Christ to have fun at Christmas. We don’t have to leave Jesus at the door to appeal to a broad audience. Charlie Brown has succeeded at staying in mainstream media while letting the world remember the baby in the manger, the gift of love from God to His creation.

As believers, it’s a worthy goal to reach for. To be salt and light to the world in whatever place God takes us to. In my writing, I want people to see God’s truth. I want to encourage other believers in living out their faith. I want those who don’t know God to come away with an understanding of His love and a desire to know Him. I hope my writing speaks honestly and plainly enough about this messy life to appeal to those who may not already be believers. I want them to see not only the truth about life in what I write, but also the truth about life with God.

Okay, so I didn’t totally break my rule. There is a little about writing in this after all. But maybe you don’t write. You don’t have to. You can be an accountant or an attendant at a gas station and still share this hope of showing others Christ in what you do. The point is not where or how you reach others. It is simply to reach others with God’s love, both inside our circle of believers and in the world around us. Aim to be Linus. Be the one who isn’t afraid to say, “This is what it’s all about”, no matter where you are.

By the Book: Gather your family or friends and host a Charlie Brown Christmas viewing party. Keep it simple with cookies and hot cocoa or popcorn and soda. Use the time to remember why we celebrate.

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