Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ACFW & Varoius Passions

Welp, I became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) tonight.  [Check out the fun badge to the left of my blog - fancy!]  I also spent an inordinate amount of time looking through the vast resources that come with this membership as well as numerous blogs and posts related to other writing pursuits, conferences, and resources.  So.  Much.  Information.

*sigh*

I think what I'm feeling is my age...the funny thing is, I'm not feeling it in the way you'd normally hear, such as "feeling your old age".  I'm feeling my young age.  

I've heard it said that you shouldn't publish a book until after the age of 40.  Now, I'm not sure they (whomever they were) meant a fiction book or a non-fiction book or just any book in general, but that really puts me at a disadvantage.  I mean, that would mean I need to wait at least 14 more years!!  Call me crazy, but I'm not that patient.  Though maybe the moral of it all is that I should be?  Not sure on that one...

The goal to publish does seem daunting.  Pair that with the other things I'm passionate about (like photography, music, ministry, my job etc.) and I have to wonder, do I peruse all of these things?  And if the answer to that is no - how do I choose what to cut? 

This isn't an entirely new thought to me.  I've always taken on more than I should.  I don't like the idea of always answering "busy" to the question, "How are you?".  Yet, I'm a natural 'go-getter' and feel almost guilty sitting around not doing anything when I could be doing something

Balance.

As many wise people in my life have frequently reminded me, I need to focus on having balance not only in my life but before the Lord.  What is good, better, and best?  My discipler always likes to remind me of this! :)  Not all things are bad, but you have to choose which is best - not just good.  To choose to focus on Christ first and allow those scattered pieces of my life to fall into their rightful place.  Resting in Him is something I want to do.  More than that, it's something I need to do. 

I've been challenged by the idea that our lives as Christians cannot simply exist as "our lives + Christ".  He can't just be "a part" of our lives but rather the center of our lives.  I've always thought of it like a tether ball pole and a doughnut.  We want to be the doughnut - our lives circling around some nebulous "something" while the real bulk of it is our lives.  Instead, we need to be the ball attached to the rope which is anchored to the pole.  We are rotating around the pole, not the other way around.

I may not be 40, and I may not be a perfect writer, but I do know I have passion for it.  My prayer is that I would accurately balance that passion (along with the many others) with a fire and insatiable hunger for Christ.  I pray passion for Him would out-shadow anything I want and, in turn, shape what I am doing.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NaNoWriMo & a little known fact

It's coming...

Actually... it's only 4 days away!

Maybe you guessed what I'm talking about and maybe you didn't, but I'm talking about the biggest event to hit my life every November.  National Novel Writing Month!!
*insert cheering and fist throwing*

It is possible (especially if you aren't a writer) that you've never heard of NaNoWriMo (as I will refer to it).  Well, if you haven't, check out their site and get familiar with what they are about.  I'll give you a brief intro here for fun.

NaNoWriMo started with this really cool guy named Chris Baty who, as an author, decided to write a novel in a month.  At that time he chose July and brought a few of his friends in on the fun.  They challenged themselves with writing 50,000 words (their definition of a novel for this event) and come July 1 at 12:00am they started on their quest.  I regret to inform you that many of them did not cross that invisible finish line on August 1st but they were a heck of a lot further in their novel than they had been before - in some cases, only a page, but still!

Since that time Chris has gone on to write a book called No Plot No Problem (book review coming as soon as I finish it...) and has moved the event to November - which I'm completely happy about!  Though it is one day shorter than July, it's in the fall which is just better all around in my humble opinion. 

Enough about all of that though.  My purpose for writing this post regarding NaNoWriMo is two fold.  First of all, I am challenging myself to write more often on this blog.  It's hard because it competes with my photography blog for my time.  That is an excuse, but it is legitimate since photography is something I'm passionate about and interested in furthering my skills in. 

Writing, however, is also a passion.  As of late (I'm sure brought on by the semi fall-like weather) I'm remembering how much I love to write.  That does seem to happen to me each and every fall!  Grey cloudy skies and rain seem to infuse creativity and inspiration into my veins!  This time it's a little different though.  My second reason for writing tonight is to say that I'm seriously considering pursuing publishing.  Yes, you heard it here first (well, first media wise).  I have 3 books completed, 2 more very much in the works, and about 100+ more ideas... can you tell I have an active imagination!?  It has always been in the back of my mind to publish - I mean, if I'm going to consider myself an author I should have readers, right?  And if I want readers I'll definitely need a platform to get them the material to read.

Publishing is scary.  It's not some cut and dry process that guarantees you anything.  It's also not something to be taken lightly.  Because of that, I am refining my current books while trying to forge ahead on my unfinished manuscripts as well.  Oh, did I mention I work full time and do photography part time among several other things?  To answer your question - yes, I may be partially crazy.  But I'm an organized, motivated, passionate crazy person so it just may work out.  With this season in my life I think it's possible as well as something the Lord is prompting me in.

So, you have been fully briefed on my life at this point.  Come November 1st (probably at 12am...) I will start my next novel!  As a treat to those who actually read this blog and care about what I write - that may be a very small number of you ;) I'll give you a little taste of this novel.

I was just falling asleep one night when, out of no where, I had a dream/vision?  No, nothing like Mary and the angel, but I definitely saw the beginning to this new story in full color with vivid clarity.  It's set in the future and titled Worlds Tour.  Now, I'm not sure on this, but it may be classified as Sci-Fi... but if there are no aliens and little science does it still fit in that genre?  Maybe it's just like what I normally write but set in the future with a  little more action?  Either way, it will be following the story of a woman, Serafin, who is searching for her brother Graeme.  She stows away on a ship headed on its Worlds Tour (to be explained in the book) in order to find him.  As I've been planning out this book I have come to the realization that it's in fact a trilogy!  Lots of action, a bit of romance, and of course, the fight for good vs. evil.

Please feel free to ask me how NaNoWriMo is going - those 1,667 words per day wont write themselves - your accountability will be greatly appreciated.  I will try and post more here to keep you all updated on Serafin's story.  If you write, I'd highly suggest you try writing a novel in a month with me!   Let me know if you decide to join and we can become buddies :)  It's so fun and challenging and nothing feels better than making it to 50k in 30 days!  And let's be honest, even if you don't make it you'll have started something great!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Altared | Book Review

I set out with high expectations for this book and they were not unfulfilled!  Altared by Claire & Eli was a fantastic book summed up perfectly by this statement from the cover: "The true story of a she, a he, and how they both got too worked up about we."

I'd love to be able to perfectly sum up this book within a few short paragraphs but I feel that would rob you of the joy of reading it for yourself.  Instead, I shall just wet your taste buds and hope that this unashamed act of manipulation will cause you to rush out to the nearest bookstore (or better yet the ever-fast-shipping Amazon) to buy this book and experience it for yourself.  The rest will merely be my musings on singleness in the Christian world today - take it or leave it for what it is.

Being a single woman in today's society I have experienced most, if not all, of the responses, accusations, judgments, hypothesizes, and conclusions this book discusses.  Some have come from others, some from my own mind, and some from articles or other forms of media out there today.  All of these things combine to create a confusing, if not inaccurate view of what it means to be a single person, namely a Christian person, in the world today.  The pressures put on singles to be married are faced almost daily in some cases and you can’t help but wonder, “What if God is less worked up about marriage than we are?” (from the back cover)

The first unusual thing I noticed about this book was its brilliant combination of story and theology.  This is not merely a book telling you what to think or reason about God, but rather a story of two people who have found their intertwined lives impacted by the realization that our story is really more His story (or, at least, it should be).  Their playful combination of loves first-looks and the residual sense of confusion as like turns to dating, draws the reader in, subtly giving way to deeper thoughts on such concepts as what true love is (as modeled by Christ), self-denial and what that actually looks like, and even the taboo topic of loneliness and how that can be a positive thing when turned into accurately-focused solitude.

One of the themes of the book I resonated with the most was the fact that our modern Christian culture is heavily saturated with “marriage-happiness” which is (in their definition): “having an inordinate preoccupation with marital pursuits, sometimes at the cost of other Christian priorities, commonly seen in evangelicals” or “a giddiness stemming from all things related to marriage”.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve slipped into this but also the number of times others have pushed me into this or have spoken about my singleness out of a “marriage-happy” perspective.  Are we really that focused on marriage that being single is now a sin or is it, at the very least, a passing phase that we must endure in order to make it to the high spiritual plateau of marriage?  I think not.  

Obviously marriage is a beautiful thing.  A refining thing.  Something the Bible holds in high regard, but it is not an ultimate thing nor the only way to be refined.  If it were, then passages like 1 Corinthians 7 would be very out of place in the Bible.  I wont get into this argument too much because I think the book does a great job of discussing it – much better than I could.  But it is something to think about.  Why is the idea of singleness anathema in Christian circles? More over, why is marriage upheld as the best thing a single person could enter into with no regard to their personal relationship with the Lord.  Have we really considered the fact that it may be better for us singles to remain single and devoted to the Lord?  Sounds like I’m either making the case for complete singleness or just justifying my own single status huh?  Well, that is not at all my platform.  I want to be married as much as any other girl, but these are questions that have arisen from Altared and I think they are legitimate.  

I shall close this haphazard book review by merely saying this: no matter your Facebook relationship status (ie: married, in a relationship, single, it’s complicated….) you should check out this book.  The refreshing way it’s written will not only entertain you (at the least) but it will also challenge you.  You don’t need to be single to gain something from this book – in fact I’d highly recommend reading it if you are married as well!  I believe it could change the way we view relationships and friendships within our church, community, and life while simultaneously affecting the way marrieds and singles interact.  The principles relayed in the book are Biblically based and therefore appropriate in all areas of life.


I will leave you with a quote from the end of the book.  It’s so simply stated and Biblical, and I feel it perfectly sums up the ultimate goal to this book: “To follow Christ, we must lose our lives to gain them.  To love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily” (228).