I finally got to see the new Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. After turning in a manuscript, I took a “Me Day” to reward myself. Two friends joined me, and there we were, three middle-aged women at 10:40 in the morning enjoying ...

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"Blog . . . With A Giggle" - 5 new articles

  1. Of Love and Self-Sacrifice
  2. The East Side of the Jordan
  3. The Plucky Heroine and the Disinterested Hero
  4. Sweet Meaningless Nothings
  5. Two Fun Things a Writer Loves
  6. More Recent Articles

Of Love and Self-Sacrifice

I finally got to see the new Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. After turning in a manuscript, I took a “Me Day” to reward myself. Two friends joined me, and there we were, three middle-aged women at 10:40 in the morning enjoying a child’s tale. But it is oh, so much more than that—due, in particular, to the well-rounded development of the characters.

While working on the Tree Plotter for Beauty and the Beast, (call it a hobby, called it a disorder,) I wanted to get the inner journeys of both of the main characters. This is a romance, and to craft a well-rounded romance, we must develop both characters equally. This is also called a 50/50 romance where each character shares 100% of the story.

A good romance, I believe, works when the theme applies to both characters. In fact, this should be true for any story where characters share importance. At first, I had different themes for both characters. This is okay, to a point, because there could be several themes in a story. One of Belle’s themes could be “Love Beyond All Faults.” Beast’s could be “Open the Heart.” But the theme that works for each is “Self-Sacrifice.” This overall theme is what drives the story, and shows up over and over.

Here is the Tree-Plotter for Belle:
  • THEME: Self-Sacrifice
  • INNER NEED: To accept herself as she is despite the villagers calling her odd.
  • INCITING INCIDENT: Sacrifices for her father and shoves him out of the cell to take his place.
  • TENT POLE: Beast attacked by wolves while saving her.
    • Death: Beast almost dies.
    • Connection to Theme: See's through his self-sacrifice that he's not the beast she thought he was.
  • BLEAKEST MOMENT: Sacrificed her safety to warn the Beast, but he is still mortally wounded and she tells him she will never leave him again.
    • Reflection of Inciting Incident: Was once a prisoner but has now returned out of love.
  • LESSON/DECISION: Has learned, through the love a beast, to embrace who she is.
    • Reflection of Inner Need: Because she's found a kindred spirit, she can now accept herself.

Here is the Tree-Plotter for Beast:
  • THEME: Self-Sacrifice
  • INNER NEED: Put others before himself
  • TENT POLE: Saves Belle from wolves and almost dies.
    • Death: Nearly dies
    • Connection to Theme: Sacrifices himself
  • BLEAKEST MOMENT: Belle leaves and apparently sends the villagers to kill him.
    • Reflection of Inciting Incident: More intruders, and they're bent on killing him.
  • LESSON/DECISION: Has learned that he is a better man when he puts the needs of others before himself.
    • Reflection of Inner Need: Puts others before himself

My take away is, if I want to write a tale as old as time, I need to strengthen the theme in a way that affects both characters.


The East Side of the Jordan

This year, I attended my third Bible Study Fellowship, an international organization that provides quality Bible study classes all over the globe. What’s unique about it is that everyone worldwide is on the same page. This year we studied The Life of Moses.

In every study I do, whether BSF or any other, I like to take away a nugget, something shiny I can hang onto that will bring me closer to God. This year was no exception. My shiny nugget is the Transjordan Tribes.

The Transjordan Tribes were Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh. When the Israelites were finally ready to move into the promised land, these tribes refused to go, saying they were happy on the east side of the Jordan. The crops were good there and the land good for grazing. They trusted in what they could see, rather than in what God wanted to give them. The sad ending to their stories is that each tribe eventually faded from the record. Nothing spectacular happens for them in the realm of God’s promises. They “settled” for the easy, the mundane, and that’s what they God gave them.

This lesson hit me—hard. Especially in the light of my ministry, my writing. Am I settling for the easy? Or is God challenging me to step out of my comfort zone and cross the Jordan into the promised land?

Up until now I’ve written light romance with a publishing company who, at the time, embraced new authors. Barbour Publishing helped me hone my craft, and I will be forever grateful to Tracie and Jim Peterson, my first editors, who saw something in me that even I couldn’t see. And to Rebecca Germany, the senior editor, who continued to embrace me into the Barbour family. There are authors who have been with them for many years, and that is right where God wants them, no question. That is the west side of the Jordan for them. But for me, I think He’s challenging me to do something different. To not settle on this side of the river, where I’m comfortable.

I’m struggling to move to the other side of the river. I’ve changed genres, writing mysteries. Essentially starting my career over. Prayers would be greatly appreciated as I move into this new phase.

One wouldn’t think that fiction writing would be so important, or considered a ministry, but it is. God has blessed me, and many others, with the gift of telling His story through parables. I am so humbled when I get a fan letter stating how much one of my books has touched them and/or helped them resolve an issue they were having. That’s when I know that God has greater plans for my writing than I could ever imagine.
I cannot stay on the east side of the river. I must move into the land that God has promised me, a land flowing with milk and honey. The milk of nourishment to my readers’ souls. The sweetness of His goodness for their weary lives.

Come with me. Let's splash in the Jordan together as we race to the other side where His promises await.


The Plucky Heroine and the Disinterested Hero

New Blog Post at Craft Cinema!

Do you love a good romance? What do you like about it? Are you drawn to the stories where both parties fall in love at the same time? Or when one must pursue the other?

Admittedly, I love it when there’s tension. But that’s not always easy to put on the page when you, as the author, know these two need to be together.


Sweet Meaningless Nothings

I just cleaned out my “Other” Facebook message inbox. Yes, there’s an inbox you may not know you have. It should be labeled as “Secret” or “Hidden in Plain Sight” or “I’m Here and Horribly Misunderstood.” Out of 45 messages, 40 were from total strangers who wanted a long and lasting relationship with me. Here are the highlights for your amusement:
  • “…wouldn't mind if you can welcome me into your world of perfection.” Perfection? Really? You can only see me from the neck up. Trust me when I say, perfection has a way of dissolving—like Marty McFly’s siblings in the photo he keeps tucked in his guitar strings.
  • “I was happy when l come across your profile, It was very nice and interesting of which one man will not appreciate the creature of God almighty in you....” If I were to edit that sentence…um…no…I really can’t…
  • “ Couldn't help but notice your calm posture.” Thanks, but it’s called a slump.
  • “ …your profile pic on here really look charming and you are indeed a paragon of beauty.” Thesaurus much?
  • “They say ‘A picture is worth more than a thousand words’ But when I saw yours, I was speechless. I'm Marvin and you are?” You know my name. It’s there by my picture worth a thousand words. Or maybe all those words blocked it. Then again, what would you know, Marvin? Your profile name is Barry!
And then there’s the sad man who gave me his full name, where he worked, his job title, where he’s based out of, his divorce status, age of his adult daughter, how many times he was married (twice, lost the first wife, divorced the second,) his hobbies, and his email address. To this man I say: Send me your full resume, yearly income for the past five years, ten references, medical files, and goals for retirement. Then, after the criminal background check, drug test, and proof of citizenship, we’ll talk. It won’t do any good, however, because I’m happily married…



Two Fun Things a Writer Loves

Well, this writer, anyway. I love to interact with both writers and readers. This Saturday, November 2, I get to do both!

  • First, I love to share what I’ve learned with other writers.

At 1:00, I’ll be at the First Evangelical Free Church, 820 N 30th Street, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, speaking to the local ACFW chapter, Worship Write Witness (WWW). I’ve been asked to share my organizational method for keeping things straight that I call The Writer’s Tool Belt. Here’s the description:

tool_belt_37764Have you ever started a craft, gardening, or building project only to discover your tools were somewhere in the shed or lost in the closet? The same problem exists for writers when they spend hours searching for files on their computers. Where is that plotting chart? Where is the synopsis? Where is the chocolate? Kathleen E. Kovach has developed a system to keep everything at a writer’s fingertips using Excel spreadsheet. In Writer’s Tool Belt: Organizing Your Story, she will not only show you how to custom make your own Writer’s Tool Belt, but offer plotting techniques that have worked for her through seven novels.

  • Second, I love to sell my books!

At 5:30, I will be at the Farr Regional Library, 1939 61st Avenue, in Greeley, Colorado, signing Titanic: Legacy of Betrayal and Postmark: Christmas. I will have some older titles, as well. My good buddyTitanic 8x10 photo and writing partner, Paula Moldenhauer, will be there, too. We co-authored Titanic and we were both in the collection of four stories in Postmark.

The event is part of ReadCON, an all day affair for people who like to read and write. Here is their description:Postmark Christmas

ReadCON is a totally new celebration of all the great things about reading and our libraries. Sessions throughout the day will introduce you to new books, new people, and a new side of your library. Become a better writer, put titles on your reading list, hold a successful book club with your friends, try out a new tablet or ereader. Cozy up by our fireplace and meet Mary Doria Russell and Craig Johnson, critically-acclaimed authors who are guaranteed to ignite your passion for both reading and writing. It's a year's worth of library programming in one day, locally-sourced and 100% free to attend. All we need is you, the readers, to make this thing happen. Feed your passion for all things book related at ReadCON. Check back for more event information.

Library: Farr Regional Library
Peter Derk
Contact Number: 1-888-861-7323

I hope you can make one or both of these fun things. Of course, I know geographically it’s two hours between the two. But hey, if I can do it, you can do it!


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