Monday, April 25, 2016

Letting Our Characters Fall Hard & Why It’s Important
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Oh. My. Word. I thought after my first book the others would be easier to write.


Now into my 4th manuscript (my agent holds the 3rd while I make edits...good times), it’s clearly not getting any easier. I’m still carving out, and fighting for the time to write. Even when I etch out the time, it seems the words don’t want to flow. They drip like some clogged faucet. 

So I sit.  Stare at my screen. Pray.

Maybe check my email again – for the 20th time. Then remember to do a little cleaning.

I have to say, that while working on my current manuscript, my toilets have NEVER been so clean. I even folded socks one night…now that is some serious desperation y’all. Folding socks in my nemesis! It’s a mutual dislike, but I digress.

There are a plethora of reasons writers find writing difficult, and I’ve come to terms with why this book is so stinkin’ hard to write: My characters are acting out and making all the wrong choices!! Ugh!

I know the story. I’ve got the plot lines down. I know what has to happen, but I can’t seem to make them fall into that moral demise. It goes against my grain. Letting them fall means I go there with them…try to feel what they would feel in order to put words on paper, and bring the story to life.  And wow…that’s difficult to do.

Going through the valley with our characters is challenging, and is intensified when they’ve thrown themselves down a slippery slope of sin. 

I don’t wanna imagine what it would be like if I stepped outside of God’s will for my life for five minutes, let alone the length of a novel! Yet, I must. I must tell this story.  Why?

Why? Because we fall.
As writers, we must travel with our characters. Why?
2) Because someone needs this story.
Perhaps it’s me that needs it, or someone I’ll never meet…even someone who hasn’t been born yet (an odd thought).
And lastly, I must tell this story:
         3) Because the fall may be great, and terrible, but it reflects the unprecedented potential for grace and redemption toabound (click to tweet)—something we can’t WAIT to write! Something we crave to experience in life, and in the stories we read. 

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So…with the encouragement, and constructive criticism spoken in love from my valued writing partners and critique group, I’ll persevere through this story. One. Word. At. A. Time.
Stand strong, writers, and do the same.  

Side Note: A Little Trick I’d Like to Share:   A tool I’ve been using to help get my word count in, is the timer!  I can trick myself into writing for an hour. After the hour or 90 minutes, I give myself 30 minutes to clean, check email, walk etc. then go back to writing again. This REALLY seems to be helping me out. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Lifelines of Communication: Keeping Our Family Strong

Communication is so much more than talking. No kidding, I can talk pretty much NON STOP, but totally miscommunicate.  Just yesterday I called my hubby to say hey, only to discover he was on his way to pick up the kiddos from, why? I was on my way to do that.

Well, guess we miscommunicated.

And then my kiddos, well...they must here me say "Sure, throw your dirty clothes on the floor," instead of "Throw the dirty clothes in the hamper."

Miscommunication happens, and it can happen often, but instead of getting all huffed and bothered by it, let's thinking least we are trying to communicate! AND if we keep at it, we will be able to communicate effecitively while keeping our family strong.

Military family or not, spouse travels for a living or not, we've got to talk to our spouse, and kiddos. Spouse to Spouse. Spouse to child. Everyone to everyone.

Our family is always a work in progress, but here are a handful our our Lifelines of Communication that have helped us grow strong, and keep strong (CLICK TO TWEET):

1: Have meals together; as many as possible:
We get it. Sometimes meals happen on the run, in the car, or on the bleachers watching our children play a sport. But there's something to be said for a meal around a table. And even if we're on the run, in a car, or on a bleacher, we can still chat with each other. So...
*Chat during those meals
*Use Dinner time discussion cards; there's a whole bunch of ideas on Pinterest! 
*Play a board game
*Note: We've banned electronics from the table, UNLESS we're playing a family game on the the Disney Pictopia app...or The Game of Life app that allows multiple players.

2: Ask open ended questions
*Not just at meal time, but when talking with our spouse or children throughout the day, we should ask open ended questions like "What were the most interesting things that happened in class...or at work?" "Where are some places you'd like to vacation, and why?"
*Now, obviously, not EVERY question we ever ask will be open ended, but when we're wanting to connect, dig deeper, build that relationship, and make it stronger, then yes, we ask the open ended questions. 

3: Join in on an activity of your child or spouse's  choosing
And this is the hard part...for me at least. When all I want to do is crawl up with a book, or get some writing done (Oh those writing deadlines!), it's important for me to remember my priorities: God first, Family second, Writing third, and then all other things.

So, this is the part we get up, and go do that activity our kiddos are wanting us to do, or go watch that movie our hubby is wanting us to see. When we go that extra mile to take part in the likes of our family members, our relationships grow stronger. Communication becomes easier when we invest in each other (CLICK TO TWEET).

4: Pray together
Prayer works. It really works, and we need to be praying for each other, and with each other. So what does that look like? Well, it could be over meals, before school, before bed, but it also includes praying throughout the day for each other, and letting our spouse and children know we're praying for them. It means asking them to pray for us as the parent, and asking them how we can pray for them. It's letting them know they can pray all day long, like a constant conversation with God.  When we are praying, and communicating with God, He seems to help us communicate with others in a way that builds up our relationships.

5: Keep calm.
 And this may be the hardest. I'm still learning to keep calm when my child asks a question that makes my jaw drop. Oh, there have been doozies. And it's hard to keep calm when our spouse insist he's right, and we know he's so wrong.

Our need to communicate, or react instantly, can often hurt our family members, defeating the purpose to strengthen those relationships  So, before we respond, or react, let's take a deep breath...or maybe hold our breath...and pray for God to help us communicate in the wisest way before we speak.

A Note for Military Families:
Communication during a deployment or TDY looks different for military families. In these cases we can apply the same suggestions above, but adjust it according to our family's needs. We can also add other ways to communicate with our spouse who is deployed:
*Handwritten letters
*Care packages
Distance doesn't have to mean a distance in our relationship (CLICK TO TWEET ).

Related Posts:
Helping Kids Cope with Deployment
Sermon Notes for Kids: Helping Kids Grow in their Faith
Building a Strong Marriage: Happiness Isn't the Goal