Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ah, yes, the sexual revolution

Recently, Nona Willis-Aronowitz posted an article "The Virginity Mystique" on The Nation web site.

Willis-Aronowitz challenges authors like Wendy Shalit (A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue) and other conservative authors, like Laura Sessions Stepp (Unhooked), Dawn Eden (The Thrill of the Chaste) and Lauren Winner (Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity) about their call for women to return to modesty.

While Willis-Aronowitz recognizes Paris Hilton NOT to be a good role model for young women, she can't seem to find the balance or the reason why.

She insists feminism must further the sexual revolution. She writes:

How do feminists fit into the modesty debate? Well, awkwardly. (RH: Why is that?) Second-wave feminists, who made it possible for women to take control of their own sex lives, are at a loss for words when asked to comment on young women's early, sometimes ill-fated, forays into sex. Feminism has not finished its job; a version of nonmushy, nonmarital sex that makes women feel good about themselves is still hard to achieve."

Exactly, Willis-Aronowitz. Feminism continues to fail to understand that women are not men. We don't think or act like men. The sexual revolution was, in their minds, about acting like men sexually. Without commitment or purpose.

The reason they have no answers is because they cannot admit the solution: they were wrong.

What they wanted via the free love mantra birthed in '67 has cheated, short changed and lead their daughters and granddaughters down a perilous path.

Women have always controlled the reigns sexually. We've always had the power. Men want it. We have it.

Feminism came along and insisted we give up the reigns. Change our role. Move to the men's playing field where we gained nothing and lost everything.

Abortions increased. Rape increased. Sexually transmitted diseases went up exponentially. Abuse increased. Single moms now populate the nation. Thousands of kids, many of them minorities, are being raised without fathers.

The sexual revolution broke down the family. More women are in economic straits than ever before, and we can't blame the "glass ceiling."

Tell me again how we're liberated? Because we can walk around with our "privates" showing and not feel guilty?

Because we can dance around a pole, or pose nude without feeling condemned? This is empowerment?

No, Ms. Willis-Aronowitz. It's enslavement. And we were sold into bondage by our mothers and grandmothers.

Ironic, most slavery begins with a people group selling out their own.

-Aronowitz goes on to ask, "Why should sex have an everlasting warranty of love attached to it? Sex is the ultimate risk, a risk that makes human relationships complicated, intoxicating and wonderful. It is a risk that women are finally allowed to take without being chastised for it. And if young women choose to keep their sexuality under wraps, fine. Girls deserve the space to figure out a sexual reality that makes them happy, rather than dwelling on the difference between "Madonna" and "whore"--and deciding which is worse."

Why should it not come with a warranty of love? Willis-Aronowitz is over simplifying the subject. She only chooses the extremes. Madonna (and not the recording artist) or whore.

No one, even the Shalit and Winner, are advocating Madonna or whore extremes.

But feminism never takes into consideration in their holy-to-them sexual revolution all the casualties in between sanctimonious and slutty! There are millions of them. Girls. Babies. Families.

Sex is complicated. It's not an experiment.
It's spiritual. Emotional. And no matter how hard we try, it comes with attachments.

The sex act is what makes people "one." Just because we want it to be casual sometimes and binding other times doesn't change anything. It's almost a law of nature: sex binds people together.

There is nothing ethereal about a wedding ceremony that unites a couple. It's the honeymoon!

Why should girls have to train themselves to discard modesty so we can fulfill some pie-in-the-sky reckless idealism of bitter rebellious women?

Women who began feminism to eliminate the our need for men. Read their manifesto.

For the most part, pop culture doesn't even know the meaning behind the marching orders we so ready follow.

Shouldn't the feminist sexual revolution be about women calling each other higher? About challenging men to a higher standard. Why is lowering the bar, revolution?

Song of Solomon 2:15 says,
"Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom."

The sexual revolution is a fox that has ruined the vineyard of many young women while their values and morals were in bloom. They watch television shows like Friends and believe it's the way cool, modern young people behave.

If the cast of Friends lived out their actions in real life, five of the six would have incurable
STDs. Probably all but Chandler. (wink) Unless he got it from Monica.

Casual sex is not healthy for men, either. Men, stop sleeping around. You can get all kinds of nasty critters. And, what's that old saying, "If you sleep with someone, you sleep with everyone they've slept with."

Tony once prayed for a guy who was struggling with homosexual feelings. Turns out the guy slept with a bi-sexual woman and didn't know it until later. Hmm. He spiritually connected with her and tapped into something she had.

Paul tells the hip, modern, progressive Corinthians, "Do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, "THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH."

Women are beautiful, unique creatures that have a destiny designed by God that impacts the universe. Each one of us impacts one that impacts another. All the way to the stars!

Why should we behave like the lowest common denominator. The least of who I am is who I am sexually. In fact, sex has nothing at all to do with who I am. I don't need it to define me. Thank God.

We are all twisted around the axle here. Is sex good and right. Absolutely. In the right context. Many of the best things in life are good only in the right context.

Lookit, we don't drive up to McDonalds, order a Big Mac meal and a hundred year old bottle of Merlot. Why not? The wine doesn't fit the context.

Girls, don't act like the drive up window at McDonalds. You're not special number 1, 2, or 3.

You are a bottle of the best fine wine, aged, cultured, treasured, only to be opened at the right time, by the right man and savored. Same for you men. No double standards here!

But ladies, we are the gate keepers.

Funny, we respect wine more than ourselves sometimes.

Jesus has a plan, purpose and destiny for you. Don't get side tracked by the idea of sexual liberty that only exists in the minds of elitists.

True sexual liberty only comes in the commitment of marriage. And I can defend my claim any day. ;)

So, the Virginity Mystique Willis-Aronowitz writes about? Really, it's the sexual revolution mystique.

There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Four which I do not understand:
The way of an eagle in the sky,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
And the way of a man with a maid.

Proverbs 30:18-19.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Why do you write?

My friend and author extraordinaire, Lisa Samson, posted an interesting blog.

She wrote:

A little while ago, my publisher asked me a question. He told me not to sit and think about it. "Give me your first response."

"All right." To be honest, I was a little nervous. I'm one of those people who won't answer in church unless I know it's the right one. Usually "Jesus" works a good fifty percent of the time!

"Why do you write?"

"So that people will know they're not alone."

The words popped out before my brain really had time to figure out the answer, as if they'd been sitting underneath the tip of my tongue for years.

I loved Lisa's answer. So, I pondered my own. "Why do I write?'

To be honest, I wanted to sound deep and profound like Lisa. Getting to know her recently, her response so resonates with the truth of who she is.

So, why do I write? I asked my husband, "Why do I write?"

He said, "Because it's in you."

My answer then lies in destiny, I think. Writing is a part of who I am in God as much as a worshipper or intercessor. I am His mouthpiece in the written word. His unique work in me brings a unique voice to the world.

Do I reach everyone? No. Does this make me the best writer in the world? Hardly. But there are those whose hearts resonate with the fragrance of God emanating from the stories I write.

Do I have all the answers? No? Do I ask the right questions in my stories? No. But I hope to present some truth about the human journey on the page, and offer hope that God is the way, the truth and the light.

Life's journey, in case you haven't noticed, is full of pot holes. You'd think we'd have better infrastructure, but there are those times and places when the road is worn, washed away and treacherous.

For me, I want to continue to reach out and work my way into the community. I've not been a part of the down town outreach Tony and Ted launched, but now might be my time.

And, I'm going back to work with Sarah for a brief time. Stay tune for some interesting stories. Really interesting. ;)

My faith needs exercised. My faith needs to be out there. When I travelled for Harris in the '80s, I witnessed to every one, every where. A Jewess in Australia - she came to me. My translator in Spain. People I met from California to Maine.

The solitary life of writing keeps me inside more than outside. It gets comfortable. So, I'm working to get out there.

How about you? Why do you write? And what are you doing to be salt and light besides writing? No condemnation or judgement here, just asking.

Peace out.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

State of Grace by Traci DePree

A State of Grace

by Traci DePree

Synopsis: Kate Hanlon is at it again. Minister's wife, stained-glass artist, and sometimes sleuth, Kate Hanlon discovers more than she bargained for when she visits a woman whose daughter is battling leukemia. Before she knows it she's on the road uncovering clues that could be the girl's very survival.

Book #2 in Mystery and the Minister's Wife, A State of Grace picks up where Through the Fire left off as Kate and Paul Hanlon learn about life in small town Tennessee. Follow Kate as she comes to know the town and its inhabitants. Admire her persistence, intelligence, and strength of character as she slowly, but surely, begins to unlock the town's secrets.

About the author: Traci DePree is the author of four novels, including the Lake Emily series by WaterBrook Press. She, her husband, and their five children make their home in a small town in rural Minnesota.

About the series: Each novel in the MYSTERY AND THE MINISTER'S WIFE series is a page-turner, a good old-fashioned "whodunit." They're books that bring truth to light, that reveal dreams, and that show that trust in God always trumps fear and anxiety.

Learn more about Traci DePree and her work at www.tracidepree.com or visit her blogs at http://tracidepree.com/blog/rural-life/ and http://tracidepree.com/blog/christian- fiction/

Readers have two options for ordering this book or the series. They can join the series online from the following page: http://shopguidepos ts.com/product. asp?0=205&1=222&3=368 or they can call the customer service number, which is 1-800-431-2344.

There, they can sign up for the series, in which case they will get every book (a new shipment every six weeks), or they can request specific books in the series (i.e. A State of Grace).

Behind the Scenes: Lost In NashVegas

So many of you liked the Behind The Scenes blog I did for Diva NashVegas, I thought I'd back it up and write about Lost In NashVegas.

Are you just trembling with anticiapation?

Well, right, you should.

This book was like birthing a baby, including the nine months. Once my agent and I decided to write about a song writer, it took me forever to decide the story.

While I wanted the story to be southern, I didn't want to set it in Nashville. I didnt' know anything about Nashville.

Nor songwriting.

I did some cursory research, sent a synopsis to my agent who promptly and rightly sent it back. "No!"

By that time, I knew I needed to set most of the story in Nashville. I thought I could do research over the internet. I'd also spoken to a friend's friend, Bethany Thouin, about how song writers work in Nashville. She'd moved there to be one.

I put together a synopsis and three chapters called, "Country Princess."

My agent loved it. Shew. Sigh of relief. And, we sold it a few weeks later to Thomas Nelson. To my good fortune, the ACFW conference was in Nashvill that year, and less than a mile from my publisher.

So, before writing the book, I was able to meet my editor and publishing family in person and toured Nashville a little.

Of course, I was an expert on all things country and Nashville after only ONE day. I knew about the guitars. I'd driven past the Ryman.

I came home and got to work. About the time I was stuck, the publisher, Allen Arnold, called and suggested I make the book very Nashville centric.

Good idea. Really, it was a layer I needed to make Robin McAfee's journey authentic. So, back to Nashville I went.

Lisa Young, my friend and Allen's assistant, took me to the Bluebird Cafe. I went to open mic night. I toured the Hall of Fame. I drove and walked Music Row. I hung out at the Nashville Songwriters Association International on Roy Acuff Avenue.

I sang on the stage steps of the Ryman. I picked a place for Robin to live, places she'd visit. I ate pancakes at the Pancake Pantry.

Through Lisa's connections, I talked to songwriters and industry professionals. Had coffee with Barry Dean (God's Will.)

Really, I had no idea about Nashville or country music until I emmerced myself in the biz and the city. I was so grateful to every one who spent time helping me.

The Story

When I started writing this country girl songwriter, I'd been in a short workshop with Kelsey Roberts at my local RWA chapter meeting. She talked about juxtaposing our characters secret desire with their greatest fear.

This technique ended my story agony. I'd spent months agonizing over this story. I just didn't know how or what to write.

But by the time Thomas Nelson bought it, I had a good idea. When Kelsey suggested the fear and desire cross fire, it cinched my story.

Robin's secret desire was to be a songwriter. Her greatest fear was to sing in front of people.

I wanted her sister, Eliza, to be the one to challenge her to go for her dream. In the opening chapter, Robin is about to run away from a performance, again, when a couple of clogging triplets need her help.

I thought it as important to show Robin as kind and compassinate, and would sacrifice herself, her fears, in order to save others.

So, when the triplets clogging platform collapses, Robin covers their embarrassment by over coming her fear.

This proved she could over come, and that she had the talent and magic every one told her she had.

Eliza shows up and prods her. "Go for your dream."

This book is very much about finding your destiny, no matter what oppositions you face.

Tomorrow, the journey to Nashville. And what about her boyfriend, Ricky?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm going to be on TV.

Yep, you heard it here. August 6th, Deeper Living.

The show will be filmed live-to-tape in Atlanta with Tammy Alexander and me. We're doing this to promote ACFW, but also our writing and books.

I was really excited to go on the show, then I found out Tammy was going to be on. Now, nothing against Tammy - she's a friend and I love her, but ...

Tammy's a 1000 watt spot light. I'm a 40 watt GE.

She's won a RITA, acclaim, top picks, a Library Journal pick.

I was voted Most Spirited '85 for my sorority.

Maybe I should lose ten more pounds, get porcelain veneers, and a new outfit. ;)

I'm working with Sarah again. Loooong story, but my friend Ted is taking care of Sarah and her mom, Helen. I worked with Sarah years ago, and Ted needed someone experienced to take Sarah out a few hours a week.

Two hours, a hundred dollars. Couldn't pass it up. And, I don't have to do it every week. So, if I'm on deadline, I can postpone.

Who is Sarah? She's a fifty-something woman who sort of checked out of life when she was seventeen. She's smart, clever and cunning, but she's "not there." She lives in her own world.

She's unpredictable and well, clothes can be optional. ;) Ted said I need to learn her new tricks before taking her out.

I just felt like one, we could use a little extra money, and two, need to get out of myself. I'm too solitary at times, the internet my link to friends.

Working with Sarah will be good.

Met with my artist source and friend today, Jon Houghton. It was awesome. We talked for 2.5 hours. He is so knowledgeable about art and art history. I was able to work out some awkward details to my new story and add some really fun layers.

I'm sure we'll be talking again.

Talked to my bud, Susan Warren today. Just needed to sound out some things, get some advice, talk about writing. She's such a great source of widsom and encouragement.

Peace out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Peek into A Writer's Life, and an 80's flashback

New York Times Best Selling author Jodi Picoult talks about a writer's life in a recent issue of Writer's Digest.

Check it out.

I appreciate Ms. Picoult's candor.

While walking Pal tonight, we passed a house that sits among the trees and it reminds me of the home my parents built in Tallahassee. For a moment, it walked through the mid-80s.

Mom and Dad were home from work, mom starting dinner, dad watching news or going through mail. Danny, Joel, Peter-John and Rebekah were around - coming home from work or whatever

I was home from college for the summer, about to go to work at Publix. Home was always great place to be. Warm, cozy, welcoming. Safe.

It made me miss Dad a little.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Morning With An Artist

After morning prayer at church, I trotted off to find an artist I know in town. Jon Houghton.

His wife told me he was teaching a workshop on portraiture in Eau Gallie, so off I went again.

I found the place - miracle enough - and Jon with his students. They were drawing the bust of a young woman who has the amazing talent of sitting stone still for fifteen minutes at a time.
This whole session wowed me.

First, I can barely draw stick people. My artistic ability begins and ends with drawing a tree with a rail fence in front of it.

Second, I tried to sit still like the model. Didn't last sixty seconds.
The room was an round shape almost and surrounded by windows. The lighting was low and classical music played in the background.

While I watched and listened as Jon worked with each student, I jotted notes and even clips of dialog for book-next I'm writing: First Comes Love.
I found myself being creative in a creative environment, thinking of all the highs and lows that must face a fine artist.

In some ways, I'm considered an artist, but I'm a writer, technically, and I have avenues for my work. Drawing and painting is difficult to sell well enough to make a living. But many do it.

Thursday Jon and I meet for more in-depth artist talk.

For me, it's important to get inside the vocation of my characters. Because vocation leads to motivation which leads to conflict, tension or even resolution.

How does an artist think? Why art? Why a living at art? What is their motivation? Ever have a creative block? What options are open to artist to display or sell their work. Technique comes into play. History.

Jon was great. He kept quoting the greats in the workshop. Which gave me an idea... So, there is real value in getting under the skin of a character's vocation/career/passion.

My heroine in this book, so far, is really jumping off the page. Now, I just need to fine tune my synopsis, get it to the folks who matter and see if they like her as much as I do.

Hey, God is good!

Monday, July 23, 2007

I said Yes, but didn't go

For awhile now, oh, going on five plus years, I've had a yes in my heart toward the Lord about a certain thing.

A lifestyle, really, to which I said a rousing "yes" in my heart when I first heard the message on the contemplative lifestyle even though I was full aware of my weakness to execute.

But in my weakness, He is strong, right?

A few months ago, I was in a Spinning class muttering to God as I rode up a pretend hill how I just needed grace to be more devoted to fasting and prayer, living a contemplative life.
And guess what He said?

I about fell off the bike. My heart sank right down to my toes.

"You're quickly becoming like the son who said yes, I'll go to the vineyard but didn't."

Who? Me? Oh, no!

But I knew it was true. How long can I claim weakness and frailty when the living Lord dwells within me? How long can I want but never try?

He wasn't mad at me. Just right. In a way, giving me the option to say, "Hey, forget it, I don't want to live a life of prayer and fasting."

But, I do.
I want to do His will. He's called me to an intimate place and I want to be found there. My writing and everything else is life comes from those inner chamber moments.

So, I resolved to put a bit more muscle behind my desires.

At the End of the Age, or the End of My Life, which ever comes first, I want to stand before Him as a faithful one.

Which leads me to my next confession.
I've been struggling lately. Whine, whine, blah, blah... And no, I don't need rehab or counseling. My faithful husband keeps lifting my chin so my eyes see Jesus instead of my navel.

So, yesterday at church, one of the singers starts with a "prophetic" song. It was my Sunday not to lead worship so I sat among the congregation, worshipping.

Now, those of you from charismatic churches know what I'm talking about:
I heard the song... and rolled my eyes. Not in the mood for a song...

Yet, being the mature Christian woman I am, *a-hem* I listened to this song from the Lord, and was HUMBLED.

The words began to strike my heart. My eyes teared up.

"You are in a hard place, but don't worry, you've done nothing wrong. Stay on the journey."

I don't know about any one else, but that song was for me! It addressed my heart and fear - "I'm in a hard place, did I do something wrong? How do I get out of it?"

No and I don't. I keep on.
Thank goodness for the faithfulness of the singer because it was the Word of the Lord I needed yesterday. The singer was right, I was out of line.

And, in the midst of my eye rolling, the Lord used me to impart something to another member of the Body of Christ.

Isn't He cool?

So, go on about your life, be faithful, listen for encouragement from the Lord in the familiar and unfamiliar places.

You are His favorite one.

(cross posted from www.faithchick.com)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Old Florida Days

My family moved to south Florida, Homestead, in the mid '70s. While the shock of losing the beauty of seasons, and learning to find shade under a palm instead of a maple took years to overcome, I new season entered my heart.

Afternoon thunderstorms.

Around 2 or 3, rich, dark clouds rolled in from the Atlantic, clashing and rumbling like an angry Greek god, striking the earth with lightning.

The wind blew the heat and humidity from the air.

Like the finale of a great symphony, the lightning, thunder and wind cumulated with a fury rain under a dark sky.

Then, it was over. By evening, the sky was blue and the sun burned down, turning the wet earth into muggy heat.

I loved those stormy summer afternoons. To me, this is Florida. Not hurricane's .

But weather patterns change. Those stormy afternoons went away. I moved to Tallahassee then Columbus, and finally to Central Florida. Yet in the twenty years I've been here, I've not experienced many of those glorious summer thunderstorm afternoons.

Until now.

Recently, we've had the beauty of dark clouds ladened with rain and electricty roll over us, threatening and warning, then raining for a few hours.

Then, it breaks and by evening, the clouds drift away and the sun burns, reminding me God is in control.

I love days like these and pray it is again the season of sunny days wrapped around summer storms.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Every Nation Under Heaven?

Tony and I were talking today about some interesting Bible verses.

Here's one that nabbed my attention a while ago:

Acts 2: 5 "Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven."

What do you make of the statement, "devout men from every nation under heaven?"

Gives me the impression there were Jews in every nation and on this day, they were in Jerusalem.


Then Tony read this to me this morinng:

Colossians 1: 23 "if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister."

Paul is saying the Gospel WAS proclaimed in a creation. The New King James says "to every creature."

Fascinating, uh? We don't proclaim to have answers to this, but it draws us deeper to ask God, what is it you are wanting from us 2000 years since Acts and Colossians were written?

If the Gospel was preached, then why didn't Jesus return?

Maybe it's about something even greater, something deeper, maybe about establishing God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

I don't know. Do we continue to preach the Gospel? Absolutely! But is also about raising the dead, seeing blind eyes open, the deaf hearing, the lame walking, and demons fleeing?

Yeah, I think so. Am I walking in those things? Sadly, no, though I pray for healing and freedom.

Paul writes in Ephesians 1 that God has a plan. He has kind intentions with a view to administration. Here, read this:

verse 9 "... according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him."

verse 10 "...with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth."

There is a fullness of time coming. He's in complete control. Not like a control freak, but like one who knows what He's doing. "Got it under control."

I can't wait to see what He has planned for us. Though, the End of the Age may not be a fun ride . . . the Glory to be revealed will blow us away.

Look, we're not leaving earth, (sorry Left Behind books) He's coming! To establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Be ready. Watchful and waiting. Be in prayer. We don't want to be offended when God draws in the prodigals or judgement comes. Some judgements are good, now. Like healing is the judgement against sickness. Right? V. cool.

Righteousness is the judgement against lawlessness and sin.

Be advised, He will judge the earth. Scriputre is clear. Rain will fall on the just and the unjust alike.

But we know Him. We are safe with Him. We will reign with Him. Don't grow weary.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

As promised, a post on prayer

I woke up the other day with this thought: the disciples watched Jesus do all kinds of miracles. Cast our demons, heal the sick, multiply food, amaze the masses with his insight and teaching, but what did they ask the Lord to teach them?

How to pray.

Luke 11 begins with this question.

Jesus answer with what we now know to be "the Lord's prayer."

But of all the things they could've asked him, why prayer?

In today's world, if we saw Jesus healing the sick, casting out devils, multiplying food, we'd have a book out, "How To Feed 5000 In Three Steps."

Or, "Growing Your Congregation to 5000 With The Fellowship of Food."

Am I right? Yes. We are so "do" oriented we forget all about the very thing that made Jesus and the disciples walk in miracles and devotion.


Sorry folks, there's no way around it. Jesus is the corner stone of our foundation. Prayer is the tool that keeps us on the Rock.

In Matthew 6, Jesus even references the Gentiles praying. Seems everyone, Jew and Gentile, understood the power and purpose of prayer.

Jesus began his ministry after 40 days of prayer and fasting.

Pentecost happened after prayer and waiting on the Lord.

All through the New Testament, we see prayer as the avenue to miracles and revival. We see it through history.

Evan Roberts prayer for years before seeing the Welsh Revival.

My husband Tony and our friend Ted started a down town outreach after sowing seeds of prayer.

Doing is good, but far too often we leap over "being" because we are bored and impatient.

Lately, I've been asking the Lord to renew my heart and spirit of prayer. I want to be a woman of prayer as well as a woman of action.

I want my action to come out of prayer. Think how much time in our day we spend doing frivolous things: computer, tv., whatever. Not that we can't do those things from time to time, but if you're spending two hours a night on tv and computers, don't tell me you don't have time for prayer.

And I'm pointing the finger at myself as much as anyone. Prayer is critical. Look at our society. We are so mixed up, tangled up and confused prayer is the only thing that will straighten us out.

So, I'm devoting myself to prayer. Fasting. (ho boy) and believing God to do the rest.


Dream Interpretation

As part of the down town outreach, Ted Can-Have-A-Relationship-With-Anyone, set up a team to do dream interpretation at a local coffee shop.

I had my first chance this past Tuesday. It was awesome. We didn't have many dreamers, so after we did a few of the shop customers, we practiced with each other.

I love doing this. It seems so easy and fun. I've been praying Daniel 1:17 for myself, so I'm stepping out now in writing and dream interpretting to give God a chance to glorifiy Himself through me!

I'll keep you posted. This was only our second week, but the owner is very excited to have us come around.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

As promised, Donald Maass Notes

The first weekend in July I attended a writer's retreat where we had a one day workshop with literary agent and author, Donald Maass.

His book, Writing The Breakout Novel is becoming a craft favorite. Along with the book, Maass conducts week long and weekend seminars where students receive instruction followed by afternoons of working and rewriting.

Maass is an engaging, knowledgable, fun instructor. Very personable. I got a lot out of the day we had with him, even if toward the end my brain started to short circuit. Ha!

I didn't have a work-in-progress to bring to the day, but worked on ideas for book-next, and bravely compared his instruction to what I'd done with Sweet Caroline.

To be honest, I thought I'd be hyperventilating within the first five minutes of class, "Oh no! I didn't do that, or that, or that!"

But it was three o'clock in the afternoon before my first slight heart palpitation. Even, then, I realized it was a matter of preference. Not that Caroline is perfect-word to the wise: there are no perfect novels, I felt like I did some things well with her story.

Anyway, if you're a writer or reader, you'll enjoy what Mr. Maass says makes a breakout novel.

Begin very eclectic notes:

The characters are the reader's way into the story and what brings them back to us as authors.

More specific and detailed we can be the more powerful we become.

How can protag show heroic qualities within protag first five pages?

Reader asks: "Do we care about this person?"

"Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstance, but readers what to care greatly, care enough to read the book. What creates the bond between reader and protagonist."

"Heroic qualities. We tend to think of historic greatness or extreme survival under worse conditions."

Have one line to catch readers attention.

"Stories are powerful when they are tough. When the challenges are extreme."



"These are the moments the characters become larger than his or her own life. Break out of box, out of character, do the unexpected. Moments we remember."

"A "wink" can be the most unexpected thing a character can do."

What is the main conflict? Goal?

Raise stakes, keep tension rising, keep readers more deeply involved.


What is antagonist defining quality?

Antagonist most wants? Yearning, dream, goal. Where would he like to go? What to achieve or experience. Avoid?

"If I am the antagonist, how would I describe what I want?"

Antag has more to do. Need see the antagonist moving through the story. They appear, go away then reappear. What are they doing all that time? He/she is working on something.

Write out what antagonist is doing. 4-5 pages of outline.


Part Two - Plot Considerations

Main problem facing protag over the course of novel.

Figure out how to make the worst happen and come back from it.


Back story

Use this strategically in the story. Something we don't know. Something that explains the protag. Wait for it. We only hint at it.

End eclectic notes

The intellectual learns by learning. They love instruction and process information well. Instinctively, they seem to understand how to apply what they've heard.

I'm a doer. I learn by doing. I love information, I love instruction, but I've learned way more about writing by doing it than hearing how to do it. If I buy something with instructions, the first thing I do is study the "gaget" to figure it out, only referring to the instructions if I'm stuck. Weird, but it works for me.

Between what my editors have taught me, and this Maass experience, I have ammo to improve and deepen my craft.

Recently, a couple of friends graduated with MBAs. Then, they bought a business. In one week, they learned more about running a business than a semester of grad school.

Learning is just a tool to help us "do" life. Instruction is the map to get us where we want to be, but unless we "get in the car and drive" all the mapping and studying is useless.

So, do what works for you. Do-be-do-be-do.

Tomorrow, a revelation on prayer!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Today, I rest, read, pray

Grandma Fausnaugh, 93, Knoxville, July 2007

Today is a Rachel Day. Yeah, don't bust my chops, every day is NOT Rachel day.

Today I'm resting. Reading. Praying. Not working. Though I must confess, two new story ideas are running around in my head.

Saturday night we concluded our anual In The Fire conference. It's a steady, building, encouraging conference. More intercession and worship centered than ministry centered.

Then I came home, tidied up Sweet Caroline until 2:30 a.m. and sent it off to Leslie. :) When Tony woke me up for church, I wined like a second grader, "I don't want to go to church."

"You're leading worship."

"So, what's one Sunday without it? We are so in a rut!"

"Rachel, get up."


Yet, God met us. He's so gracious. Very present. I did "I Surrender All" as the last song, and later a couple of twenty-somethings told me how much that song blessed them. They just sighed and fell into Him.

I expect a comment like that from 40-plus-somethings, so how refreshing to hear from 20-somethings.

Came home from church, crashed for a few hours, then went to Matt and Jodi's to play Euchre. We gabbed so much we hard paid attention to the game! But, hey, girls rule. (Hi-five, Jodi.)

Pal's been acting weird lately. We're not sure if he's sick or sad or what, so we took him to Matt and Jodi's with us. (Note to self: vaccum car.) He seems better today. We've been so busy and I was gone for over a week, I think Pal's routine got messed up.

Tomorrow, notes from the Donald Maass worship I attended Friday last.

Mom and nephew, Asa, Knoxville, July 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

In The Fire

Another In The Fire conference is over. Three great nights of worship and teaching.

But let me say: we're about exhorting and embolding. We don't hold ITF for people to gain more of a conference, fill-me-feed-me mentality.

Our heart is to encourage you in prayer, fasting, worshipping, loving God and loving others.

Fun for me tonight was leading the first worship set. Man. I had a full band, and Alex on drums. I love my Church On The Rock band, but throw in Phillip on electric, add another keyboard player, then Alex on drums, a perc section, bass. I'm in heaven.

Misty Edward's "Favorite One" blew up, as Javi would say. The Lord so made His presence known. The song went through every emotion it seemed: soft, loud, over the top, to silence and weeping.

Jesus came when we cried out, "and I'll crown you with my love." I saw with my heart's eye as He bent to receive each worshipper's crown of love. Amazing. He's so amazing.

In the midst of doing the conference every night, I worked on Sweet Caroline edits from Leslie. She's doing a good job of finding my weaknesses with this manuscript. For some reason, I just wrote too many scenes "off stage." You know, told about somethign in hind sight.

Anyway, I wrote this one scene today. When I was done I thought, "Wow, who wrote that. It's good."

Wanna read it? Later... :)

As always with this confernce, I exhort everyone to write down their take away. Don't just come, listen, worship radically, then go home to be the same as you were on Wednesday.

This time, I had them think of that one thing they know God wants them to do. Witness to someone, work on a relationship, give up a passion or sin. Just one thing. Then, believe in a month, it will come to pass.

We leave conferences, even Sunday morning church, inspired but without direction. We need to set specific goals and pray to achieve them.

Like I tell people who want to write. "Know what the number one writing rule is?"

"No," they say.

"Butt in chair."

The story won't write itself! Believe me. It's hard work. Butt in chair is where it all begins.

So, what is God speaking to you? Write it down, set an action plan then make it happen. Prayfully.

Well, it's late. More later on lots of stuff.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I Coulda Been A Contender

Tuesday in Pigeon Forge we raced go-carts. I, naturally, ended up with THE slowest car on the lot. Pedal to the metal and I was going no where! The "dad with kid" car passed me.

No matter how hard I pressed, how close I hugged the curves, I couldn't go faster. My car struggled going up the little race track hill.

I came in double dog last. But, if I'd gotten a faster car . . . "I coulda been a contender!"

My Friend Christy Selby

I forgot to mention my lovely and gracious, beautiful friend Christy Selby. Her husband attends the trade show ICRS every year for Derek Prince Ministries, so she came with him this year. We met in the Omni hotel coffee shop.

It was fab to see her! She's so beautiful, kind and lovely. It's been eight years since we've seen each other, but the moment we hugged and started talking it was like we'd talked last week.

She encouraged me, too, in my writing journey. I was blessed. Love you, Christy!

Driving Home

Took I-75 in 12.5 hours today - from Knoxville to Melbourne. I drove straight to Life House for the In The Fire conference. Javi had already started worship, the sanctuary was dark but I stumbled around, found a chair, told the sound man I was there and hit the stage mid song.

After about ten minutes, Javi looked over, grinned and kept singing. We didn't miss a beat. I love singing with him for that reason. We're insync.

It's great to be home. I'm so excited to see my wonderful hubby!

My Sweet Caroline edits are done, but I need to look at one last thing for Leslie.

God is good! I'm believing what I know, not what I feel. I think I'm a little overwhelmed from ICRS.


Had a great time with the family in Knoxville. Too short of time, but loved seeing everyone. Gracie didn't warm up to me until the end - go figure. Such is the life of a 3 year old.

And Soosie was so sweet, (see Photos) but at one, didn't remember me from November. Asa, however, was a cutie. "Hi, Aunt Rachel," he said and ran to me for a hug.

Josh and Caleb are not too old to give me hugs at 13 and 11, but I suppose the day will come.

Pete, Julie, Mom and Grandma are well. Mom's house is lovely.

Pray for me if you think of it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A lot of things

I'm in Knoxville at my brother's right now. My sister is here from Indiana with her kids. She's at my Mom and Grandma's house.

I've had a great week since I left home last Thursday, but I'm very tired. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally.

Yesterday we had a fun picnic and walking in creeks, then going to Pigeon Forge. That place is incredible - all entertainment and nothing but entertainment.

I didn't feel well toward the end, but I love being with everyone. Missing Tony a bunch right now, but I'll see him tomorrow, late.

ICRS - The Christian Retail Show - was very fun. I always love walking the showroom floor. I had lunch with friends Judy Baer and Tracy Higley on Monday. We ran into the lovely and gracious Karen Ball in the lunch line, so we all joined lunching forces.

Tracy and I walked the showroom floor some, and as we passed by one booth, the publisher wanted us to stop and get a signed copy of a book. So, after a few passes, we stopped. It was a book about pleasing God instead of man. We laughed so hard because we ended up getting a copy . . . to make the "man" happy. Too, too funny.

Sunday night I had a great time at the Thomas Nelson fiction dinner. I sat with Colleen Coble and her husband, Dave, as well as Michael and Gail Hyatt. Michael is the president of Thomas Nelson.

He is so personable and gracious. The kind of man who knows how to engage people in a sincere manner. His wife was the same - very gracious and warm, like you'd met a friend.

Allen Arnold, our fiction publisher, always has us answer a couple of questions. This year it was our favorite cereal and our hopeful legacy.

Cereal was hard. Tony and I have one, I just don't know the name of it. Something with almond covered raisins.

As for my legacy, how can I really say? To be known in heaven more than I'm known on earth?

I thought of a hundred things but this is what I want my legacy to be: that some day people will say, "I met a woman once. I don't remember her name or even what she looks like, she might have been a writer, but every time I was around her, I could see Jesus. I wanted to be more like Him. I knew He loved me."

That's not what I said Sunday night, but given time to think, it's what I want my legacy to be.

Weekends like this one are fun and exhilarating, as well as nerve wracking. "Did I offend anyone." "Did I hurt anyone's feelings?" "Did I gossip?" "Was I gossiped about?" "Did I present myself in a professional way?" "Was I gracious and kind at all times?"

Enough to drive a person batty! :) To these things I say, "Grace, grace!"

To every one I did or did not see at the show, grace, grace.

Our summer conference, In The Fire, starts tomorrow night through Saturday night. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Freinds, Fast and Atlanta

Our friends Marlow and Tonya Dunham visited over the weekend. They were down to attend a class, and then spent a day and a half with us. Well, I worked some on Monday and they went to the beach, but we had a blast playing Euchre.

Let's just say when the men wen to the kitchen to scrounge for food, the women cheated. Sort of. We laughed so hard.

Good friends are a treasure.

Finished and turned in Sweet Caroline on Wednesday evening. I'm happy with it! Lost of good changes, and as usual, I cut lots of words. It's the journalistic training. Write tight.

40 Day Fast
Tomorrow is the last day of the 40 day fast and The Call Nashville. Please keep The Call in prayer. Join them via God.tv. Fast if you can.

Writer's Retreat and Retail Trade Show
I'm in Atlanta for a writer's retreat and the Christian Retail Trade Show. Today we had a workshop all day with the great Donald Maass. Wow. What a great day. So much writing wisdom and techniques.

Mostly how to look deeper, think differently about our writing. Relieved I did some things well with Sweet Caroline, cringed when I saw things I could've done better. One scene in particular, but we learn with each book

Susan Warren and I have been reworking her next book, PJ Sugar tonight. Fun. I was telling her to cut something and she pouted at the idea. I said, "Hey, you're the award winning, award finalist, not me. Don't listen to me."

But, she's good. She did. ;)

Tomorrow, more writing workshops and connecting with a few people.

Grace and peace.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Cure, by Athol Dickson

Please welcome friend and Christy Award-winning author, Athol Dickson!

Imagine a medicine that cures you of your worst vice.

One dose and you’re free. How much would a person pay for such a cure? How far would they go? Would they lie for it? Steal for it? Kill for it?

Riley Keep, former man of God, former missionary, has been a beggar on the streets for years, desperate to forget the past. His wife, daughter, work, and faith were all lost in the aftermath of one far-flung act of wickedness. Believing some things cannot be forgiven in this life, lately Riley has begun to think of giving up the ghost. Then he hears the rumors.

Miracles are happening in Maine .

An old woman fleeing a horrific monster, a lonely wife and mother tempted by forbidden desire, an impoverished lobsterman lured by tainted wealth, a young girl weighing life and death decisions, a small town cop with a murder on his hands . . . these are just a few of the citizens of Dublin, Maine, a picture postcard village slowly suffocating underneath an avalanche of hungry people searching for a miracle. But only Riley Keep will find what he desires. And only then will Riley learn if it will save him, or if it’s true what people say .. . .

Sometimes The Cure is worse than the disease.

Advance praise for The Cure:

". . .well-written, intelligent follow-up to Dickson's Christy Award-winning River Rising. An involving, suspenseful take on God's transforming grace, it tackles a serious issue while providing an absorbing story." (Library Journal)

". . . unpredictable and surprising, even though clues are sprinkled throughout the book. The final twist was chilling . . . the author does a wonderful job weaving in the deceit and the actions of those unrestrained by ethics and driven by the bottom line…a powerful book, one that will remain on my bookshelf for a long time to come." (Crosswalk)

"Rich with local dialect and scenery . . . Dickson's approach is thought-provoking, and his prose beautifully evokes the taciturn spirit of the Mainers who people this novel . . . full of interesting ideas and well-developed characters." (Publisher's Weekly)

About the author:

Athol Dickson's writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler (Publisher's Weekly) and Flannery O'Connor (The New York Times). His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006, and a finalist for the Christianity Today Best Novel of 2006.

Learn more about Athol Dickson and his work at www.atholdickson. com or visit his blog at http://whatatholwrote.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rockin' Girl Blogger Award

I've been awarded a Rockin' Girl Blogger Award from friend, fellow author and blogger extraordinaire of girlswriteout.

Colleen is an influential person in my life. The Lord sent her as a direct answer to a prayer I prayed when I went to the Houston ACFW Conference in 2003.

This year, she's been a huge source of strength, encouragement and wisdom to me as I've waded deeper into the publishing waters.

In fact, all the GirsWriteOut - Kristin, Diann and Denise - are friends and encouragers to me.

So, who do I award Rockin' Girl Blogger to?

My sister, Rebekah Gunter. She has funny blogs about the life of a working mom of four. Even adds picture.

Also to very good pals and authors Christine Lynxwiler, Susan May Warren, Tracey Bateman. Love you guys!

To reviewer who lives in one of my favorite countries, Autralia, Rel Reviews.

And sister-in-law, Julie Hayes.

(Hey, can I now say I'm an award winning author?)