Friday, January 30, 2009

Book Clubs and me

What a blast I had this week. Sorry to have been quiet in the blog world -I know y'all missed me, now - but I was in Atlanta visiting 3 book clubs.

Monday and Tuesday I visited a book club in Buford, just north of Atlanta. Nora, you are such a great book club coordinator and host. Thank you for having me.

Wednesday, I drove down to Buckhead to check out the area for a book setting. Paid $6.00 plus tip for a medium size chocolate milk shake. Kid you not.

Thursday night I spoke at the North Metro church book club. Thank you Sheryl and Crystie. I felt very welcomed. You all are a great group of readers.

All three book clubs were thriving and vibrant and I thought, "Hey, why not start one of my own?" So, I just might.

On Thursday, I also visited my aunt and uncle in Duhlanega. They have a great little place there and it was my first visit. My uncle recounted his salvation experience with such heart he had my aunt and I in tears. God is so tender, patient and good.

Special thanks to fellow writers and ACFW friends Ane Mulligan and Amy Wallace, and their families, for hosting me this week. I so appreciate you ladies!

Final word on "Love Starts With Elle?" Fabulous. Of course, of course.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thoughts on Writing a Book

I've been helping my friend and author extraordinaire Susan May Warren plot a new book.

She calls with, "What's the lie she believes?" No "hello, how are you?" but straight to the point. This is why we get along so well.

We discuss the lie the character believes and why. It's so important to figure out why. And it doesn't always have to be because something horrible happened in the heroine's past. As far as I'm concerned, we have too much fiction depicting the broken, abusive family that make the character do bad stuff. Sometimes people just make bad choices all by themselves.

For example, she has a character who gets mixed up with a bad group of people. Why? Because she is a gentle, passionate person who wants harmony and peace in the world. When a group of like minded folk draw her in, it's too late when she discovers they are really subversives.

Next Susie will ask, "What's her epiphany?" So we figure out, based on the lie, what she learns throughout the course of the story. That lesson of course if facilitated by the plot.

We talk about the black moment - when all is lost. We talk about the greatest fears and desires. And all the why's.

We figure out why the heroine needs the hero and vice versa. And answer the question, "Why?"

Let's do an exercise. What if you say to someone, "Rachel Hauck is a great worship leader." (Hey, this is my blog, let me pretend.)

The person might say, "Why?"

You answer, "She has a nice voice." Or, "She seems to love worship."

There we go. No more need for why's but we have a layer of depth to why Rachel Hauck might be a good worship leader.

Some character questions have several layers of why. Keep asking until the "why" has no more answers. For example, there's no answer to "Why does Rachel have a nice voice."

"She bought it on the black market. Duh, why do you think she has a nice voice? What's the matter with you?" ;)

Writing Tip

I've been reading a lovely book and while I'm enjoying the story a lot, there's one thing I'd wished the author had done differently. All the good lines from the heart of the characters, like how they feel about someone or some situation, are said as internal thought or in prose rather than dialog. 

It would really pop the dialog if they were said out loud instead of "off to the side." Instead the characters say things like, "Oh, okay."

Here's an example of what I mean:

"Come on in Shawn. How are you?" Carter stood aside to let him pass.
"Fine thanks." Except his nurse walked out on him today and he had to manage his patients and the schedule alone.
"Would you care for something to drink?"
"Yeah, thanks." A beer with a shot, double shot if you don't mind.
"The rest of the guys will be here soon. So, you're surviving the hospital after the divorce?"
He took the offered drink. "As best I can." Hospitals were notorious for their gossip and he'd not escaped unscathed. 

Okay. A pretty boring scene right? Let's redo it to take all the "off to the side" information and put it in dialog.

"Come in, Shawn, how are you?" Carter stood aside to let him pass.
"My nurse walked out on me today and I had to handle all the patients and schedule's myself."
Carter looked at him. "Walked out? Why?"
"Hospital gossip." He sighed, heading for the bar. "The nurses are convinced the rumors are true."
"The divorce was pretty nasty, Shawn." Carter stood behind the bar. "You need something to drink, don't you?"
"A boilermaker. Make it a double."
"What happened with your nurse?" Carter slid a beer bottle toward him with a shot glass of bourbon.
"I yelled at her. Hey, when are the rest of the guys going to be here? I'm ready to play and take their hard earned money."

Much stronger scene, no? It gave Carter more to react to and we see the tension with Shawn. Plus, it hints of conflict and we know there is something not right about this divorce - besides the obvious.

If you're writing, put the story in the mouths of your characters. How they feel about things and people unless it's part of the plot for their ideas and feelings to be cloaked.

Use narrative for description, setting, action tags, quiet moments alone with the character (though not too many.)

Okay, my desire to write about writing is over.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Psalm 2

Why the big noise, nations? Why the mean plots, peoples?
Earth-leaders push for position,
Demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks,
The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers:
"Let's get free of God!
Cast loose from Messiah!"
Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing.
At first he's amused at their presumption;
Then he gets good and angry.
Furiously, he shuts them up:
"Don't you know there's a King in Zion? A coronation banquet
Is spread for him on the holy summit."

Let me tell you what God said next.
He said, "You're my son,
And today is your birthday.
What do you want? Name it:
Nations as a present? continents as a prize?
You can command them all to dance for you,
Or throw them out with tomorrow's trash."

So, rebel-kings, use your heads;
Upstart-judges, learn your lesson:
Worship God in adoring embrace,
Celebrate in trembling awe. Kiss Messiah!
Your very lives are in danger, you know;
His anger is about to explode,
But if you make a run for God—you won't regret it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How do George and Laura Bush feel now?

I'm teary-eyed thinking about them, getting on the plane that flew them to Dallas, taking them from Washington D.C., ending eight hard fought years.

George W. is leaving an office and job that still teams with the issues and work he faced. He knows what we face as Americans, as a nation.

I wonder what he feels. Relief? Sadness? Can you believe there were people at the inauguration who snubbed him and jeered. Talk about rude and hateful!

Does he feel confident he did the job he was called to do? Is he ready to fade into private life? How do you go from fighting for freedom and safety for eight years to putting your feet up on the recliner and reaching for the remote?

He doesn't, I suppose.

But, you know how you feel when you have to leave a party early? Or when you left a job but Monday morning, everyone would be there like always but without you? It's kind of a weird, sad feeling.

Does he wish he'd accomplished more, or have done more?

He's lost sleep, I know, worrying over our nation. While I didn't agree with him on everything, George W. Bush was a great president. I can't think of a better man to be in office on 9/11.

It takes a man of character to be willing to be the most hated president in order to do what needed to be done to make and keep us safe.

Thank you, President Bush. We will miss your leadership and steadfastness. May God bless you and reward your faithfulness if not in this life, the one to come.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Our government

Tell me this. How come our government is asking every one to sacrifice but themselves?

They get an automatic raise every year while the constituents are being laid-off.

They are spending our money bailing out irresponsible companies.

They are covering their poor laws and poor oversight on gov't programs like Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac with OUR tax dollars.

The man or woman making $17 an hour is being asked to bail out the man or woman making $30 an hour. (Thank you auto industry.)

Our new president is spending $150 million on his inauguration while asking us to hold on for the ride.
Our government wants us to believe they are needed to watch over the "evil" corporations. But from what I see, they are way more corrupt and evil. Who watches over them? The media? That's arm of society is SUPPOSED to watch over government and expose all crime and fraud.

But after this last election, their bias is clear. They cover up for "their" politicians and hound the ones they hate.

I read a 2008 book review where the characters were supposed to be like W and Laura Bush. Publishers Weekly said the W-like character bungled his off-the-cuff speech like the real W.

This after we clearly witnessed a very bungling "uh-um" ridden Barack Obama who ever after his blunders spoke off-the-cuff with a teleprompter.

Sure W blundered. Sure Obama blundered. So SAY that. Even PW's biased was blatant.

So who is watching over our government. God. Us, the believers, who bend the knee daily to pray for America.

This is my prayer out of Revelation 11:15. "The kingdom of (America) has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ, forever and ever."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hi, my name is Rachel Hauck and I. . .

. . . am a rule bender.

Yes, I bend rules. Not major ones now. I'm a stickler for integrity and honesty, but yeah, I bend a few rules. Mostly personal ones.

But I've bent universal rules like, "no drinks in the sanctuary but water." I mean, my Diet Coke isn't going to hurt anything, is it?

Yes, I plan on getting up for exercise. . . bend, bend.

I did put down for two hours of prayer today. . . bend, bend.

But the truth is, bending rules can go too far. And, if someone were to confront me, "what are doing in here with a soda?" I'd back out of the room with an apology.

Most of us are rule benders in some way. Though I know a few of you who are not. You're my friends and I love you. You remind us all rules have a purpose.

How does this apply to our faith? We start bending God's rules. Is homosexuality a sin? Is God's Word really true? "I mean, do I have to do all it says?"

We've started to let people bend the spiritual rules. There's a church movement doing this. They're questioning if it matters Jesus was born of the virgin, Mary, of the line of David. They ask, "Why does it matter?"

It matter's a lot. If he's not born of a virgin in the line of David, then He's not God. Prophesy is not fulfill and we are without hope.

We have to confront the rule benders. Not in a harsh or judgmental way, but in love and truth. "You many struggle with homosexuality, but God calls it sin. We are to turn from sin, hate what He hates. Let me help you walk through this toward truth."

To say your sin is okay is to call God a liar.

For some, sin isn't call out sin anymore. They're trying to fold lies into the gospel. The good news is God is able to redeem His name and reputation. I just don't want it to be because of me, my action, my sin. I don't want to sully His name.

The "church" does need to reach out to the poor and hurting. I agree we've let doctrine hinder our methodology. We're so comfortable in our churches, with our preaching and fellowshipping among ourselves. (It's the way of most sects of society.)

Getting outside the church walls is messy. It's not always successful. It's hard work. But we can't lower the bar to make it easy for ourselves. Sin is sin and we have to call it. Otherwise, how will the world know to repent and change. We leave them in worse bondage by not speaking out the truth.

My name is Rachel Hauck, a recovering rule bender.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Isn't prostitution illegal in the U.S.?

A San Diego student is selling her virginity on the internet to raise money for her graduate degree.

What is the world coming to? Her soul, spirit and body is worth the price of a graduate degree? Degrees most of us never use?

The story, running in a UK paper,said her highest bid is 2.5 million pounds/3.7 million U.S.

How does she get away with this? Isn't selling your body for money illegal? No matter how neat and tidy the offer? Even call girls in fancy hotels who charge thousands of dollars are doing illegal activity. It's not just the street walkers.

This is really super sad and what a horrible example to set for young women. Your virginity is a commodity?

What's the old adage? "We've established what you are, now we're just determining price."

Wouldn't we be disgusted if she were to sell herself for a $1? How does it change because millions of dollars are involved?

Human trafficking and sex slave trades are becoming rampant. What we don't need is a woman behaving so casually about her body and soul. When we accept this type of behavior, we weaken the fabric of society, the value and treasure of women.

Remember that at the high end of activity there is always a low end. High price call girls and strung out street walkers. It's still the same thing.

To think, all this for a master's degree in marriage and family counseling. Do you want THIS woman counseling you and your family?

Women who did this to save themselves from the Nazis were vilified by their communities.

This is where we are as a country. Look around the world. What is the economic and social condition of countries who leave morality behind? Is that the America you want to live in?

Where is the National Organization of Women? This action and attitude degrades all women. It makes our worth no more than the price of virginity. Got to say, I'm outraged at this.

Speak up. Blog about this. Email friends. Pray.

A writer friend of mine has also voiced her sadness over this situation.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Maybe this is just me, but. . .

. . . aren't Christian "self-help" books an oxymoron?

For years, the "self help" section of Christian bookstores has always struck me as odd, even humorous.

I can understand those without Jesus searching for ways to help themselves, but Christians? Christ followers? The King of the universe, the Creator loves us. He's our friend! What more do we need?

As for helping ourselves, the concept is not found in Scripture. First of all, we're are commanded to die to ourselves. If the self help book is about how to kill our flesh and desires so we can surrender wholeheartedly to Him, then go for it.

Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him.  Mark 8:35, "Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospels will save it."

We need not to help ourselves, but cry out for Him to help us. To heal us. To teach us to die to ourselves. When pain or hurt strikes us, that's when we lean into Him. His leadership over us is full of love and mercy, of grace and it is perfect!

Why do we need more of man's wisdom? Self help books are just theories concluded from man studying man. It's a network of information.

But Jesus brings to us revelation. He is the Tree of Life. He knows us perfectly. There are no theories with Him. He has perfect understanding and knowledge.

Psalm 62 tells us He is willing and able to answer our cry. Romans 8:11 reminds us the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us.

John 16, Jesus tells us He'll give us the Spirit, the Comforter who will teach and lead us.

Man's wisdom or God's? I choose His. What most of us need is not ways to help ourselves, but ways to get outside and away from ourselves. We're too "me" focused.

Let's not look inward to our own souls when we hurt, but look to the indwelling Christ for wisdom and knowledge that surpasses understanding. Let's lean into Him. He will do exceeding, abundantly more than we could ask or think. Eph 3.

"Lord, we pray, give to us a spirit of wisdom, revelation and the knowledge of You. Root and ground us in Your love."

I don't want Rachel help, I want Jesus help. I've seen what man can do, I prefer to see what God can do.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Passion, Intensity, Wisdom

Last night, my beloved Buckeyes almost won the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. Texas scored a touch down in the last sixteen seconds.

The Buckeye's played hard. It was a well matched game. I was proud of them. But sometimes it's the extra effort, the passion of players that makes the difference between win or lose.

Football is four quarters. Players have to give their heart and soul for the entire hour of play.

In the 2003 BCS Championship game against Miami, Ohio State was on the verge of scoring when Craig Krenzel threw an interception to Miami safety Sean Taylor. OSU phenom, Maurice Clarett, CHASED HIM DOWN and stripped the ball.

It change the game.

How often do we see players chase down their oppenent after a bad play or turn over. Clarett had a passion. He loved to play. He wanted to win. And when the turnover happened, he didn't give up.

Yet, off the field, Clarett's passion and intensity lacked wisdom. A star college career, possibly professional career was lost because he was full of misguided, uncontrolled passion.

He got in trouble. His ego caused him to listen to the wrong voices. And in the end, all is passion and talent was wasted.

Could a bit of Clarett passion made the difference in last night's game? Maybe.

The apostle Paul writes to us, "Run the race with endurance. Run to the end so as not to lose the prize."

Too often, we lose intensity and passion in life. We stop fighting the things that entangle us. We compromise, make excuses. Even at times, let misguided "wisdom" steer us wrong.

Jesus said in Matt 24, "due to lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold."

Don't know about you, but I don't want my love to grow cold. We have to be passionate, intense, and disciplined. It's a day-to-day commitment.

I grow weary as much as the next person. But I want to live with my eye on the prize. I don't want to get to the fourth quarter and ease up in the last 16 seconds only to find that I've lost.

I've had a few battles in my life. In the '80s, I got hit with out-of-the-blue fear and panic. I fought. I prayed. I used the Word of God to change my emotional chemistry.

It was scary at times. I remember once saying to God, "Look, if this is the life you have for me, go ahead and take me home now cause I can't live like this."

It wasn't an every day, all day battle, but enough to really annoy me. I chose to be passionate, intense and believe God more than fear. His perfect love cast out all fear, John wrote.

I'm happy to report. No fear. God's Word and prayer works. But it's intense and hard and I had to stay steady.

Stay steady. Seek wisdom and grace. Fight the good fight. Play all four quarters!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Starting the New Year off right

Author and friend Brandilyn Collins is living the Word of God this week, being Jesus to a homeless mother and her daughter, women Brandilyn met through her books.

Check out all the cool things that are going on over at Forensics and Faith. There a chance to donate and help out this striving family.

The daughter, 16-yr-old Katy has been blogging out about their ordeal. You an also view some of her fantastic art work.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Happy New Year.

It's a cool blustery day in central, coastal Florida. We were up 'til 2 a.m. watching a movie with our friends Matt and Jodi. Though, I do believe the two "old guys," Tony and me, outlasted the two "young guys." :)

I'm getting over a near brush with bronchitis. Sheesh. Never heard those words before. So, I'm taking it easy today. Tony's napping. Later will be off to Beef O'Brady's for a bit of Rose Bowl watching.

What's up for the new year? Writing. But mostly determined to be about my Father's business, to draw near to the Throne of Grace, to be about Jesus.

Most of the time we worry about external goals - what we eat, how we look, exercise and other disciplines. I call them external because they are ultimately about our own souls and how we appear on the outside.

I want to be changed on the inside. I want to be rooted, ground in the Love of Christ. I want the last seat, in the last row, clear in the back of the auditorium. Humility. He'll be with me. And if He wants me up front, He'll invite me.

What does this look like, feel like? I have no idea, but I am sick of being about me. Blech. I want to be about heaven coming on earth, partnering with Jesus to accomplish the Father's plan.

He'll take care of me. I don't need to worry or strive to elbow my way to the front. I mean, haven't we all tried that in one way or another? If not literally, in our own minds and souls. What was the fruit? Bad. Sour.

I'm not talking about false humility or passiveness or even a ho-hum "whatever God will do, He will do."

I'm the Bride of Christ. I can present myself to Him in confidence. I can ask what He needs, what He wants, I can even present ideas of my own to Him. It's a conversation, a dialog, a relationship.

What marriage works if one spouse sits in a corner waiting to be beckoned by the other? What wife wants to only be summoned "when needed." A-hem.

No, we want to participate. Partner. Be in a two way relationship. It's what Jesus wants from us. Not to say we are equal to Him, but He's invited us to the dance, given us His robes of righteousness to wear. Let's put on the Lord Jesus Christ in confidence and be boldly about the Father's business.

That's what I want in 2009. What will it look like? I have No idea, but I pray my heart and mind is ready.