Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I learned about my faith from a screenwriting book

I'm reading a great writing book, "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder. He's a screenwriter, but shedding some great light on how to craft and formulate a story.

Snyder writes he's "shocked to find out how many up-and-comers can not even quote from movies in their own genre much less movies generally."

Trust me, he writes, all the big guys can. Spielberg and Scorsese can talk about movies in detail, quote from hundreds, and explain how each movie works.

This really struck me. As a writer yes. I can't quote from too many novels. ** blush ** I can quote more from movies than books. Snyder's insight challenges me to be more purpose full with my reading and studying of books.

But even more, I'm struck by the passion of men like Spielberg and Scorsese to know their craft, to let their work and art infuse their lives.

As a Believer, I want this to be my way with my Lord. I don't want to be a casual Christian who can spout a few Sunday school verses, or drop Christianese, or think I'm the one follower of Christ who doesn't need to be in the Word daily.

How many Christians are just like the up-and-coming screenwriters Snyder writes about? They cannot quote from the Bible. They don't understand the complexities and layers of the Word. They think it's for the theologians and happily leave it in their intellectual hands.

I dare say intellectuals have done more harm than good to the pure truth of the Gospel.

We must be the Spielbergs of our faith. We must KNOW Him. And the only way to know HIM is to be with HIM.

Jesus prays to the Father in John 17: 24, "Father, I desire that they also whom You have given Me be with Me where I am..."

We want to be disciples of Christ without being disciplined. We want to claim the salvation of the Cross while living full bore for ourselves. I hear many Believers say they embrace the Cross of Jesus but refuse to embrace their own cross. "Deny yourselves and follow me," Jesus said.

They want a social gospel. One that's easy and doesn't require anything of them but showing up. In Snyder's analogy, they want to write a screenplay their way, ignoring the rules of Hollywood, and expect success.

The screenwriter thinks he has something unique and new. But he doesn't. I see this with authors too. Just like Believers of Christ think in 2011 we have to come up with something new and different to pitch the Gospel to the world without knowing the true Gospel of old. (I'm talking Acts and Revelation, not 1850s)

Snyder writes that the more a screenwriter knows about the old movies, the genres, and what the studios want, the more he learns the craft, the greater chance he has of selling his screenplay.

Hmm.. could it be that the more we know the Word, the more we saturate our lives in prayer, the more we embrace the Cross of Christ in all aspects of our lives, the more chance we have of showing the Gospel to the world.

We don't win them by being like them. We when them by being like Jesus.

My take away is to ask Jesus to increase so I can decrease. I want to be more like Him and waaayyy less like myself.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This Time by Rachel Hauck

Long before the Kindle, the Nook, or the Sony reader. Long before the iPad was a spark in Steve Job's eye, I sold an e-book. I'd written this rancher girl story for Heartsong but they had a book very similar coming out by Kathleen Y'barbo (don't think I've let her forget it) so they turned me down.

Writer's-Exchange was leading the way in those days in epublishing, a small venue from Australia my second favorite country, so I sold them Belle and Burke's story.
With the advent of e-readers, this story is finding a new audience and I thought I'd share it with you. As the used cars sales men say, "It's priced to sell!"

Leave a comment on the blog and I'll draw a name to win a copy of Softly and Tenderly, my book with Sara Evans and a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

Here's what a reader said about This Time:
This story made me feel hope, that all wrongs can be righted and that something you believe is gone forever can come back to you. Belle and Burke are great characters. I recommend this book. It's one of my favorite Rachel Hauck books.

Oklahoma Rancher Belle Jamison's world topples when her best friend announces that Burke Benning, their former classmate and an NFL superstar running back, is coming to their fifteenth class reunion to act as Master of Ceremonies. Twelve years earlier the handsome athlete broke Belle's heart by deserting her minutes before their wedding ceremony.

Burke's retirement from professional football brings him home to Haskell for good. While his new career in life is uncertain, he knows he must deal with his hurtful actions toward Belle. A mountain of unspoken words looms between them and only the grace and peace of God can help them overcome.

Seeing Burke stirs the love and pain Belle still has hidden in her heart. As they rebuild their friendship and rekindle a lost love, Belle must choose to forget and trust him once more. Will their desire for love overcome the devastation of the past? This time, will their love last?

Click here to buy the book.

Be sure to leave a comment for your name to be entered into the drawing! You can comment on any author site you see posting about the book this week!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Journaling, blogging and other drugs

I guess I could say most of my life journaling, or writing a diary, was my "drug." My self therapy, my way of coping.

My first diary was a little red book with a lock and key. I was six. Goodness knows I didn't want my mom snooping among the pages to find out I didn't know how to spell the word "because." Lock that baby UP!

Throughout elementary school and junior high, I kept various forms of diaries. Wrote a few stories. But by 9th grade, journaling became a part of my daily life.

I wrote day my day's events and subsequent emotions nightly. Writing forced me to recognize my own feelings and fears, helped me understand any teen angst I was enduring, or figure out of my heart twitterpations would really lead to love.

The tradition continued until I was married at 31. By age 32, my writing became more spiritual, more prayer and Word oriented. As I matured in my faith and walk with Jesus, I understood more of His Word and journaling became about His insights rather than my own.

And that has to be a good thing!

What I needed all those pining high school and college years was more understanding of Jesus.

In 2002, I discovered Diaryland through a post Deb Raney sent to the ACFW email loop. She wrote that the great and talented Angie Hunt was web logging on her writing process.

So I hopped on over. To be honest, I'm not even sure I got to Angie's post -- oh yeah, she was talking about her taxes -- but I was hooked on writing my own web log.

A few things had to change. Like, I couldn't be quite as honest and raw online as I was off line. I still have all my journals but I might require them to be destroyed upon my death. Or before.

But I loved recording life on Diaryland. I'd just started writing a book that would become my first Heartsong Presents.

In '04, a friend built my first web site off Blogger and I've been here ever since. But here's the crux...

I'm writing more. Much more. I've written 15 novels since '02 when I landed in Diaryland.

I've blogged for Faithchicks. Now I'm intertwined with the lovely southern belles on southernbelleview. I blog there every Thursday, and for My Book Therapy.

By the time I consider my own blog, I'm out of words. Out of energy. Often, out of time. I've considered dropping this blog from my web site. But... I can't quite do it.

There has to be a place to do what I'm doing right now -- thinking out loud. Sharing my heart. My good friend over at girlswriteout, Kristin Billerbeck, also blogs her unique and funny view of the world over on girlygirl. She makes me green with envy at the time and patience she has to chronicle her life and musings.

I feel rather boring. We don't have TV channels so I'm not up to date on the Bachelor or American Idol. Lots of my writer friends blog about those things.

I don't have kids. My sister blogs hilarious stories about her babies (now 17, 15, 7 and 5!)

Awesome-hubs and I are kind of home bodies so I can't blog about my big adventure at the art show or kayaking on the river. I mean I could, but it'd be fiction.

I could blog about the great time we had last night with a half dozen or so folks who came to the house for our "Encounter God" night. We just put on Jesus Culture and worshipped for two hours.

Who needs "drugs" after that?!

What I've realized over time is that journaling or keeping a diary satisfied some deep, inner core need to tell a story. So it was my story. So it doubled as therapy. But putting words to the page reaches to the essence of my soul and makes it go, "Ahh! This is what I was made to do."

If no publisher ever wanted me again, I'd sit in my tower and write blogs. Though I'd rather write fiction any day over real events. I graduated from OSU's J-school but being a reporter never wowed me like being a novelist.

Don't get me wrong. Writing books is hard work. Oy! More than you realize before you start out. It's not enough to be a great writer, you have to be a promoter, a high-concept thinker, and so many other things.

But I do love it. "Ahh, this is what I was made to do."

So I'm blogging today. I've decided to stop feeling guilty that I don't have a bazillion blog followers, or that I don't blog regular, or have some kind of "brand" going on here.

It's just me. Rachel Hauck. My brand is friendship. A little bit of me sharing with a little bit of you. My brand is Jesus. Letting His love shine even in my weakness.

You know, I saw a twitter the other day that sounds sooo good, but in reality for those who follow Jesus, so missed the mark.

"You're stronger than you know."

Truth? We're far weaker than we know BUT Jesus is far stronger than we realize or dare to believe. Our problem is not being strong enough. Our problem is being weak and letting HIM be strong.

Ever see a little kid try to tote something heavy? They are so sure they can do it but the item is too big and bulky, too weighty. You try to help, but the kid says, "I can do it."

Yeah, really? I hope you have steel toed baby Nikes cause that thing is gonna fall and hurt. Despite the kid's best effort, he's not getting the job done.

What we have to learn to discern is the difference of bearing our own load and letting Him bear our burden.

We have to be strong... IN THE LORD, and the strength of His might. We do wayyy too much in our own strength.

Do you want to be strong? Be weak before the Lord. Let Him be your strength.

That's where I am. In everything. Weak before the Lord. If there's a next level, a next place for me, He must do it.

Who needs therapy or drugs when Jesus is in charge? He's the Prince of Peace. Rest in Him.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Forever After by Deb Raney

I'm thrilled to have another good friend and acclaimed author on the site this week!

Please welcome Deborah Raney.

Forever After is the second book in Deborah Raney's Hanover Falls Novels series from Howard/Simon &
Schuster. The first novel in the series, Almost Forever, won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and a
HOLT Medallion Award of Merit.

Synopsis: Lucas Vermontez was a proud firefighter like his father. Now, not only has he lost his father and his best friend, Zach, in the fire at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter, but the devoted rookie can no longer do the work he loves after being crippled in the tragic event.

When friendship with his buddy's beautiful widow turns into more, he wonders what he could possibly offer Jenna. Jenna Morgan is trying to grieve her husband's death like a proper widow, but the truth is, she never really loved Zach.

His death feels more like a relief to her. But that relief is short-lived when she loses her home and the financial support of her in-laws. Now the secrets of her past threaten to destroy her future. Almost Forever, Book 1 in the Hanover Falls Novels series, won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in 2011.

DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom.

Her books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists.

Deb also serves on the Advisory Board of the 2500-member American Christian Fiction Writers. Her 20th novel released this month from Howard/Simon & Schuster.

She and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy tending wildflowers and native grasses in the Kansas prairie garden in their large back yard. They also love traveling together to conferences, and to visit four children and three little grandsons who all live much too far away.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dragons of Chiril by Donita K. Paul

It's an honor to have my good friend Donita Paul stopping by today to tell us about her new novel.

Before DragonSpell, on a different continent and a different time, a young emerlindian’s desperate decision threatens to disrupt the foundation of the world. Tipper has been caring for her family’s estate for years now, ever since her father disappeared, making a living by selling off his famous artwork. Then she learns that three statues she sold were carved from an ancient foundation stone, and the fabric of her reality is crumbling. She must find the three statues and reunite them, positioned exactly in the right form. She must free her father and save the world. But she can’t do it alone. Her ragtag band of adventurers includes Beccaroon, a giant parrot; Bealomondore, an aristocratic young artist; a handsome dragonkeeper prince; the Wizard Fenworth; and the tumanhofer librarian Librettowit. Together they travel through valleys and kingdoms and consort with purveyors of good and agents of evil to find and reunite the missing statues. Will they learn to rely on Wulder’s grace and guidance along the way?

Dragons of the Watch will be the last book in this series. It comes out in October.

From Donita:

"The heroine in the first two books of the Chiril Chronicles is Tipper Schope. In her early twenties, she has been in charge of a massive household for the many years following her father's disappearance. In her mind, she has not done a great job. At the time of the first scene, she has been reduced to selling her noted father's artwork in order to pay the bills. Her home is a deteriorating mansion. They have two servants left from the full staff. Her mother's mental health and stability has broken down. The failure of the mansion has caused hardship among those who depended on her father and this establishment. Tipper feels the weight of all the responsibility.

I see strong women face two types of situations those they chose and those that are thrust upon them. I know a young lady who worked hard to put herself through college to become an RN. She showed tremendous strength and determination to meet her goal, one she had chosen herself. But this same young lady had an abusive parent, an alcoholic spouse, and a relative with a debilitating disease. Obviously these burdens were not ones she chose. With each new obstacle that came her way, she continued on the path she knew God had ordained. And not only that, but she remained a cheerful, optimistic person. As a great mom, she has drilled into her kids, "Attitude is everything."

The character in Dragons of Chiril is also challenged by adversity. Unfortunately, three of the statues she sold to acquire money for expenses, turned out to be the cornerstone of the world she lives in. With the statues separated, the countryside has bizarre eruptions that destroy property and life.

As in real life, with each new challenge, Tipper grows to meet the difficulty. That stretching to do the next thing, the thing we think is just beyond our ability, makes us grow stronger. Tipper's character deepens as she handles what I (the author) throw at her. And she also gains a perspective of herself that eliminates the false guilt. I think false guilt weighs us down more than the reality we face. Tipper does reach a happy ending, but the reader is aware that it is not because the road we travel will not smooth out and be bump-free until we reach Heaven. That's okay. We have the hope!"

For more about Donita and her books, click

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You're Being Followed

A few words from Awesome-hubs:

I love to pray Psalm 23:6 over people.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;” The Hebrew word translated “follow” is very strong, meaning to “chase after”, usually used in the negative, as in a hunter on the trail of prey.

God’s goodness and favor pursue us relentlessly. We don’t have to get God interested in us. We just have to accept Him as He is, and probably quit doing the hundreds of things we do to hide from His relentless love.

Why not let His goodness overtake you today?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Meet Me In St. Louis

Meet me in St. Louie, Louie, meet me at the Conference!

It's fabulous!
You should come! Really!

St. Louis is a grand city! They have an arch in plain view from the hotel.

The hotel has cool carpet.

I'll be there!

Listen, I know what it's like to feel lost, alone, stupid, clumsy, and like an outsider at a conference. In 2002, I attended the first ACFW conference and I felt completely on the outside. I left saying I'd never go to another conference again.

Ha! I was the Vice President of ACFW and conference coordinator two weeks later and heading the charge to Houston 2003.

But 11 years later, I still have moments when I feel like the third wheel, or the unwanted step child. I think my agent or my editor doesn't want to talk to me. Or, that my friends are busy with other friends. I lose a contest. No one likes the worship songs I picked.
(Here I am with the fab Diann Hunt, Kristin Billerbeck and Colleen Coble!)

It's always something. But really? It's nothing! The conference is worth all those momentary feelings of "being left out."

Look, if I can feel left out -- an advisor, teacher, mentor, worship leader, published author who's attended every ACFW conference -- then surely you can brave a moment or two of feeling the same. Right?

I tell you all of this to let you know you're not alone. Come to the conference. I can guarantee you there will be folks to love on you, put an arm around you, pray with you. At the very least, you come to the worship sets and connect with the One who loves you more than His own life and get your attitude and perspective straightened.
(with Cheryl Hodde of Hannah Alexander!)
Chin up now. Attitude toward the Lord. Hearts open to give and receive. Here's what you will get from the conference:

1. Excellent teaching.
2. Excellent accommodations.
3. Sparkling and inspiring keynote address.
4. Worship with 500 brothers and sisters in Christ.
5. St. Louis! Me me there!
6. My Book Therapy Pizza Party.
7. Connecting with old and new friends.
8. Meeting editors and agents, those who can help guild you along your publishing journey.
9. Four of the most frenetic days you'll be glad to go home to the hubby/wife, wild banshee kids and barking dogs. Two days later you'll miss the conference so bad you'll ache!
10. Investing in your dream to be a published author is the first right step you'll take!

I'm glad the Lord had other things in mind for me than quitting the conference in 2002. What joy I would've missed if I'd let my fears keep me back.

In all my conference years, I didn't know what I'm doing half the time. I botched more editor and agent appointments than I care to consider. I missed workshops. I offended people. I got offended. Come on, we're people.

But I go every year with the core value: to love others and seek to esteem them higher than myself. With that as my main goal, the conference becomes easy. It's not about me! Sigh of relief.

Surely you can join me with the same high calling? Let the Lord see to our careers, our writing destination. He's good at handling those things.

Conference is too easy to get discouraged if our eyes are on ourselves. Someone else seems to be so favored while you feel like a log of knotted pine.

At one conference, I'll never forget the reaction of one author when her editor appointment produced the words, "your work is incredible."

I can still see the author smiling from ear to ear, bouncing around, celebrating with her friends. The rest of the conferencees were whispering, wondering. Lucky girl. She scored.

Yeah, I was a bit green. But I put my head down, focused on myself and got to work doing what the Lord had given me to do.

Do you know that author's career has yet to land a major house book deal? I know... hard to believe.

You just never know! Don't judge. Don't think you're a loser before you even get started! Don't think that one over there will get a book deal or favor and not you.

Yet, rejoice with those who do and wait for God's perfect timing for you. Do you know I met the lovely, gracious and talented Susan May Warren at the 2002 Conference.

She was Miss Thing that year having just signed with Tyndale. Her star was rising. I never thought she'd be friends with me. But guess what? Conference after conference we became friends. We served on ACFW board together. We found a kindred heart. She's been instrumental in my writing career. All because I accepted the invitation to put my insecurity and fears behind me.

So, how should you prepare for the conference?

1. Adopt my core value: Esteem others above yourself. Think the best of every one. Forgive easy. Don't be offended. Be humble! Jesus loves humility!
2. Prepare as best you can. Get your pitch ready. Study the craft. Editor your story. Get that hook set so you can converse with an editor or agent about your work.
3. Adopt a casual professional look. Don't spend a bunch of money you don't have, but go through your wardrobe and figure out what looks good on you. It doesn't have to be the latest styles, but try too look as professional as possible.
4. Pray, pray, pray.
5. Reach out to others before hand. It helps break the ice the first day. ;)

Can't wait to see you in St. Louis.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Eternal Bank Account

It's so easy to live in the moment. Forgetting the future and living for the present. It's why saving money is so hard. Do you save for a rainy day or buy that new iPhone or new car?

Hmm... if you're like me, you're going for the iPhone.

A friend of mine saves money it itty-bitty increments. She amazes me. About twelve years ago she decided to start saving for her daughters wedding. Five dollars a pay check. Five dollars!

I nearly scoffed. What can you do with five dollars a pay check? Ten dollars a month? One hundred and twenty dollars a year. If she gets married with in the next five years, my friend wouldn't even have a thousand dollars.

Well, she saved her five dollars. The daughter isn't married, yet, and my friend added some money to the savings plan and has set aside almost four thousand dollars.

I'm impressed. But what endurance and discipline. I tell you, she guards that money too. She will have it for her daughter when the time comes.

Some find a quarter and think, "Three more and I have a dollar."

I find a quarter and think, "What can I get with twenty-five cents?"

We are all wired differently. Some save. Some spend.

Our recent home buying and selling ventured started with a set of savers. They owned their house out right and even though they purchased the home at the peek of the market, they were still able to be extravagant when they sold the house to us.

They weren't in debt to anyone so they didn't have to sell at a certain price. They weren't greedy feeling like they had to get "some" of the original price back. No. They felt free to give generously.

Because of their generosity, we were able to forgive a debt owed to us.

As I meditated on the chain of events one afternoon, I wondered how and if God would "reward" our friends in this life or the next. Or if He'd smile in some way on our debt forgiveness.

Oy! It's so like us to think "what's in this for me?"

And it hit me: let this roll-over into my eternal bank account. Look, God will not forget to reward His beloved. No good deed will go unnoticed. Jesus said if you so much as give a cup of cold water it will be remembered!

If we stay in the temporal, the now, we forget there's a life to come. If we demand honor, recompense, reward for all our deeds what will we have in the next life? What will we have to throw at Jesus's feet?

It's like, if we spend our twenty-five cents now, then will we ever have a dollar to get what we need or want?

It's time to consider what's in our eternal bank account. Remember now, God is one who doesn't mind saving a dollar one penny at a time. He LOVES to bless us. So, it's not like you have to preach to stadiums or raise the dead to deposit something into your eternal bank account.

The Lord also rewards us in this life. He understands we need reward. I've actually been talking to Him about reward. I should see the fruit of my labor, you know?

But I also am mindful of my eternal account. I want to reap more in the life to come than in this life. Why? Because this life is fraught with sin and deceit. With sin and selfishness.

When Jesus comes to reign on the earth, He'll deal with sin and injustice. I want to be dealt my reward then! When He's setting things straight.

I don't know what all is to come or how it will look. But if Paul's glimpses into the future are any indication -- eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love Him -- then I want a piece of that pie!

What about you? Are you sending somethings ahead? What you do with your time, words and money? Invest eternally!