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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Transition: The Synopsis

Your novel is complete. The submission guidelines state: E-mail your first chapter and synopsis to Ima.Agent@gatekeeper.com. Will your synopsis capture Ms. Agent’s attention?

Your synopsis can sing–if you tune it. Don’t get trapped in these pitfalls:

Euphoria
A completed manuscript is squee-worthy. You’ve savored your celebratory bonbon(s) and posted your social media updates. Fact is, you’ve only advanced from the creation stage to the pitching stage. Think of it this way: You’re having a baby. The story is your gestation period, but the synopsis is labor. Grab a towel. It’s going to be messy.

Myopia
My first chapter is so gripping, there’s no way Ima Agent won’t request a full.
Right.

Pride
I’m a writer. A synopsis is no biggie.
Condensing your entire novel into a few pages is difficult. An agent discovers your ability to stun and summarize in the synopsis. Can you afford to neglect it?

Take advantage of these resources to write a killer synopsis:

Chuck Sambuchino’s Synopsis Writing: Synopsis Writing

Tamela Hancock Murray’s Keys to a Great Synopsis: Great Synopsis

Camy Tang’s Structure/Synopsis Worksheet: Story Sensei

~ Jericha Kingston

PHOTO CREDIT: Morguefile

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Jericha Kingston, Writing

 

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Grace for your Friends

graceYou know that friend, the one you know everything about? The one who has the same problems for weeks, months, years on end and never does anything about them? Yeah, that one. My best friend has a friend like that: me. Here’s a snippet of a conversation you might overhear if you eavesdrop on our lunch conversation:

Friend: How’s your writing going?

Me: Ugh. Haven’t written a word in months. What I really need to do is start my writing first thing every day, and do everything else after that. I need to make it a priority.

Friend: Yeah, that would probably work.

Six months later:

Friend: How’s your writing going?

Me: Ugh. Haven’t written a word in almost a year. What I really need to do . . .

It’s like an endless loop of stupidity! And it’s not just me. Here’s a conversation where my friend perches (she never sits—no time) on the hot seat.

Friend: I’m so busy, I didn’t have time to eat yesterday. I’ve gotten myself involved in too many projects, and I have no idea how I’ll ever finish—[Phone rings. She answers.] President of the club? Run the meetings? Teach a couple more classes? Sure, I’d love to. [Hangs up the phone.] Where was I?

I admit it. Sometimes, I want to roll my eyes. And I’m sure she stifled an eye roll or two herself. My best friend and I have been having conversations like the ones above for years. The problems change, but the way we handle them doesn’t, not much. So why do we put up with each other?

Well, the best thing about friends is that we know them so well. We know their good qualities and their bad, their hopes and their fears, the loves and their hates.

And the worst thing about friends—we know them so well: the good, the bad…the hopes and fears…the loves and hates. Yeah, that’s the thing. And sometimes, their issues can get old. I know sometimes I get tired of hearing myself whining about the same things. How must my friend feel?

So what do we do when our friends drive us crazy, do things we can tell from a mile away are aren’t going to work, and then do those same things, over and over again? We could drop them—plenty of people make that choice, and sometimes, it’s the right choice. But sometimes, when people are stuck in a difficult loop, when those friends need friends more than ever, we should remember that we have issues of our own, and we should offer our friends grace.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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Snot and Sin

Pegg10The capability of the human body to store vast amounts of disgusting material is amazing. You know this is true if you’ve ever dealt with a sinus infection or prepped for a colonoscopy. These things are not for the faint of heart!

I recently suffered three weeks under the mother-of-all sinus infections. It finally broke up amid hot compresses, antibiotics the size of suppositories, and enough hot tea to hose down a fleet of UPS trucks. As the bacteria withered beneath this onslaught, I began to blow snot like rodeo bull. I found the storage capacity of my sinus cavities alarming. If industrial strength Kleenex were on the market, I would have bought a case.

Another disgusting material our bodies harbor isn’t as readily visible, yet sin permeates the very fabric of our being. It fills cavities within us against our will. No hot compress will ease its pressure. No antibiotic will kill it off. No hot tea will wash it away. No amount of Kleenex will wipe it up. The only cure for sin is Jesus Christ and His cleansing blood.

I can mop up the results of one sneeze and stay clean until the next snot-rocketing blow, but this only works until the Kleenex runs out. Thankfully, Christ’s love and forgiveness never run out! When sin blows through our spiritual Kleenex, Christ is there to wipe us clean when we repent and ask His forgiveness. Dealing with our sin without Christ is like mopping up after a sinus infection without Kleenex – only messier.

~ Pegg Thomas

image courtesy of http://www.everystockphoto.com/

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Humor, Pegg Thomas

 

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Coffee, Anyone?

Marge10I’m known for being a little absentminded, and even more so when I’m tired. My cure for everything is to drink coffee, and I like it with a lot of cream—the powdered stuff, to be precise—to the point that my coffee has been mistaken for milk. Several years ago, when my youngest daughter was still a baby, I poured myself a cup of coffee after a sleepless night, confident it would start my day in the right direction. One sip and I knew something was terribly wrong. My coffee didn’t taste anything like coffee. I thought perhaps my creamer had gone bad, so I opened the cupboard again to check. Two cans stood side by side. One held my creamer, the other, baby formula.

I’m happy to say I haven’t had any formula since then, but all too often, I find myself stirring things into my life that don’t belong. Worry, gossip, an unforgiving attitude. Oh, the list is long. And all those things leave me with a bad taste afterward. It’s only when I reach for the can labeled “God’s strength” that my cup is filled with sweet peace.

What are you putting in your coffee?

~ Marge Wiebe

photo courtesy of morguefile.com

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Humor, Marge Wiebe

 

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Acceptable Speech

I’ve recently connected with a distant cousin. Extremely distant. We share a direct ancestor who fought in the civil war. My cousin descended from our ancestor’s son and I descended from our ancestor’s daughter. My cousin is from D.C. and I’m from Georgia. Today we conversed, and he asked me a question. My response? “Yes, sir.” He replied, “Please, call me Stan.”

The conversation quickly went south.

Southerners use the term sir more frequently than we drink sweet iced tea. The rule is, every male is a sir. Every female is a ma’am. Today I found out how engraved this rule is in my brain. I called Stan sir three more times in that phone call. Though he graciously overlooked it, my words could have become offensive.

We’re all guilty of offending someone. Conversely, we’ve all been offended. The solution to offense is to humble ourselves, pray, and ask the Lord to guard our hearts and direct our speech.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” ~ Psalm 19:14

~ Jericha Kingston

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in devotion, Jericha Kingston

 

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Grace for the Church

graceYou know that woman, the one at church who serves on every committee and attends ladies bible studies faithfully? The one who, with just the quirk of an eyebrow, will dish up the latest gossip faster than her own delicious apple pie. And what about that man, the deacon who never misses a Sunday, who serves as an usher—and cheats on his taxes. What about that teenager, the one who lifts his hands during worship, whom you saw in a not-so-innocent embrace with his girlfriend. You know the kinds of people I’m talking about. The church is filled with them. And we have words for them, don’t we? Gossip. Cheater. Immoral. Hypocrite.

I have another word I’d like to suggest for those people: Human.

Today, we’re going to talk about grace for the church. Not just your own small community of believers, but the church as a whole, the followers of Jesus Christ who are saved, redeemed, justified, and reconciled, but who still have the unmitigated gall to sin, anyway.

Why do we do it, we believers who should know better? I’d like to suggest just a few reasons. Maybe those folks are:

Immature: Not all believers are mature in Christ. 1 Peter 2:2. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” The idea that we need to grow up into salvation tell us that some of us have done more growing up than others. Some newborn believers have recently come to the faith. Others might have been Christians a long time, but for whatever reason have not craved that pure spiritual milk, and so have not matured as quickly. As babies, believers can still hold on to addictions from their previous lives. They can be selfish, ungrateful, and angry. They can also be judgmental and foolish. But do you judge your infant for not eating solid food? Do you look at your two-year-old and say, “Act your age”? If you did, she might just respond with a chubby-cheeked, “I am.” Babies are babies and need to be loved, nourished, and protected. The same is true for spiritual babies who don’t yet understand the things you do. They need help, not judgment. They need grace.

Experiencing a moment of weakness: God called David a man after His own heart, and yet David fell into grievous sin when he brought Bathsheba into the palace. Nathan confronted him, and rightly so, and God took the child who was the product of that sin. You may be called to be the Nathan to someone, in which case, I recommend you study Matthew 18:15-17, which will counsel you as to how to confront that person in his sin. If you are not called to be the prophet in that person’s life, then pray for him and offer him grace.

Walking through a time of testing: I went through a period of depression a few years ago that was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I questioned my faith, my salvation, and my worth. I avoided church like a sick child who closes his mouth to the very medicine that would heal him. My thoughts were always turned inward, examining and finding myself wanting. I didn’t serve—didn’t feel I had anything to offer. To the outsider, I was self-absorbed and aloof. And yet, I was struggling like I’d never struggled before. People who are struggling with their faith often sin, and they need support and prayers, not judgment. They need grace.

Not saved: Matthew 7 tells us that there will be people who, when they face Christ at the end of their lives, will be surprised when Jesus turns away with the words, “I never knew you.” I wonder how many people sitting on the pew with me are in that crowd. How many of those people do I silently judge, wondering why they don’t behave better? Fact is, unbelievers can’t behave better. They don’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide their actions. It’s hard enough for Christians to stop sinning; it’s impossible for the lost. Do they need your judgment? If you’re not sure about this one, check out my last post, Grace for the Lost. The lost are not saved by haughty looks and turned up noses. They are saved when people look past their sins and tell them about Christ. They are saved when someone extends them grace.

Yes, you will encounter sinners at church, people who have not yet learned the lessons you’ve learned, and people who have forgotten what they used to know. Teach them, guide then, pray for them, and love them. If you feel led to, gently point out the truth in response to their behavior. Keep in mind that, though you may feel strong right now, there will come a day when you will be the one going through the time of testing or the moment of weakness. It’s possible that you, too, have some maturing to do. So give your fellow believers a break. Like God does for you, offer them grace.

~Robin Patchen

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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The End

Pegg11I wrote “the end.”

I finished my book.

It’s done.

I should be stretched out in my favorite chair with a book in one hand and a coffee cup in the other. Maybe a little bowl of Hershey Kisses nearby. The cat on my lap. My husband rubbing my feet.

You get the idea.

But I’m not.

I’m feverishly digging into the next book. No rest for the weary. Why? Because―I’m not weary. Instead―I’m pumped! Almost before the last ‘d’ hit the screen, I was plotting and planning the second book in this series.

Crazy. Cool. Writer.

~ Pegg Thomas

image from morguefile.com

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Pegg Thomas

 

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