Monday, April 30, 2012


"The central narrator is always, as the term implies, at the center of the action..."
(Burroway & Stuckey-French, 2007, p. 301)


I sat down one night not too long ago and read my Work-in-Progress (WIP) because I had been typing and typing but not really reading it as a whole. 

When I finished, I realized the action was there, but because it was past tense, it seemed so long ago. I knew something had to change if I wanted my reader to be caught up in the action.

I knew what had to be changed was the point-of-view. 

First Person

Changing the WIP from third person past to first person past wasn't so hard. But changing it from first person past to first person present was another thing. 

I had to become my character. I had to create her voice in the immediate. I had to picture her reactions and hear her thoughts as the action happened to her. 

It was a challenge....but it also was fun!

I must admit that when I first starting reading The Hunger Games, I found the first person present to be distracting. It had been awhile since I had read that tense before and it took some getting used to. 

But what really made me decide to switch to first person present was when I read The Help

Switch it Up

What drew me into The Help was the shifting point-of-view of the characters. I loved it because I had seen the movie so I could almost see the characters as they spoke. Because the shift from one character to the next, I felt the story move along faster and the action seemed more immediate.


That was exactly what I needed for my book, The Warfare Club

"A story is told in the first person when one of its characters relates the story's actions and events..." -Writing Fiction, p. 300.

Now my story moves along at a faster pace because the action is immediate and it is happening to the main character from the start. There are limitations, but I find them to be minimal. 

I can create her voice then switch to another character and create her voice on  down the line. Now my readers can relate to the characters as they encounter these obstacles. 

This is so exciting for me now! 

I didn't want this story to be about someone else. I didn't want the story to be about an event that happened long ago. 

I wanted it to seem as though a person is telling you their story as it is happening to them because it is that interesting. I want my readers to follow along through the challenges and obstacles and see how the character changes. 

Now I have a set formula for this seven book series. Sometimes the narrator will be the main character and other times it may be a peripheral character. It's up to me to decide.

That's what makes writing fun!

Your turn: What point-of-view did you choose for your story and why? Have you ever tried first person present? 


Friday, April 27, 2012

The Real Secret Service Scandal

Human trafficking is now the fastest growing criminal industry worldwide.

The Real Scandal

So our President doesn't want to talk much about the Secret Service Scandal. Instead he wants to talk about lowering the interest rate on school loans.

But no matter how many times President Obama asks us to look the other way, the scandal continues to get worse as we discover that Secret Service Agents have been indulging in prostitution for many years.

What makes this even worse is that the prostitutes were probably victims of human trafficking.

The Real Issue

What does this have to do with me? you might ask.

Well, the fact remains that 80% of victims are women and 50% are children.

Many U.S. teens are coerced into prostitution. Many U.S. teens prostitute themselves out to earn money for clothing, drugs, or alcohol.

Many U.S. teens are kidnapped and taken to other countries to use as sex slaves.

According to the Human Trafficking Awareness Coalition, thousands of sex trafficking victims were sent to the United States during the Super Bowl week for those looking for sexual entertainment.

The majority of these victims are under the age of 18.

The Real Facts

Now that the scandal has spread to El Salvador, it is probably true that the prostitutes the U.S. Secret Service agents had sex with came from sex trafficking connections.

"Given our policies designed to help governments prevent sex trafficking, it's not in keeping with the behavior that we want to advocate and display ourselves," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, said recently.

Given all this information, I wonder when the President will address these issues. I wonder when he will speak out against human trafficking. I wonder when he will get outraged. I wonder.

Probably right after he's finished campaigning on the Jimmy Fallon show.

But the sad truth remains. Many young men and women all over the world are abducted into human trafficking and are enslaved. Experts put the number at 27 million. Many are enslaved in sex trafficking rings. Many die while in this bondage.

The more this scandal is hidden in the media...the more these human trafficking monsters get away with this heinous crime.

Keep it in the media. Pass it on...


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


"...the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."  John 10:3

We had the honor of attending a great conference on parenting teens by author and speaker Jeff Schadt. I'd like to share some insights we learned....

Lead from the Front


Someone who guides and leads others by telling them what to do.

To show the way to others, usually by going ahead of them.

So many voices are trying to lead our teens today. 

The world trains our teens to "act" like someone else. To please people.

Think about it.

What toys did you play with as a child?

baby little girls can act like mommies
Barbie little girls can act like women

Tonka boys can act like construction workers boys can act like soldiers boys can act like firefighters

Then the world trains our teens to "act" like adults:

TV... Movies... Music... Magazines...

How old do you think this model is?  15 years old.....

We see young girls on VH1 or MTV acting like grown women. Some women even dress their 3 yr old girls like adult women to win a beauty pagent. 

We tell our kids to "act" a certain way.

Be this tall
Be this thin
Be this beautiful
Be this talented
Have this hair
Wear this product
Have clear skin
Drive this car
Eat this food
Listen to this music
Watch this show

...and churches aren't any better. We tell our teens to:

Be perfect
Don't sin
No sex
No fun
No drinking
No secular music
Always be positive
Always be happy
Always be in a good mood
Learn your Bible
Share your faith
Make friends
Don't be in the world
Don't gossip
Never fail
Never sin
Always smile
Always pray
Go to church
Go to youth group
Be righteous
Be devoted to God
Have all the right answers
Get along with everyone

....and most important:  Just be yourself!


Is it any wonder our teens are petrified of failure? When they fall, they have so much fear that we will know their secret:

They aren't perfect after all.

A Safe Place

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."  1 John 4:18

Our job is to train our teens to please God.

We are to prepare our kids for when they fall....not if they fall, but when

You and I fell. And you and I are forgiven.

We must prepare our teens for the world they face. No, we cannot always be there to prevent the hurts and failures, but we can be there to listen and be that safe place for them to fall.

As our kids get older, our roles change. 

We go from having total little control. 

We go from having that controlling having that mentoring voice that guides and advises and prepares our teens for life in this world.


The Bible is full of failures. Men and women who fell.

But that's the good news! God used failures to change the world. God used failures to show us His love and mercy in that while we were yet sinners....Christ died for us!

God uses us despite our failures. Jesus showed His disciples how to please God. He rose early to pray...He didn't command His disciples to rise early to pray. No. 

He showed them. He led from the front. Then His disciples came to Him and asked Him to teach them to pray.

That's leadership.

So when your teen fails, focus on your teen's response rather than the failure. Did he repent? Did she confess? Praise God! 

That means the Holy Spirit is at work in them. 

Failure provides an opportunity for YOU to lead from the front. 

Council them
Disciple them
Serve them
Pray for them
Instruct them
Help them

Set your role in your teen's life as that mentor and guide. 

If you don't do this...some other person will. And you may not like who that person is!


The Lord has provided us with an awesome opportunity to influence our kids. But we only have the opportunity for a short window of time.

Take time today to be that person of influence in your son or daughter's life. 

Shepherd them through their successes and failures.

Be that person of influence in your teen's life. Today. Before they are gone....


Monday, April 23, 2012

The Power of the Antagonist

"The antagonist must represent a real and potent danger..."
(Burroway and Stuckey-French, 2007, p. 265)

The Villain Takes it All

Ok, I've been reading more about writing about the villain vs. the main character.

When writing fiction, we are told to make sure our antagonist is interesting, powerful, and intelligent otherwise our reader may lose interest or not care about what happens to the protagonist.

I have always found that the best scary movies or super hero movies are only as good as the villain in the story.

Weak villain = weak story.

Take The Dark Knight, for instance. Many people were concerned that actor Heath Ledger could not play the Joker in a way that would be believable.

Boy were they wrong!

Heath Ledger's Joker made the film a huge success because not only was his villain mean, evil, and creepy. But his character was funny, interesting, intelligent, and captivating. 

That's what made the movie so great.

Now, in my new YA series, The Warfare Club, my main overall antagonist is pretty much Satan himself. However, within each book in the 7 book series, there will be a different antagonist each time. And there will also be one antagonist who will appear pretty much in each book as well. 

So, it is my job as the author to make sure these antagonists are mean, evil, and intelligent...but also interesting and captivating. 

Not too much pressure!

The Power of It All

But the Power Struggle is what makes a story great. 

How Batman struggled with the Joker is what kept the audience interested in the outcome of the story. The Joker's power wasn't brute strength either. His power was his unpredictability. The mayor and police chief had no idea how the Joker would strike next. 

Your villain may have intelligence, charm, wealth, or impressive rank instead of brute strength. And that's what makes him/her fascinating to the reader. Hannibal Lecter wasn't a great villain because of his strength. He was a great villain because of his intelligence, unpredictability, charm, and creepiness. He was a great villain for many reasons!

The power must shift between the protagonist and the antagonist. Why? To keep the readers interested in what will happen to the main character. 

If the main character has the power at all time, how interesting and mysterious is that for the reader? There must always be a struggle for power and control in the story because that's how it is in real life. 

We are always trying to regain control over our lives and sometimes we win and sometimes we are caught by surprise. 

Oh Enemy, My Enemy

But the villain of the story isn't always a person. The villain might be a circumstance. I have never read any of the Twilight books, but have been told that there is no one antagonist in the series, but that the circumstance of the lovers is what prevents them from being together. Their circumstance has the power over them. 

Perhaps in your story, the circumstance is the antagonist. Or maybe its the weather, a car, a dog, a house, a town, or a planet.

The point is, no matter who or what your villain is, there must be that power struggle.

Be creative with your villain. Grab the reader early on and draw them in with your antagonist. Give your antagonist the power over your main character from time to time then switch it up. It isn't easy for me to accomplish this. I sometimes have to stop and even act out how my villain walks and talks. Since I am writing about demons, I have to try and create their voices and language as well as their appearance. I am finding that creating my enemy isn't as easy as it seems. But I know that the power must shift from the enemy to the protagonist or I'll have a lop-sided story!

That shift in power is what will keep your audience intrigued. The characterization of your antagonist is what will make your story strong. And that's what makes writing so challenging!

But most importantly....just write!

Your turn: How do you create your antagonist? Has it been difficult for you to create that power struggle?



Friday, April 20, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Fear of Failure

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of
power and love and a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

The Fear of Failure. I've read that statistically, most people fear public speaking more than anything else. But I beg to differ.

I believe people fear failure the most.

I know for me, I allowed failure to hold me down for too many years. I can look back now and see how many years were wasted because of my fear.

A friend posted the 2008 commencement speech given by J.K. Rowling titled "The Fringe Benefits of Failure" on Facebook. As I watched the video, I couldn't help but think about my own failures and how they eventually led to my personal growth.

I was paralyzed by my failure. I had allowed it to keep me from moving forward. What was that failure?

When I started college back in 1985, it didn't take me long to realize how miserable I was. I wanted to attend the university  up north, but they didn't give me a scholarship and this local college did. So, I went. And I hated it right from the beginning.

My father had to pay for most of my tuition not covered by my scholarship. But I abused that privilege and started to fail classes for the first time in my life. Usually, I was an A student, now I was making C's and D's even in my art classes.

So, my dad stopped paying for my college. I had to quit school, get a full time job, and a few months later I was married. Soon all my high school friends were graduating from college...but I wasn't.

I felt like a failure.


Years later, when I talked to my favorite Aunt about what happened, she asked me why I don't just go back to school. I gave her every excuse in the world, but she kept encouraging me to go back. One thing she said I would never forget: "You'll have your degree and that's one thing they can never take away from you." God used my Aunt to kick me out of that groove!

I felt that fire burn within me and early that next year, I went back to school. It was hard, the money was tight, I had to work a part time job as a janitor scrubbing floors and toilets to pay for gas and supplies, but with my family's help and the Lord's willingness, I did it.

Oh, there were many times I wanted to quit and almost did, but God put teachers in my path who inspired me to keep on going. For me, success equals completion. And I didn't have that yet. So, that's what motivated me to keep going!

Now, I not only have my B.A. in Visual Arts, but I also have my Masters in Education.

And many doors have opened for me as a result.

I had to hit rock bottom, as J.K. Rowling put it in her speech, but from down there I looked up and saw the way out. The Lord moved me forward and I never looked back.

So, failure can be that catalyst to push you forward through the miry pit or it can paralyze you and keep you from going anywhere.

I advise you get over that fear of failure...move forward...and complete that goal!  Life is too short to stay in that miry pit.

Get moving! Get success! And tell others your story....


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Matter of Time...

Fictional Time

While reading "Writing Fiction" by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French, I came upon the chapter about writing fictional time.

This really clicked with me because I recently rewrote my story and started it right in the middle of the action.

"Checkov advised his fellow writers to tear the story in half and begin in the middle..."- Writing Fiction (p.226)

And that's what I did!

Hook 'Em

I changed my approach because I wanted to hook my readers into the story as soon as possible. My story is YA Fiction and most readers in this target audience do not want paragraphs of detailed narrative right at the beginning.


They want action...immediately!

YA Fiction is immediate. Most adult fiction is considered nostalgic in that the reader spends most of the time in flashbacks or reading how the main character remembers.

However, in YA Fiction, the target audience lives in the immediate and wants the immediate.

So, I had to change my approach and set my reader right in the middle of the action in the first paragraph.

It's not an easy task for me usually, but with this story is made more sense.

That first scene provides your reader with the point-of-view, the establishment of the world they will be in, and the reality of that world you've created.

That's what's so fun about writing!

Concluding it All

Now, just because you may have an incredible beginning...full of action and intrigue....doesn't always mean you'll have an incredible ending.

Sometimes writers struggle with that crisis moment at the end.

 I know I do.

I struggle with visualizing that big confrontation scene that must happen between my protagonist and antagonist. I worked all weekend trying to write it out as a scene.

I finally finished the crisis moment, but that final climax really stumped me. I had to take a few moments and visualize it.

Burroway and Stuckey-French even write about acting the scene out if it helps you! I suppose I could.

But I was able to get the scene down and will review it for clarity later.

Failure to include these climactic scenes will result in an unsatisfying ending and leave your reader disappointed. And a disappointed reader will not want to pick up your next book!

"Just as in a poem, the first lines has a lot to do with the last line, even though you didn't know it was going to be."  - Doris Betts

A Matter of Time

So give yourself permission to start your story with action or start it right in the middle and hook readers in with that first line.

Then, really visualize that crisis moment that leads to your final climactic ending. Tie it into that intriguing first line you gave the reader up front.

Try it and see what happens!

Your turn: How does your story hook in the reader? How do you keep them reading to discover what happens next? 


Friday, April 13, 2012

The Working Mother

I find it hilarious when Liberals give the public a glimpse of who they really are right on cable television! Oops!

The Working Mother

What Ms. Rosen fails to realize is that ALL mothers are working mothers whether they work inside the home, outside the home, or both.

ALL mothers are working mothers.

What our Dear Leader, Mr. Obama, fails to realize when he said he and his wife didn't have the "luxury" for her to stay home, is that many couples do not enter lightly when making the decision for the mom to stay home with the kids. Most do not consider it a luxury, but more of a sacrifice.


In 2008, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was excoriated by the Liberals for not being a stay-at-home mom of five kids. She was belittled for, *gasp*, having a professional career outside the home!

Flash forward to 2012. Now Ann Romney, wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney,  is excoriated by the Liberals for being a stay-at-home mom of five kids.


Can you see why people are getting dizzy with all this?

All we ask for is a little consistency!  But Ms. Rosen took off her mask for a bit and gave the general public a glimpse of the Liberal. She showed us how they all think and what they all think.

A Privilege...a Blessing

I thank God I had the chance to stay home with our son. I was able to attend every class party, field trip (until he told me I couldn't go anymore...7th grade, I think it was), and drive him to and from school most everyday for nine years.

Money was tight, but it was well worth it. I have all those memories to cherish! Memories of picking him up at the bus stop and walking him home. Memories of Christmas concerts and Valentine's Day parties. Class pictures. Being there when the nurse called to say he was sick. Playing "Alien Spaceship" or "Pokemon" battles with him in the living room day after day after day. Sigh.

Going without life's luxuries was well worth it. I would gladly do it again.

So, hats off to all you stay-at-home moms who deal with the everyday issues of grocery shopping, coupon cutting, meal planning, illnesses, lesson plans, carpooling, play dates, etc.

And hats off to all you moms who work outside the home and all the issues you deal with too. I know, I've been in BOTH situations and it isn't easy.

Being a mom is WORK!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Power of Prayer

One of the best books I have ever read was The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.

This book was recommended to me by my mentor when my husband and I were having some marital problems. We had been married almost fifteen years and had hit rock bottom.

How do I know we hit rock bottom? We had a HUGE argument in front of our young son and he took it upon himself to stop us by reminding us that we were a family. 


I don't ever want to go through that dark time again. Ever.

Praying for Your Husband

So, when I started reading this book, my heart was full of resentment. I truly did NOT want to pray for my husband. I was angry at him and I knew he wasn't praying for me. 

But I also didn't want to divorce, so I sat on a picnic bench during my lunch hour and started reading. In the pages, Omartian seemed to be speaking to me. She wrote about how easy it is to pray for your children, but a husband is different. He can hurt your feelings, be inconsiderate, uncaring, or negligent. 

Amen, sister! I thought. And I put the book down and didn't go any further. 

Later, I heard her on the radio talking about her book. In the interview, she said, "Imagine a friend calling you to pray for her son. How many of you would say no? Now imagine God Himself asking you to pray for his child—your husband—and you refuse!"

Boy, when I heard her say that, my heart broke. 

At that time in our marriage, my husband probably had no one praying for him. Neither of his parents were saved and now his own wife was refusing to pray for him. Can you imagine walking through this life with no one praying for you? I saw my husband for the first time as a child of God alone in the world trying to do the best that he could. 

I cried and asked God to forgive me. Then, I picked up the book and started reading.

The POWER of Prayer

I prayed like I had never prayed before. I was specific in my prayers. 

Omartian goes through a list for wives to cover:

His Finances
His Work
His Sexuality
His Health
His Affection
His Temptations
His Fears
His Choices
His Mind
His Health
His Spiritual walk

I prayed every morning for my husband. I poured out all my concerns to the Lord. You see, we had been foolish with our money and had many financial problems. At fifteen years of marriage we had to sell our house, pay off debt, and live in an apartment. I never pictured myself in that position after fifteen years. 

I blamed my husband, of course. But as I began to pray, my heart began to heal. My heart began to go from stone to flesh again. 

Omartian uses scripture throughout and teaches a wife how to pray scripture over her husband. 

I learned that nothing brings a wife more comfort than praying God's word over her husband and her children.


And now, nine years later, my husband and I are happier and have more joy and peace than ever before. I truly believe it is because we both pray for each other regularly and the Lord honors our prayers. 

Now, I love looking back at those times in our marriage even though they were bad years. I enjoy looking back because I can see how God worked in our lives. He had to take some things away from us to get us to stop and really look at each other. Then, He began to give back to us tenfold.

Not only did I see my husband transform into the man I dreamed about, but I saw him become the father our son needs. My son is so blessed to have such a wonderful father. 

Most importantly, I saw the Lord change me into the woman, wife, and mother I am supposed to be.

It was a painful transformation, but well worth it.

I cannot tell you enough how much this book has helped this wife pray for her husband. I recommend it for any wife who longs for change in her man....and in herself!

Get ready! You will see change!


Monday, April 9, 2012


"Writing is a friend whose shoulder we can cry on..."
Page 109


Julia Cameron, in her book The Right to Write, discussed how writers take life experiences and integrate them into their writing.

Have you used your writing to heal from life experiences? Have you used your writing to work through some issues? Has writing become a conduit for your emotions?

Should it be?

So what is integrating anyway?

Cameron calls it slowing down and allowing our life experiences to move or flow through us like movements in a symphony (p. 108).

I can see that happening.

Writing about teens battling the supernatural may not seem like a way to integrate my life experiences into my writing, but it can be. I find myself revisiting my high school years when I was strong in the Lord as well as my college years when I wasn't so strong in the Lord. I am working through those emotions to add attributes to my characters.

I can see how writing can allow healing and how it can cause pain.

Writing about loss, grief, and suffering can cause the writer to regress into those emotion once sealed off. But Cameron writes about how she used her writing to heal from the loss of a relationship. Writing can be that shoulder to cry on!

Self Expression

As in art, writing can be used to express oneself. I never did this with my art until I was in my late thirties. Art was always just a chance for me to escape, and not relive or dwell on life experiences.

My art teacher changed all that. He forced me to look back and revisit painful memories and express my feelings in my art. 

This painting is the result:

"Regarding Clouds"

 Instead of painting the chaos that was around me when I was younger (my parent's second divorce from each other...) I chose to ignore it and just paint and draw "happy" things.

This painting is my way of using my art to integrate my life experiences. 

Writing What You Feel

So, when I read what Cameron wrote in her book, I knew what she was talking about. We can use our writing to do the work of integrating. We can use it to create that wholeness. 

Write out what you feel.

Write out what you wish for.

Write out how you've changed.

Write out what you cannot change. 

Write out what you accept.

Yes, writing can be about integrating our life experiences to create that Gestalt...or that unified whole

But most importantly...just write!

Your turn: How have you used writing to do the work of integrating your life experiences?


Friday, April 6, 2012

Remember Me

" this in remembrance of me." 
1 Corinthians 11: 24

In Genesis 1:27 we are told that God created us in His image.

As a result, we are a people who love to remember. 

It's no accident that in the early 2000's memory scrapbooks were the craze! Every mom out there created album after album of photographs and memorabilia dedicated to loved ones.

It's no accident that we have memorials erected in every city dedicated to those who died defending our nation. Memorials to important men and women who accomplished great things.

It's no accident that we have monuments erected in Washington D.C dedicated to our Presidents. 

It's no accident that we love to remember.

We were created in the image of a God who loves to remember as well. 

In Genesis 8, we are told God remembered Noah.

In Genesis 9, we are told He remembers His covenant...

In Genesis 19 we read that He remembered Abraham...

In Genesis 30, God remembered Rachel...

We read that God commands us to remember the Sabbath.

He commands His people to erect monuments to His faithfulness to them.

He is a God Who Remembers

Do we remember Him?

The Apostle Paul instructs in his first letter to the believers in Corinth to take the Lord's supper seriously. He commands that we examine ourselves before approaching the table of the Lord.

"Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup."  1 Cor 11:28

Paul urges believers to stop....examine yourselves. Are you coming to the Lord's table with the right heart? Paul urges us to stop and remember what Christ has done for you.

Do This In Remembrance

This Good Friday, take time and remember all that God has done for you. Remember how He has kept His promises and honored His covenant. 

Remember how He has remained faithful even when you have been unfaithful.

Remember His sacrifice.

Remember His love.

Remember His death.


Your Turn: How will you remember what Jesus did for you this Good Friday?