Saturday, November 30, 2013

Leftover Thanks

by Tamera Lynn Kraft
I’m still enjoying leftovers from Thanksgiving. They’re stacked in containers in my refrigerator ready to warm up after a day of putting up the Christmas tree, shopping for presents, or addressing my Christmas cards. Thanksgiving leftovers are wonderful during this busy holiday season.
Many times, though, there’s something else leftover from Thanksgiving Day. We spend so much time emphasizing how thankful we should be to God for the many blessings He has given us. And we should. But after Thanksgiving, the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas rushes in, and we forget about thanking God. Or we give Him leftover thanks after an exhausting day of errands. We forget that it was because of His greatest blessing, sending Jesus to Earth to die on the cross so that we could be saved that we celebrate this time of the year.
While I’m busy with my preparations, I never want to get so caught up in everything that God gets only my leftover thanks. Thanksgiving should take place throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving Day.

A Christmas Promise
By Tamera Lynn Kraft
A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day. 

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

Available at these online stores:

TAMERA LYNN KRAFT has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.
Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.
You can contact Tamera online at these sites:
Word Sharpeners Blog:
Revival Fire For Kids Blog:
Adventures in American History:
Will you be home for Christmas, or is that only in your dreams? Naomi Musch (that's me!) is talking about life's uncertainties and Coming Home on Word Sharpeners today. Hop over for some words of encouragement!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving, Venison, and Writing

Thank you, Lord, for White Tail Deer! Thanksgiving celebrations may vary from home to home, but here in Wisconsin, the holiday lands smack dab in the middle of deer hunting season. That means many of us don't spend the day lounging and dining, but bundled to the hilt, stalking through the forest in pursuit of the elusive monarch of the forest, the white-tailed deer.

One of my hunters, son Beau

In our household, like so many others around the state, besides family and friends filling the house, and mountains of pies crowding the counter tops, there are also piles of blaze orange strewn everywhere! Dinner isn’t served until an hour and a half past dark, giving time for all the hunters to come in from the cold and tell their tales as they gather around the wood fire to thaw out. We LOVE it!

This is how I grew up. I couldn't imagine spending Thanksgiving any other way. Then throughout the year to follow, we thank the Lord for the good meat filling our freezer and canning jars if we are so blessed.

Hunting sometimes works its way into my books. It's one of the ways in which the writerly adage of "writing what you know" eeks out of me. I love to write about the outdoors and to help readers experience the smell of fauna or the sound of a deer crunching with delicate steps through the frozen leaf floor of the forest. I love to thrill them with the sound of soft wings as a grouse flushes and arcs through the tree tops. I love the way a chickadee will land on a branch near your head and converse, or even the pestering of a noisy squirrel chattering warnings in the woods.

There's a short, romantic hunting scene near the end of this story. YES, hunting can be very romantic! My proof is one of those writing-what-I-know incidences *eyebrow-wiggle*.

I don't like how cold I get sitting in a deer stand some mornings, but it's always a challenge and a chance to get alone with God and to let my imagination take flight.

How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving? With football and board games, or are you a family of hunters too? Whatever you do, I hope you have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

Write on!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wounded Writing

So you want to be a writer? Be careful what you wish for. The best writing often comes from wounded places. 
C.S Lewis said, "If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity." 
Was he really suggesting people shouldn't come to faith in Christ? No, he was pointing out that God would not act as a fairy godfather, but he would refine them if they gave themselves to him. If you want to be a writer, expect more of the same discomfort, because God will ask you to use your pen to minister grace through the experience of your own struggles.

I don't believe God is the author of pain, death, sorrow, heartache, fear, rejection, illness, or loss... Those things came from Satan when he introduced us to sin way back in Eden. 
Because we live in this fallen world, we experience them. I do believe God allows his children to experience them in a different way, a way that will glorify Him if we surrender our wills and let him use those things that come our way to build our personal "character arc".

So what does this have to do with being a writer? As writers we spend a lot of our time learning to "live" in our characters' skins. We feel for them and speak for them. How much better do we understand them if we have been through what they're going through or something like it. It's one thing to write about the death of a child. It's another to have experienced the bone-aching agony of losing a loved one, and then eventually writing those feelings into the hearts of characters. Writing about infidelity, abandonment, cancer, rebellion -- and their counterparts -- faithfulness, loyalty, recovery, humility -- are better understood if we have stood on one end and walked to the other of those things. God allows us to feel the deep, wrenching level of pain those things bring so that we can write with greater understanding and empathy for those who experience them. He brings us through them so that we can write truthfully about faith and hope. Even if we are writing about fictional lives, understanding agony at that gut level can help even "characters" bring a path of healing to someone who reads their story.

Writing is another way of acting out 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

I've been comforted through the expertise of other fiction writers. Have you? What must they have experienced to help me so connect to their words?

Another C.S. Lewis quote if you don't mind:
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." 

If God allows you to walk the path of grief, you understand what that feeling he describes -- a feeling you can show in your stories. You can imbue your writing with a truer understanding.

Grief, pain, and heartache have a magnetic power to suck us into very dark places which seem to hold no escape. Why let those experiences exist solely as painful memories? If we desire to write, we have an obligation to use the character arc of our lives to tell stories that resonate, that have the power to supply healing and grace to the glory of God.

Write on.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What?! There are Novel-Writing Rules?

I'm enjoying NaNoWrito even though  I'm having a tough time staying on task. But today I saw a thread discussion on rule breaking. What? There are rules?

I've learned though, that with NaNo, most rules are self-imposed. In the rest of the novel-writing world, however, there are real rules, but even when it comes to those, I'm reminded of a sentence my dad helped me construct during a third grade spelling homework assignment: Rules are made to be broken. Not original, but I liked it in third grade. It resonated with me even though my teacher put a big red question mark next to it -- or was it a frowny face? Hmm...

We study our craft to learn the art form and the rules. Publishers have rules. Good communication follows rules. Story form follows rules. We don't start to bend or break those rules until we have conquered story and voice and form. That might take years. For some of us, rule-breaking might never become acceptable. So if you're going to be a rebel, you'd better check yourself and decide if you're ready for the backlash. Breaking rules is an art form in itself.

On the other hand, self imposed rules such as don't edit or cut anything until your first draft is finished or don't write fully fleshed scenes out of order are self-imposed rules specific to individual writers' styles. You don't have to be constrained by such orders. The way one person writes can vary greatly from the way another writes. Just jump into the age-old debate of whether Plotting or Pantsing is better (following an outline or writing by the seat of your pants). Some writers go back and edit the previous day's writing before starting on the new day's. Others only go back to check a few details before moving on.

Experimental writing, on the other hand, is by definition rule-breaking. Take those books where no quote marks are used in dialogue for instance, or those stories that use run on sentences in a first person, sort of in-your-face-rushing-past fashion. Now we have people telling us they rue the oxford comma. Oh, the shock!

There are some who can break rules, and some who shouldn't. Even good writers shouldn't always try to break out quite that way. Anyway, have fun with it. That's what I say. (And you know what an authority I -- haha!)

Get your novel written, one way or another. Fix it or don't as you go along. One way or another tie up the loose ends. Make it clean. No -- make it shine.

Write on!