Blue Ridge NC “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat by Yvonne Lehman

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NovelistRetreat_Flyer_2014

 

I want to make sure the readers of ChristiansRead know about the Novel Retreat scheduled annually in October. During this warm Summer weather is a good time to think about the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat held at Ridgecrest NC October 19-22.

 

Reminder of a deadline: The $50 tuition discount is available through July 1, 2014

 

Sad news: You’ve likely heard that Ron Benrey, who was scheduled to be a faculty member along with his wife Janet, died a few weeks ago. He will be missed.

 

Good news: Alton Gansky, award-winning novelist and director of the Blue Ridge Writers Conference held annually in May is joining our faculty line-up. Great addition!

 

If you have a novel in progress or an idea for one, whether you’re a beginner or published, we have a great line-up of workshops, not only about every aspect of novel writing but also social media and the changing publishing industry.

 

Although our focus is on the craft of writing, our faculty includes an agent and two editors who are eager to talk with you about your work. We also offer critiques and contests, including our highest award: the Golden Leaf Award.

 

Faculty includes:

Yvonne Lehman, director, over 50 romance & women’s fiction, Lighthouse editor

Lynette Eason, best-selling suspense writer, over 20 books

Ann Tatlock, award-winning novelist, two-time Christy winner, Lighthouse editor

Diana Flegal, Harline Literary Agent, workshop leader

Edie Melson, novelist, social media expert

Alton Gansky, novelist, director of Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

 

For additional information: http://ridgecrestconferencecenter.org/event/novelist or google Blue Ridge Novelist Retreat – You may contact Yvonne at: yvonnelehman3@gmail.com

 

Looking forward to seeing some of you in October!

 

Best wishes,

Yvonne

 

Posted on request by Vicki Hinze

DIVINE MOMENTS by Yvonne Lehman

Divine Momemts Cvr Yvonne

One evening after a day of participating in the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, which consists of focus on purpose, inspiration, encouragement, learning, growing, and becoming, several us sat in the beautiful lobby of Mountain Laurel hotel on the campus of Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.

 

Cindy Sproles told a story that had us all gasping with amazement of how God showed up in such a strange, fascinating, almost unbelievable way. Someone else, and another, then others began to remember and share their stories. Some were sweet, some humorous, others serious, but all were about knowing his presence with us. I thought of the praise song, “Our God is an Awesome God,” in which the words are repeated over and over. I’ve often wanted to say, “Go further. Don’t just repeat the words. Tell me in what ways you are amazed by God.”

 

That’s what we were doing that evening. We were joyful, talking loudly, laughing, loving, just sharing those special times which became a time of praise. Others joined us to hear these stories and share their own. The realization was that we all have awesome and amazing stories to share but we don’t always take time or don’t have the opportunity to share them.

 

Exhausted by joy, we finally needed to disburse so we wouldn’t be cranky and negative the next day from lack of sleep. A few of us lingered, feeling so blessed at knowing we are worthy because Jesus made us so when he died for our sins. We are loved because the Bible tells us nothing can separate us from the love of God.

 

We wanted to keep sharing…and that’s how this book came into being. It is a book praise, of Divine Moments. These stories have come from all over the United States, England, and Canada, shared by people of all ages, backgrounds, occupations, and educational levels. What a joy to think of Divine Moments happening all over the world every day. Since there is so much negativity around us, we find it a privilege to share about God’s presence in the world and in our lives.

 

These stories have been generously donated. The writers knew they would receive no monetary compensation but they have experienced what we all do, a sense of peace and joy when we give without expecting anything in return. Well…we do expect something because we know God blesses, and in unexpected, wonderful ways. We’re already blessed. We’re thrilled that all royalties from the sale of this book will go to a worthy organization, Samaritan’s Purse.

 

We know there are many more Divine Moments out there. Think about yours and if you’d like to share for a Divine Christmas Moments collection, email me at yvonnelehman3@gmail.com.

 

 

WHEELING ALONG WITH EASE by Yvonne Lehman

Two neighbor children, a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl, ride their bicycles that have no pedals. I watch them from my upstairs office window as they ride along the street that’s fairly level. They push with their feet and when they get the bicycles rolling they lift their feet and steer the bicycles, not with pedals, but with balance.

I realize that’s a really neat idea. They’re learning balance which is much neater than having them pedal, lose balance, fall, scrape their knees or break their arms. Having balance is the most important part of the bicycle ride, not the pumping of the pedals.

After they have balance, the pedals can be added and the children can ride with, or without the pedals because they have balance. They can coast down the hill without fear. They can push the bicycle up the hill with their feet. Learning balance first will make their future journeys more enjoyable.

That brought to mind balance in writing, or in life really. I remember my children cramming for exams (well, I’m guilty too). But learning to balance a study-schedule or writing-schedule can make things easier, whether it’s an exam or a writing project.

Too often I’m at the end of a novel with a deadline looming. My writing goes much easier when I practice balance. Instead of procrastinating at the beginning of the writing and then cramming it in at the end, life and novel-writing work best when I have a schedule. I can veer from the schedule when needed, but accomplish so much more when my time is balanced.

Now, I will pick up my feet and my creative wheels will take me through the novel writing journey with perfect balance and ease. Well… forgive me for that. I am a fiction writer. But, balance in life being an asset is a fact.

Christians Read Fall Catalogue Released

(Click below to view the Christians Read Catalogue, 2013 Fall Edition, which includes Chapter Excerpts!

STRETCHED TO THE LIMIT? by Yvonne Lehman

 

DOUBLE RAINBOW

 

“I can’t take anymore.”
“I’m at my wit’s end.”
“I’m ready to snap.”
I’m stretched to the limit.”

Likely, we’ve all heard, said, thought, and/or felt like those statements.
Trials are common to us all. Conflict, adversities, doubt, unfulfilled goals happen in life. We have challenges that can thwart our best-laid plans. Or if we get what we want, often the dream can become a nightmare. Many conflicts in life come because of our wrong choices, someone else’s actions, natural disasters, disease, financial problems, accidents, and sometimes we don’t know the cause.

And yet…the tension in life that we don’t like is what we’re to put into the lives of our characters. Tension comes from the Latin word tendere which means to stretch. And we’re to make things tougher for our characters until there seems no way out. To stretch our characters we create tension and then raise the stakes.

You might say a stake is to a novel what a steak is to a fine dinner. Picture this: a piece of pointed wood being hammered into the ground. The stakes are the meat or heart of the story. The stakes are what captures the editor’s attention and makes the book a page-turner.

Readers love it.
Why?
The readers feel a sense of excitement and interest, not because they like seeing the character in trouble, but want to know and learn from how the characters handle their adversities.

As the character is stretched with their outer and inner conflicts and tension, so is the reader. The character learns to rely on God and lean on him and know he’s with him/her through the trial. They learn it’s okay to question and doubt God. But as the character learns to rely on God, so does the reader.

There’s a saying, “Write what you know.”
Through research we can learn a lot of things we don’t naturally know. But we know best what we’ve experienced. And as Christians we learn to know that God is with us through all kinds of adversities. We know God has been, is, will be with us through our trials. This is the message we incorporate into our characters’ lives.

That’s why we stretch our characters to the limit. So we can share with the reader what we know, learn, hope, or accept.

I find that giving my characters stressful situations, I along with them discover my own faith and explore its depth or shallowness. In a sense, writing about being stretched to the limit helps my own conviction of what I believe, and I can incorporate that faith message into the life of at least one of my characters.

Stretched to the limit?
Just know God is there with us as we go through it. By letting that take place in the life of a character is letting it take place within us as writers, and within the ones who read our stories.

We can tell the readers what we know and have learned and about God’s wonder and love that stretches over us in many ways, like a multi-colored rainbow stretches across the sky.

es.wordpress.com/2013/07/double-rainbow2.jpg?w=300″ alt=”DOUBLE RAINBOW” width=”300″ height=”225″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-3075″ />“I can’t take anymore.”
“I’m at my wit’s end.”
“I’m ready to snap.”
I’m stretched to the limit.”

Likely, we’ve all heard, said, thought, and/or felt like those statements.
Trials are common to us all. Conflict, adversities, doubt, unfulfilled goals happen in life. We have challenges that can thwart our best-laid plans. Or if we get what we want, often the dream can become a nightmare. Many conflicts in life come because of our wrong choices, someone else’s actions, natural disasters, disease, financial problems, accidents, and sometimes we don’t know the cause.

And yet…the tension in life that we don’t like is what we’re to put into the lives of our characters. Tension comes from the Latin word tendere which means to stretch. And we’re to make things tougher for our characters until there seems no way out. To stretch our characters we create tension and then raise the stakes.

You might say a stake is to a novel what a steak is to a fine dinner. Picture this: a piece of pointed wood being hammered into the ground. The stakes are the meat or heart of the story. The stakes are what captures the editor’s attention and makes the book a page-turner.

Readers love it.
Why?
The readers feel a sense of excitement and interest, not because they like seeing the character in trouble, but want to know and learn from how the characters handle their adversities.

As the character is stretched with their outer and inner conflicts and tension, so is the reader. The character learns to rely on God and lean on him and know he’s with him/her through the trial. They learn it’s okay to question and doubt God. But as the character learns to rely on God, so does the reader.

There’s a saying, “Write what you know.”
Through research we can learn a lot of things we don’t naturally know. But we know best what we’ve experienced. And as Christians we learn to know that God is with us through all kinds of adversities. We know God has been, is, will be with us through our trials. This is the message we incorporate into our characters’ lives.

That’s why we stretch our characters to the limit. So we can share with the reader what we know, learn, hope, or accept.

I find that giving my characters stressful situations, I along with them discover my own faith and explore its depth or shallowness. In a sense, writing about being stretched to the limit helps my own conviction of what I believe, and I can incorporate that faith message into the life of at least one of my characters.

Stretched to the limit?
Just know God is there with us as we go through it. By letting that take place in the life of a character is letting it take place within us as writers, and within the ones who read our stories.

We can tell the readers what we know and have learned and about God’s wonder and love that stretches over us in many ways, like a multi-colored rainbow stretches across the sky.

Likely, we’ve all heard, said, thought, and/or felt like those statements.
Trials are common to us all. Conflict, adversities, doubt, unfulfilled goals happen in life. We have challenges that can thwart our best-laid plans. Or if we get what we want, often the dream can become a nightmare. Many conflicts in life come because of our wrong choices, someone else’s actions, natural disasters, disease, financial problems, accidents, and sometimes we don’t know the cause.

And yet…the tension in life that we don’t like is what we’re to put into the lives of our characters. Tension comes from the Latin word tendere which means to stretch. And we’re to make things tougher for our characters until there seems no way out. To stretch our characters we create tension and then raise the stakes.

You might say a stake is to a novel what a steak is to a fine dinner. Picture this: a piece of pointed wood being hammered into the ground. The stakes are the meat or heart of the story. The stakes are what captures the editor’s attention and makes the book a page-turner.

Readers love it.
Why?
The readers feel a sense of excitement and interest, not because they like seeing the character in trouble, but want to know and learn from how the characters handle their adversities.

As the character is stretched with their outer and inner conflicts and tension, so is the reader. The character learns to rely on God and lean on him and know he’s with him/her through the trial. They learn it’s okay to question and doubt God. But as the character learns to rely on God, so does the reader.

There’s a saying, “Write what you know.”
Through research we can learn a lot of things we don’t naturally know. But we know best what we’ve experienced. And as Christians we learn to know that God is with us through all kinds of adversities. We know God has been, is, will be with us through our trials. This is the message we incorporate into our characters’ lives.

That’s why we stretch our characters to the limit. So we can share with the reader what we know, learn, hope, or accept.

I find that giving my characters stressful situations, I along with them discover my own faith and explore its depth or shallowness. In a sense, writing about being stretched to the limit helps my own conviction of what I believe, and I can incorporate that faith message into the life of at least one of my characters.

Stretched to the limit?
Just know God is there with us as we go through it. By letting that take place in the life of a character is letting it take place within us as writers, and within the ones who read our stories.

We can tell the readers what we know and have learned and about God’s wonder and love that stretches over us in many ways, like the double multi-colored rainbows I often see stretches across the sky over the mountains where I live.

 

Que Sera Sera, or… by Yvonne Lehman

Que Sera Sera
Or as Doris Day (back in my day!) sang it, “Whatever will be, will be.”

I’m not sure that’s theologically sound, but that’s not the point of this anyway. What I’m getting at is, some things just seem meant to be…even if it seems we sometimes are waiting…forever.

lori_b (2)

Lori Marett

That’s how my daughter, Lori Marett, felt through the years as she dabbled in writing while working and raising a family. A few of her articles were published in Focus on the Family but her interest lay in screenwriting. She said, “Mom, I’m going to write a script adapted from your novel, In Shady Groves.”

My eyes were stuck on her and my voice choked my throat and I couldn’t say what I was thinking, which was, “That’s impossible. You don’t know anything about scriptwriting.”

Fortunately, I couldn’t get the words out and she began to read books, teach herself, and wrote the script which placed and then won in contests, but was told it would be too expensive to produce. That just wasn’t meant to be.

Daunted but not defeated, she continued. She met faculty at writers conferences who were involved in movies. Then she began to think somebody should start a conference to bring all those in the arts together—writers, scriptwriters, producers, actors, musicians, etc.

But who? Well, after much praying and pondering and encouragement it seemed meant to be that she and her husband, Rodney should give it a try. I didn’t tell them how difficult it is to be founder and director of a conference. After all, I had started the Blue Ridge Writers Conference over 25 years ago and God showed how he could use a willing person, who didn’t have enough sense to know they couldn’t do it, and make it a success.

Her and Rodney’s efforts seem meant to be since they’re now in their sixth year of directing the Gideon Media Arts and Film Festival, held in Orlando, FL this year. http://www.gideonfilmfestival.com.

After years and years of trying, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be that she’d ever get a movie produced. But she continued learning, writing, networking, entering contests, and lo and behold, this year her first DVD was produced.

This is what Dove Worldwide had to say about it: If you want to see a powerful drama about abortion and one which features compassion for the young girls making life-changing decisions, this is the one to see. … The viewer will experience a few surprises along the way. … Due to the sophisticated theme, we are recommending this movie for ages twelve plus. This one entertains and makes one think, a pretty rare combination.”

Viewers have said this is not like most movies about abortion, but has that twist and difference which makes it unique. It’s now being used as a ministry in organizations and churches.

After years of trying and seemingly no results, it’s beginning to look like Meant to Be was…meant to be.

Yvonne latest novels are three Harlequin Heartsongs set in Savannah, GA. The Caretaker’s Son (April 2013), Lessons in Love (August) and Seeking Mr. Perfect (November).

Meant to Be - MV5BMTQxNzUzNzE0M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzIyNzA1OA@@._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_

 

 

Another Writing Opportunity by Yvonne Lehman

 BLOG – Gideon August 11-16, 2012

Mission Statement

To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through all types of media with
an emphasis on television, film, theater, church drama, music, graphic arts, marketing and distribution, screenwriting, youth ministries, and spiritual encouragement.

The Gideon was started to give Christians who are interested in the media arts a place to encourage their talents, a venue to meet, learn, network and get advice from experts in the industry, and the opportunity to develop working and personal relationships that extend long after the Gideon is over.

Our faculty are prayerfully considered and wonderfully selected by God. They are comprised of Christian producers, directors, writers, graphic novelist, musicians, actors, DJ’s, performers, speakers and teachers and are chosen for the Gideon, not only for their accomplishments and expertise, but for their servant’s heart. We are blessed and humbled that these incredibly talented individuals are designing classes and workshops to stretch your mind and help you discover the path that God has placed in front of you.

“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere.”
~ Acts 1:8

http://gideonfilmfestival.com/film%20festival/index.cfm

http://www.facebook.com/#!/lori.marett

 

More CONTESTS, Critiques, and Great Reads by Yvonne Lehman

If you have a novel in progress or considering writing one, you might like to join us:

For additional information, go to the website listed on the flyer.

Here’s a list of our amazing faculty and mention of their recent accomplishments:

Ann Tatlock’s latest release: Travelers Rest  – she will attend the Christy Awards in July. Promises to Keep is a finalist in the Contemporary category.

Ray Blaxton, multi-published author of the bestselling Flabbergasted. His latest novel is Last Mango in Texas

Ken Raney will teach and exhibit at The Gideon Media Arts Festival in August. He’s recently completed two covers for Greenbrier, Melody Carlson’s Looking for Cassandra Jane and Armando’s Treasure.

Yvonne Lehman’s latest release is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the Titanic (I’m having another 3-day book signing at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN on Labor Day Weekend), and currently working on a three-book Savannah, GA series

Ramona Richards, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Fiction at Abdingdon Press – see
www.ramonarichards.com for her books and activities

Mark Mynheir mystery/suspense novels includ Rolling Thunder, From the Belly of the Dragon, The Void, and The Night Watchman, which was a Christy Award Finalist, and The Corruptible.

Janet Powers Roller has been a Christian speaker, singer and writer since being named Miss South Carolina 1997 and will lead the praise and worship sessions

Deborah Raney’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the film of the same title. Her newest books, the Hanover Falls Novels, are from Howard/Simon & Schuster.

Lynette Eason’s current release, When the Smoke Clears, hit #8 on the CBA bestsellers list this year. Currently, she is working on her third series for Revell

Any questions, just let me know.

Yvonne

CHRISTIANS READ MEGA CONTEST AT THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Christians Read has teamed up with The Book Club Network for a special contest.  Details follow!
June 19-21

Enter the contest atThe Book Club Network HERE.

Contest runs for the month of June.  Be sure to enter–otherwise, you can’t win!

And please join us on FACEBOOK  and Twitter!

Blessings,

All the Christians Read Authors

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #21 by Yvonne Lehman

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! From 5/31 at noon MST, until 6/4 midnight EST, you can make the loop through 23 different Christian fiction writers’ blogs and read new, exclusive material about all our new or about-to-be-released books. The best part? If you gather all the scavenger hunt clues, you’ll know what the secret quote is, and if you’ve registered for the Grand Prize, you could win all 23 books! And there are some additional prizes along the way… (To begin at the beginning, head over to www.LisaBergren.com, for stop #1.)

KIM VOGEL SAWYER

It is my good pleasure to be hosting Kim Vogel Sawyer on the scavenger hunt. She’s the author of many “gentle stories of hope,” and has made it a mission to write books that encourage and edify believers.

Here’s what her new book, SONG OF MY HEART, is about: To naïve and determined Sadie Wagner, Goldtree, Kansas, and its opera house offer fascinating experiences and colorful characters—the likes of which she never saw in the Indiana mining town where she was raised. Can she manage to keep herself out of trouble as she pursues her dreams?

And here’s an EXCLUSIVE from Kim:

SONG OF MY HEART was birthed in the basement of an antique store in Paxico, Kansas. I’ve shared about the stage beneath the store, which was originally a mercantile in the late 1800s/early 1900s, and how wondering what kind of performances took place down there led to creating the underground opera house and its illegal dealings. While browsing the store, I came across a lovely little teacup from England. The blue bands captured my attention–such a delicate blue! The color of a robin’s egg or of the Kansas sky on a clear, sunny afternoon. I brought it home, and as the story emerged, the blue worked its way into the story…in a little gift from Sid to Sadie, in the way Thad described the color of Sadie’s eyes, in the wildflowers growing outside of town. 

The teacup has given me pleasure, but it served its purpose, so now its ready to bless someone else with its graceful presence. If you’d like to win it, just comment on this post and Yvonne will pick a winner out of a hat. Good luck, and I trust you’ll enjoy this beautiful little cup as much as I have!  –Kim Vogel Sawyer

That’s sweet of her, isn’t it? A teacup given between friends is the best kind of gift. You can find more about Kim at her site, and you can purchase SONG OF HER HEART at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, or your local bookstore.

Thanks for joining me for this stop!

STOP #21 SCAVENGER HUNT CLUE: me.”

Next up? Stop #22, Winnie Griggs!

SMALL THINGS

SMALL THINGS       

             January!

            A new year. A time of new beginnings.

            That gives some people an incentive to start over, turn over a new leaf, make resolutions. Others have tried that and failed so often, the idea is daunting. Why bother?

            We know the scripture says, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.”

            I don’t argue with that. I know Jesus can do things perfectly, but I either can’t or don’t do my part. Sometimes other things get in the way of my goals. The negative thought occurred to me that “I can do SMALL THINGS.”

            The more I thought about it, the more I realized that may be the answer to times of anxiety, feeling… dejected, depressed, like a failure and what’s the use of trying.

            There’s a verse that says, “He who is faithful in little, will be faithful in much.”

            We are admonished to grow in faith—grow in our Christian walk.

            Maybe I’ll never be the most popular, the most intelligent, the most successful. But I can love.

            What did Jesus say? “Love one another.”

            What did Paul write? “There are three things: faith, hope and love. The greatest is love.”

            Love is…great?

            Not…small?

            Then yes, I can do something great. I can love.

            We might say, “Well, those around me aren’t that lovable?”

What is love? I’ve always heard that “love is action.” A fine preacher said it this way: “Love your way to feeling.”

            I like what Jeanne Bice said, “No one can make a brand new start. Anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

            And that can be done anytime… not just in January.

            So, although I’m working on my resolutions, and did take enough stuff out of my closet to turn it into a Prayer Closet for those most burdensome prayers, I want to make a different resolution… start making a brand new ending.

            Love is a small thing to do. But it’s so great.

 

THINKING AHEAD by Yvonne Lehman

I can easily get caught up in the Christmas season and before i realize it, the New Year is upon me. But I’ve found it productive to take time for thinking about my writing and personal goals for the New Year. I can look back and see that all my goals weren’t accomplished, sometimes because of unforeseen circumstances, sometimes due to my own negligence or procrastination.

I plan to evaluate what I’ve learned this year, and determine how I can use my time more efficiently. Perhaps your sharing will help me do that. I tend to think I have all the time in the world (but it’s flying!) and I procrastinate. One of my goals is to make a daily writing schedule (which I have to do when on deadline) and stick to it as much as possible. Also, I want to study the many books I have on the craft of writing.

Too often my goals put writing at the top of the list. I need to think about my goals for friends and family. I take for granted that I pray for them but I need to be more attentive in personal ways, not just when they need me.

This year my Writer Group met at The Cove, theBillyGrahamTrainingCenterin these gorgeous mountains of westernNorth Carolina. It’s a beautiful place but decorated for Christmas, it’s spectacular. We ate lunch at their Ladies’ Luncheon after church, then met for an hour before hearing Rachel-Ruth Graham Wright (Anne Lotz’ daughter) speak.

Lori, Diana, Susan, Yvonne, two Debbie's, Terri, Cindy (3 not there)

During our meeting we shared our goals for the coming year. We all want to improve our craft of writing. One goal that is particularly meaningful is that we plan to be more diligent in praying for each other and we chose prayer partners. We prayed that God would put the right people together. We put our names in a container and one person pulled out two names at a time and those two were partners. I’ve had prayer partners in the past and a close bond forms between people when you know you’re praying for each other daily.

One of my goals is to again have a prayer closet. That’s a subject for another post, if anyone is interested. But I have already prepared my closet, so that’s one goal accomplished.

I’d love to hear about some of your goals.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
Yvonne L.

A Time to Let Go by Yvonne Lehman

A student asked me if a writer has the luxury to say, “I’m done? It always seems that something needs fixing.”

I responded that, yes, there is a time when a writer must say, “I’m all done.” And a lot depends on what you’re referring to when you see something that needs fixing. If there are glaring things you know are wrong, then you haven’t finished, but need to continue rewriting. I know one of my weaknesses is describing the setting. So I study how others do it, get brochures that describe the places I’m writing about and then use my own words to describe the setting and I’ve received compliments about my settings.

I could tell myself I should travel to those places and experience the setting myself and not finish the book until I do. That would be wrong. I could say I’m not done because I haven’t experienced it first-hand, but that’s self-defeating. We can only use the amount of skill we have, and the research we’ve done. We grow as writers, just as we grow and learn (or should) in every area of our lives and even on our deathbeds we can say, “I’m not done improving.”

We need to have confidence in what we know and what we can do at a particular time. I look back at my first book and can’t read it now because I see glaring errors, or see how the guidelines of writing have changed. Part of that is because I didn’t know enough about life or the craft of writing. So, we’re never done.

That’s sort of how it is with raising children. We do our best. But it’s after our children are grown and gone that we look back and say, “I could have done it better,” but I had to learn as I went along. That’s how it is with writing. We can only give out as much as we have and can probably say it’s not as good as someone else. But we shouldn’t be competing with someone else. Just do the best we can at the given time.

If we always say, I need more education, more experience, more maturity, etc. then we’ll never finish anything. Being objective enough to realize something isn’t perfect is fine. But, as I said in the beginning of this, if you know of glaring craft, character, plot errors then of course you should fix them. Just a general feeling of not being perfect is simply common to creative people. In writing, we’re showing our “insides” to the world and we want it to look good. But, we’re human beings with flaws and limitations, therefore our work may exhibit that. But as long as we’re trying to improve we are accomplishing, even if an editor might “return” the material we submit.

In most areas of our lives, there is a time to fix, or try to fix, and a time to let go.

See, I might have done better simply to write, “There’s a time to fix and there’s a time to let go.”

Yvonne’s latest novel, Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the Titanic, is up for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released March 1, in time for the anniversary of the ship’s sinking April 2012. Here’s a picture of her on the Grand Staircase at the  Titanic Display Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Stretched to the limit

 

            “I can’t take anymore.”

            “I’m at my wit’s end.”

            “I’m ready to snap.”

            I’m stretched to the limit.”

            Likely, we’ve all heard, said, thought, and/or felt like those statements.

            Trials are common to us all. Conflict, adversities, doubt, unfulfilled goals happen in life. We have challenges that can thwart our best-laid plans. Or if we get what we want, often the dream can become a nightmare. Many conflicts in life come because of our wrong choices, someone else’s actions, natural disasters, disease, financial problems, accidents, and sometimes we don’t know the cause.

            And yet…the tension in life that we don’t like is what we’re to put into the lives of our characters. Tension comes from the Latin word tendere which means to stretch. And we’re to make things tougher for our characters until there seems no way out. To stretch our characters we create tension and then raise the stakes.

            You might say a stake is to a novel what a steak is to a fine dinner. Picture this: a piece of pointed wood being hammered into the ground. The stakes are the meat or heart of the story. The stakes are what captures the editor’s attention and makes the book a page-turner.

            Readers love it.

            Why?

The readers feel a sense of excitement and interest, not because they like seeing the character in trouble, but want to know and learn from how the characters handle their adversities.

            As the character is stretched with their outer and inner conflicts and tension, so is the reader. The character learns to rely on God and lean on him and know he’s with him/her through the trial. They learn it’s okay to question and doubt God. But as the character learns to rely on God, so does the reader.

            There’s a saying, “Write what you know.”

            Through research we can learn a lot of things we don’t naturally know. But we know best what we’ve experienced. And as Christians we learn to know that God is with us through all kinds of adversities. We know God has been, is, will be with us through our trials. This is the message we incorporate into our characters’ lives.

            That’s why we stretch our characters to the limit. So we can share with the reader what we know, learn, hope, or accept.

             I find that giving my characters stressful situations, I along with them discover my own faith and explore its depth or shallowness. In a sense, writing about being stretched to the limit helps my own conviction of what I believe, and I can incorporate that faith message into the life of at least one of my characters.

            Stretched to the limit?

            Fine. Just know God is there with us as we go through it. By letting that take place in the life of a character is letting it take place within us as writers, and within the ones who read our stories.

 

What’s the Big Idea? by Yvonne Lehman

 

            Where do you get your ideas?

That question is often asked of me at writers conferences and by my readers. I can honestly say that my (and many writers) problem is getting too many ideas and not sure in what form to use them. Should I write a devotional, article, short story, novella, or novel?

Come to think of it, a writer may do all or any of the above.

Whether it’s a 250 word vignette or 100,000 word novel, there is one central idea to each piece of writing. The idea is like the Interstate of your writing. If you use that idea in a devotional you stay on the Interstate and you may have only one character, usually the first-person “I.” For example you may be writing about finding a job. A short piece can succinctly tell about fear, doubt, waiting, wondering, praying, questioning, and when all seemed in vain, the exact right job came. And you can use a scripture about God’s faithfulness. Just stay on the Interstate.

Or for novel material, you can get off the Interstate, take those side trips, have a friend with you, do some sight-seeing, find an antique, get back on the Interstate, have a wreck, get a flat tire, be stopped for speeding, miss the job interview, apologize profusely, get involved with the good-looking interviewer even if you don’t get the job, or get involved with the police officer, or be committed to a hospital and get involved with the doctor. But…the main idea still revolves around getting the job.

This may be called the theme, or purpose, or take-away value, but there is one theme that dominates just as the Interstate dominates the trip you’re taking. You may take side road that offer romance, danger, conflicts, flashbacks, trials, unexpected happiness, but the Interstate is still there, the main road.

To get back to where I get my ideas, they come from life around me. My novel, Catch of a Lifetime, came from one sentence. A friend of my daughter said, “I married him for his money, why can’t I love him for it?” I knew I had to write about a character marrying for money.

That was set in Charleston SC where my husband and I vacationed a lot, so my ideas were to have that setting as the background for a few novels (could deduct that from my taxes!)

I had missionary journeymen friends in Africa. She was a nurse, he a teacher. They loaned me their pictures and hard copy of their experiences they used in talks to churches. That was the idea for Drums of Shelomoh.

My granddaughter is on a swim team winning awards. After getting information from her I made swimming an important part of Never Say Never in which the heroine teaches the hero to swim.

Idea for Call of the Mountain came from a discussion with my daughter about abortion and our debating the pros and cons of why one would chose abortion. We expressed our beliefs about the subject.

Whiter than Snow was inspired by my having been in our blizzard of the century in 1993. My heroine was trapped. My hero was a fireman who tried to rescue the heroine. I used personal experience and interviewing my son-in-law who is a fireman.

The idea for More than a Summer’s Love came from personal experience of our family sponsoring a young girl in the Philippines through Christian Children’s Fund. The girl and my youngest daughter were named Cindy. Difference in their lifestyles was obvious and stirred my imagination and I had the American girl go to thePhilippines to meet the sponsored girl when they were in their twenties.

Something Old, Something New came from my action of visiting Ella in a retirement center, with no thought of writing about it. However, her background of having been a missionary to Korea and my observing others in the center and their many activities became the inspiration for a nursing home romance between older people.

Another idea came from my tutoring a second-grader once a week and the idea grew to a story of a teacher who tutors and a widower who is having difficulty accepting the death of his wife and dealing with an equally sad little boy.

My idea for Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the Titanic came from fascination with anything about Titanic and the 100th anniversary of its sinking beingApril 15, 2012.

After getting the idea, a next step toward coming up with a good story is to express that idea in one sentence or two, the way a TV program, book, or movie is advertised to get your attention. You can read a sentence or two and know whether or not you want to read further or see the movie.

That expressing the idea that becomes the theme is not as easy as I make it sound!

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