Writing is my first love. But travel is a close second.
Amalfi Coast, Italy, 2014

Blog Posts About Writing

The Rules for Writers–And Everybody Else

By Writing2 Comments

When I was ten, my father, who worked for the Federal Highway Administration, was offered a transfer from Salem, Oregon, to the Washington, D.C. office. My parents wanted to expose their children to “culture,” so they sold their five-acre riverfront property overlooking both the Willamette River and Mt. Hood, and hauled their five kids off to the land of politics. Before we moved, learning manners had been important, but living inside the Beltway made mastering etiquette imperative. As my parents reminded us to keep our elbows off the table, chew with our mouths closed, and wait until we’d finished munching to speak, they’d often ask, “Would you do that if the president came to dinner?” They also signed us up for cotillion. In Dallas, where I live now, usually only members of elite society attend cotillion. But back then and there, even middle-class kids went to learn the foxtrot and…

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Miss Manners II

By Writing2 Comments

If you read my entry from New Year’s Day, you know I promised more on etiquette. If you have not read that entry, please do or you will miss the whole attitude thing–an important part. Yet before moving on to the quiz, I will tell you how I am, because some people are sending me emails saying they have shown up here expecting to find a health update (newcomers: I tried to fly down my stairs and ended up with a broken clavicle, followed by shoulder/hip graft surgery) and I have disappointed them by remaining silent on that topic. If you don’t care, scroll on down and begin. Otherwise here goes. I’m still doing daily ultrasound treatments to stimulate bone growth. Before Christmas, my doc gave me the okay to drive—news that left me elated. At first it was really uncomfy even to turn the wheel, but I’m regaining strength….

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His Story

By Writing3 Comments

Sleeping off pain meds has left my nights and days confused. Last night I took a nap at 7 PM. Yet now I say that, maybe the nap was less about my recovery from surgery and more about sheer boredom. Though I love E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and I require students to read his book, The Elements of Style, I just can’t suspend my disbelief enough to “go with” him on Stuart Little. It’s a story of a human family adopting a mouse—not as their pet, mind you, but as their family member. Uh-huh. Right. And wouldn’t you know it—last night my daughter chose “Stuart Little” as the movie of choice for family time. So we got some popcorn and made ourselves comfy on the bed. And I made it about halfway through the movie. Z-Z-Z-z-z-z-z. Two hours later, I found myself tucked inside the quilt I made my daughter…

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Writers

By Writing4 Comments

My surgeon has scheduled for me to go under the knife in the morning to put my clavicle back together. In case you didn’t know, the clavicle is the collar bone. Now, you probably actually did know that. I, on the other hand, didn’t until about three weeks ago. Up to that point I thought a clavicle was a musical instrument in the horn family. If you frequent here often, you may have arrived looking for a clavicle status report and you’re wondering why in the world what you’ve found instead is a list of holiday gift recommendations for writers. Fact is, I have no idea how lucid I’ll be on Tuesday, if I’m still inhabiting the planet. (One never knows.) And I want to participate in this month’s Celebration of Christian Fiction, a monthly blogging round-robin slated for November’s topic to hit cyberworld this Tuesday. The topic of choice…

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A Few Thoughts on Writing

By Writing4 Comments

On the Value of FictionAfter reading our book, False Positive, a woman who directed a university healthcare program said she did something she thought she’d never do—she changed her mind about abortion. She had known many facts about abortion, yet it took empathizing with a character for her to really listen to what she had always considered “the other side.” Non-fiction explores what is true; fiction explores truth. The length of a novel allows a writer to break out of the sound-bite approach to complex issues and show the various shades of gray. If she does it skillfully, the reader even loses himself in the process of being edu-tained. I find it ironic that many of the same people who argue that fiction is frivolous teach their children Aesop’s Fables (“Don’t cry wolf!”) and retell with affection the plot of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” On How Movies Have Influenced My…

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Singing the Midlist Blues

By Writing4 Comments

A midlist author is one whose books are well received but have failed to make a commercial breakthrough, whose work sells solidly but unspectacularly, who’s well known within the writing community but the majority of book buyers have never heard his name. –David Armstrong, How Not to Write a Novel: Confessions of a Midlist Author It’s the label no author wants: midlister. The word is sometimes spoken with disdain: “Ugh, that is so midlist,” or “She’d better stick with one publisher or she might just end up as a midlister.” Oh no! Anything but that! The midlist author never finds his or her name at or near the top of anyone’s best-seller list—perhaps even when that list is divided into highly specific sub-categories such as “Protestant fiction chick-lit.” No, even then, the author can’t seem to break into the top ten, or even the top twenty. But she still writes…

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What the Bible Teaches Me about Fiction: II

By Uncategorized, WritingOne Comment

If you want to your characters to be compelling, give the “good guys” some weaknesses. Nobody’s perfect, so use “imperfection” to make characters believable and endearing. Consider Hebrews 11, often called “The Faith Chapter.” It lists the heroes of the faith. Yet with the exception of a few, we could just as easily title it “The Foul-Up Chapter.” We find murderers, adulterers, hookers. Despite their flaws, however, they have one thing in common: faith. Moses is humble, but he has an anger management problem. Peter is spirited but impulsive—just ask Malchus. Even Jesus, though he has no flaws, is still different from what many of us expect of a perfect person. He’s unpredictable, saying stuff like, “On the outside you look good, but inside you stink like a coffin” or “You bunch of snakes.” Not exactly “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”Hesitate to name minor characters. The reader can…

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What the Bible Teaches Me about Fiction: I

By Writing2 Comments

Most of what I’ve learned about fiction I’ve learned from the Bible. That’s not to say I think the story about a big fish swallowing Jonah is a myth. If a resurrection is possible, what’s so tough about sustaining a guy in a fish’s belly for a couple of days? What I’m saying is this: Moses, Luke, whoever wrote Ruth—these are the best storytellers in the world. The way they craft their narratives has taught me most of what I know about fiction. Consider some examples. Use point-of-view to heighten tension. The Book of Ruth demonstrates what happens when a writer uses point-of-view to heighten tension. Remember the part in Ruth’s story when she goes down to the threshing floor to propose to Boaz? The author, under inspiration of the Spirit, writes, “[Boaz] awoke and behold! A woman was lying at his feet!” The reader already knows the woman is…

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Mary DeMuth II: On Writing

By Blog Interviews With Writers, WritingNo Comments

This is the second installment in a two-part interview with Mary DeMuth, author of Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God. Name some writers who have influenced you and how. C. S. Lewis—I love that he wrote both nonfiction and fiction and did it well. I’m writing both, so he inspires me. Randy Alcorn—he does the same thing! And his words about having an eternal perspective have changed my life. Leif Enger—he wrote Peace Like a River, my new favorite novel. I want to write fiction like that: innovative use of language, strong story, suspense, with a literary element. What are you reading at the moment? Loving Søren by Caroline O’Neill. She’s a friend who lives in New York. She fictionalized Søren Kirkegaard’s relationship with Regine. Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. What a terrific voice Donald Miller has. The only other time I have laughed out loud like this is…

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