Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A "God quote" doesn't make a story Christian

"...whether you are writing for the main stream or one of the niche markets, the religion must be an integrated, fundamental part of your story. A secular story with random Bible quotes dropped in doth not a Christian Fiction story make. If you have an extremely devout character, then their religion should permeate every aspect of their life. On the other hand, a character that only attends temple on the high holy days every other year probably is not going to be quoting the Torah or Talmud on a regular basis. You want the religious aspect of your story to seamlessly integrate with the rest of the work, not pop out at random places."

So writes Editor/Publisher and writer of the Buried In the Slush Pile blog in the post "Holy Writing Batman." Last week she wrote several posts on writing fiction for the religious market for kids. You'll also want to check out:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review of Everyday Greatness by Steven R. Covey

Title: Everyday Greatness: Inspiration for a Meaningful Life
Author: Steven R. Covey, compiled by David K. Hatch
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson, 2006
ISBN-10: 140160241X 
ISBN-13: 978-1401602413

Sixty three of the best stories from the Reader’s Digest archives, organized into twenty one chapters which address essential components of character are what’s inside Everyday Greatness.

What was the point of resurrecting and reprinting these stories? For David K. Hatch, who pulled the collection together, it began as a search for stories and anecdotes he could use in public speaking. For Stephen R. Covey, who introduces each chapter and links the stories with insights and observations, the book’s purpose is to help the reader understand what makes a person great – not only in public but also in private life.

Chapters titled Charity, Courage, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance, etc. (21 in all) explore the topic subject with three stories, a few questions (called “Reflections”), and a section of quotes, all stitched together with commentary by Covey.

The stories themselves are by a variety of authors, new and old, from Henry David Thoreau to Reba McEntire. They’re short, easy to read, interesting, and illustrate the subject under discussion more efficiently than a lecture twice their length would.

If there’s one criticism, it would be that this everyday greatness is achieved by self-effort. Any mention of God or a new life in Christ or the transforming work of the Holy Spirit is absent. And so the book presents only a partial picture of how this everyday greatness is achieved, at least for the Christian. However, each quality discussed is something the Bible and Jesus emphasized as well. The difference is in how and to what end you achieve them.

Despite that quibble, the book offers a lot to think about. There’s enough good stuff here to overwhelm. The “Afterword” section at the end of the book helps dispel the overload by listing ways the reader can begin putting the principles explored into practice.

For a book that will encourage and inspire in literally hundreds of ways (there are around 600 quotes), Everyday Greatness is recommended.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Poetry Contest Almanac

Notice the Poetry Contest Almanac widget in the sidebar?  It's new! Each item is a link to a poetry contest. The date is the last day entries can be postmarked or emailed to be accepted. I did this for myself  - to keep track of upcoming poetry contests. You're welcome to use it too.

You'll need to read the rules for each one. Some only accept entries from Canadian citizens. Both of the Utmost contests are for entrants whose beliefs conform to a statement of Christian faith.

If you know of contests I've missed, please email me and I'll add them. If you decide to enter any of them - ALL THE BEST!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's all about pleasuring the reader

I've been spending some time looking through my old journals to see if there's anything salvageable in them - poem seeds, ideas for articles or devotions. Here's something from Feb. 08 that I marked to put on this blog:

When you get too flowery, you sound show-offy, or like you're getting carried away -- emptying all your spice bottles into the soup. Flowery stuff is a garnish. Over use it and you sound silly or pompous. When you show off, you serve yourself. Being a writer is being a servant, not of yourself but of your reader.
Maybe I was reading one of my favorite how-to books on writing  at the time. Stein on Writing by Sol Stein says the same thing only better (from Chapter 1 "The Writer's Job May Be Different Than You Think"):

"...many writers have inappropriate intentions The four most common I've heard are "I am expressing myself,: I have something to say," "I want to be loved by readers, and I need money." Those are all occasional outcomes of the correct intention which is to provide the reader with an experience that is superior to the experiences the reader encounters in everyday life." - p. 3

"...key to writing both fiction and nonfiction - it has to be a good experience for both partners, the writer and the reader, and it is a source of distress to me to observe how frequently writers ignore the pleasure of their partners. 
    The pleasures of writer and reader are interwoven. The seasoned writer of both nonfiction and fiction, confident in his craft, derives increasing pleasure from his work. The reader in the hands of a writer who has mastered his craft enjoys a richer experience." p. 7

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

for poet keeners

My September Poet's Classroom article, "Assigned Reading For Poets" is up at Utmost. If your poetry writing needs a booster shot of inspiration or how-to, it offers mini-reviews of ten poetry writing books that might help.

While you're there, take a look at the What's New page to keep you up on Utmost's latest contests, articles and gallery poems.