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Monday, January 30, 2012

Not Eye to Eye But Heart to Heart, Part 2

The other day in a blog post I mentioned Stephen King and that he threw away Carrie. Some people reading this blog may deduce that I’m a Stephen King fan. Those people would be wrong.

The only King book I’ve ever read (that I remember) is The Stand. I recognize that King is a good author, and I understand why people like him. I’m not a fan of horror, and, so, I steer clear of him. King is too graphic for me.

And, since I specifically mentioned Carrie, people would probably think it was one of the books I’ve read. No, I’ve never read it—not that I remember.

This is just one example of things I know, that I’ve read about and used when I sit down to write my blog, but that I do not have first-hand knowledge of. Some people think of King as anti-Christian and wonder why I would mention him in a post.

And, that’s not all. Some wonder about other quotes and anecdotes I use.

Often, I do not even recognize the name of the person I’m quoting. Just because I use the quote does not mean I agree with the ideology of the person I’m quoting. If I use the quote, it means I agree with the quote or that I’m using the quote to stress a point.

Here’s the thing—I love blogging. At this moment, however, I am an author. I write books of fiction. If I read biographies and the writings of everyone I quote, I would have no time left to write my books.

And I’m a quote lover. I don’t want to stop using quotes. Here’s a quote I love: Scars are proof of pain, but also proof of healing. Never forget that. ~ Nat Shepherd

Who is Nat Shepherd? I have no earthly idea. However, I love his quote.

I have touched on this before—once words leave you, once they are put in a published form, people will interpret them in ways you may not agree with. They will make the words fit their own conceptions based on the experiences they have had in their lives.

Once the words are released, they are no longer ours (and I’m not advocating doing away with copyright!) to control.

Think of it like music. If one hundred people listened to the same song, each of the one hundred people would respond differently. 

The same with our words.

I have been a Christian for thirty five years. During those years, I have attended services three times a week except for times of illness or a few other times when circumstances prevented me from attending. I have taught bible classes for thirty four of those years.

During my thirty five years as a Christian, I have read books by Christian men and women—hundreds of them. I have studied my Bible. Have I read and studied enough? I never think it’s enough. I always think I should be studying more. It’s an insatiable hunger.

In me, before I became a Christian, I had an emptiness, a longing, a hunger for God.

In modern songs, movies, and television shows written by people who are not Christians, I often sense that same hunger. I may use their words to show what I perceive as this longing for God.

Some Christians wish to insulate themselves from the world. They only wish to read or view things that are strictly Christian. They are like monks shut away in their cells.

Yes, we are called out of the world. And, yet, we are called to go into the world to teach others of Christ. What better way to do so then by showing the world the underlying call for God in the non-Christian books, movies, and shows out there? And that’s the reason I use non-Christian sources.

I pray for God’s guidance in all things. I pray also my words are always those that encourage and uplift and never lead others astray. Please keep that in mind as you read my posts.

Seek God. Pray. Read the Bible.

My prayer is to simply point to God’s word, his truth, by using those things he allows me to see and experience.

Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Not Eye to Eye But Heart to Heart

We’ve all heard it said—never discuss religion or politics.

Some people have said they are going to quit posting anything political on Facebook. Most people already keep their religious views to themselves.

However, is that the wise thing to do?

Not necessarily. I rarely say anything on Facebook about politics, mainly because I know so little. I keep my thoughts to myself. However, I do have a litmus test. Is the political candidate for or against abortion? I choose the one against.

When the political spills over into the moral, I feel it is my duty to speak up, whether that’s on Facebook, Twitter, or other social sites.

How about religious views? Is it better to keep them to ourselves?

We don’t have that option. We are to tell others of Christ. We are commanded to do so, albeit, with an attitude of love.

I said this the other day after a rather heated discussion. “We do not have to see eye to eye as Christians, but we do have to see heart to heart.” I don’t know if I heard that somewhere (probably), or if it came from my brain. Nevertheless, I really like it.

I realize that words can be and often are misconstrued. Here is a quote from Eternal Springs:

You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

I rewrote Kahlil Gibran’s poem, changing the focus to the words I write. Here's my version:

I may house my words in the covers of a book

But they dwell in the house of tomorrow

In the eyes of the readers

Who will see them in their own ways

And not seek to make them fit my conception.

Just as we let go of our children, let them leave the nest, writers must also let go of their words.

Both processes are painful.

Both processes are painful for the same reasons. We know the world will not understand our child the way we do. The same with our words. People will put their own spin on what we write. They do not understand our words in the same way we do.

And this I wish to offer—if you believe I ever say anything that is contrary to the word of God, please let me know. Perhaps I have, inadvertently, and I certainly would need to correct it if I did.

Perhaps I will make mistakes in the future. I am only a marred human and will make plenty of mistakes.

However, there is the possibility I will not agree with you. Perhaps I’ll think what I’ve written is Biblical.

Please tell me anyway. It will be a big help to me and to those reading my words. I do not want to spread false ideas.

Whether I agree or disagree, I promise I will always seek to see heart to heart, whether or not we ever see eye to eye.

(And, if you wish to know more of my beliefs as a Christian, this is the church I attend: Opp Church of Christ)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Writing and Insecurity

Writers are notoriously insecure about their writing. I suppose everyone knows Stephen King threw Carrie in the trash. His wife rescued the manuscript.

People wonder why writers cannot recognize their own good writing. I have a theory.

Writers are like the creators of the Nazca Lines. The ancient Nazca, in what is now Peru, created these lines only visible in their entirety from a hill or from the sky. Here’s one example: 800PX-~1

The people who made these lines could not see the entire picture. They were too close to the ground.

The makers of these lines trudged along pulling away the red-colored rocks to reveal the white lime beneath.

And writers do much the same. Many people believe writing a book is easy. Those are the ones who have never written one. It’s tedious work to edit the book, to pull away the rocky soil to reveal the clean lines beneath.

Someone said something to me the other day about me rereading Thundersnow. Perhaps I will one day. For now, I am still too close to the ground, too cognizant of the backbreaking work that went into creating the book.

Whether the book is good or bad, others will have to judge. Most writers want the people on the hills or in the planes to holler down at us—“Wow. That looks great!” “Wonderful job!” “How in the world did you do this?” or even—“Wait. You got out of line over there.” “Were you trying to make a spider? Looks more like a bird.”

For we are still covered with sweat and dust, staring down at the white lines and wondering if any way in this world these lines make sense. Only those looking from afar are objective enough to tell us how we fared.

Ways to help a writer:

1. Of course, the obvious is to simply tell them you liked his/her book (or that you didn’t) and why.

2. Visit the Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other product page and click on “Like” and/or write a review. Be honest in the review and tell what you liked or didn’t like. Writers need to know which lines are crooked in order to fix it next time.

3. Visit the Author page on Facebook and click “Like” at the top of the page.

4. Share the book with others on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or other social media sites.

5. Tell your friends and family about the book and why you enjoyed it. Encourage others to support the author.

There are lots of other ways. Hugs are always good!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why the Movie Courageous Is Not Great

I have been hearing a lot of hype about the movie Courageous. I finally decided to watch it. Raising children is an arduous task. Movies that help make people better parents are desperately needed.

So, while I applaud the movie makers and feel it was a good movie, I also think it could have been better.

The First Reason the Movie Is Not Great

Too many storylines diluted the main story. For example, in a story about raising children, one subplot dealt with a dirty cop, while another dealt with a man struggling to find a good job.

Yes, we should all be people of integrity. I’ve always loved this verse:

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. ~1 Corinthians 16:13

Just as we should be mature Christians when we marry, it just follows we should also be mature Christians when we decide to have children. And, so, in that light, I can see the writers of the movie are saying we should serve as good examples to our children.

Yet that should have been a given, and the movie should have addressed some of the grittier problems of parenthood. Raising children correctly takes a tremendous amount of determination and energy. Unfortunately, many “Christians” take the view we can simply beat submission into our children. (Not that the movie advocated that.)

One Facet of the Movie I Liked

The movie did focus on one thing I have said many times. Now, right now, in this moment, when the sands of time slip so quickly through your fingers, spend every moment you possibly can with your children, create memories, teach lessons, and, yes, dance with them.

And that may mean giving up our own interests until our children have matured. Or, allowing them to be part of what we do, even when that becomes messier and more hectic. baby

When we took our young sons fishing one time, hooks got tangled into trees and fish finned small hands. My youngest son slipped on the sloping bank, grabbed for a hold around the leg of the chair where my other son sat. Sons and chair tumbled down the bank into the creek.

I looked at Carl and asked, “Are we having fun yet?”

A little of this was shown in the movie when the father decided to begin running with his son. I just wish more had been shown.

Another Reason the Movie Is Not Great

And that brings me to another reason Courageous was not the movie I had hoped it would be. It did not show these messy moments of childhood. It gave pat answers to difficult problems.

Let me give just one example. Here’s a quote from the movie:

Nathan Hayes: "Jade, I brought you here because I want to tell you how grateful I am that God gave you to me. I see my daughter becoming a beautiful young woman. And I can understand how any young man would be drawn to you. But I would also like for you to know that, as your father, I want the very, very best for you. One day, I'll give you away to another man, and I want that man to love God more than anything. Because if he does, then he'll love you. And I know how young men think. They want to win your heart, but they don't know how to treasure it. So I'd like to make an agreement with you. Jade, if you'll trust me with your heart, and allow me to approve any young man that desires to have more than friendship with you, I promise to take care of you and give you my full blessing when God shows us the right one."

Does the daughter say, “Hold on, Dad. You have to approve anyone I go out with? You’re kidding, right?” No, instead she says, “I will.”

Not many fifteen-year-old girls would agree to that—not without a long, heart-wrenching conversation. It’s not going to be that easy, folks. Not unless you have very compliant children. And, not unless you have proven over and over and over that you do have your child’s best interest at heart.

The Last Reason

Another part of the movie I did not like was the portrayal of the women as almost saintly. Only the wife of Javier had one weak moment when she wanted her husband to lie to keep his job, and she quickly repented of that.

Women are just as sinful of men. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Not every mother is a perfect mother.

In Conclusion

I did think Courageous was a good movie, and we need more movies like it. However, I felt it could have been an excellent movie. It missed the mark.

As we all do being merely human. I hope the next movie will delve a little deeper and not simply give pat answers but show us the true struggles Christians face. Movies parents need.

I hope Sherwood Pictures will be courageous enough to step up to the plate and bring us such a movie!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Never Forget a Password Again

I started this about a year or so ago, and it works great. My email has never been hacked. (Knock on wood.) This is how it works:

For every website you need a password for, choose two letters. It could be the first two, the last two, the second and third, etc. Always be consistent or you’ll start getting confused!

Second, and, again, this part will remain consistent for every password you have, choose a four-digit number, one that’s easy for you to remember. Also choose a five letter word.

Now, put them together in whatever combination you choose—just remain consistent.

For example, suppose the letters from the website will be the last two, my number is 1953, and my word is “jumps.” I want to change my password at Amazon. I decide this will be the combination:

o1j9u5m3psn

For Facebook it would be:

o1j9u5m3psk

For Goodreads it would be:

d1j9u5m3pss

Let me give another example. I will use the last two letters of the website and the same number and word.

Amazon:

on1953jumps

Facebook:

ok1953jumps

Goodreads:

ds1953jumps

All you have to remember is your number, word, and the way you choose to combine them. And stay consistent!

Hope this helps!

Spit Shine Your Writing

As I have said many times, story is paramount.

However, once a writer has a great story, he must polish it to perfection.

Someone told me yesterday that nothing polishes boots better than a little spit. Having a scientific bent of mind, I wondered about “spit.”  boots

I know that real “spit,” saliva if you prefer, moistens our food and helps it slide down our esophagus easier. Even the most delicious food becomes challenging if saliva is not present. We choke on it.

In the same way, if our writing does not contain “spit,” readers are going to choke on it. They may manage to swallow, but it will be difficult.

Besides moistening food, saliva also contains enzymes that begin the breakdown of food. I’m guessing here that the enzymes might be the reason spit works better than plain water. The enzymes help eat away the gunk clinging to the boots.

In our first drafts, we also have gunk. Our “spit” will remove the gunk and let our words shine.

Spit is rather disgusting, and, yet, it gets the job done. Anyone who has ever spit polished a pair of boots will tell you it takes a lot of elbow grease and a lot of time.

Many people want to be writers. What many do not realize is the messy, disgusting part of getting the manuscript polished to a perfect shine.

How many are willing to take the time and effort needed to bring their writing to a stage of palatability for their readers?

Notice the title of my blog? Rise, Write, Shine? Today, let’s make it:

Rise, Write, Spit-Shine!

Ready?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stepping on Ice

Last week I read Lies That Can Poison Our Writing Career by Kristen Lamb

The first lie she deals with is this: “Lie #1 I’m not a real writer until I have a finished manuscript, landed an agent, am traditionally published, am selling books, have spent my retirement funds earning an MFA in Creative Writing.”

She goes on to say:The title is not something we earn it is who we are. Our title defines our level of commitment.”

Am I truly committed? And, as I pondered the question, God hammered home things I need to pay heed to.

This Sunday, Marks sermon was based on Joshua 1:1-9. Listen to the words:

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

A couple of things struck me from Mark’s sermon. First, God promised Moses much more than the Israelites received.

Why? God tells Joshua: I will give you every place where you set your foot. The Israelites simply did not step out in faith to receive all God had promised.

I, too, haven’t stepped forth in faith. I have tentatively placed my foot onto the ice, to see if it will break under the pressure, to see if I will fall into the icy depths. I have not strode into my writing life strong and courageous. Instead, I have gone in with fear and trembling. danger thin ice

Second, God tells Joshua to: Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

God will be with me. He will guide me. My job is to stay focused, to meditate upon his word and then he will give me success.

That certainly doesn’t mean I’ll never fail.

Many people have been watching Tim Tebow’s team, the Broncos, in the playoffs. The Broncos were crushed by the Patriots, as most of the world knows. Tebow had this to say: “I just wanted to show character. You just continue to fight, and it doesn’t change who you are, who you play, how you go out there. You should be the same at all times. That’s what I wanted to show. It didn’t matter whether it was the first play or the last play or you were down by 42. I was going to be the same player and I was still going to give everything I have. Because that’s all I have to give. Every time I step on the field, I’m going to give my whole heart, regardless score-wise of what’s happening.”

Failing doesn’t matter. We still keep our focus, stay the same, still remain children of God, and give everything we have, our “whole heart.” When we do that, God will give us success. It may not be success by worldly standards, but, it will be success in the way God measures success.

And, so, no more testing the ice. I own the title, Sheila Hollinghead, author, for I know God will be with me wherever I go.

Care to join me?

What title do you commit to today?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Following

My heart overflows with gratitude to God.

Something I have tried to keep in mind is that God’s timing is the perfect timing.

I was meant to be in this place at this moment, self published. Relinquishwithpencil

Kristen Lamb has a wonderful blog post on self-published authors here: Why We Should All Hug a Self-published & Indie Author

She says the self-published are blazing a trail. I don’t feel I am one of those.

The bushes and briars and weeds have been whacked away. I’m not blazing a trail but simply following it. Many have already gone down that trail, and I’m running to catch up.

I have said it before—publishers need to awaken to this fact: Publishers are not needed to publish a book. They need to begin to reinvent themselves before they are left in the dust.

It is ridiculousy easy to submit to Createspace and have a book published. All you need is a manuscript.

I have had a tremendous amount of help from the true trail blazers. And I am thankful.

There has been wailing and gnashing of teeth. (I’ve been joking that my brain broke along the way. There might be some truth in that. I started typing gnailing and washing of teeth.  However, I did visit the dentist yesterday, and, yes, I suppose you could say I had my teeth washed. So, maybe that’s not so far fetched.)

The healing process has begun. A kind friend glued my brain back together, and I believe it is mending nicely. Yesterday was a great day.

The first time someone (who is not a close family member) asks for an autographed copy of your book is mind boggling and humbling. I’m reminded of the pencil analogy:

(1) Everything you do will always leave a mark!

(2) You can always correct a mistake you have made!

(3) What is important is inside of you!

(4) In life, you will undergo an occasional painful sharpening which will only make you better and more functional!

(5) To be the best Pencil, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the hand that holds you! ~Anonymous

I pray I allow God’s hand to guide me as I continue my journey.

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thundersnow Is Available for Your Kindle on Amazon

final cover

Thundersnow is now available as an e-book here: Thundersnow at Amazon and  here: Thundersnow at Smashwords. I hope you get a chance to check it out.

The print version will be available soon. 

Thanks for all the support!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Problem with the Kindle

I really love my Kindle. I’ve said that many times. However, I do have a problem with it. It’s too easy to load up with books.

So many books—where to begin? image

I wonder if I’m the only one with this problem. I buy a book or get one for free. I’ll start reading it and see another book that looks cool. I buy it and start reading it and see another book that looks cool . . .

Well—you get the picture. And now I have so many books to read. I sample one and then another and then another. The book has to be really good to pull me in and keep me reading when so many others are vying for my attention.

Guess what happens when you become a writer? You become friends with other writers. A good thing.

However, I want to read all the books my friends have written. Some have written multiple books. Acckkk!

Not enough time. My Kindle is getting loaded down with more and more books. If I start reading now and read steadily throughout the year, I’ll be through sometime in the middle of 2013.

That is, if I don’t buy any more books between now and then.

Should I make that a New Year’s resolution? I will not buy any books until July of 2013.

Right . . .

Visit Amazon to get your own problem . . .  er . . . , I mean, Kindle.

(This is not a paid endorsement. Is this even an endorsement?  Hmm . . . You’ll have to decide!)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Eternal Springs

 

It was much more difficult to put my blog posts together into a book than I anticipated. I ran into a few snags—including my forgetful brain. I rushed to get it out in e-book form before the new year started. Because of the rush job, I’ve found many typos, and that I’ve repeated a couple of entries.

There may be more. As I’ve said, I’m easily confused.

I uploaded a new version and plan to probably upload a third version tonight or tomorrow. In a few weeks, after I’ve had a chance to check it more carefully, I’ll upload the final version (if anything is ever final!). If you would like the new version, visit here: Eternal Springs.

Thanks for understanding.

I thought I’d share a few pictures of the people and things I wrote about in Eternal Springs.

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

My beautiful grandkids are pictured here. J. C. is the one who, at the age of three, said I wasn’t really fat. (Thanks, J.C.!) The fellow in the middle is a miniature version of my husband. And, of course, that’s my sweet granddaughter who saw the tiny “flowers” in our lawn.

002n’

My husband, Carl, is holding the “evil” companion that led Satchel astray.

007

This is a picture of my father as a young man.

051

A picture Carl took of the chickens inside one of our chicken houses.

1700

Pico shown here drinking the clear water. No stale water for her!

2203

This is K.C., the sweet dog who becomes Cujo.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to download Eternal Springs, here are the links: Eternal Springs at Smashwords and Eternal Springs at Amazon.

coverforebook1223

Thanks!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Faith Test for Christian Writers, Part 6

Let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. ~James 3:13-18

Today we are finishing up this series on Faith Tests for Christian Writers.

Our works, our writings, should be done in meekness of wisdom.

That means we are not jealous,  selfishly ambitious, boastful, or false to the truth. 

If we do not have meekness of wisdom, what we do have is “earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”

Let’s ask ourselves the questions gleaned from the rest of these verses:

Are we peaceable or spoiling for a fight?.

Are we full of mercy or full of cruelty?

Do we have the good fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) or the bad  (sexual immorality, impurity, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, and envy)? (Galatians 5:19-23)

Or we impartial or biased?

Or we sincere or hypocritical?

When we view the outcome of our work—the harvest—what do we see? According to James “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

Are we sowing peace? Is it our intent to make the world a better place?

If so, we just made an  A+!