Sunday, August 24, 2008

No Wonder They Call Him the Savior by Max Lucado

I am enrolled in the Christian Writers’ Guild writing course. For the lesson I just completed, I was given a list of short story books. My assignment was to select one of those books and read some of the short stories. Then I was to analyze the techniques the author used to make it interesting using various methods listed in that particular lesson.

I was delighted to see a book by Max Lucado listed, which would save me a trip to the bookstore if I had that particular title in our collection. Luckily, I had picked up this particular book at the Friends of the Library book sale in the spring.

I fixed a glass of hot Earl Grey tea and sat down in my favorite chair to read. Needless to say I ended up reading all the selections from No Wonder They Call Him the Savior.

I paper clipped several stories that I particularly liked as I read through the book. When I completed the book, I had to select a passage I wanted to comment on. It was a hard decision, but I ended up selecting “Puppies, Butterflies, and a Savior”. This was my favorite because it talked about puppies that won’t come when called by the master because they are distracted by something else. My mixed lab is like that.

What I learned from this assignment is how an author can take an ordinary life experience and use it to teach a spiritual truth. In this case, how we are like our puppies because we get distracted by the things of life and ignore our Master’s call.

Max Lucado is a master of the English language. He mentions in the foreword how Jesus used stories to make a point.

When I read the short chapters in the book, which was subtitled “Chronicles of the Cross”, I felt as if Max Lucado and I were sharing an afternoon visit. His vivid style of telling a story reminded me of my childhood and listening to my Aunt Pearl tell of her childhood adventures.

If you want to read a master story teller and study examples of outstanding story telling techniques, then treat yourself to No Wonder They Call Him the Savior by Max Lucado or any other of his many published works.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Time-Out for the Spirit

The book I'd like to recommend today isn't a writing book. It's a book of devotions, a Guidepost publication. This book has inspired me and provoked thoughts on ways of dealing with everyday life which, writer or not, happens to us all. The sub-title is Two Minute Quiet Times for Times That Aren't Quiet. Many talented writers contributed to its content.

When my husband and I took a nine day vacation last fall, we read a page of this book to kick off each day. Each evening since then, I have read a page before going to bed starting my night off with good thoughts and dreams that inspire. Out of 293 devotions, it's easy to go to the index and pick out one to correspond with what you're going through at the time.

Here are some of favorites:
Page 3 - When a door closes.
Page 120 - When you're angry
Page 235 - When you're trying to diet
Page 284 - When your creative juices seem to have dried up

The one I've read the most is page 188 "When you're having a conflict with your children" written by Marion Bond West. I love my children unconditionally, but God used this devotion to speak to me. Though my child walked a wrong path, I blocked an answer to prayer by unforgiveness in my heart for her actions. God used that verse and devotion to show me I was wrong. I turn to it for a reminder again and again.

For my writer friends with deadlines and obligations in writing as well as in your family, job and other ministries, finding a quick source of inspiration can be invaluable. I highly recommend keeping "Time-Out for the Spirit" near by.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Winning with People, A book by John Maxwell published by Thomas Nelson, 2004, 272 pages, Nonfiction, Interpersonal Relationships and Communication, Religious Aspects, Christianity.

Writing is only one of the skills a writer must work to develop and hone. I know that I’ve had to learn how to research, and yes, it is a skill. While I miss the good old days at the library, I thank God for the Internet. Still, to keep up with modern technology, I was forced to upgrade my researching skills to access the unlimited information on the Web. If we are blessed enough to get a novel published, overnight we have to become experts in marketing. The list goes on.
Writing may seem like the loneliest job in town, next to the Maytag repair man, but in fact we deal with many people. Working with other human beings is another ability we need to cultivate. We need to learn to network effectively, to pitch an idea to an editor or an agent, to encourage other writers in our local critique groups, and so on.

One of the finest books I’ve read on the subject of relationships is Winning with People by John C. Maxwell. Mr. Maxwell is a Pastor and a renowned expert on leadership who personally teaches thousands of people in seminars each year. He has founded several organizations committed to helping people reach their leadership potentials and he has written more than thirty books.

Winning with People crosses the barrier from Fortune 500 executive to the average Joe (or Jane, as the case may be), helping the reader improve existing relationships while building exciting new ones. Mr. Maxwell blends facts, humor, and personal experience to teach twenty-five People Principles for true success in life by winning with people rather than competing against them.

The life principles are broken down into five relationship levels and include: The Pain Principle: Hurting People Hurt People and Are Easily Hurt by Them, The Hammer Principle: Never Use a Hammer to Swat a Fly off Someone’s Head, The Big Picture Principle: The Entire Population of the World—with One Minor Exception—Is Composed of Others, The Exchange Principle: Instead of Putting Others in Their Place, We Must Put Ourselves in Their Place, The Bob Principle: When Bob Has a Problem with Everyone, Bob is Usually the Problem, The Foxhole Principle: When Preparing for Battle, Dig a Foxhole Big Enough for a Friend, The 101 Percent Principle: Find the One Percent We Agree On and Give it One Hundred Percent, and The High Road Principle: We Go to a Higher Level When We Treat Others Better Than They Treat Us.

There are many more and each one ends with thought and discussion provoking questions.
Mr. Maxwell is an excellent writer and a gifted people person. I discovered a great deal about myself (often painful truth) while learning the art of dealing with others. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about the people they love, work, and play with.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Complete Writer's Guide to HEROES & HEROINES Sixteen Master Archetypes

I am at the beginning stages of writing another novel. This is such a fun stage. Goals, motivations, conflicts, layering the character with flaws and favorable traits, flavor the new work.

One of the things, I like to do, is after I decide who my hero and heroine are, I then pull out my autographed, reference book, Heroes & Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders. I then match my characters with the archetypes listed in the book. (I find it so much more easier to match up characters with archetypes when I know for a fact what are my characters motivations.)

Here are some of the archetypes listed:


The CHIEF - a dynamic leader, he has time for nothing but work

The BAD BOY - dangerous to know, he walks on the wild side

The BEST FRIEND - sweet and safe, he never lets anyone down

The LOST SOUL - a tormented being, he lives in solitude

The CHARMER - a smooth talker, he creates fantasies

The PROFESSOR - coolly analytical, he knows every answer

The SWASHBUCKLER - Mr. Excitement, he's an adventurer

The WARRIOR - a noble champion, he acts with honor


The BOSS - a real go-getter, she climbs the ladder of success

The SEDUCTRESS - an enchantress, she charms to get her way

The SPUNKY KID - gutsy and true, she is loyal to the end

The FREE SPIRIT - an eternal optimist, she dances to unheard tunes

The LIBRARIAN - controlled and clever, she holds back

The WAIF - a distressed damsel, she bends, but does not break

The CRUSADER - a dedicated fighter, she meets commitments

The NURTURER - serene and capable, she nourishes the spirit

Now once you find your archetype for your character, these authors then give you loads of layers to add to your character. The book explains the archetypes qualities, virtues, flaws, background, styles, and possible occupations for each archetypes.

The best part of this book, which I love, is how the book shows what happens when you pair each hero archetype with one of the heroine archetypes. For example, for my hero, he is the PROFESSOR, my heroine is the CRUSADER. Now the book shows the possible quirks, which can happen during the interaction of these two characters. I see how they clash, how they mesh, and how they can change.

When I read a book, I am so relieved when I see sidebars. I love streamlining information. This book has sidebars on each page, giving the reader movie examples and bullets of additional information.

Heroes & Heroines is an invaluable resource tool for all writers of all genres.

Check out these links:

Writing Tip of the Day