Saturday, November 22, 2008

Grit for the Oyster by Debora M. Coty

In October, my husband and I went to North Georgia for a Gathering of classmates from several years of graduates of his small town high school. After the reunion, we all drove up to his friend's home in the mountains.

A neighbor came over to borrow some dry wood. My friend's wife introduced me to her and mentioned she was a writer. I told her I was an aspiring writer. We all talked about books and writing before she went back to her house to bring all three of us a book.

I chose Grit for the Oyster; 250 pearls of wisdom for aspiring writers written by her, Debora N. Coty, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Faith Tibbets McDonald, and Joanna Bloss.

I thought it was an unexpected surprise to meet her on top of a mountain deep in the North Carolina woods.

Grit for the Oyster is a collection of thoughts on writing by Terri Blackstock, Martha Bolton, James Scott Bell, Liz Curtis Higgs, Dr. Gary Chapman, and David Kopp as well as the authors and many other writers I recognized.

Each section begins with a scripture verse followed by advice on the writer's life. A prayer is followed by a section called "Reflection" which offers things to think about and put into practice. Quotes from authors conclude each section.

I recommend Grit for the Oyster as a helpful book to keep near your writing area. Reading a selection before beginning your daily writing sessions could be the inspiration you need to start your day.

Meeting and chatting with Debora M. Coty was a delightful surprise. Reading her book is a definite bonus. I had no idea what blessing was waiting for me in North Carolina this past October.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Courage to Change

Okay, okay. On this blog, I'm supposed to write about the craft of writing, whereas "Courage to Change" explains the craft of living. Last night, I vacillated between two writing books which have helped me to heighten conflict and suspense in my manuscripts. With what is going on in my life at the present time, God kept leading me back to "Courage to Change."
"Lord, do you want me write on this book?" "Duh....," I thought I heard Him whisper this morning. So here goes, perhaps someone else needs this book. "Courage to Change" includes a compilation of several writings by Dr. Samuel Moor Shoemaker who lived, preached and wrote 1921-1939. His wisdom rings true today as it did when Alcoholics Anonymous first began, and its Christian roots came through him.
I discovered this book fifteen years ago when God healed me emotionally and helped me lose ninety pounds. With every new challenge in life, I seek first God's Holy Bible, and next "Courage to Change."
Whether I write or speak or God uses me in other ways, pride creeps into my accomlishments causing me to fall on my face again. Am I the only one? I think not. I read on page 66, "Genuine humility cannot be attained by avoiding pride: it can only be attained by discovering gratitude."
When I'm having trouble in life, I read page 65 "But I believe that God uses that trouble, turns it to good account, works it into the whole fabic of our lives, and gives meaning to it....You cannot seek the meaning of a sorrow while you hug it to yourself, and will not give it to God to shed His light upon."
As I seek for God's will, I read page 37 "He asks us to begin with Him at the known and follow Him into the unknown.... Begin where you can."
How do I help people to find Christ? On page 183, Rev. Sam says "Religion today is largely the imitation of an example, when it ought to be the hearing of a Voice."
Much wisdom, wonderful insights. This book delves into our mindsets and questions everything we thought we knew. As I said, it's been around awhile so might only be on Amazon or through Hazelden Publications. The book was compiled and edited by Bill Pittman and Dick B in 1994.
There you have it, Lord. I told them about this book. Thanks for leading me to it again. Point the way for those who read this blog today.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hitchcock's Topical Bible with Cruden's Concordance

by Roswell D. Hitchcock, © 1962, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids 6 , Michigan.

To a writer, books are not only the products, but the tools, as well. Within arms reach of my desk top computer are two well appointed book shelves with dictionaries, thesauruses, formatting guides, and even some of the titles reviewed on this web site. One tool I always keep in handy reach is my Hitchcock’s Topical Bible with Cruden’s Concordance.

Along with Christian fiction, I write biblical scripts for a drama ministry. The plays I write are instructional, written to minister to the Body of Messiah rather than to evangelize. I take a face value event like the story of Esther, for instance, and I guide my audience to a deeper level of understanding.

In Esther’s case, I highlighted the less apparent Messianic foreshadowing woven between the lines of the biblical account. I also connected historic animosities between Mordechai and Haman through their genealogies, using the Bible as my source.

Besides scripts, I also write articles about the revelations I have and post them on the ministry website. Because the Bible warns that teachers shall incur a stricter judgment,[i] I get my facts straight before placing a production on stage or posting an article on line. There are a great many extra-biblical tools that I can and do use to corroborate my accounts, but I especially like the Hitchcock Topical Bible with Cruden’s Concordance.

The Hitchcock text opens with an Alphabetical Index of Subjects found in the Topical Bible. These include:
Works of God
Mediums and Methods of Revelation
Duties to God
Angels, Good and Evil
Jesus Christ
The Hebrews
Man Redeemed, and so on.

The topics are outlined in seven-hundred pages under numerous headings and sub-headings. Every possible scripture verse related to that sub-heading is listed in KJV. Because the topics are so broad and inclusive, I almost always find what I’m looking for, with immediate scriptural substantiation to support my conclusions.

Man, such as he is, is well documented in the Hitchcock’s Topical Bible with the Cruden’s Concordance. The text works as well for the fiction writer who wants to develop their characters in line with biblical principles. For historical fiction, topics such as Industrial, Employments, and Products and Civil and Social Life will help the writer cultivate credible characters consistent to the customs and conventions of biblical times.

Hitchcock’s Topical Bible with Cruden’s Concordance is a well used tool in my collection and one that I depend on for accurate and well researched writing.

[i] James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment. NAS

Monday, November 3, 2008


Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin is one book I wished I had owned four years ago when I first started on my journey to publication. Allow me to explain.

My first hurdle back then was to learn the difference between Single Title & Category romances. In chapter one, Ms. Martin elaborates on their differences and how Christian romance differs from secular romances.

As I look over the next few chapters, concerning creating believable characters, get know your hero/heroine, emotions, sexuality, and spirituality, I look back with a good feeling, thinking I had a good understanding of these concepts.

However, POV was the hardest thing for me learn. I understood 1st person, 3rd person and such but learning how to handle third person limited pov was the hardest idea for me to conquer. Ms. Martin tackles this subject with the all the finese of a true professional. She eases into the concept with explaining 1st, 3rd, omniscient, and how to interweave the pov's. If you struggle with pov, then I recommend this book for you.

The last hurdle and most recent one I've had to learn is plotting. Chapter 10 is entitled Plotting the Christian Romance. Ms. Martin identifies many popular plotting techniques. I think I've tried them all except the 3-Act Structure which I'm trying now.

The last chapter in the book is How to Sell a Christian Romance Novel and in this chapter Ms. Martin instructs and gives examples of preparing a manuscript to sell, she enlightens her reader on editor/agent relationships, and she lists popular conferences.

Gail Gaymer Martin offers a well-balanced teaching on how-to write Christian fiction.

If you haven't read this book, yet...don't wait any longer.

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