Category: Writing

I just want to thank Jesus for His grace and kindness toward me. I’ve been part of ACFW now for a year and a half. This is my second year entering their Genesis contest for unpublished authors. I was pretty much a newbie last year and squeaked in as a semi-finalist.

This year, I entered two books into the contest and both of them made it to the next round! Out of 70 entries, both of mine placed in the top twenty percent to move on to round two. At the end of May, another round of judges will decide the top three from the remaining 14 entries. I’ve got a double chance of moving on this year 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has stood beside me and encouraged me to keep working at this. My heart is to please my most important reader – My Jesus. He’s so faithful and deserves nothing less than the same from me!

Character Development.

It’s been a while since I gave an update on my writing. That’s not because I haven’t been writing. In fact, during November, I started my second novel. It’s called Mander’s Scar. The story is about a vigilante (Mander) with the ability to teleport over large distances. The problem? When the most powerful man in the world asks him to assassinate a rival, Mander refuses and becomes a target himself. Cool, eh? I’m about 15,000 words in and the feedback has been outstanding so far.

I haven’t forgotten about Soul Yearning either. I’ve been restructuring the storyline and Albione’s character arc a bit. When I started Soul Yearning 10 years ago, I was just writing a story. I never thought I’d have to sell the idea to someone. When I finally made my first pitch to an agent, I wasn’t expecting much. After being rejected, I realized that while the story made sense to me, there were character development issues as well as story structure issues. Because of those issues, I had a hard time developing a cool sounding pitch. So, for the last 4 months, I’ve been working on Albione. What does he want most in life? Why does he want that? What made him want that most?

What I realized is that Albione was a much deeper character than I thought he was. And it caused me to treat him and his arc throughout the story differently. Enter re-writes lol. I’m finally satisfied with where I’m taking him and the external events that bring him there. So, you should see that “edit” bar moving again soon. I’m putting on the finishing touches for my Genesis entry this year and am excited to see the results in a few months.

As for Mander, hindsight is 20/20.  I started off asking all those questions before I started writing. Which may be why the feedback has been so good 🙂

So, I guess I’ll pose a question to anyone who’s reading this. Who’s your favorite character (book or movie) and why?

I joined ACFW last August. I remember sitting at my computer desk and watching the live blog of the Gala awards ceremony last September. I told myself – I’ll be there next year. Not as someone receiving an award. In one short month being a part of ACFW, I had been sufficiently humbled enough to not presume that. It was my goal to be at the conference in 2011 as an attendee. The day I became serious about being a writer, one of my goals was coming to this year’s conference. And now my Jesus has been very faithful to make it happen.

                I’m a little nervous, but my overall feeling is one of excitement. From the start of my writing journey, I’ve wanted to learn as much as I could about the writing craft and build long-term relationships with other Christian writers. I believe that God is going to do both when I get off that plane in St. Louis.

                Can you imagine it? Hundreds of writer’s just like me getting together to worship Jesus, grow in our craft, and fellowship with one another through it all. How cool is that? Already the Lord has done so much work in the area of relationships. I’ll be rooming with two writers I’ve never met, but they seem like great guys. And a bunch of us sci-fi and fantasy writers are planning to get together for dinner.

                On the learning side of things, I can’t wait for Susan May Warren’s workshop on making my storyworld and characters come to life through powerful description. She’s also doing a workshop where she performs a live critique of a Synopsis and first chapter that I plan to attend. Since one of my goals is pitching my story once 2012 starts, I know the lessons learned here will be pivotal for my writing career.

                Then, to top it off, I will be meeting with an editor and an agent for fifteen minutes each. When I signed up for these meetings, I felt insane. I finished my first draft last November and am only about 30% into my first edit. How on earth am I going to talk to a real life industry professional about my work? The beautiful part is that this is all goes back to learning and relationships. I don’t just want an agent or a publisher. I want to build relationships with people for the rest of my life. What better way than to begin meeting with them? From the learning side of things, I’ve already grown so much as I prepare for these meetings.  A One-Sheet?  Is that when your bed only has one sheet and the spouse which is more aggressive doesn’t have to sleep in the cold? Writing credentials? I assume listing “I’m a complete newb” is not exactly impressive. A 30 second elevator pitch? I’m a preacher – We don’t say anything in 30 seconds!

                All-in-all, with my plane flight to St. Louis coming tomorrow morning, the Lord has already done an amazing work in my life just because I’m going. Please pray for me and my family while I’m away from them. I’m excited to be going, but not to be leaving.

I’m always looking for ways to build relationships and gain more experience/exposure in the writing community. One of the ways I’ve decided to do this is to join the Port Yonder Press Mentoring Team. Basically, Port Yonder has offered to sponser small groups that work together under the guidance of someone with a lot of experience in the industry. One of the focuses of the group is to prepare excellent work that will catch not just the eye of the Christian market, but the General market as well.

We started on July 1st and our first goal is to produce a short story at 1,000 words or less (also known as Flash Fiction). In addition to writing the story, our goal is to research magazines and publications that our story would fit with in the General market so we can pitch these stories to them. In doing so, we’ll have an opportunity to get published and learn all that goes into that process.

Well, I’ve written two pieces so far. I liked the first one, but my bride and oldest son pointed out that it was more of an opening chapter than a short story. So, I hammered out the next idea today. I was so excited when I got the end because I love it. It definitely stands alone as a short story and I think it’s one of the best pieces I’ve written so far. So, I’m pretty amped 🙂

On a side note, I’m looking for people’s impressions of it before I send it to my small group. If you’d like to give me some feedback on it, send me a message on Facebook or post a comment here and I’ll email it to you. It’s only 4 pages long, so won’t take much time 🙂

Soul Yearning Excerpt

It took me a while to figure out how to upload the file, but I finally got it working. This is my Genesis submission. It’s the first 15 pages, which takes it to the middle of chapter 2. Again, it’s not for the shy of heart or small imagination. It’s full of large scale battles and mythical creatures, but has characters that we can all relate to. So, without futher adeiu, here’s the link. I hope you enjoy it!

“What if everything you know if a lie? When a young priest is abandoned by his god, it sends him on a journey from tradition to truth.”

Oh, and if you think of a certain video game when you read about one of the races in the story, please realize I started writing this novel before said game was in existence. As far as I’m concerned, Blizzard hacked my computer and stole MY idea …

There’s one good part of not being a Genesis finalist. I can finally talk about the content of my novel instead of abiding by the gag order for the contest.

I mentioned that the latter part of Numbers 33:4 inspired me to write Soul Yearning. You might tilt your head and in your best Scooby-Doo voice say, “Huh?”, but please let me explain.

The Egyptians believed in many gods and had no understanding of the One True God. So, when Moses came to Phraoah and told him of God’s demand to let the Israelites go, Pharoah’s response is interesting. He says in Exodus 5;2, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go. I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.” Jehovah God was not a part of the Egyptian pantheon. To Pharoah, he wasn’t a god at all. The Lord was about to change that view.

God used 10 plagues to bring about the release of His people from Egypt, but He had another purpose in doing so. Exodus 7:5 says, “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD … ” Each plague the Lord brought upon Egypt showed His superiority over the gods of the Egyptians. In fact, on the plague of the firstborn, the Lord says in Exodus 12:12, “And against all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.”

Now we know there is no other god beside the Lord. Yet, the Lord addresses them as such. How does that make sense? Paul explains a little bit in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 (read it on your own). But I think an interesting passage occurs later on in 1 Corinthians 10:20. “But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils.” Since Satan and his angels desire to be like the Lord, they crave attention and worship. I believe with all my heart that behind every idol is a living entity of evil seeking to deceive the hearts of man. In Egypt, those enemy forces believed they reigned supreme, but God set the record straight. They might crave worship, but He alone is God and worthy of worship.

As I taught a leadership course based on the life of Moses, a thought struck me when I read Numbers 33:4. What if there was not just a culture (Egypt) that didn’t know the Lord? What if there was an entire world that didn’t know the Lord? What if, like in the Dark Ages, there was a period of time when most of the population lived in a world of lies? And then, what if God decided to intervene by destroying those evil entities and all they represent through the life of a man similar to Moses?

And then my own wild imagination took over. What if that world was a fantastical place full of exotic creatures and cultures? Thus was born the world of Adme and the beginning stages of the story of Soul Yearning. The plot has changed a bit since then. The main character, Albione, doesn’t really resemble Moses much. But if one looks closely, you can see the foundation that started it all.

Now that the Genesis contest is over for me, I plan to put my submission online here for all to read. Those first 15 pages may change as I seek publishing in the next few years, but I can’t imagine it would be drastically different. If you’re not a fan of J.R.R Tolkein, Stephen Lawhead, or other Fantasy writers, it might not be your cup of tea. But if you have a sense of adventure and an imagination for the fantastical, it might give you something to enjoy. At the very least, you’ll get to see what I’m so excited about and working so hard on.

My phone didn’t ring yesterday. Not in the way I was hoping at least.

Friday marked the day Finalist’s were announced for the Genesis contest and I didn’t make the cut. When I saw the list of Finalists around 8pm last night, it was bittersweet. On the one hand, I am blown away at how far the Lord has brought me in my writing. To be a semi-finalist is far beyond anything I could imagine. But, even though I never expected to be a finalist, there’s always that part of you deep inside that hopes beyond hope it will happen. There was a small part of me that said, “Man, that would have been cool.”

All in all though, I responded well and as I lie in bed last night I thanked the Lord for allowing me to be a part of the contest. My thanks stemmed from a bit more than that though. See, Friday morning, in my devotions, something special happened. I read the latter portion of Numbers 33:4. ” … upon their gods also the Lord executed judgment.” What is so special about that verse? It’s the verse that inspired the story of Soul Yearning. How ironic that  on the day I would NOT succeed in being a finalist that the Lord would remind me of the day He inspired me to write this story? I can honestly say that this verse kept me throughout a long day of waiting and a disappointing ending. In fact, it gave me more resolve than any validation a contest could.

So, guess what I did after I found out I wasn’t a finalist? I wrote. The Genesis contest was such a blessing to me because I learned so much in the 8 months of preparation for it. I know from those who’ve read my work and seen me develop that I’ve taken my writing to a higher level. And now that I’m out of the contest, it has inspired me to take it to the next level.

The Book of Judges reveals that some of the tribes of Israel encountered setbacks in their conquest of the land. Some of the Canaanites God called them to defeat proved to be pesky and determined to hold their land. While some tribes trusted the Lord and pressed on, others gave up and compromised the call of God. God often uses what I see as a setback or defeat as a way to teach me to endure and go after His goals for me even harder. Romans 5:3 says, “ … and we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation produces endurance.” Colossians 3:23 says, “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

When I read Numbers 33:4 Friday morning, I didn’t know whether I was a finalist or not. But I committed my writing to the Lord in a deeper way than I ever had before. I’m thankful for His support and encouragement through this journey 🙂

I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me and prayed for me during this contest. Your excitement for something you’ve never read has touched me deeply. 

I want to thank ACFW who hosted the Genesis contest and the judges who donated their time. Thank you for reading my submission and giving me such helpful and encouraging feedback. I look forward to meeting some of you in person at the conference in September.

I want to give a special thank you to all of my critique partners. Your time, encouragement, feedback, suggestions, and loving criticism has made me a better writer. I am especially thankful for my friends in Word Weavers of Orlando. I wouldn’t have even been a semi-finalist without your feedback!

I want to give a special thank you to my father who paid for my membership to ACFW (in honor of his mother) when I couldn’t afford it. My grandmother was a writer and he used some of the money she left to him when she passed away last year so I could become a better writer. My Genesis submission doens’t happen without that.

I want to give a special thank you to my bride, Beverly. She’s the one who read my story to begin with and challenged me to seek the Lord about seriously persuing publishing. Her support, encouragment, and analysis of every sentence of my work is invaluable. I wouldn’t be doing this if not for you standing beside me honey.

Finally, I want to thank my Jesus. I’ve wanted to write since I was in middle school. Now I get to do it for Him and with His blessing.

Oh, if you’re wondering why Numbers 33:4 inspired me to write Soul Yearning, you’ll have to check back at my next update 🙂

Okay, so this won’t be a blog post with scripture or anything. But I just found out yesterday afternoon that I’m a Semi-Finalist in the Genesis contest! Since I really committed to writing last June, one of my goals was to have a good submission ready for the Genesis contest. This is just an amazing encouragement to me as well as a confirmation that the hard work and time is paying off. Even if I don’t become a finalist, I will have accomplished some goals and gotten better in my craft 🙂

But I do want to BE a finalist. So, here’s to hoping that the Semi-Final judges like my submission also! I believe I find out around the 2nd week of May whether or not i’ve made the final cut. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, prayed for me, or critiqued my work. You all have a part in this success!

Here’s the link to the Semi-Finalist announcment.

Moving right along. I’m so excited with the changes I’ve made to these two chapters. These were areas were the story sagged a bit, but the key scenes were too important to cut. I feel really good about the transition scenes I created and how I fleshed out some of the other scenes. Chapter 5 edit is next and that’s where things get really interesting 🙂 Yay! I love spring break!

Well, the Genesis contest for unpublished authors closed today and there are 54 entries in my genre. Yooouch! Only the top 20% scores move on to the Semi-Finals, so I need to have a top 10 entry pretty much. I’m so nervous lol! Semi-finalists are announced on May 13th, so I have 2 months to stew. Whether I advance or not, I will get feedback and comments on my entry (first 15 pages) from 3 published authors. So, it’s worth it either way 🙂