Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top 10 Ways NOT to Improve Your Writing

10) Don't use a thesaurus. Go ahead and say "season" twenty times on one page.

9) Overuse the semicolon; it's such a cute little punctuation mark; and gets so little respect.

8) Always put the period outside the quotation marks.

7) Use cute little "catch phrases" and be sure to place quotation marks around them so the reader "gets" it.

6) Devote your first five chapters to your main character's history. Don't get to the action til the reader has completely lost interest.

5) Write like you text, using hip abbreviations like omg and lol, and be sure to end each sentence with lots of exclamation points!!!!!

4) Writing long and drawn-out sentences will surely entice the reader and lead him into the story by preventing him from lifting his eyes from the page, something that would divert his attention from the intense scene being played out before him and would thus alert him to the fact that he hasn't eaten in several hours or had a drop to drink since he awoke that morning; hence, such weakness may incite hallucinations that cause him to wonder if the characters about whom he is reading are truly fictional or if they are indeed living, breathing people stalking him, hovering over his shoulder, about to throw him from the train.

3) Reciting lofty words and abstract thoughts will educate your reader and require him to utilize a nearby dictionary and encyclopedia.

2) Give your characters unique names that are impossible to pronounce.


1) Be sure to take excessive pride in every word you write, knowing each first draft is a certain masterpiece in need of no editing.

Follow these 10 simple guidelines, and you will definitely NOT improve your writing. In 2010, may God grant you discernment to avoid these fatal flaws, and may you receive lots of acceptance letters!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Once Upon a Midnight Clear

Once upon a midnight clear, Village Jester came out to cheer. “Hip hip hooray!” was his chant and all who heard came to join in the rant. He whooped and he called and he jumped about ‘til his hat it flew off and then went kersplat. A puddle as big as Superior be. He dove right in with giggles and glee. Townsmen frowned; their wives harrumphed. Their kids snicker doodled, their bedtimes trumped. Above flew a fowl who dropped “gifts” aloft. Village Jester smirked, thanked it, and took off.

For who should observe but a Round Little Elf with ears slightly pointed and chin like a shelf. He rolled down the street, bellowed, “Hullaboo,” rubbed his nose with a kerchief and sneezed, “A-a-choo!” A fright to the townsmen, Round Elf he did give. They shuffled their wives and their children inside. One imp turned around and to him gave a wink. Round Elf he did certain not know what to think. He stood, made a wish, then flashed a big grin, kicked up his heels and twirled shenanigans.

Be it Christmas Eve, the people all clamored. “Let’s get us some shuteye not dance,” they demanded. But children aroused from their beds Christmas Eve do not quickly return to dream happily. Visions of sugarplums dashed by disruption. No rest will suffice. “We want gifts!” sprang eruption. So out to the tree in the square they did go. Village Jester and Round Elf trounced through the snow. Glistening boughs sprinkled twinkles and sleigh bells did jingle while laughter and merriment funny bones tingled.

What fun had they all! ‘Twas a grand frolic squall. Each bid a farewell, heeded reverie’s call. Afar in the night, one lone star pierced the sky, bidding dreamers, “Tata!” and a sweet lullaby.

This is what happened when, after years of being stifled, my fiction muse was let loose! I sat at the keyboard one evening to get creative gears cranking. After an hour, I’d written one paragraph. Giving up, I closed out that document and was about to shut down the computer when line 1 above popped into my head. I thought, “That’s cute. Wonder where it will go.” So I started typing and this “Dr. Seuss Meets ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem appeared. Sometimes I just never know where my writing will go, but it sure is fun to follow!

I hope each and every one of you has a blessed Christmas, rejoicing in celebration of our Savior’s birth. And to my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukah!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Homeless Man in Holy Socks

I drove my usual route to work that gloomy Tuesday morning in January. It was 42 degrees, misty, and foggy in Dallas. I was nearing my office, a mile or so away. I drove under the overpass and approached a red light. Along the sidewalk strode a man about forty, in need of a shave, slender, carrying a small duffel bag. Nothing intimidating about him. He did not appear threatening. He just walked. But it was 42 degrees and he wore only a flannel shirt, jeans, and flip-flops with socks. If you can call them socks. They were more like holes held together with string.

I, a young, petite female, was alone in my car and afraid to offer a ride. I had maybe fifty cents in my wallet. I wondered what I could give him. I considered making a u-turn and running in to the convenience store to purchase something, anything to warm him, but feared he’d be gone before I returned. Just days before, I’d had a packing blanket in the trunk of my car. If only I hadn’t stored it away. All I had to offer was a prayer for his safety and comfort.

When I arrived at my office, I asked if anyone else had seen him. Though most had entered from the same direction at about the same time, they had not. I peered down to the street from my sixth floor window. I could see quite a distance, but the only people around were other workers scurrying in from the cold. Where had he gone? When I went out at lunch, I searched street corners. Surely, a homeless man in holey socks would be panhandling. There were no shelters in the area. He was gone!

A Colin Raye song played in my mind. “What if Jesus came back like that?” the song asks. “Where would He find our hearts are at? Would we let Him in or turn our backs? What if Jesus came back like that?” I had turned my back! The stranger was in need, and I had not assisted him in any way. I was unprepared.

When I returned home that evening, I packed the blanket back in my trunk. Then I took a brand new pair of my husband’s socks from his drawer and tucked them under the front passenger seat of my car. There those socks remained for five years.

I drove that same route to work every day, and each morning I hoped to see the man along the sidewalk. I prayed for him, that his circumstances had improved, and if I saw him again, I’d be prepared to clothe the King (Matthew 25:34-40, NIV).

The man didn’t ask for help. He appeared en route somewhere. He didn’t stop and glare at me and guilt me into rendering aid. I doubt he noticed me pass him by for his glance was directed at his steps. Though he did not physically get into my car, he has journeyed with me through the past ten years. I’ve often thought of the homeless man in holy socks and wondered what became of him, or if he was even real.

This angel appeared to me to remind me, “There will always be poor people in the land,” and to instruct me, “Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:11, NIV).

I’ve seen other homeless people on street corners, under bridges. One woman approached me in a parking lot some time after this incident. She held a bird in a cage and wanted bus fare to get home. I’d just come out of a fast-food eatery. I gave her all my change, close to $20. We were beside a liquor store. Who knows if I helped or hindered her. I did my part. I gave when I perceived a need. What she did with it was her responsibility. I just didn’t want her to walk the thread right out of her socks.

This post originally appeared at Godz Anglz. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, let's remember to BE Jesus to the world.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Can anyone tell me why some of the blogs I follow (on the sidebar) look like they haven't been updated in months when they indeed have been? Is it something I need to fix here, or is it a Google issue?


Monday, December 7, 2009

Don't Turn It Off!

I’ve read in many publications, “Turn off the internal editor when writing,” but is that really helpful? Is it even possible? Maybe better advice would be not to shut it off completely but to let it nap.

I learned Saturday that squelching my mental critique partner may be hazardous to my health—or to my sleep. That day, I left a personal comment on a friend’s blog. That night, somewhere around 3:00 a.m., my internal editor crashed my dream and nagged my unconscious about wrong word usage. Word usage, the nightmare! I had written “reign” to mean “rein” on a public forum and humiliated myself in front of hundreds of potential readers (or at least of the fifteen other commenters). I obsessed over that error til morning light.

To aim for perfection in my writing I must allow the internal editor to function. That’s what keeps my stories straight, characters coordinated, and words wise. Without that regulator, I end up with a sloppy first draft that needs a lot of cleanup. If I keep my writing in check along the way, I save myself time and effort in revisions.

I think it’s safe to let the copy editor doze off. You know, the one who checks spelling and punctuation. It’s ok to hit its snooze alarm, but keep the content editor awake. I know I rest more peacefully when I do.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Review of Ted Dekker's Green

Perhaps I chose the wrong book as my first Ted Dekker read. Green, “the beginning and the end” of Dekker’s Circle series, is both a continuation of and an introduction to the good versus evil saga begun in Black. Although Dekker claims Green is a fine place to begin reading the Circle series, I found it difficult to plunge into.

I am not typically a fan of fantasy literature, and maybe that’s what hindered my reading, but I did find Green to be a superb allegory. The events of Green take place in two worlds simultaneously which are linked by one man, Thomas Hunter. In Black, Hunter, raised in the present age, crosses into a parallel dimension, a post-apocalyptic earth 2000 years in the future, where civilization exists much like it did in ancient times, depending on the strength of man and horse in battle and living off God’s provision. In this future world, good and evil are physical. What is unseen and spiritual of the present age is seen and tangible in the future world.

Black, Red, and White cover Hunter’s years in the future world, during which time he marries, raises a family, and fights evil. He leads the Circle, the representation of Christians who follow the ways of Elyon (God) and are literally washed by his blood, against the Hoard, the representation of those who reject salvation and worship evil.

A scabbing disease marks each Hoard member. It is discovered in Green that the disease is more than skin deep. It resides in the brain of its hosts and is a living, destructive reproduction of evil, or the literal and physical effects of sin.

Circle members are referred to as albino because they lack the scabs. They were once affected, but chose to drown in Elyon’s lake, the water turned red by his blood. They literally died to themselves and were born to salvation by accepting Elyon’s cleansing gift.

Over time, doubt has crept into the Circle, and the people can no longer see nor touch the spiritual forces surrounding them. They had been so confident in and reliant on Elyon, “But the realities of life cast doubt on that interpretation” (Dekker 150). The musing of Thomas' son, Samuel, “Absolute good and evil were nothing more than constructs fashioned by humans who needed to understand and order their everyday lives” (Dekker 150), is reflective of the way people question the need for salvation today.

Thomas sums up that need in his conversation with Kara and Monique. He says, “Yes, we die. But it’s life really, because Elyon paid that price so we can escape it.” The women question what the price is for, to which Thomas replies, “The cost of our embracing evil—death. Elyon cannot live with evil; it must die” (Dekker 199).

My one real disappointment was the ending. I understand why it ends as it does, so the Circle will continue. However, it would have been much more satisfying (to me) to end with a final defeat of evil and the redemption of the faithful. You know, a happy ending. As it is, everyone in the Circle but Thomas and Samuel go on to eternity with Elyon, while Thomas goes back in time in hope of saving his son, thus, leading us into Black.

As Thomas tells Mikil after Samuel joins the half-breeds, “There’s much [I] don’t understand.” A second (or third or fourth) reading might fill in the blanks I missed, but I will probably not see the whole picture until I read the complete series. Isn’t that ironic? I won’t see the whole picture of my own life either until its circle is complete. For now, though, I concur with the Roush, “I understand what I’m meant to understand” (Dekker 157).

I recommend reading Green, but only after reading Black, Red, and White. I believe it would be helpful to read the Paradise trilogy and the Lost Books series beforehand also.

This sums it up ;)

This sums it up ;)