It has been an insane reading month! With a grand total of 13 books, not including the manuscripts I read.
Several of these are comps for clients' books, and the rest are just for pleasure. It would take me too long to talk about each of these individually, so I'm just going to mention my favorites.
Take Off Your Pants: Outlining Books for Faster, Better Writing
I'm always looking for ways to improve the quality and speed of my own writing, and I thought this book gave some helpful ways to quickly plot out a novel. I use a beat sheet already, which is similar in this author's technique, but I especially love the scene and flow break down she offers in this. I will be trying her method on my next manuscript.
You all know how much I adore Lysa TerKeurst, and her newest release Uninvited is great for those who have dealt with feeling rejected (haven't we all). Working in the publishing world, there's a thread of rejection almost daily. She teaches us how to see rejection through our Creator's eyes versus our own emotions.
Sweet & Sassy Anthology: Sand and Kisses
This was the type of book I would want to read while on the beach. I wish that's where I read it, but... I don't read too much romance, but I do love the occasional clean, sweet treat one gets when diving into something like this. Each story was carefully thought out and left me with those butterfly tingles that are usually reserved for my Prince Charming. Books like this remind us that love is alive everywhere we look and makes us thankful for the love we have in our own lives.
This is a tough topic, but one I feel strongly about. I recently attended a wonderful well-known Christian conference. I loved everything about it. The people were warm and friendly. There were lots of hugs and words of encouragement, and everyone wanted to help each other succeed. It was a breath of fresh air, for me.
But I dreaded something about every conversation. That inevitable question that makes believers who write for a secular market cringe: "So what do you write?"
When I say, "fantasy" I get that questioning look, AND when I throw in the words "for a secular market" it's like I've committed a sin right in front of their very eyes. Given, my interpretation may be totally off, but that's what it felt like. I felt like I didn't belong. Like I was too worldly for these amazing people, whom I really connected with and understood and who actually, without them really knowing it, understood me. My soul.
It's been a few months since I left that conference, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about that feeling. I'm convinced that there are many other writers like me who have been confronted with this:
If God gives you a gift, you should use it for His purpose.
kI've done a lot of soul searching on this idea, and though this may not align with everyone's beliefs, it has kept me writing and growing closer to the Creator who inspires everything.
Let me tell you a secret: YOU ARE USING YOUR GIFT FOR HIS PURPOSE.
Our work may not overtly mention faith or God, but it does have His truth intermingled in the way our characters interact and the moral throughout. I dare say some good vs. evil is probably in there too, and maybe you even use magic as a catalyst! Uh-oh. It's okay. You shouldn't feel guilty about how God has inspired your writing. He is the creator of entertainment, even yours! He loves His children to explore their imaginations, and for a brief time, catch a glimmer of what it's like to be Him--the ultimate creative.
Secular Christian writers, allow me to speak to your soul for a minute. The same soul that has been tossed to and fro because of the hurtful words of others or the pressure to write only faith-based works when your heart pulls you to other endeavors. You're joining the greats, like J.R.R. Tolkien. You are expressing yourself through art. That's what artists do. If there's an element of Truth and Hope there, you have succeeded in using your gift for His purpose. You are going to the highways and hedges to reach the unchurched. Is that not what the Great Commission is all about?
There will always be well-meaning people who will question why you write what you write, but give them grace. They don't understand your purpose like you do.
In the beginning was the word... God uses words, and He'll use yours. Be encouraged, my friends. So long as you're drawing closer to Him and relying on His inspirations, you are fulfilling His will in your life.
So, for heaven's sake, go write something.
Vanessa K. Eccles
Sharing wisdom on living a creative life.
Author of FABLED (2015) / Founder of The Faithful Creative Magazine / Executive Editor of Belle Reve Literary Journal
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