Turn Write Series with Author Vicki Lucas

Not a Doorstop

If you had five hundred thousand dollars, what would you do with it? Would you get a better car, give some to charity, travel, or save for a rainy day?

You probably wouldn’t put it outside your front door to get rained on, kicked around, and muddy. But that’s exactly what Conrad and his Dad did in 1799. While Conrad was fishing one Sunday morning, a large rock caught his eye. He lugged it home and showed it to his father. They didn’t know what it was, so they didn’t treat it special. It became a doorstop for their front door.

How often in our lives do we treat something or someone poorly because we don’t know what we have? And how often is something overlooked because we don’t recognize its value?

We often fail to notice people and things that have great value in our lives. We all long for a million dollars, a large house, or a fancy car. However nice those things might be, have you ever considered what your life would be like without a house to live in? Without electricity or running water? What if you had water, but it was too polluted to drink? And what if your last paycheck was one year ago instead of one week ago? I know life is hard, but too often we take what we have for granted.

God has given us so many things to be thankful for, but He has also placed people who have great value in our lives. Maybe this is a family member who encourages and supports you no matter what. It might be as small as friends you happen to see in the grocery store when you are lonely and discouraged. They greet you with a huge smile and ask how you are doing. Best of all, they listen to you.

All around us are stories of great friendships. Sam and Frodo. Wilbur and Charlotte. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Robin Hood and Little John. Timmy and Lassie. Snoopy and Woodstock. Spock and Captain Kirk. Even in real life, people’s friendships become famous.  Look at Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, and C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Bible tells us of loyal friends as well. Read the story of Naomi and Ruth. David and Jonathan were close friends despite many adversities. Not only does the Bible give us stories of these people, but it gives us verses about friendship.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times.

Proverbs 18:24 There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Perhaps you won’t journey to Mount Doom together. You probably haven’t lived in Sherwood Forest or journeyed through space. The two of you may not write fiction that is loved throughout the years. But your friend has been there for you when you were lonely. I’d wager that they’ve laughed, cried, and giggled with you. They’ve encouraged you when you needed it and love you no matter what.

Don’t treat what you have and who you have as a doorstop.

We often fail to recognize that we are priceless. We tend to place our value on what we do. Our identity becomes wrapped up in our work. This is why we get so upset when someone criticizes us, even if it’s constructive. As writers, we see that stream of rejection letters come to our door, and it becomes so easy to think that the editors are discarding us as a person. Thoughts fill our heads: I’m stupid. I can’t do this. No one likes me. I’m no good.

I know. I’ve been there. Some days I’m still there. But then I have to remind myself of God’s promises.

  • I am God’s child.  (John 1:12)
  • I am a friend of Jesus Christ. (John 15:15)
  • I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
  • I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. (Romans 8:28)
  • I know that God will complete the good work He started in me. (Philippians 1:6)
  • I have been made new by Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • I am an heir with the Father and a joint heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17)
  • I am chosen of God. (Colossians 3:12, I Thessalonians 1:4)

So as you read those rejection letters or when you hear the criticism pound through your head, don’t forget. You are the child of the King, friend to our Savior. You belong to the One Who created everything. Your good in all circumstances is being arranged by the God Who controls all. You are forgiven of all you did and will do. You were chosen and are now an heir of God! You are priceless

If rocks could think, I wonder what that rock Conrad brought home must have thought. All I’m good for is to hold open a door. No one wants me around, for I’m outside during the heat and the cold. I have no talents – anything can hold open a door. I’m no good. I’m worthless.

Three years after using this seventeen pound rock as a doorstop, Conrad’s father finally found someone who knew that they had. The giant stone was actually a gold nugget! To put this into perspective, today a seventeen pound gold nugget would sell for roughly four hundred thousand, nine hundred and eighty-four dollars. From this point on, Conrad and his family lives’ changed forever. The value of the rock didn’t alter. It didn’t morph into gold over the years or shed a shell that was hiding the gold. No, nothing changed except they knew what was valuable in their life.

How much would your life change if you valued what you have, who you have, and who you are more? What have you done to let the people in your life know that they are special to you?

Vicki’s Bio

I have never been able to tell people what I was going to be when I grew up. I received my Bachelor’s in Psychology…only to find myself with no desire to work in that field. I switched careers to Teaching English as a Second Language and obtained a Master’s from Seattle Pacific University. Teaching at universities and colleges gave me eleven years of incredible experiences, remarkable coworkers, and unforgettable friends from many different countries. However, the distant mountains began to call, and I responded, not knowing where I was going or what my purpose was. After a year and a half of traveling through the quiet places that are left in the world, I settled in Montana with my husband and my dog. I have begun to write the stories I heard on the wind.

Webpage: www.vickivlucas.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vicki-V-Lucas/296644940383708

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/VickiVLucas

Blog: http://blog.vickivlucas.com/

Vicki’s Book:

You can purchase Vicki’s wonderful fantasy novel, Toxic, from Amazon

Paperback here and on Kindle here

Turn Write Series with Guest: Author Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt’s unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Beginning with DawnSinger, her epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries the reader into a land only imagined in dreams.

Janalyn also writes western romance novels, and will publish in that genre under Janalyn Irene Voigt. She is represented by Barbara Scott of Wordserve Literary. She serves as a literary judge for several national contests and is an active book reviewer. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA.

When she’s not writing, Janalyn loves to find adventures in the great outdoors.

We welcome Janalyn to the Turn Write Series. Be sure to leave her a comment at the conclusion of this post and be entered to win a free copy of her just released novel, DawnSinger.

Capture a Wide Audience Walt Disney’s Storytelling Techniques

“I can never stand still. I must explore and experiment. I am never satisfied with my work. I resent the limitations of my own imagination” ~ Walt Disney.

Each morning during my visit to Disneyland when the rope dropped to allow guests into the park a spontaneous cheer rose from the waiting crowd. Why? What brought people from all over the world and united them with happy expectation? And how can I allow this happy magic to inform my own writing?

The answers take us straight into the heart of Disneyland — to Walt Disney himself. He’s present in every corner of the park, beside you as you fly with Peter Pan, fight with the Force, adventure Indiana-Jones-style or ride a runaway train in the Old West. Walt Disney’s appeal goes beyond his fine understanding of story, evidenced by the following quote:

“If I can’t find a theme, I can’t make a film anyone else will feel. I can’t laugh at intellectual humor. I’m just corny enough to like to have a story hit me over the heart…” ~ Walt Disney. 

From this quote, a writer can draw the following inferences:

  • A story needs a theme.
  • Be real to reach readers.
  • To touch others, engage your own emotions as you write.

Walt Disney detailed the elements present in his stories:

“My entertainment credo has not changed a whit. Strong combat and soft satire are in our story cores. Virtue triumphs over wickedness in our fables. Tyrannical bullies are routed or conquered by our good little people, human or animal. Basic morality is always deeply implicit in our screen legends. But they are never sappy or namby-pamby. And they never prate or preach. All are pitched toward the happy and satisfactory ending. There is no cynicism in me and there is none allowed in our work.” ~ Walt Disney. 

To emulate Disney’s formula:

  • Build your story around strong conflict and soft satire.
  • Allow good to win over evil through your character’s virtues.
  • Allow morality to inform your story world.
  • Never manipulate with sappiness (excessive emotion without cause).
  • Don’t let your storytelling become wishy-washy or run-of-the-mill. Know what you want to express and do so in a unique way.
  • Don’t lecture the reader.
  • Don’t preach at the reader.
  • Develop your story toward a satisfying conclusion. As Walt Disney put it: “A good ending is vital to a picture, the single most important element, because it is what the audience takes with them out of the theater.”
  • Don’t allow cynicism to enter your writing.

Walt Disney’s insights into storytelling were matched by his equally keen understanding of his audience:

“You don’t build it for youself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.”  

Disney’s opinion flies in the face of the popular notion that writers should write to please themselves. Contrary to today’s pursuit of niche markets, Disney successfully defined a wide audience for his work:

“To captivate our varied and worldwide audience of all ages, the nature and treatment of the fairy tale, the legend, the myth have to be elementary, simple. Good and evil, the antagonists of all great drama in some guise, must be believably personalized. The moral ideals common to all humanity must be upheld. The victories must not be too easy. Strife to test valor is still and will always be the basic ingredient of the animated tale, as of all screen entertainments”

–Walt Disney. 

Let’s review how to capture a wide audience:

  • Maintain a simple focus in your storyline.
  • Believably personalize good and evil (no cardboard characters)
  • Uphold universally-held moral ideals.
  • Keep tension high with conflict to
  • Don’t give away the ending with a too-easy resolution. Make your characters work for victory.

If Disney’s formula for success seems calculated for profit, think again. I’ll let Walt Disney explain for himself:

“I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was to ever grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds”

–Walt Disney.

I don’t know about you, but I’m all for winning against the odds.

Janalyn Voigt’s DawnSinger

The High Queen is dying… At the royal summons, Shae mounts a wingabeast and soars through the air to the high hold of Faeraven, where all is not as it seems. Visions warn her of danger, and a dark soul touches hers in the night. When she encounters an attractive but disturbing musician, her wayward heart awakens. But then there is Kai, a guardian of Faeraven and of Shae. Secrets bind him to her, and her safety lies at the center of every decision he makes. On a desperate journey fraught with peril and the unknown, they battle warlike garns, waevens, ferocious raptors, and the wraiths of their own regrets. Yet, they must endure the campaign long enough to release the DawnKing—and the salvation he offers—into a divided land. To prevail, each must learn that sometimes victory comes only through surrender.

Book Trailer  Purchase DawnSinger from Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Connect with Janalyn: http://janalynvoigt.com or http://janalynvoigt.com/blog

Don’t forget to leave a comment below and be entered to win a free copy of DawnSinger

Turn Write Series with Guest Andrew Winch

Andrew Winch is a writer of YA Speculative Fiction and Senior Editor of the Christian Flash-Fiction Magazine: Splickety-Magazine.

If you’re interested in Andrew Winch’s work, check out the first issue of Splickety magazine for free HERE (http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/324163), the magazine’s facebook page HERE (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Splickety-Magazine/296833703674321), or his personal blog HERE (www.winchway.blogspot.com).

Overnight Success…Eventually

Huh, that’s an interesting idea. I bet someone could write a great book about that. Hey, I bet I could write a great book about that.

Fast-forward 3 years

 I can’t believe it. I wrote a novel. And people actually like it! Now all I have to do is send it to the agent of my dreams, then the editor of my dreams, and I’ll be famous!

 Fast-forward another year

 So, maybe my novel isn’t as publishable as I thought…Sure, friends and family have nothing but great things to say, but there really isn’t a market for that kind of fiction right now, and even after extensive edits, my manuscript still has some first novel symptoms that just won’t buff out. I know, I’ll write ANOTHER novel, using what I’ve learned about writing, the industry, and the mistakes of my first novel, and then I’ll be famous.

 -Rinse, lather, repeat-

 Sound familiar? If not, you’re probably not a writer. “What about all the overnight success stories, Andrew?” Well, I won’t tell you it doesn’t happen, but I WILL tell you that most sources claim C.S. Lewis was rejected somewhere around 800 times before publishing ANYTHING. And he’s definitely not in the minority. Google “famous writer rejections” for some cheap motivation.

Though it could have been about almost any schmuck in the business, the brief example I’ve shared is based on my writing career. I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing, but I started my first novel in the second year of physical therapy graduate school. After I finished it 3 years later, I dove ego-first into the other side of the writing world. You know, the world of query letters, revisions, conferences, and REJECTIONS.

There is no education like adversity. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. God never gives you more than you can handle. Blah, blah, blah. Rejection stinks. That’s all there is to it. So why the heck am I still writing? Partly because I’m magnificently stubborn, but mostly because God is good. And believe me, both parts of that equation are essential.

Without my stubbornness (some call it dedication, I call it stubbornness), I wouldn’t have learned to cringe every time I write “-ly” adverbs, and I certain-LY wouldn’t be working on my third novel right now. Without God’s goodness (I’m tempted to say something cliché about owing everything to Him), I wouldn’t have had that spark of inspiration on Christmas almost 5 years ago (whilst reading the Bible, no less) that started this crazy ride, and I unequivocally would not be as close to publication as I am now.

If you’ll allow it, I’d like to take a minute to expound on that last fact. Four years ago, I didn’t know ANYONE who had published ANYTHING (other than in medical journals). Now, I have regular correspondence with agents, editors, and published authors, and most of them tell me they enjoy my writing. I cannot stress enough how motivational it has been for me to have an active network of people in “the business.” And on top of that, God’s blessed me with the opportunity to act as Senior Editor of a rapidly growing Christian flash-fiction magazine (remember that whole “God never gives you more than you can handle” bit? Apparently I’m determined to test that theory).

So, when people ask me if I get frustrated with it all (“Why don’t you just self-publish?” they ask. Apparently my stubbornness isn’t as obvious as I thought), I smile and answer honestly: “No way.” I love writing. I love learning to write better. And, honestly, if my first novel had made it to publication, that would have been the end of my writing career. It wasn’t bad, but there’s a reason why editors didn’t jump at it. Now, I’m closer to publication than I’ve ever been, and it’s exhilarating.

As long as my tenacity holds out, I know God will hold up His end of the bargain. I’ve seen too much to believe any differently. I don’t know how long I’ll wait to become an overnight success, but I know I’m one step closer than I was yesterday.

So what do you think? Have I fairly represented the life of a novelist? Do you have a newfound respect for struggling artists? Is there anything you would like to ask a writer with delusions of grandeur?