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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Love Your Neighbor


August 30, 2009

[Jesus replied,] "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your
strength.' The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.'
There is no commandment greater than these."

-- Mark 12:30-31

Sometimes the most important things are not hard to understand.
God wants us to love him with every fiber of our being and to also
love those around us. All of his demands on character really boil
down to honoring these two great principles that transcend law and
bring the character of God to hearts.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Character Emotions

I recently reviewed this book for Mary DeMuth's summer writing-book series.

Like many of you, I’ve read dozens of how-to books on the craft of writing. The one I most often refer to is “Creating Character Emotions” by Ann Hood (Story Press, 1998.) Every time I pick up Ann’s book, I read something that sparks an “Aha!” moment concerning one of my own characters. The first section discusses writing about emotion, how to do it so your story is fresh and your characters complex. The author also shows “How to do it wrong” and end up with a story full of clichés and inconsistencies. She explains techniques for showing emotion, including The Power of Suggestion, Point of View, Fresh Language and Using the Unpredictable.

The larger portion of the book delves into actual character emotions. These include love, jealousy, restlessness, shame, suspicion, despair, grief, sympathy, tenderness and others. Just reading through the author’s examples, both good and bad, provides me with instant insight into my own characters. For example, Ann’s chapter on Tenderness includes this gem: “Tenderness implies something almost tactile. We say a bruise feels tender. Keeping this in mind is a good way to push yourself toward rendering this emotion effectively. Use physical expressions. . . be wary of cliché.” Instantly my mind is at work applying this emotion to one of my characters, attempting to show it in a fresh way.

In her chapter on Jealousy, Ann explains the phrase “green with envy” is not a good choice to show this emotion. “It has a way of consuming us. It can destroy friendships. It cam make us irrational and drive us to do embarrassing things. . . people are hesitant to admit they feel this way. . . Remember its power to overwhelm us.” I haven’t applied this emotion to my characters yet, but I’m ready when the time comes.

This book is available at

Friday, August 21, 2009

Social Networking and Your Creativity

Timing is everything. Just today I deleted several of my social networking accounts, since they seemed to be time-drains. Thanks to Robin Lee Hatcher, who recently did the same thing, and who also found this article today:

How Social Networking Kills the Creative Spirit

by JT Ellison

You want to hear some hard truth? Do you promise not to get mad at me? Promise?

Okay then. Here it is. Your social networking habit? It might be hurting you.

Yes, I know it’s fun. Meeting new people, reconnecting with old friends, discussing the price of tea in china with strangers, staffing up your mafia, finding out your Princess personality, etcetera, etcetera. But every minute you spend on Facebook and Twitter (I'm not even going to try and list the gajillion other social networking sites available) is another minute you aren’t writing, or reading. Nurturing your creative spirit.

The Muse is a delicate flower, a fickle Goddess. She must be treated with respect and dignity. She must be nurtured, given the proper nutrients: water, sunlight, fertilizer, a touch of love. If properly taken care of, she will reward you with great things: a bountiful garden of words, a cornucopia of ideas. But if you neglect her, she will forsake you.

And none of us want to be forsaken.

read an essay last week that broke my heart. It was one writer’s honest, true assessment of her burgeoning Twitter addiction. She openly admitted compromising her family time so she could spend hours a night talking to strangers on Twitter. Her online world became more important that her real one. And I get it. I see how easily that happens. Especially when you’re a new writer, and networking is so vital to your future success. (I am so thankful Facebook and Twitter came along after I was already published.) A little encouragement—that tweet that gets retweeted, the blog entry that starts people talking, that link you sent that helps someone else—it’s heady stuff. A classic, undeniable ego stroke, and for a lot of us, that’s just plain intoxicating. (Yes, some of us not so new writers fall into the Twitter trap too…)

But when does it become a problem?

Find out here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Suffering from Christian-ish?

Mark Steele's new release will help you figure it out.

In his new book, author Mark Steele transforms middle-ground,
Christianish faith into a passionate, authentic pursuit of Christ
evangelicalism has lost its balance. A lukewarm spirituality, somewhere
between cold faith and hot pursuit, has taken hold and found many believers
in the median between the wide path and the narrow road of the spiritual
walk. The efforts of many have become more centered on how to cope with
their own dysfunctional lives, and less concentrated on what it really
means to follow Jesus. It's something not quite Christian. It's more

Mark Steele tells the story of his
own personal journey from living in the "in-between" to a life that's
centered on Christ. "Somewhere along the road, I stopped being a 'little
Christ' and instead began filling out the application that I had labeled
'Christian.' It was not a definition based on the actual namesake but,
rather, on those who frequent the clubhouse. I allowed Jesus to seep into
my church world-but not my relational world, my romance world, my business
world, my creative world, my habits, my mouth. I had become Christianish."

Christianish may feel like authentic faith. It may even look like the real
deal. Yet it's often easy to settle for the souvenir t-shirt-the
appearance of a transformed heart-instead of taking the actual trip through
true life-change. We find ourselves being contented with a personal faith
that's been polluted by culture and diluted by other people's take on

In Christianish, Mark revisits the words and life of Christ to find just
what it means to be a Christian. Through stories and insights that are
sometimes profound, often hilarious, and always honest, he delivers a
compelling look at what authentic faith is all about. While carefully
detailing the tell tale symptoms of being Christianish, Mark encourages
readers to ditch the "ish" to become true Christ-followers.

"We have trained ourselves to cope well on a Christianish path: a path
where we please the right godly people and don't feel the guilt when our
failings are seen by the world at large. But this is not the approach to
Jesus that we were created to take. There is only one way for us to
discover the right way to travel the right road. The way is not church.
The way is not an ideology. The way is not Christian. The way is Jesus."

Mark Steele
is the president and executive creative of Steelehouse
Productions, a group that creates art for business and ministry through the
mediums of film, stage, and animation. He is also the author of Flashbang:
How I Got Over Myself and Half-Life/Die Already and is a regular
contributor to Collide Magazine and Relevant Magazine. Mark and his wife,
Kaysie, reside in Oklahoma with their three greatest productions: Morgan,
Jackson, and Charlie.

Christianish: What if We're Not Really Following Jesus at All? by Mark

David C Cook/August 2009/ISBN 978-1-434766-92-2/320 pages/softcover/$14.99

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Sunday

~~~excerpt from's Daily Devotional~~~

For most, today is a day of rest. The weekend is a time to get away from the
pressures of work and relax. Even if you have to work during the weekend,
let me encourage you to spend as much time as possible today putting your
troubles on hold and focusing instead on rest and relaxation. I am not
trying to minimize the complex and difficult situations many of you are
facing, but we MUST find pockets of time in our life to put the burdens down
and simply rest. You are much better equipped to handle life's problems when
you are fresh and energized, then when you are tired and running on fumes.
It is in those run down times when our problems look insurmountable and we
are most apt to become depressed and lose hope. Even Jesus had to get away
once in a while to recharge his physical body.

A time of rest does many things for you. It helps you to regain your
physical strength. However, just as important, it allows you to regain your
mental strength. Fighting day after day wears us down mentally and we get so
focused on our problems that we lose sight of possible alternatives that may
help us in our struggles. Getting worn down also causes us to lose
perspective causing us to forget that God is still in control. Most
important though, a time of rest helps us to refocus on our personal
relationship with the Lord. In the midst of our trials, we can miss out on
that daily, intimate time with Him which just compounds our problems. That
time of rest allows us to not only recharge our bodies and minds, but our
relationship with the Lord.

Just hours before going to the cross, Jesus told His disciples that in this
life they would have many trials. He did not want them to be deceived into
thinking that just because they had walked with Him, they were immune from
life's problems. But He promised them that He would always be with them. We
are heirs to that promise as followers of Christ. It is the Christ living in
us that gives us the ability to live victorious lives. Never lose sight that
the Bible tells us that we are more than conquerors through Him. That means
whatever you are facing today, whatever obstacles may be in your life,
because of Jesus, you can overcome them and be victorious. So as you rest,
while you recharge, dwell not on your problems but on the fact that we have
total victory in Jesus!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Inside Renewal

Tired of trying to keep up with work, e-mail, the house-- all of it at once?
Mary DeMuth has a great article on editing your life/slowing the pace. Go to her site and check out "Inside Renewal."

Monday, August 10, 2009


Proverbs 3:5

My darling husband is a golfer and he really enjoys the game. I, however, find it extremely frustrating. Every spring I watch him practice, hitting range balls and then working on his short game at the putting green. I will even join him at that, just for fun.

But the real trials begin out on the course, once practice is over. Much like life, once you’re out in the real world things become tougher. There are no “mulligans,” or Do-overs, in real life. And there’s no practice at getting out of the toughest sand traps. Daily problems can be just like those sand traps; you chip and swing and still end up stuck, unable to move in any direction. Perspiring more all the time. There’s only one way out, and it starts with prayer. Ask God to guide you out of life’s sand traps, and do as He suggests. It may not actually help your golf game, but it will help with life’s trials and tribulations.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


August 9, 2009

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding
in love.
-- Psalm 103:8

God is holy, righteous, and just. But, as important as these
qualities are, he reveals them within his compassion, graciousness,
patience, and overflowing mercy and love. We cannot only obey,
worship, and reverently respect God; we can also love, appreciate,
and adore him! Maybe the greatest challenge, however, is to reflect
the character of God in our own lives in the ways that we interact
with other people as well as the ways that we view him!

LORD God Almighty, I not only trust in you, but I appreciate
your faithfulness, your mercy, your love, your graciousness, and
your patient compassion. Please help me display each of these
virtues more fully in my life. In the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

An Interview

My good friend Molly Noble Bull has interviewed my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, for South Texas Living. Check it out for info on Tamela the agent and Tamela the author.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"I see His tears"

Onward Christian Soldiers
© Lee Emory

No matter how old you are at this moment, there has never been a time in your life when you’re beliefs in the Lord and Jesus Christ have been more in danger of being destroyed by the largest enemy faction in the history of the world. Without your most passionate and serious commitment to the teachings of the Bible and God’s word now, at this time, faith in our Creator will dissolve in apathy. Apathy is the cancer of Christianity.

Communism, Marxism, White Supremacy, Anti-semitism and others, infiltrated our school system many years ago, but certainly during my lifetime. Our enemies knew it would take time, but they were willing to infiltrate their filthy, destructive politics into our educational system and thereby destroy the United States from within. It’s working. Instead of teaching normal academics, history and the like, our young people learn how to disrespect the rights and beliefs of those who follow holy and common sense practices. To say nothing of disrespecting their parents. Violence is fun and games. They learned how to get high, get drunk and how to indulge in every sexual deviance imaginable, and as often as possible. They think the way to get attention is to show off as much flesh as they possess, pierce and tattoo as much skin as possible, defile the very bodies God gave them.

I see His tears. I feel His pain.

Continue reading here.