Your Story Matters–Leslie Leyland Fields

 

I have often considered writing “my story,” my testimony, something to leave to my children. Several weeks ago, my pastor encouraged us as a congregation to do that very thing. Write down your story. Why? Because it is your testimony of God’s power in your life. No one can argue with your story, discount it, discredit it. It is yours and it is God’s gift to you. Why do we hestitate to share it?

In Your Story Matters, Fields leads you chapter by chapter in how to seek out, put together, and tell your story. Why? “And since the One Who is Running All Things, including galaxies, takes care to notice lost sheep, dying sparrows, and falling hair, we should notice as well. Writing helps us notice what God notices. So write your story because God attends to every moment of your life and you should too.”

Writing your story doesn’t mean writing about your life from birth until the present. It’s not about telling every childhood memory (whether good or bad); it’s not about spilling the beans on your personal or family secrets; and it’s definitely not about a chance for revenge. It should be about a significant moment of your life, a turning point, and–if you’re a Christian–a refining moment between you and God.

“The inner story is not the record of everything that has happened to you; rather, it focuses on a key theme and transformative event in your life.”

You may not believe yourself to be a writer and may have no interest in writing anything else, but this book is for everyone because everyone has a story. At the end of each chapter are writing prompts and assignments with practical steps for discovering and writing your story. I read through the book first, but I now plan to go back and do the assignments and write my own story. I can’t wait to see where God will take me in this adventure.

If you’ve been wanting to share your story, but not sure where to start, I highly recommend reading this book and following the writing exercises.

This book is now available for preorder wherever you buy your books.

*A pdf copy of this book was provided to me for an honest review.

On a previous post, I reviewed Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus Through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas. https://pmgilmer.com/2017/07/01/crossing-the-waters-by-leslie-leyland-fields/ 

NC Christian Writers Conference 18

Last week I attended a writers’ conference in Liberty, N.C. put on by Serious Writer (www.seriouswriter.com) Going to a conference can be a big commitment as well as an extra expense–especially for struggling writers. What are some reasons for attending a writers’ conference?

  1. To meet other writers. Why is this important? We writers spend our working hours alone and a lot of time just in our own heads. To meet others who also have this strange way of living is refreshing and encouraging. As C.S. Lewis put it: “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another ‘What, you, too? I thought that no one but myself . . .'”
  2. To meet people in the “business.” You know, editors, agents, publishers, and, did I mention other writers?
  3. To attend workshops that will help you better your craft.
  4. To have your questions answered. To learn what your questions should be in the first place.
  5. To hear other people’s stories. You know, other writers.
  6. Encouragement. I had to force myself to make some appointments to pitch my book, but I’m glad I did. I don’t know yet what may come of the appointments, but I did get some positive feedback.
  7. Worship. As Christians, we should worship God in whatever we do. Attending a conference with other Christians makes this easier and is a good reminder of Who we’re working for.

I’m already looking forward to next year. What about you? Have you been to a writers’ conference this year? Making plans to go soon?

In Search of a Critique Group

Critique groups for writers are a necessary evil. Aren’t they? Most of us who write prefer our own company to any other. Also, as long as we are the only one reading our writing, we can believe it’s pretty good. Or not too bad. Or actually, it’s terrible and not worth the hard drive on which it has been stored. (See what I mean?)

But there comes a time when, if we’re serious about putting our work out there to the public in some way (preferably publication as in people are lining up to buy our books or we’re winning prizes for our stories and New York is calling), we must find some other writers who can give us constructive feedback. Letting your friends and loved ones read your work and tell you it’s the best book they’ve ever read (even if they haven’t read anything since high school) is all well and good, but will not impress any agent, editor, or publisher.

How to find that perfect critique group has eluded me so far, so, unfortunately, I am not here to give you any helpful tips if you are in that same position of looking for a good group. I have a couple of possibilities right now, and I hope to be able to share with you in the next few months about how I have finally found that group and how amazingly helpful they have been.

So, while I’m continuing my quest for a critique group, I will share the basic guidelines for what I expect from a group, and maybe you can suggest a few more. The first may seem obvious, but you would be surprised. Everyone in the group needs to be writing and to be serious about writing. (Who would join a group about writing who isn’t actually writing? All those who dream about writing and know how easy it really is, and think ‘what’s the big deal anyway?’)

Secondly, everyone needs to be willing to share something of what they’ve written and be willing to listen to everyone’s comments on their selection without being defensive or apologetic. And, third, everyone needs to be willing to read the writings of all members and give helpful feedback. No “this was great” or “this was terrible.” Be specific at what you like, don’t like, or feel needs to be made more clear.

Coming Soon: Besides rewriting Solomon I (totally changing the POV; more on that another time) and working on Solomon II, I’m working on a story to post in this very blog. Soon.

Fun Fact: I noticed when I started writing this blog, I have published one hundred posts, so here’s to 101.

P. S. For any of you writers out there, the Charlotte Writers Club has their nonfiction contest open now. Any piece of unpublished nonfiction from 750-2000 words may be entered. For more information, check out their website: charlottewritersclub.org

How about you? Have you been part of a critique group? What worked and what didn’t?

 

 

Trip to the Outer Banks-Part 2

To continue with our trip: Of course, we made plans to visit the most famous lighthouse of all–Cape Hatteras, also known as America’s Lighthouse. Confession: I thought it was the only lighthouse on the Outer Banks. I obviously need to get out more. Since we stayed in Kill Devil Hills, our trip to Hatteras took us close to two hours. Recent hurricane weather had flooded the roads and what was to be a “scenic drive” was mostly driving through water and seeing rather large sand dunes on the sides of the road. Still, I enjoyed the drive and what scenery we could see.

Having climbed one lighthouse and spending $10 for the privilege, I was content to view this lighthouse from the ground. My husband, however, was up for the challenge (and saw a deal in $4 for seniors) and made the climb. I promised to wave to him when he got to the top, but spent a little too much time in the museum and gift shop, or bookstore. Someone waved to him, however, (who apparently looked amazingly like me–from the top of a lighthouse anyway), so thanks whoever you are!

We also visited The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. (I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture outside. None were allowed inside.) The most interesting sight here is the “lost lens” from the original Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. There are also artifacts from the ghost ship Carroll A. Deering. This ship passed Cape Lookout Lightship on January 29, 1921. Some months later, the ship was found abandoned and no one knows what happened to the crew. For more reading on this mystery: https://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/historyculture/theghostship.htm

On our last day, we started by visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Though the museum is still under construction and won’t be open until next year, we were still able to climb the hill that had been the sand dune where the brothers performed many of their experiments and now displays a monument in their memory. This climb was almost as difficult as the one up the lighthouse and will give you a new appreciation for the determination the Wright Brothers had and the work they put in to learn to fly. Reading David McCullough’s book The Wright Brothers last year helped me to understand better what the Wrights accomplished. I’m afraid the vision I retained from my elementary days was of a couple of old brothers jumping off a sand dune with a strange-looking contraption. Obviously, there was quite a bit more to it than that, and I can highly recommend McCullough’s book for more detail.

As no vacation would be complete without a visit to at least one bookstore, we visited a couple, including ones at every historic site we toured as well as the Island Bookstore in Kitty Hawk.

And, finally, though we ate some good food at several places, I had to make a stop at Duck Donuts before we left.

There’s still much we didn’t see on our trip to the Outer Banks, so hopefully, we can go again someday. Maybe I’ll even climb another lighthouse. How about you? Visited any lighthouses lately?

Trip to The Outer Banks, N.C.–Part 1

Last week, my husband and I made a trip to the Outer Banks, N.C. to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We’ve lived in N.C. twenty-nine years, but this was our first trip to the Outer Banks. There are closer beaches, but I wanted to see the lighthouses and learn more about the history of both the Outer Banks and our state. The Outer Banks is home to five lighthouses, and we managed to see three of them.

 

On our first day, we went to Corolla and visited the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. This lighthouse began flashing its light in 1875 and stands at 158 feet. I enjoyed climbing this lighthouse and seeing the great view from above.

Near the lighthouse is the Corolla Schoolhouse. When exactly this one-room schoolhouse was opened is unknown, though some sources cite it as early as 1890. It was closed in 1958. In front of the schoolhouse is a Little Free Library, a replica of the schoolhouse.

After a lunch in Duck (where there are plenty of food options), we ended the day with a walk and some reading on the beach at Kill Devil Hills.

New Name, New Domain

For those who have been following my blog from the beginning, you know I started this blog for a class assignment while working on my masters degree. My original intent was to share homeschooling news, library events, and book reviews.

For the past two years or so, I have returned to writing on a more serious and full-time basis. I have heard and read that I need to have my own domain–under my own name–in order to build a better platform and so that people can find me. I have been dragging my feet about it, but have finally taken the plunge and will be blogging under http://www.pmgilmer.com. I will start with an introduction, then will post “My Name is Absalom”. It will still be in seven parts, but I will probably not wait a week between each post as it is a rerun to most of my readers. Of course, I hope to attract new readers, and I believe this is a good example of my writing.

It will take me a few days to set up my new blog, (and if you go to it now, you will only be redirected to “declare”) and I will continue to post book reviews and other random things that take my fancy on “declare”. I know many people keep up with more than one blog, but I doubt I will do that for long. Then again, who knows?

I hope you will continue to follow me here, but will also join me in my writing journey at http://www.pmgilmer.com

The Ophel Inscription–Writing from the time of King David

Half the fun of writing historical fiction is the research. Sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for (or scholars disagree on certain findings) and that can be frustrating, but more often I run across “fun facts” that I had not even considered (which makes it sound like most of my research is serendipitous and maybe it is). I may not always be able to add these “fun facts” or details to my story, but learning more about the culture of my characters helps me, as the author, to know my characters in a more rounded way.

As most of you know, I’m writing a story about Solomon during the time of King David, so I was intrigued when I ran across an article concerning a find in 2012 by Israeli archaeologist, Dr. Eilat Mazar. From the Ophel mound between the Temple Mount and the old city of David, a pottery shard was found containing seven letters. Now known as the Ophel Inscription, there is still quite a bit of debate about those letters and what it all means, but there are those who have concluded that the letters are Hebrew, making the find highly significant concerning the kingdoms of David and Solomon.

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Hebrew letters on a 3,000 year old pot gives credence, not only to the existence of King David living in Jerusalem at that time, but also suggests that the written language was not just for the rich and their rulers.

I have no problem believing the Bible concerning the existence of King David and that he ruled in Jerusalem, but have wondered about how literate were the people of that time. After all, David was not raised as a royal son, yet he wrote psalms from an early age, so one must believe that both reading and writing were more common than some may assume.

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From one article (link to follow): “The Ophel inscription–though untranslated–joins the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracon as part of a growing body of archaeological evidence supporting the biblical truth that ancient Hebrews were literate. Rather than inventing a post-dated history, they had the linguistic and cultural tools in place to record it from the earliest days that Israel was recognized among other monarchies of the ancient world.”

https://answersingenesis.org/archaeology/shard-shows-written-language-at-jerusalem-when-david-ruled/

Studying the history of the Bible and reading more of different archaeological finds continues to make the characters of the Bible more alive to me. My prayer as I write of stories in the Bible–specifically, Solomon and imagining what his life may have been like as he was growing up in the court of King David–that the Bible will also become more alive to others who will one day read my stories.

 

Declare to (the) Next Generation

 

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Well, I said a few weeks back that I would take some time to explain the name of my blog. When I started my blog, I had in mind writing about homeschooling and sharing news in education (mostly in reading and writing). I wanted to share and review any books that I consider worthwhile, as well as give information on any events going on that other homeschoolers might find helpful. (I’ll go ahead and say, I don’t post reviews on books I didn’t like or can’t recommend. I may blast a book privately, but knowing the struggles of writing, I have no interest in being public about one that maybe just wasn’t my cup of tea; though I just returned one to the library that might make me change my stance on that). Being a mother, a teacher, and a mentor–sharing with the next generation is always very much on my mind, so hence the title. The idea to “declare to the next generation” is hardly an original thought. (Do I actually have those? Sorry; that would be another blog). There are several verses in the Bible that instruct us to declare or say to the next generation what we have learned concerning Him and His Name.

Psalm 78:4–We will not hide them from their children but tell to the coming generation, the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might and the wonders that He has done.

Psalm 145:4–One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. In the Amplified Version: One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty and remarkable acts.

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All of these verses express a desire and an expectation. We are expected to declare, to commend and to praise–not to hide–His works; especially to another generation. And that is what I want to do with my reading, my writing, my life. Since I decided to recharge my blog (focusing more on reading and writing and less on education), I thought of changing the name, but what could be more important than declaring His works to the next generation? Whether reading, writing, or educating, it is only because of Him that I can do any of these things.  “If we grant that as artists, our ways of creating and seeing begin with the creativity of God, then let’s look at the root of that imaginative impulse.” (Luci Shaw)

Though I am writing and sharing with my peers, as well as older generations (yes, there are still one or two of those still alive), my ultimate goal would be to pass on my learning and experiences to the next generation. What we learn is worthless if it is not passed on to others. It is also this thought that has inspired me to begin the book I am writing. But, more on that at another time.

An Update on My Blog & the Meaning of Its Existence

IMG_20160607_102046As it’s been awhile since I started this blog (it has died and been resurrected more than once), I’ve decided to spend some time not only updating my blog, but also explaining its purpose and what I hope to accomplish. I originally started this blog for a project in a class I was taking for my masters in library science. Since I was still homeschooling at the time, I thought of sharing thoughts and events on homeschooling that might prove interesting and helpful to other homeschoolers, as well others interested in education in any way. Reading and writing are my two main spheres of interest, so I knew my posts would be in those areas; as well as on library events and library news.

So, I’m not homeschooling any longer and that perfect library job has still not happened. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but in the meantime, I have become more serious about writing–my first love and what I’ve declared I would do since probably about third grade. When I was in college, it was suggested I go into teaching, but, no, I wanted to write. Well, I’ve spent quite a few years teaching–from preschool to ladies’ Bible studies–and I’ve loved it, but I still want to write.

I’ve actually written two books, so the one I’m working on is my third. The first book was read by my mother and several long-suffering friends. For some reason, I could never find an interested publisher, and, really, I didn’t know what I was doing in that area, which may have actually been a blessing in disguise. (I still don’t know a lot–but learning!) What happened to the second? I’m not even sure.

In the meantime, I want to continue to share about books I’ve read and enjoyed. Since the book I’m working on is historical fiction and that is my favorite genre, I am going to focus on books in that area but there will definitely be others–from books on writing to fantasy to Bible studies.

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Eventually, (and, hopefully, very soon), I will also be writing and sharing about the progress of my book. I’m excited at where it’s going and how much I have completed. I would like to share the first chapter on here at some point, but that will depend on how certain things go. I’m using a good part of that chapter to enter a couple of contests, so can’t release or share anything about it while it is out there being reviewed and scrutinized by “those in the business.”

I was going to also explain more about the title–declaretonextgeneration–but I believe I’ll save that for another blog post.