Today’s the Day!

Today’s the day to wrap up Heroes month. Can you believe it, September is almost over. Thanks, everyone for making it a stellar month. Now you have just a few more hours to add your name to our drawing for a $10 Amazon Gift Card, or see below for a special alternative to our usual contest:

Contest News – We usually have a random drawing at the end of the month that includes the names of each of our commenters. The winner receives a $10 Amazon gift card. This month, we would like to give you the opportunity to be a hero. If you win our drawing, you can ask that your gift be donated to the ministry or foundation of your choice. Don’t feel you have to give up your prize, but just know this option is available to you.

If you want to be included, please leave a comment here or on any of our Heroes posts. The winner will be notified via email and given the opportunity to donate.

Again, thanks for visiting our blog and I hope you’ll return here often!

Betty's Signature

What I Learned Writing Dreamlander: 6 Types of Courageous Characters

K.M. (Katie) Weiland has made a name for herself in the writing industry as an excellent teacher of the craft. We are honored that she has graciously allowed us to reprint the following craft article. Thank you, Katie!

What’s the secret to creating characters readers love? There must be a secret, right? Some magic formula that will make readers fall as madly in love with our characters as we have with other writers’ larger-than-life heroes and heroines.

You’re probably thinking I’m going to say, “Sorry, but no, there’s no magic formula. Just hard work and luck.” But, actually, that’s not so. Actually, there is a magic ingredient.
And that is bravery.
Readers adore courageous characters. We’ll forgive a character just about any flaw, but never cowardice. In the words of Dwight V. Swain’s immortal Techniques of the Selling Writer:

Don’t try to make virtue take the place of courage. Admirable qualities are fine as subordinate characterizing elements. But fascination is born of valor, not virtue…. A saintly character … may fall ever so flat—not because he’s saintly, but because he doesn’t, in addition, challenge fate.

In writing my fantasy novel Dreamlander (2012), I got to explore six different kinds of bravery:

1. Heroic Bravery

When we think of heroes these days, we generally think of those who qualify for heroic bravery.
What is it?
This is the kind of bravery that makes a character do crazy dangerous stuff, either to protect others or to advance a cause in which he passionately believes. He’s not a fool. He knows what he’s risking, but he believes the danger is worth it.
Examples: Spider-Man, Captain America, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker. The vast majority of blockbuster, action-adventure, and fantasy heroes qualify for heroic bravery.

2. Steadfast Bravery

Steadfast bravery isn’t as flashy as heroic bravery (although it exhibits bursts of heroism), but its patient doggedness challenges fate every single day.
What is it? This is the kind of bravery we see from someone who is enduring a bad or dangerous situation day in and day out. A POW, a soldier in the trenches, or an informant in enemy territory will probably exhibit steadfast bravery.
Examples: Courtney (in Dawn Patrol), like so many soldiers on the line, grits his teeth and holds fast in the face of death every single day.

3. Quiet Bravery

This one is perhaps the least flashy of any type of bravery. It can even occasionally be confused with cowardice.
What is it? Quiet bravery gives a character the courage needed to endure bad situations with grace and patience. It’s basically an offshoot of steadfast bravery, but it
usually surfaces in situations that are less physically dangerous. Cancer patients, overworked single mothers, and trod-upon servants who maintain their sense of self-worth and hope all exhibit quiet bravery.
Examples:
Literature is full of plucky orphans who endure their hard lots with a smile. Amy Dorrit (in Little Dorrit) and Sara Crewe (in A Little Princess) both qualify.

4. Personal Bravery

Not all brave characters are going to face death or save the world. Sometimes the bravest thing a person can do is take a chance to advance his own lot in life.
What is it? Personal bravery demands characters reach for the stars and chase their dreams. Instead of remaining in a bad situation and taking it and taking it, they risk everything for a chance at a better life. Personal bravery is perhaps the most common kind of bravery of all, since it’s something every single one of us chooses to exhibit at one point or another in our lives, whether it’s in dreaming of a better education, a better
career, or just a life-changing trip around the world.
Examples: Jane Eyre, Jo March, and David Copperfield, among so many others, challenged their unappealing fates by braving the world and forcing themselves into uncomfortable positions with the hope of creating better, more fulfilling lives for themselves.

5. Devil-May-Care Bravery

Here we find the domain of the anti-hero and the fatalist.
What is it? Devil-may-care bravery isn’t bravery so much as a cynical realization that death (or whatever the worst-case scenario may be) will come no matter what we do, ergo let’s meet it with arms stretched wide. Characters who have nothing to live for can often exhibit insane courage, but they’re doing it from a place of negativity.
Examples: Durzo Blint (from The Way of Shadows), Riddick, and my ownMarcus Annan all fall into this category. They’re powerful in their own right and they don’t care too deeply about what happens to them, which makes them recklessly and dangerously courageous.

6. Frightened Bravery

Finally, we have the most dichotomous, and often the most compelling, bravery of all.
What is it? Frightened bravery finds the hero a knee-shaking, gut-churning, terrified mess. But he rises above it. He enters the fray in spite of his terror, and, in so doing, becomes the bravest of all characters. Frightened bravery can go hand in hand with any of the other types (save perhaps devil-may-care bravery), since the very act of overcoming fear is what makes a character brave.
Examples: Harry Faversham (in The Four Feathers) is a particularly good example, since his entire story is about his wildly courageous attempts to blot out his own cowardice. The Youth (in The Red Badge of Courage), Lee (in The Magnificent Seven), and Danny (in The Great Escape) would all qualify as well.

None of these categories are exclusive. A character may well exhibit all six types of bravery during the course of your story, and often you’ll find the categories overlapping. In creating a strong character, it’s important not only that he  qualify for at least one of these types of bravery, but also that you identify which is the strongest category, so you can further strengthen it on the page. Once you’ve done that, it’s almost a cinch readers will find your character fascinating.

***

Tell me your opinion: Which type of bravery does your protagonist predominantly qualify for?

_________________

About K.M. Weiland1147586_10201285470795843_797333570_o K.M. Weiland grew up chasing Billy the Kid and Jesse James on horseback through the hills of western Nebraska, where she still lives. A lifelong fan of history and the power of the written word, she enjoys sharing both through her novels and short stories. She blogs at Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors, where she mentors other authors and shares the ups and downs of the writing life.
Latest release from K. M. Weiland

Latest release from K. M. Weiland

 Original posting of this article here.

Shirley Kiger Connolly

Tshirleyoday we welcome  Shirley Kiger Connolly , teacher and historical romance writer, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1) Do you watch reality television? Why or why not?
Shirley: No, I am not a reality TV watcher, unless you want to consider the news as
that.

I am a news junky. Just like to keep up on what is going on around the
world, I think, because I sense we are in the last days.

I don’t watch Reality TV, otherwise, because I am not interested in what is
going on so much with others who exploit their lives to the public. I also
heard from a screenwriter friend of mine who lives down in Southern
California, that most of the Realities are not as truthful as they make the
viewers want to think.

(2) What are your thoughts on e-publishing?
Shirley: I appreciate the opportunity to have both e-published books as well as the
print books. I love the feel of print books, but I also find, nowadays,
many, if not most readers are leaning the ebook way.

Ebook readers are great for traveling and for the doctor’s office and for
late night reading while you are in bed.

I also appreciate that the cost of ebooks are often much less than the cost
of trade books which is how Christian books are printed these days.

(3) Which do you prefer? Facebook or Twitter?
Shirley: I make use of both. Facebook works well for fast response social comments and keeping in close contact with my established friends, readers, and new friends. I can be more casual on my regular profile page and have great conversations back and forth on my author page. Twitter is important to me to keep up on politics (that’s where I wear myfirst
political hat). J and I also get faster updated news.

book 1Thank you, Shirley, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday! She would love to give away an author signed print copy of Flame from
Within
(Civil War Romance) to a reader, or a signed/print copy of her second Decisions Book, That Impossible Dream.book 2
As always, if you win the book, please take time to leave a review on Amazon.

A teacher, speaker, wife, mom, and grandmother, Shirley Kiger Connolly writes both historical-inspirational fiction romances and lighthearted devotional books of reflection. Shirley — English and Journalism Major at college, is also a graduate of Institute of Children’s book 3Literature and member of ACFW, FHL, RWA. She and her husband live on the Southern Coast of Oregon. Her third Decisions series novel, Second Time Promise, is expected to be released in ebook in October.

Modern Day Heroes

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By Betty Thomason Owens

I was a teen in the early seventies and part of a vibrant youth group at a local church. We were out to change the world. I remember the night Billy, along with his girlfriend Connie, became a part of our group. There was something special about them from the first. God’s hand was on them. I left when my dad was transferred to another city, but I kept up with the youth group through some of my close friends. After I returned to Louisville, I married and attended another church. I ran into Bill and Connie several times over the years. He went to college, they married and had a daughter. They pastored a church nearby.

What impressed me most about them, was their dedication. They suffered losses. Connie had a terrible accident, they lost two children due to a genetic disorder. Life wasn’t easy for them. Then I got a letter from Bill. They had accepted God’s call to missions. Their heart was set on Ecuador. They were leaving for missions school in Costa Rica, where they’d be immersed in the language. Would I be interested in supporting their ministry? Absolutely.

I started small, since I was a stay-at-home-mom at the time. But every month, I sent in my donation. They graduated from missions school and I received another letter. Cuenca, Ecuador, in the Andes Mountains. Wow. I was so proud of them, but I could not imagine moving to a foreign country with my little guys, leaving all my family and friends behind. They were very brave, and I was in awe of them.

Later, I spoke with Connie about what it was like to leave all she knew behind. She told me about that first day, after their arrival. She faced fear, but they were together, and not only that, God was with them. She had to trust Him for everything. The worst time came at Christmas, far from home and family. I could only imagine. I had a difficult time with the holiday when my parents moved three hundred miles away.

Their first order of duty in Cuenca was to establish a church. Centro Cristiano started small, but in a very short time, the church had grown and they needed a new building. As their ministry expanded, they developed and led a childcare program under the Assemblies of God, to plant schools with a Christ centered curriculum.

Years passed and Bill and Connie welcomed another child, Seth. I loved watching their children grow up through photographs received in their updates (no Facebook back then, just snail mail). The church in Cuenca continued to grow as well. Bill made trips into the Amazon regions, into places only accessed by canoe and on foot. Scary. I received pictures of their excursions into the Andes on foot and on horseback. He led missions teams into some of these places as well as to the Galapagos Islands. I longed to go on one of these. But the opportunity never came.

After their daughter Leah married, she and her husband also became missionaries (Jungle Missions), traveling into the Amazon regions teaching and preaching the gospel.

In 2002, I got a letter from Bill and Connie. They were turning over leadership of Centro Cristiano to Ecuadorian nationals in order to pursue other forms of ministry. Then he wrote about a new opportunity. A television station called Unsion. I had no idea what a bright star had just dawned on the world and through Bill and Connie’s ministry, I was part of it. Exciting stuff!

Bill and Connie’s son Seth is now grown, also working in missions. Their daughter Leah and her husband Joil Marbut have four children; Bill and Connie’s grandchildren, growing up on the mission field.

When Bill speaks, God speaks through him, using his natural abilities, the perfect mix of wide-eyed-wonder, humility, and humor. He’s never lost his awe of God and seems amazed of God’s goodness. He’s dedicated to Jesus, Connie, his children and grandchildren. Connie is one of the most humble women I know, yet beautiful, accomplished, and strong. She’s endured many hardships, but is always found serving God, her husband, children, and grandchildren with a graceful smile.

There’s a song we sang back in the early days, when Bill and Connie first got involved in the youth group. A line from that song says, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, but soon all those around can warm up in it glowing.” Bill was the spark God used to ignite a mighty, glowing flame that continues to spread across the world, carrying the greatest message of all. The gospel of Jesus Christ.

1048906_10200466198676034_645386335_oFor this reason, Bill and Connie McDonald are my heroes. Modern-day heroes of the faith. They would not wish to be exalted. They would give all glory to God, which is exactly where it belongs. He who has called them has given them the grace to perform His calling. (But they’re still my heroes!)

For more information on Bill and Connie McDonald’s ministry:

http://worldmissions.ag.org/search.cfm?Display=Yes&churchdetail=AGFM02F5

http://www.unsion.org/page17/page17.html

Joil and Leah Marbut: http://junglemissionary.com/

Today’s Prompt: Darcy had often dreamed of serving God in a remote region, but she’d never planned on the degree of hardship she’d endured. And she wasn’t even there yet. After twenty-four hours en route, eighteen of them spent in the Bangladesh airport, what she longed for most was…

Heroes and the Mystery Novel

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geograph.org.uk

By Jennifer Hallmark

September is the month of heroes on Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!, and October villains. It might be the way my eclectic mind works, but when I think of heroes in books or movies, the mystery novel comes to mind. When I think of villains, my mind goes to science fiction and fantasy.

My personal favorite novels and heroes when it comes to mysteries are from the British mysteries of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

Authors such as Sir Author Conan Doyle [Sherlock Holmes], Margery Allingham [Albert Campion], Agatha Christie [Poirot, Miss Marple], and Dorothy Sayers [Lord Peter Wimsey] enjoyed great success with their heroes predominantly during the 1920’s and 1930’s. This week, I’ll be talking about Dorothy Sayers and that British gentleman detective, Lord Peter Death Brendon Wimsey.

“Lord Peter” as he is referred to by most of the other characters in the book, is described as being of average height, with straw-colored hair, a beaked nose, and a vaguely foolish face. Behind the foolish face, however, lie keen analytical skill, athletic prowess, and unmatched persistence. He uses his royal stature, the son of the Duke and Dowager Duchess of Denver, as an aid to gathering information and gaining access to help him solve cases that puzzle the local police and Scotland Yard.

This character is endearing to me, a real hero, for several reasons. He has weaknesses, but keeps moving forward in spite of them. During his time as a young man in service during World War I, he suffers shell shock or what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. When Lord Peter is overworked or tired, he struggles with relapses from the war in the form of nightmares and physical ailments. This only makes me want to cheer for him more.

Another reason is his love for Harriet Vane. After taking up her case, he proves her innocent of the crime of murdering her ex-boyfriend. Lord Peter saves her from the gallows, but she believes that gratitude is not a good foundation for marriage, and politely but firmly declines his frequent proposals. After solving some cases together over a period of several years, she finally accepts his proposal in the novel, Gaudy Night, a personal favorite.

What makes a hero to me? A strong gentleman or lady with weaknesses he or she overcomes and persistence in his or her work and relationships. Lord Peter Death Brendon Wimsey fits the bill.

Today’s Writing Prompt: Think of one attribute that you think makes a hero heroic and invent a character with this attribute.

Don’t forget to leave a comment and be entered in a drawing for a gift card. Our twist this month is to challenge you, if you win, to donate the card to a ministry or foundation of your choice and be their hero. Don’t feel you have to give up your prize, but just know this option is available to you.