The Inspiration of Story

During this month, we are sharing how an author has inspired us. But instead of writing about how one has inspired me as a writer, I thought I would write about how they have inspired me as a reader.

The Exercise of Our Faith

I would like to begin with a quote from Eugene Peterson.

 

Parables aren't illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren't careful, becomes the exercise of our faith

 

Peterson begins, “Jesus was a master at subversion…. Parables sound absolutely ordinary: casual stories about soil and seed, meals and coins and sheep, bandits and victims, farmer and merchants. And they’re wholly secular: of his forty or so parables recorded in the Gospels, only one has its setting in church, and only a couple mention the name of God. As people heard Jesus tell these stories, they saw at once that they weren’t about God, so there was nothing in them threatening their own sovereignty. They relaxed their defenses. They walked away perplexed, wondering what they meant, the stories lodged in their imagination. And then, like a time bomb, they would explode in their unprotected hearts. An abyss opened up at their very feet. He was talking about God; they had been invaded.

“Jesus continually threw odd stories down alongside ordinary lives and walked away without explanation or altar call. …But the parable didn’t do the work—it put the listener’s imagination to work. Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

Story is a Powerful Thing

And there you have an outline for the perfect story. Fiction stories are parables. Stories ask the reader a “what if.” As a reader, we get caught up in a world not our own. We relax while experiencing this new private world. Unconsciously, we begin living the story and suddenly realize a hidden truth about ourselves we would have never recognized otherwise.

 

Story is a powerful thing.In the midst of recounting our stories, the veil of obscurity falls away, and we see clearly what we've hidden from ourselves.(1)

 

Inspiring Through Story

For example, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love opened my heart to the realization that I was lovable even though I felt the exact opposite. Through that word of truth, I began to thirst for a much-needed restorative healing balm to my shattered heart. That hunger led me to open up to the only One who could supply it.

The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson taught me that life doesn’t always go as planned and my prayers are not always answered the way I think they should be answered because only God knows what is best for His children. My job is to trust and obey Him. His plans are higher than mine.

Jill Austen, author of Master Potter and Master Potter and the Mountain of Fire inspired me to research pottery. When Austen’s character Beloved meets Master Potter, she accepts His invitation to the Potter’s house. Austen explains the process of making clay vessels while sharing spiritual truths.

 

 

I don’t remember everything about these authors’ books. But the one thing I do recall is the characters and the character arcs in the story. Because I became that character. Each one of these authors inspired me to seek for that which my heart longed for: make a difference in this life through my relationship with Christ. Isn’t that the reason we write? To make a difference? To inspire change?


Writing Prompt: Do you recall an author that has made a difference in your life? What changes did you make after reading their book? Take a moment to reflect on that change. Now make a list of how you can inspire those around you.

Click to Tweet: How an Author Inspired Me. “Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

 

3 Questions Wednesday with Laura V. Hilton

Happy Wednesday!

This morning we welcome award-winning author Laura V. Hilton. Readers, be sure to leave Laura a comment for a chance to win a  copy of her book, Love By the Numbers.

Laura, here’s your first question.

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Laura:  Quiet, bookish, family-oriented

Family-oriented. I like that! 🙂  Next question…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Laura: Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. There is a new Amish community formed up there. Plus I’d get to see my son.

A great idea. Now…

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Laura: Fame, I think.

 An upbeat song, for sure! Laura, thank you for joining us on Inspired Prompts. It was a pleasure to meet you.

Readers–don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Love By the Numbers, reader’s choice of format (print or ebook)  (Print USA only.) 

Click to tweet: 3 Questions Wednesday interview with Laura V. Hilton. @InspiredPrompt  #interview #giveaway


Love By the Numbers   

After her fiancé dies in a buggy accident, Lydia Hershberger is invited to Jamesport to manage her Mennonite aunt’s gift store while her aunt and uncle are on a mission trip. While there, Lydia gets acquainted with her aentie’s best friend, Bethel Bontrager, and her grown son, Caleb. Lydia is surprised to find herself drawn to handsome clockmaker, Caleb Bontrager. But in spite of an instant flame of attraction between them, he doesn’t seem interested. In fact, pesky Caleb treats her like he doesn’t even like her.

Bright and sparkly. That’s Caleb’s first impression of Lydia. He’s always been attracted to sparkly things. In fact, his affinity for those things, and the trouble they can cause, are exactly why he’s determined to change his ways and settle down. With Lydia’s aentie gone, he is handling the books for the gift shop and is forced to spend too much time in her presence.

When God offers Lydia a second chance at love and family, will she take it? Or will the secret Caleb harbors cause her even more heartbreak?


Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with over twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q

visit my blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/  & http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/

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Nonfiction: Inspired from Conception to Publication

Covering the nonfiction genre in one post is impossible. Instead, I chose to encourage and inspire you to seriously think about nonfiction. So let me ask you…

books, NarniaAre you a fiction writer or a nonfiction writer? Regardless, did you know that you can use fiction techniques to create a gripping story? For instance, nonfiction writers begin with voice, use compelling dialogue, and include a beginning, middle, and ending to ensure their readers an unforgettable experience.

Now, that I have your attention, here are different ways you can distribute your writing.

Magazine Articles
Do you know how to plant a perfect garden, repair a broken household sink, or cook mouth-watering apple pies? Well then, why not turn all your hard-earned wisdom into an article.

Newspaper columns
Are you a news junkie? Traveler? Foodie? Photographer? Newspapers are always looking for local talent. Share school activities, church socials,  neighborhood street parties, your destinations and experiences.

Anthology
If you’re not ready to tackle your own book, why not collaborate with other writers. Chicken Soup for the Soul is a perfect example of collaboration. Submit your story, and if chosen it’s published as part of a collection. Be sure to check their guidelines before submitting.

Books
This includes memoirs, autobiographies, biographies, self-help, travel guides, cookbooks, photography, and devotionals, just to name a few.

As you can see, there are many aspects to consider. Let’s take a moment and talk about the writing process.

Getting Started

journaling.jpg

Ideas– Everything begins with an idea. The problem is we may lose the inspiration if we don’t capture the moment. Always carry something to catch the unexpected. When I don’t have pen and paper, I use my phone (Samsung Note 5). It has a pen (And you know how much I love pen and paper). Or if I can’t write, I can record my thoughts using the recorder app.

Research-How will you gather your info? Consider using interviews, online articles, library visits, or an experiment in your own kitchen. No matter where your investigation leads, record and date your facts. This will save you hours of time and frustration when you begin writing.

Write-Look over your notes. Decide what you will say and in what order you will say it. Write the article without editing. Read it. Edit. Revise. Rewrite. Repeat until it’s the best it can be.

Submissions-Finding a place for your story can be harder than writing your story. But there are a few books that can help you find a home for your idea. The 2018 editions of The Christian Writers Market Guide and  Writers Market Guide are treasure troves of potential publishers.

In today’s world, we have so many options in publishing. Why not take a chance? Spread your wings and ride the wind. Who knows where the gusts will take you!

Writing Prompt: Take one of your ideas and think it through from conception to publication. Make a to-do list and check off each one as you finish it. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

Click to Tweet: Why not take a chance? @InspiredPrompt @GailJohnson87 #writetip #nonfiction

3 Questions Wednesday with Bethany Morehead

Bethany Morehead

Happy Wednesday!

This morning we welcome award-winning writer and Jr. Agent of Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, Bethany Morehead. Readers, be sure to leave Bethany a comment for a chance to win a $25 gift card from Amazon. Woo Hoo!

Bethany, here’s your first question.

 Can you describe yourself in three words?

Quirky, Childlike, and Genuine.

Quirkiness shows originality. I like that! 🙂  Next question…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

The Highlands of Scotland. There is an area called Farr, Scotland—which is my maiden name. It would not only be fantastic to see a piece of ancestry, but to be able to write about it as well would be a dream.

Scotland would make the perfect setting for a book. Now…

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

“Que Sera Sera; Whatever Will Be, Will Be” by Doris Day. This question was one of the hardest for me to answer. After listening to close to every song on Spotify, I keep coming back to this classic by one of my favorite actresses. In a world where there is so much worry about what the future holds, it reminds us that the future is not written by us. I feel it would be a great theme song to my life, being as my life hasn’t panned out to “my perfect plan,” but I’m not writing my story, am I? The Author holds the pen, and I trust Him with it. So, whatever will be, will be.

I’m a fan of Doris Day and the song! Yes, God holds the pen in His hand and it is His story. Bethany, thank you for joining us on Inspired Prompts. It was a pleasure to meet you.

Readers–don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win the $25 Amazon gift card!

Click to tweet: The Author holds the pen, and I trust Him with it. @InspiredPrompt  https://wp.me/p2YFil-3mD #interview #giveaway


Bethany Morehead is a young, enthusiastic, award-winning writer and Jr. Agent of Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency. She fell in love with writing at a young age, even plotting out stories on napkins and the corners of her notebooks in school. She enjoys both writing and reading fiction books, especially romance. Bethany, a child at heart who enjoys working with children, also has a heart for children’s literature and a soft spot for fairytales. She manages her own blog on www.bethanymorehead.com, where she discusses life in ministry, inspires women, and shines light on the struggles of infertility. She also co-manages a dating and marriage vlog with her husband.

A Glimpse of Christ

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (our theme this month). In pondering the idea for this post,  I thought to share a few of my favorite things during this joyous season.

Mantle Lantern JohnsonTo me, nothing says Christmas like lights. During this time of year the darkest streets come to life with the flip of a switch.

There are lights in every room in my house whether it’s a strand of lights or a single candle. The light never fails to pierce the darkness and set my heart aglow.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Tasty treats are another must at our house. They’re treasured more than the gifts beneath the tree. If you came for a visit, you would find wedding cookies, magic cookie bars, blondies, pralines, German chocolate pie, German chocolate cake, and divinity. And of course, I would offer tea, coffee, or milk.

Christmas candy sample

The psalmist wrote, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).

Christmas tree 2015 Johnson

And then, there’s the tree. The tree reminds me of several things. The manger which held the Christ child was made of wood. When he became a man, he worked as a carpenter. And finally, he hung on a tree to bring the gift of salvation to a lost world.

Again, Jesus said, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

My Christmas tree holds hand-picked ornaments. The first one was given to me by my mother-in-love the year I married her son. And when my children were born, she chose an ornament for them. It’s a tradition we have kept. Each year when I decorate the tree, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness and His blessing throughout the year.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Philippians 1:3).

No matter the activity, we can catch a glimpse of Christ if we seek to find Him. Until next year. From my house to yours, Merry Christmas, my friend!

What traditions remind you of the Christ child?

No matter the activity, we can catch a glimpse of Christ if we seek to find Him. #Christmas #hope @inspiredprompts https://wp.me/p2YFil-3jg