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Using Emotions in Your Character Arc

For my latest book, Rescuing Vanessa, I used the emotion ‘shame’ as a theme and showed how my main character dealt with it throughout the book. In The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, shame is defined as ‘the feeling that arises from a dishonorable or improper act; disgrace’ (Puglisi, Becca; Ackerman, Angela (2012-05-09). The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression (p. 140). . Kindle Edition).

My character, Vanessa, did something she is ashamed of and has to deal with the consequences. She didn’t commit murder or anything, but she feels like she let down the people she loves and doesn’t truly deserve forgiveness. This colors all of her actions and relationships.

The fun part for me as a writer was in showing how this character went from shame to grace. Of course, it couldn’t happen too quickly or it wouldn’t be much of a story. However, I needed to show movement of some kind. Mainly, I used the outline of a four act play to show this. The first act is really the intro, characters, setting, goals, etc. Here I showed Vanessa having made a move in the right direction, but mainly feeling shame and wanting to hide it. The second act is more of a reaction phase. Here, I showed her various reactions to people (and the Lord) reaching out to her. She feels love and has the offer of forgiveness, but feels unworthy and keeps people at arms’ length. She is okay with friendship, but anything else is not an option. The third act is more proactive. Vanessa isn’t just reacting anymore. She makes decisive choices. She finally reveals what she did, but still insists that she must somehow make penance. In the final act, she finally comes to terms with all of the contributing factors to her feeling of shame and deals with it.

Of course, this kind of thing can be done in any story, with any negative emotion. Fear, guilt, jealousy, loneliness, pride, and the list goes on.

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorites for an example of going from pride to love and humbleness. Both Mr. Darcy and Lizzy go through this character arc by the end of the book.

In the Bible, Abraham is shown going from fear to becoming an example of faith in God. Initially, he obeys God, but he still has ‘baggage’. Instead of completely obeying God and going where he is sent, he takes along his nephew. When he passes through Egypt, instead of trusting God, he is fearful and lies to the Pharaoh about his wife, Sarah. He does this twice. Finally, he simply trusted the Lord even with his only child and the Lord was able to bless him more.

In both your fiction and non-fiction reading, try to be more aware of the changes the characters go through as the story progresses. Be sure to post in the comments some of your favorite examples. 🙂

 

 

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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Author in the Trenches

 

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Free Inspirational Romance (and Bonus!) July 19-21!

Rescuing Vanessa, A Little Bit of Coffee, Flowers and Romance is Free Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! Enjoy and please be sure to write a review! 🙂

Vanessa is hiding something. No matter what, she can’t seem to escape her mistake. Shame keeps her from trusting the Lord, her family, even the man who loves her. Will she be able to let go and allow herself forgiveness? Or will she fall prey to the man who wants her dead? She needs help, but will she choose to take it?

Bonus: New teen author, Sherlock Treasures has released her latest Sci-Fi, Guardians of the Moon available free as well! Enjoy!

“I’m so sorry!”
“Why?” we all asked.
“It’s a trap,” he said backing away from us. “She sent me to find you……..”

Both books are available through Amazon kindle.

 

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He Can Roar But He Can’t Hurt You!

Roaring lion

Roaring lion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guest Post by: Nathaniel Austin, one of our Blog Post contest winners.

A few days ago I saw a video that at first made me jump, and then made me smile.  A little girl was at a zoo and a lion was roaring, pawing at the window, ready to attack her, and the little girl stood there.

At this particular zoo there was glass between the animals and people instead of the usual bars I am used to and so it was all the more heart jumping action as I wondered just how strong that glass was. I  remarked to someone after watching the video how that little girl was amazing, and seemed to have no fear.

An angry, hungry lion in full-on attack mode and three-year old Sofia stood her ground. You can see the video clip here.

Fear Not!

How many times as Christians have we heard those words. Fear Not! Seems like over the years maybe thousands of times? Yet, a storm will break out, a trial will come upon us, and our faith is shaken, our fears rise to the surface, and we wonder how we are going to make it.

It has been said that the phrase ‘fear not’ appears in the Bible 365 times. I am not sure of the accuracy of that, but between other similar references it is very clear that we are told to not be afraid of what may come along.

As Christians our banner is Faith, and so it would be logical that we cannot have faith and still be fearful, but we too are human and fall into the grasp of the faint of heart when trials and tests come our way. I too fall prey to my fears at many times. It is easy to do.

However, one would think that over time, and many trials we would begin to realize that no matter what happens we are going to be okay.

Oh Ye Of Little Faith

Those were the words that came out of Jesus’ mouth when He was awakened by His disciples to calm the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Now, if anyone should have faith, you would think the very ones who walked and talked with Jesus, even ate dinner with Him should have faith. They should know everything was going to be okay. But falling into their own doubts, after a great miracle I might add, they woke Him to ‘Master, careth not that we perish?’

How many times have we done the same thing?

We love the worship, the singing, the dancing, the shouting, but let a little storm come into our life and we wonder where is God?

Right There With Us

Matthew 28:20 states, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’  He is right there in every situation with his protecting hand to shield us from harm.

Little Sofia knew that glass was between her and the lion. Sure, at first she reacted to the roar, but she stood her ground. She knew she was going to be okay.

Many times in life, the enemy comes roaring and pawing at us, ready to destroy us. His roars get louder and his attacks seem more fierce as we face him, to the point it looks like he will devour us.

1 Peter 5:8 says the ‘devil goes about as a roaring lion seeking who he may devour.’ He would like to destroy us.  He wants to wreck our life, but more importantly, destroy our soul. He doesn’t like the freedom we can have in Jesus.

We can sugar coat it if we like, but there is a devil and he doesn’t want us having what he cannot. So he might come into our lives, roar and paw at us to try and get us to break. If can get us to stop believing in the power of the cross, the blood of Jesus and His love, then perhaps he can win.

Standing Firm

Galatians 5:1 says, ‘stand therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.’  We have freedom and liberty because Jesus Christ took our sins and hung on Calvary that we might be free from the bondage of sin and death. We can take hope that His grace truly is sufficient for us.

If we have taken on Christ, and are covered by His blood, nothing can shake us. Isaiah wrote, ‘I have engraved you in the palms of my hands.’ We are protected by our Creator against any attack of the enemy.

Just Keep Standing

That lion kept roaring and pawing at little Sofia in the video. It wanted to attack her or at the very least scare her. A lot of us would have run crying, maybe even screaming from that lion. But she seemed fearless. Why?

She knew that between her and the lion, there was a protective barrier. That lion could not touch her. No matter how much the lion roared, it was not going to get through that barrier.

Our enemy is the same way. He can roar, he can paw, he can do all sorts of things to make us afraid but he cannot do anything to us when we are protected and bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. The enemy is powerless against the blood.

The End Of The Story

I am not sure how it all played out after, but at the end of the video clip, the lion is standing there watching that little three-year old girl.

I wonder what was going through its mind?

This tiny creature who he could probably eat with one bite, stood there against the roar, against the pawing. There was nothing the lion could do.

It is the same with our lives. The enemy can roar at us, but cannot do anything when we are protected by God. Just a bunch of noise, and in the end, we will still be okay.

Sofia wants to go to the zoo, again, for her 4th birthday.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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Blog Contest

My friend Mark is hosting a blog contest and I get to be one of the judges! We will choose 12 winning entries. One will be posted each month starting in Feb with the final one posted Jan 2013. If you would like to be a part of this, see below. I can’t wait to read all of the entries!

Blog Post Contest

 In April 2010, I started writing and publishing an online Blog tilted, “Mark Showalter’s Blog.” What inspired me to start writing and publishing my thoughts and inspirations was another Blog that I began following in late 2009. During that time of my life, I had many doubts and questions surrounding my relationship with God and the church. The Blog posts more often than not were exactly what I needed at the time. After reading and being fed by them for about five months I began to feel God impressing me to write and publish my own Blog.

 At first I argued with God. I reminded Him that I had never written anything for the public to read nor did I have any formal training in the art of writing. I felt extremely under-qualified, and thought, “Nobody would ever want to read or would be fed by anything I wrote!” I reminded God that He had far better people out there who were much more qualified to write and publish a Blog than I was.

 But God wouldn’t let up. He reminded me that my salvation isn’t all about me and that “He” is the one that is the giver of good gifts! I began to think, “What if this Blogger that I now enjoy would never have published their thoughts? What other form of help would God have to find me? What if everybody denied God because they felt inadequate or under-qualified? Sure, we would still have the Bible, and wasn’t that written by just a few ordinary men? However, even the Ethiopian Eunuch, when reading the scripture, needed Phillip to help him understand what God’s Word was trying to tell him. And wasn’t Peter just a regular guy with a moderate education!? He wrote two books of the Bible! So, if God could move on some ordinary men to make an extraordinary difference, why couldn’t I do the same?”

This is when I decided to write and publish an online Blog. Since April 2010, I’ve written just over forty-one posts. I’ve been honest, open, and best of all transparent. I know that in a world of so many people trying to hide, out of shame or fear, who they really are, I had to be honest. As a result, I’ve received numerous comments or email responses from people dealing with issues including suicidal thoughts, manic depression, and divorcing their spouse. Others issues mentioned were believing that God had failed them or that they had failed God, while others have felt like the promises God made them could never come to pass. All of these hopeless people felt that due to major failures or sins, they had resolved to live a life of empty church going with no hope of ever being used by God again. Honestly, the list truly goes on and on with numerous accounts of hopelessness, regrets, fears and doubts. But God has been faithful to help! Through the posts, many have received the answers and hope they needed to face the situation once more, and now, they KNOW God is on their side and has never given up on them.

 More recently I’ve felt like God is wanting others to speak out and be an encouragement. Problem is, most don’t know how to do so, or even how to get started.  This is where the “Blog Post Contest” comes into play. Most, if not challenged, will never really step out and do anything unordinary. So, this is your challenge, your chance, to be heard, to express your thoughts, but best of all, “overcome the Devil by the word of your testimony.”

Below are a list of guidelines that will help you to get started.

Twelve winners will be posted

1. Of all the posts submitted, twelve will be posted over the next twelve months. The last and final Post will be posted on January 2013.

2. The first Post will be posted on February 6, 2012, (That will allow us enough time to read and pick the twelve Posts that will be posted.)

Rules for entering Post

  • •All Posts must be submitted by January 14, 2012.
  • •Post must be less than 1,000 words but more than 500.
  • •Posts can be any form: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, devotion or creative prose.
  • •The post must be written by the one submitting it. (May be submitted using another’s email, but must be clearly stated as such)
  • •Must have Biblical references, and be sound in doctrine. (Can be a personal story or life principle, but must have scriptural thought and reference to back it up.)
  • •Your post must include a small letter of permission stating that you give us permission to judge and post your Post in my Blog. It also must include your full name and date.
  • •Your post may remain anonymous if you so choose. (You can state that in your letter of permission to post your Blog Post. Your confidence will remain with me only!)
  • •Posts will be judged upon the above – regardless of age, race, gender or religious affiliation.
  • •All posts should be submitted to marksblogcontest@yahoo.com

All Posts will be read and winners determined by three People:

Mark Showalter     (Blog Host)

Kris A. Newman    (Author and Publisher)

Christina Li          (Author and Publisher)

NOTE: Winning posts will be published on the following Blog sites:

Mark Showalter’s Blog – mshowalter.wordpress.com

           Through a Writer’s Eyes – krisanewman.blogspot.com

           ChristinaLiBooks—christinalibooks.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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Thankful for this Life–Marriage, Mommying, Making a Difference Serving and Writing

When I think about just how blessed I am, I am overwhelmed. The Lord has made so many changes in our lives recently, but even that has been a blessing.

It hasn’t been easy, picking up and moving seven people from Minnesota to Chicagoland, leaving a thriving business and precious violin students and their families, leaving our amazing pastor and church, our precious friends that we worked with and ministered to. We will always love them and continue to pray for them. Just because we are no longer in MN in person, doesn’t mean that our hearts have completely left.

Through it all, I am amazed at all the blessings the Lord has just poured out. We have a lovely home here in Chicagoland. We have a dear pastor and his family that love us. We have new friends that we are working with and ministering to. The Lord has blessed my husband with a job teaching the violin to inner-city kids in Chicago. Our kids are adjusting and making new friends and I am settling in getting stuff unpacked and put away. (Of course, I’ve had lots of help from my sweet husband and children!)

Then, there’s my writing. What an incredible thing to be able to write and publish and get paid! 🙂 Wow! I checked out my Amazon dashboard the other day and someone had bought an e-copy of one of my books over in the U.K.! Someone on the other side of the world bought my book!!! How cool is that?

I am also grateful to be able to do things like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month–50,000 words in 30 days). It’s shown me that yes, the Lord is calling me to this, and that it takes work, discipline, and dedication. I love it! (Of course my daughter finished her 50,000 words about a week ago! That’s okay. I’m so proud of her.)

One of the things that the Lord has been dealing with me is truly walking in His love and peace and His Spirit all the time. Whenever I’m writing, or cooking, or homeschooling, or looking for something buried in a box that still hasn’t been unpacked, I still need to walk in His Spirit. I can try to do everything in my own strength and get stressed out and make everyone miserable, or I can choose to live that ‘peace that passes all understanding’, that ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’. The Lord will never force His way into any conversation. I can choose to ignore Him or include Him. When I actively include Him, I am always blessed.

The biggest thing is surrender and submission. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, so long as the Lord is glorified. If I am willing to surrender myself, the Lord is free to work in my life and I and many other people get a blessing! That’s the way to live! That’s the adventure!

I think the biggest lesson of all is a simple question: Do you trust the Lord to keep His word? If you do, then you will see your mountains moved. You will see your desires come to pass. You will see the blessing in your life. We say we trust the Lord, but when that’s tested, with moving and job and house, do we trust Him or do we freak out and get stressed? Do you choose peace or stress? It’s your choice.

If you want to see more victory in your life, check out the book Defeat Fear Forever. It won’t work if you don’t apply it though. I’m living proof of that! However, if you apply those principles and live the promises of God, you will go beyond what you ever thought possible in your life!

As we enter this season of holidays, may it be a time of hope for you and all yours!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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Just Settling In—the Joys of UnPacking

 I will admit up front that I do not like unpacking. I would probably like it a lot more if I had de-cluttered before I packed in the first place, but here we are. However, I’ve been surprised at all the joyful moments I’ve experienced in this crazy process.

For one, I have so much to be thankful for. I have pretty clothes, pans to cook in and food to cook! My children have clothes, warm coats for the approaching winter, and toys to play with. As I put things away, I realize just how blessed I am.

Another joy I’ve found in unpacking is through my husband’s strong arms and back and his wise ideas in helping to make this new place truly a home. As I appreciate him, I am blessed.

My children have also been a source of joy. While this move has most definitely NOT been easy, it has brought us all together in some beautiful ways. In order to survive, we have to work as a team. I love that. For the most part, their attitudes have been good. Of course, they’ve needed motivation here and there to just get moving, but then, so have I! If I give them clear direction, they do a great job!

Day by day, as this house is turned more and more into my own fairy tale castle, I can’t help but smile. We’ve still got a garage full of boxes (and a basement too!), but that’s okay. We’ve got each other. We’ve got an incredible God who is happy to offer comfort, encouragement, and wisdom in how better to do things.

As I come to Him with problems and frustrations, He patiently listens and guides me to stop trying to do this on my own. I can’t. I need help, not just from my family, but divine help as well. I can either walk in the joy, peace, and love of the Lord, or I can walk in stress. My greatest joy is the joy of the Lord, so easily available. All I have to do is ask. He even helps with unpacking!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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Be Real

Jesus loves you. We hear that statement a lot, but how often do we take the time to actually think about it? I mean, I know Jesus loves me, but do I realize that He loves the real me, or the me that I try to be? Think about that for a moment.

In my journey in learning how to trust God more and more with absolutely every aspect of my life, the Lord showed me that He can handle even my failures. On the one hand, that should be a bit of a ‘duh’ statement. On the other hand, how often do we think, ‘Oh no, I’ve really blown it now. I’ve ruined everything!’ Yes, we all make mistakes, but God knows that and we cannot thwart Him. We can’t mess Him up no matter how hard we might even try to. He has a purpose and a plan for our lives that is great. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and  a future.'”

One of my biggest struggles is in trying to control things. I like to plan. Planning is not necessarily bad. However, I can’t plan everything, such as when a child is born or when someone gets sick or other surprises of life. I need to trust the Lord first, plan second. I need to give Him control and seek His guidance and plan accordingly. Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly.” The Lord is absolutely trustworthy. He knows what He’s doing and nothing surprises Him, ever. If we will trust Him and seek after Him with everything we’ve got, He will listen to us. He will bless us and He will give us a hope and a future.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” We all have dreams and desires. When we choose to trust God and seek after Him, delighting our lives with Him, He will bless us with the desires of our hearts. Our dreams will come true. In fact, He will bless us beyond our wildest dreams.

Don’t be afraid to be real. God can handle reality. In fact, He wants you to be real. When we stop trying to be the person we think everyone expects us to be and start being real, we are set free to become what the Lord intended for us. We are set free to dream. We are also set free to minister to others and to touch and change lives.

Jesus has a purpose and a plan for your life. Don’t be afraid to dream. Seek the Lord and see that He is good. Share your dreams with Him. Seek Him and see what His dreams are for you. I promise, God’s dreams for you are amazing beyond anything you can even imagine!

I’d love to hear some of the amazing things that God has done in your life. Please feel free to share!

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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