Is Clean Christian Writing a Good Thing?

Lying, murder, torture, assassinations, lust — as Christians called to be a light in the world, should we touch on these darker aspects of life in our writing or should our books be clean and full of light? Should a character swear? Is it wrong to have a character be immoral? What about the sympathetic thieves or the hardened interrogators? As Christians, we want to write inspiring stories. But is an inspiring story the same thing as a squeaky clean story, and what does ‘clean Christian writing’ even mean?

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May Highlights: Blogs, Editing, and A Vlog

My Life

I know, I know… It’s June. But I’m only two days late, and I have a valid excuse. It’s this blog, mainly. Notice anything looking different? *grins* I’ve switched to paid hosting and have everything on one website now, instead of two. It took about a week of working and waiting and more working and more waiting… I didn’t realize it took a week for domain names to transfer. But it’s set up now, and I’m very happy.

Only two minor details. The first is that I figured out how to transfer my followers from my wordpress.com site to wordpress.org! The only note is that, if you were following me through WordPress instead of by email, you’ll get notifications in your WordPress reader about a new post but you won’t get an email when I create a post like you might have before. Second, commenting is slightly more a pain in this template. One actually has to click on a post to comment. I don’t think that will be too big of a deal, though.

Life is good. Life is also crazy. I went to a Memorial Day outreach Monday. Saturday is a wedding, Sunday I have my first ever official sleep-over (yes, I’m 22 and this is the first ‘real’ sleep-over I’ve had). Then, next Wednesday night, I’ll be taking a train to Pittsburgh for a Kingdom Pen retreat and won’t return until Sunday night. I’m looking forward to that, but the train trip is overnight both ways and I sometimes get migraines when I’m really tired. I don’t want to get one while on the train or at the retreat, so prayers would be appreciated.

My Writing

WIPs:

  • Scarlet Rose: Not telling. It’s way less than I should have done…somewhere in the vicinity of five chapters. I’ll get moving on it more this month. Or next month…
  • Fidelyon: 14,447 words/6 chapters rewritten – again, not as much as I’d like. But blog and Rose of the Oath took up extra time this month.
  • Rose of the Night: PUBLISHED! Check out more here
  • Rose of the Oath: SET FOR PREORDER!

Goals:

  • Pricematch Rose of the Oath down to free and publish
  • Finish part 3 of Scarlet Rose
  • Fidelyon… as much as I can get done; another 10-15 chapters

Google Searches:

  • How long does a stab wound to the lung take to heal why can’t you just give me one single answer, Google? On another note, it is fascinating to see how many other writers have already asked this question
  • Recovery time for a stab wound to the chest at which point I remembered I had an Aunt who was a respiratory therapist. Twenty minutes of texting and details such as age and health and I got solid answers – collapsed lung: 2-3 weeks healing, 4-5 weeks before in fighting condition, barring infection and complications. Every writer needs an Aunt who knows medical stuff 
  • What is the front of a ship called? yes… I did just ask that
  • Flowers that mean sorrow Did the author of Hunger Games have any idea that Primrose means something along the lines of ‘can’t live without’? I did not need that…
  • Pictures of hazel eyes cause you need pictures if you’re to describe something properly
  • How long to apply a brand to the skin 30 to 60 seconds for a good brand. Ouch. I’m… I’m so sorry. Also, people apparently brand themselves for fun, like tattoos, only much more painful. *shudders*

Other Writing:

Me

A vlog! You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you? Actually, you probably forgot about it… Nevermind. Here is May’s Vlog.

Let’s chat! What have you been up to? How are your writing projects going? Have you ever traveled in a train before?

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January Highlights: Writing, Reading, and Outlining

I give up. I don’t know what normal weather here in the midwest is anymore. We had a few good snow falls earlier in the winter, but part way through this month all the snow melted. Which generally happens sometime each winter, except this year it kept getting warmer. We had a few days was it was in the 50s and 60s! I went out shopping with no coat! And we saw the sun. That was a nice treat.

A few days before the day it was sunny, my brother mentioned how the weather was supposed to be cloudy for the next week and a half. Mom made a comment about ‘no sun’ and I blinked. The sun? Right. I forgot about the sun… And then I wished they’d not mentioned it because I started missing it, despite the drama of mist and gray weather.

My Life

Home life is busy. My sister and I used to split a number of tasks, but now she is either at college or work six days out of seven so I have a little more to do. Though with a brother who helps make bread now, and Mom and I splitting laundry days, it isn’t too bad.

My own job of knitting hats is easing up. I’m only making ten a week now and generally go to the shop three days a week for an hour or hour and a half.

I’ve also started trying my hand at calligraphy (read: I got the markers out and doodled with them one night when I couldn’t think about writing anymore.) And I’m trying to find time for painting. Kind of. Watercolor is very fun, but it’s not high on my list of things to do; not with all the writing I’ve been doing.

Writing

Every month I seem to try and do more…

WIPs

 

  • Shadows of the Hersweald is going well. After working through beta reader corrections and some polishing of my own, it is now in the hands of an editor.
  • I outlined Scarlet Rose this month. First the book, then the trilogy and overall character arcs. When I decided to write a trilogy, I didn’t realize how more than one book complicated a story arc. But I am pleased with the results of my brainstorming. I’ve the main plot points of each book worked out and am working an hour a day on Scarlet Rose itself.
  • Fidelyon… *insane laugh* I have, umm, reoutlined this novel. I knew something was missing and finally realized the first half of the main character’s arc was missing and there was no definite midpoint to the story. So I’m plunging into another rewrite. Well, I say rewrite… some parts will stay the same, with just minor changes. Other parts, especially in the first few chapters and pretty much the whole last quarter, are up for a major overhaul. I’m excited about it, even if I do wish I could just GET THIS NOVEL DONE!

Other Writing

Writer’s Confessions

  • Sometimes I run a search on my own blog to find past articles
  • I schedule posts a month in advance but don’t add content until about a week before they are due to be posted. So if I ever die vanish into another world, you guys are going to get a bunch of blank posts… *smirks*
  • I can’t brainstorm on lined paper. I can outline with lines, but I need blank paper to let my ideas flow right
  • When I do use lined paper for notes, I write super small, fitting two lines in the space of one line. Still not sure why I do that…
  • I have been writing for years, but grammar remains a mystery and sometimes even spellcheck doesn’t recognize my words
  • I use the effort of brainstorming a project or the triumph of finishing an outline or manuscript as an excuse to go get onion rings at Culvers

Me

Yep, you never really know. Same if I am humming under my breath. I might be happy, or I might be trying to keep frustration or stress contained…

Oh, one final bit of news. I was on Kingdom Pen‘s first Live Panel Writers Discussion last week, talking about writing for a full hour! I was supposed to be one of three writers, but due to technical difficulties, I was the only one who ended up getting on. So it was just the moderator and I. But it still went well and I think all involved had fun.

So, what about you? Have you seen the sun much this winter? Have you ever outlined a book series before? What is your favorite treat to reward yourself with during or after your writing?

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Christian Convictions: Writing on Sundays

I don’t write on Sundays. I’m not saying no one should write on Sundays, but for me – I can’t do it. Well, I could very easily, and that is why I don’t. I get so obsessed with getting this done and getting that done. I mean, seriously, a dozen novels in my mind… where is one to get the time?

And that’s the thing. For me, writing will take up any time I allow it. It is my job. And Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (and yes, I realize the Sabbath and Sunday aren’t the same. The point is, we take one day a week from our normal schedule and business of work to rest, renew our minds, and worship God.)

I, early on in my writing, and with my dad’s leading, made up my mind that I’d not write on Sundays. I’d rest. I’d relax. And I’d pick up my work the next day.

We need to have time to rest. To recuperate. We can’t be working nonstop all the time or we wear ourselves out. God doesn’t do things for no reason, and resting one day in every seven is no exception.

Though I do ‘lose’ a day of writing each week, I have found resting on Sunday has benefited me and my life.

For starters, I have a solid cutoff. I aim to get everything for the week done by Saturday night because I won’t be working the next day.

Monday is a new week, which I enter fresh from a day of being able to ignore my plot holes or staring blankly at the screen. The day of clearing my mind lets me start the week with fresh energy, not to mention I get some extra sleep and file away more reading than normal.

Now, I’m not perfect. There has been a day or two I finished a scene really quick. Or a piece sprang into my head that I needed to write down. If I am stuck on a plot hole, the story runs through my head as I try to find some solution before I have to sit back down and write again the next day. But, as a general rule, I lay my writing to the side one day a week.

Choosing not to write on Sundays is a personal conviction for me. I don’t think it is a sin to write on Sunday, and I think there are those who can handle it without letting writing take over their life. But, as for me, I believe it is a Biblically promoted idea to rest one day a week. Not only does it open up time for us to worship God and reflect on matters we ignore in the hurry of life, but it gives us new strength and refreshes our mind to plunge back into the work of our story the next day.

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December Vlog

Hello, guys! Ready for another Vlog? This one is pretty short because I didn’t have questions and I was in a hurry. Still, you should enjoy it. 😉

And, like normal, feel free to ask any questions you want below so I can answer them in my next Vlog. Or maybe the one after, since the next one will be about Shadows of the Hersweald. We’ll see. *grins*

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November Vlog

Hey, it’s Wednesday and I am posting! Well, it is a special post…a vlog post. *grins*

Once again I’m taking part the Very Awesome Vlog Challenge put on by my good friend, Ivy Rose. For more information on that, you can click the cool picture below.

www-lakesidepublications-com_-2-300x300

And now, without more ado because I do have things I need to be attending to…and because I speak for myself in the video below, here is this month’s rambling vlog.

Have any questions for me for next month? Ask away in the comments below!

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Christian Convictions: Assassination in Writing

Assassination in Writing

Death comes in many forms when one is writing a book. Weather, sickness, battle, or personal revenge. In many books, warfare of some kind or another progresses through the story. As writers, sometimes we need to decipher what is acceptable for our characters to do; or at least what they can do in good conscious (Of course, this doesn’t mean they always will behave right, because having a character fail morally and then having to face the results of his failings is a great story-line.)

Christians and assassination

Now I am not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination. The Bible says do not kill, but it does allow for war. Killing in battle or self-defense is acceptable; murder is not. Pacifism, when one should fight, if one should fight…it’s quite a large topic that I might address sometime else if people show interest. Right now I’m focusing on a narrower topic. Given that fighting and killing is a part of general warfare, how should a Christian (and, by extension your characters) deal with assassination?

In battle, men line up in shield walls, shoot from defended trenches, or swoop above the enemy in planes. The enemy knows they are there…sometimes. There are also ambushes, surprise attacks, night attacks, and dawn attacks were damage is done and then the attackers fade into the night. A killed guard. Sniper shots inside enemy encampment. It is all part of warfare and part of the danger of being in the army.

Assassination moves a little closer to home. This is no random shot fired or a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is purposeful. Watching a target, waiting for him, looking through a scope at a real person instead of a nameless soldier. It is pulling the trigger, throwing a knife, or striking up close from an ambushment with a dagger.

So, is assassination in wartime an acceptable course of action?

The answer, I believe, is yes. With some restrictions.

Now don’t get me wrong, just because killing is a part of war doesn’t mean it is desirable. It will be a necessary part of surviving, but war doesn’t mean all rules go and one can kill or assassinate anyone on the opposite side.

I do not believe, even in war, that killing or assassinating the defenseless and civilians is ever right. When it comes to an armed enemy, however, it is another matter. Soldiers die on the field, from sickness, and in surprise attacks or in ambushes. Generals, officers, and leaders may, for practical reasons, stay away from the main conflict, but they are still actively engaged in warfare. As a soldier, they are fighting with the knowledge that they could die. And if it is not possible to kill a target from the battlefield, then I see no problem with a secret attack which gets the job done.

It may not seem the most honorable course of action, but since when is killing honorable? What must be done, must be done. In a pitched battle, in an ambush, or in a surgical strike behind the lines, if a leader of an army needs to be taken out, then there is no moral problem for your characters accomplishing the task.

And an item of note here – this does not mean your characters are ‘playing God’ and deciding who lives and who dies. A soldier in another book, when confronted with the question about how he could kill, especially when he knew those dying probably weren’t Christians, put it very well. I don’t remember the exact quote but it was to the tenor of ‘God is in control, and if He wants someone to be saved, then He will save that person regardless of what I do. But as a soldier for my country, I will do my duty to the best of my ability…even if that means killing’.

When it comes to writing, I do not have a moral problem with a character planning an assassination on the leader or general of an opposing side. Now, just because it might not be a matter of conscience, it does not mean it won’t affect and haunt your character in personal and emotional ways…which is, of course, what you want for them. Your characters shouldn’t plan an assassination for no reason, but if there is a reason then have no hesitation throwing the turmoil and contention of planning and performing (either in success or failure) at them and seeing what happens.

Note: I do not claim to know everything about the various topics I’ll be discussing in these Christian Conviction articles. What I write is what I believe after reading the Bible and holding conversations with friends and parents, but that does not mean I’m not interested in Bible evidence for another point of view. If the topics interest you, I encourage you to study them on your own as well. Friendly discussion in the comments is encouraged if you have points you’d like to bring up, but this is not the place for a full-scale debate. : )

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Another Vlog!!!

Another Vlog!!!

So I decided to make this a monthly thing because these are fun to make. In this vlog, I’ve managed to show you where I work, what I do, and answer the questions from the last vlog.

And…that’s that. I need to work on my openings. Perhaps I’ll focus on that next time. *smirks* Anyhow, now is the time for questions…If you have any you’d like me to answer next month, ask away below!

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Christian Convictions: Magic in Writing

Christians and Magic

I don’t care for the word ‘magic’. It can be a touchy word in the Christian community. Is magic bad? Is some magic fine to read and other magic not? Is it fine to write? Can I love Lord of the Rings but decide against reading Harry Potter* **? The word magic is so broad that everyone can have their own picture of it without anyone being wrong.

*The answer is yes, by the way. You can choose what to read as you please. You only need to have logical arguments involved if you’re trying to prove why one shouldn’t be read and the other should be read.

**Also, I’d like to note that I’ve not read Harry Potter. I’ve read arguments both for and against reading them, but I’m not currently making any judgments one way other the other. *glances to either side, wondering if I’ve managed to avoid offending both sides or have successfully riled everyone*

Christians and magic

I split magic into two main categories. The larger category is fantasy magic, which I like to address as abilities, gifts, or powers. The second one is real-world witchcraft.

Fantasy Magic

Imbedded abilities

This allows characters in fantasy lands to communicate telepathically, animals to talk, shape-shifters to walk the land, gifts of invisibility or creating fire to be given from person to person, or an unusual ability to pass down a family line. I don’t consider any of this proper magic, nor would I call it magic in a book. There’s no mysterious force involved and no spells and chants. It’s simply the way things are in some faraway place. Why should one expect the laws of nature in a fantasy world to operate the same as natural laws here on earth? That’s the whole point of fantasy; to be able to create something new. Something different. I don’t think there is anything in general imbedded abilities which a Christian need shy away from.

Spiritual Powers

Especially in allegory, this can be fascinating to work with. Characters may have abilities which are gifts from the allegorical portrayal of God. Once again, these aren’t chants or ceremonies or something the character is making happen. It is a gift, and should be used as such or there will likely be consequences. And if there are gifts given by the Creator, there might be dark gifts given by the allegorical equivalent of Satan. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with this type of power either, if handled carefully. There were prophets in the Bible who God healed through, and there were also sorcerers. As writers, we don’t try to ignore the darkness in the world, but rather we show it for what it is, reveal the consequences, and bring out the brightness of the light. That being said, even in allegory I, personally, would not go into great depth of any sort of rites powered by the darkness.

Immaterial Force

In a fantasy world there might be an immaterial force or energy which anyone trained can tap into and use for good or bad. It might be called magic. It might be called science. Or it might be religious in nature. I waver on this issue. I would not call it wrong, but at the same time I think a writer needs to be careful with this type of magic. Here, in the real world, magic is bad. There’s not white magic and black magic. The dangers of using an amoral force is that readers may bring the ideas of a force which can be used for good or bad from the fantasy world and apply them to the idea of magic in this world, especially if one is using wands and spells and chants. A lot goes into how it is portrayed. Is it a sort of energy one can draw out with the right tools in a very science-like manner, or is the tone very magic ridden, with rites and ceremonies? Like I said, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this kind of ‘magic’ is always or completely wrong, but it also wouldn’t be my option of choice.

Portal Magic

This is the ‘magic’ that crosses the borders of time and space, dropping characters into the past, the future, or even different worlds. This can be portrayed as science. Or you can mix fantasy with real-life, as if it is something which always exists, most people simple don’t know about it. I’ve no problem with either of those aspects, though I’d not condone portraying it as a magic one has to speak spells over.

Real Magic

Here in the real world, there are only two sources of power. Power from God, and power from Satan. There’s not white magic and black magic; any magic is from Satan and should not be meddled with, which is why I don’t think any character in this world should have magical powers. They might have fantastical abilities due to a science experiment of some sort, but what they can do should have a natural explanation.

As I mentioned early, just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we avoid writing about any kind of evil. How graphically we describe the evil is a topic for another conversation, but there is evil in the world and we don’t try to gloss over it for our readers. Rather we show its consequences and the power of the light. All this to say, magic is a possibility in writing, if you are working on something like a spiritual warfare thriller, but it should never be portrayed as good. And I’d deal with it only in general terms. There is no need for a Christian writer to study the occult to write a ritual, and readers aren’t going to benefit from soaking up details about the darkness which are best left alone.

So when writing, there are a few basic questions you can ask. Is the book here, or in a fantasy world? If in this world, then magic should not be tampered with as an amoral power. Are there cool abilities you want give a race of people? Go for it. Do you want spiritual power in an allegorical world? Make sure the source of good and evil are clearly defined and don’t get carried away on the dark side with blood magic and spells.

Real magic in this world is always evil and should be handled with care, if at all. But what many call magic in fantasy is nothing more than fascinating abilities. And as for the real magic in fantasy, look at the source, the uses, and the portrayal to decide if it is worthwhile or not.

Note: What I write is what I believe after reading the Bible and holding conversations with friends and parents, but that does not mean I’m not interested in Bible evidence for another point of view. If the topics interest you, I encourage you to study them on your own as well. Friendly discussion in the comment section is encouraged if you have points you’d like to bring up, but this is not the place for a full-scale debate. : )

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August Highlights – Boating, Swords, and Personality Types

Greetings, my fellow Pilgrims. It seems forever since I’ve given you a ‘life update’ even though it’s only been a month. But I know you’re all so eager to hear about what I’ve been doing so I’ll just preface this by saying this month has been completely insane.

There’s not enough time to list everything, so I’ll try to hit the highlights.

My Life

First of all, as many of you know, I published Song of the Sword this month! That was exciting and I had so many wonderful people help with my blog tour and the launch. Thanks everyone *waves* But, all said, I’m glad it’s over. Now I can relax. For three or four months anyway and I guess I’ve a bunch of writing on my next novella so it’s not really going to be relaxing. *sighs*

Secondly, some of my family went to Iowa in the middle of this month to visit Dad’s parents. It’s a nine hour trip. And we got sick. Well, we all were getting colds on the way there and had them the rest of the trip and the way back and at home… Somewhat miserable, but we managed to have fun too. Between resting and some reading I:

  • Saw a vivid sunset, with clouds edged in living gold. I tried to take pictures but they didn’t capture the drama.
  • Got up at 3:00 a.m. and watching shooting stars with my uncle from the back of a truck for an hour an a half. I saw 26 of them shiny silvery streaks across the sky. It was exciting. I was also pretty tired the next day, but the memories were worth it.
  • I learned canoeing (also from my uncle) and canoed a mile across a lake then kayaked the mile back.
  • Skimmed a 300 page book in a few hours.
  • Went boating in my uncle’s boat.
  • Navigated crazy five lane road as we passed below Chicago on the way home. And survived without crashing!

Oh, and changing the topic, but remember those cute little jars I showed you all a month or two ago? Well, here’s how they look now.

Also, I bought a sword! I found it at a local swap meet and spent the next hours touring the booths with the sheathed blade over my shoulder, earning several comments and a number of looks, including the admiring eyes of young boys. Not that they were looking at me, I’m sure. It’s a King Arthur sword and weighs about two pounds. It’s not sharp, but it looks cool and I really like it. Here are just a few beginning pictures I took the morning I bought it.

Writing

Lots of writing this month. Like normal.

WIPs

I’ve two main ones this month, and one part time project.

  • Forest of Darkness, my Hansel and Gretel retelling. I wrote it for July nano and have been working on getting it readable this month.
  • Fidelyon, the new (and, probably, final) title for The Final Clash/The Spear and Shield/Legend of the Shield. I’ve a ‘final’ round of corrections I’m starting. Two chapters a day, and I hope to have it ready for beta readers by the end of September.
  • Scarlet Rose I’m working on this as I have time. Mainly in the evenings in small bits, but those small bits will add up.

Other Writing

  • Are Cliches to be Avoided by a certain Hope Ann on the Kingdom Pen Website. If you haven’t checked them out, you should. It’s a great place for young Christian writers.
  • 101 Lies Writers Tell by Nate Philbrick. I really enjoy the writing humor from his website.
  • Black Mastermind by Writefury. This is a serial story (part of the inspiration for me starting a serial story) which I absolutely love. It’s part seven, but the first six parts are linked and it’s totally worth the time it would take to go read through all of them.
  • Thundering of Hooves by…me. A flashback post last year about how quick and how far a horse can travel.

Cliche Benders

A villain who hates the dark, a hero who has no clue how to fight, a sharpshooting minion, and a princess who doesn’t want to get married or become a warrior. She just wants to be left alone.

Me…

I’ve been getting into MBTI typing recently and, apparently, I’m a INTJ. Also, apparently, there are only 0.8 % women who are INTJs. Here are a few scarily accurate pictures I found on Pinterest.

So…yep, that’s me.

So, what about you? What is your personality type?

Have you visited Kingdom Pen yet?

Also, are you ready for school to start…who is getting ready for school? I have teaching, not lessons of my own. But even teaching takes time.

Ready for Autumn to bring some cool weather?

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