Monday, May 2, 2016

Many Hats One Focus

medieval hats
I was doing some 'hat' sewing over the weekend for an upcoming play that my senior Drama class are putting on in June.

It got me thinking about the many hats I wear. Like most women and most writers, I have quite a collection. Writer, teacher, speaker, pastor, artist, musician and worship leader, mother and grandmother... the list goes on. It seems, sometimes, that crossing one item off my to do list only means I must jump right into the next task. Right now, I'm thinking about a speaking engagement coming up in two weeks, a dinner theatre commitment two days after that, and our major production just one month after that. All the while, other obligations continue to need attention and my day job keeps me on my toes from 8 am until 5 each weekday. Now that May is here, I feel I can safely look forward to summer vacation and a break!

Then I stop and think about that for a minute and have to say a quick prayer of repentance. I don't want to wish my life away, busy as it is. I relish each new day and want to embrace every opportunity, challenge and accomplishment. Sure, it's a busy life, but I find much fulfillment in all that I do. Add to that, I have good health and my family.

Colossians 3: 23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." This is good advice to live by, no matter how many hats you wear.

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My class is performing 'Knights of the Rad Table' by Pat Lydersen. It's a fun, Monty-Python-esque take on King Arthur's story. I dug out an old pattern I had used before in a Robin Hood production to make a few medieval hats. (You can see I still have two to finish.)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April Links

My Inscribe post on April 15 talked about my writing 'apprenticeship' - The Long and Winding Road.

On April 28 I posted on The Word Guild's blog. My post, called Expectation, talked about a strange milestone and how it's making me a tad bit restless. 

On April 28 I shared an article on Inscribe's professional blog about using humour in one's writing. Check out "Mrs. K's Rules of Comedy"

The 'Grace Awards', now in its sixth year, did a feature on all of this year's judges. I've been a lead judge since it's inception in the speculative category. the winners will be announced later in May. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

I've been doing a series on DESTINY taken from the Book of Esther. One of the things that came out is that we all have a divine purpose. God created us to be uniquely who we are so that we could serve in His kingdom. A question that comes up, however, is this: How can I serve Him best?

I believe it is important for each one of us to get to know ourselves - intimately. What exactly makes me tick?

I'm a big nerd when it comes to personality profiles and aptitude tests. I have done almost every test known to man, I'm sure. Here are a few ways you can find out who you are so that you can serve God better.

1. Myers-Briggs: Introvert/Extrovert and Perceiving/Judging  I’m a borderline extrovert who is quite intuitive and sensitive but also rather judgmental.

2. Colour Your World (Orange, yellow, green, blue) I prefer to call myself turquoise…

3. Four Temperaments – Phlegmatic, Choleric, Melancholy, Sanguine. Those terms go right back to the ancient Greeks and the four elements.

        - Phlegmatic: (water) relaxed, peaceful, go with the flow.

        - Choleric: (fire) direct, action oriented, sometimes impatient

        - Melancholy: (earth) analytical, grounded, reflective, down to earth

        - Sanguine: (air) optimistic, social, perhaps a bit flighty

Apparently I am melancholy with strong sanguine tendencies, which I think is fairly accurate when you actually look further into it. (The link I've given you takes you to a test put together by Tim and Beverly LaHaye)

The idea of the four quadrants is quite common with most of these personality test. Educators like to come up with all kinds of other labels: Concrete/Abstract; Sequential/Random… It’s all semantics. I’ve found that the results, when put on a chart, look very similar. 

I’ve seen upwards of 20 spiritual gifts depending on the scriptures used…

Romans 12: 6-8, 1 Corinthians 12; and Ephesians 4:11…

One spiritual gifts survey we did when my husband was in Bible School had ‘Celibacy’ and ‘Martyrdom’ on the list. (Oh could I?!)

My spiritual gifts lean toward teaching and discernment. I am definitely NOT an administrator or an evangelist.

(May sound surprising, but overt witnessing makes me uncomfortable – something that used to make me feel bad about myself until I realized that evangelism isn’t my gift. I’m more of a relationship kind of person…)

5. Learning Styles: (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic)

Probably one of my favourites because it yielded immediate personal results in my marriage and family.

For those who aren’t familiar with Gary Chapman’s theories, he basically says we don’t all give and receive love the same way. We each have a primary love language although we can all learn (and should learn) to communicate in all ways.

a)  words of encouragement

b)  acts of service

c)   quality time

d)  gifts
e)  physical touch and closeness

7. The Birkman
- probably my all time favourite, although it does cost money to take the test... It's kind of like all the others rolled into one and then some. Awesome!

I'd love to hear your feedback. What tests have you taken and did you agree or disagree with the results? Have you found any of these tools helpful?

Monday, April 25, 2016

10 Writing Tips I Wish I'd Known Back Then

Here are ten useful writing tips I wish I had known ten years ago. Many of you will already know these tips but they are so foundational they are worth repeating. In no particular order they are:

1. Get rid of needless words. Redundant words can clog up a manuscript. "She heard the sound of the rain on the roof," could be changed to "She heard the rain on the roof," or even "The rain pounded the roof." The word 'that' can usually be eliminated all together. Look for ways to make the writing more concise.

2. Avoid the use of too many adjectives. How I wish I could go back and relearn this one! Rather than add to the description it slows down the story. Instead, use strong, intentional nouns and verbs.

3. Choose the normal word instead of trying to show off with unfamiliar vocabulary. Think of the reader first. (Unless a particular character speaks in an affected manner, that is!)

4. Maintain a single point of view in each scene. Unlimited omniscience has gone out of style! If there is more than one POV in a book, make sure each person is clearly set apart.

5. Show don't tell. This one is so key, yet sometimes the differences are subtle. Showing involves action while telling involves explaining. Ex: Tell: He felt angry. Show: A nerve ticked along his jawline.

6. Avoid using too many flowery dialogue tags. Often a plain 'said' is less intrusive than 'quipped', 'intimated' or the like.

7. Speaking of dialogue tags, actions like 'shrugged' and 'waved' should not be used as dialogue tags. Example: She shrugged, "I don't know." Instead, set the action apart. She shrugged. "I don't know." In this case we don't need anything else to signify who was speaking, either.

8. Use the active not the passive voice. This means the subject is doing the action. "Everyone loves baseball," is active while "Baseball is loved by everyone," is passive. A smattering of passive voice can add dramatic flair in the right context but generally speaking, especially in fiction, the story moves forward and feels fresher and more exciting when active voice is used. (And I know that not everyone loves baseball...)

9. Avoid cliches like the plague. (Okay, I just had to say that one! Sorry!)

10. Stick to one tense throughout - usually past or present. (There is a trend toward writing in the present tense at the moment. While it lends immediacy, it is actually trickier than one might expect.)

There you have it. Scour those manuscripts using these ten tips for huge improvements in every work in progress.