Updates

Update: Editing Editing Editing! My Editing Journey + 3 Helpful Writing Tips

rewrite edit text on a typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Hello everyone!

I hope you all are doing well. In spite of all that’s going on in this world, God is still good and life is still worth enjoying.

I certainly have been able to enjoy myself, editing my novel these past few weeks. Getting lost in a fictional world is one of the joys of both reading and writing a novel. Even so, the real truths of fiction conveys can help one cope with reality.

An editor from the publishing company, Ambassador International, got back to me in April with her feedback on my novel. After I finished my finals for my college sophomore semester, I set to work.

At first I was overwhelmed by the amount of comments and changes she made or suggested. But gradually I realized how helpful they were and how needed. Through editing this manuscript, I have begun to form a greater understanding of what it means to be a good writer.

Oftentimes, I would say things in my novel on a whim that ended up not making any sense to the novel and in progressing the story. While I had fun writing those parts, for the sake of you all, the readers, you won’t have to read such a gibberish. 😛

Anyhow, I just want to take some time here to reflect on my editing journey, as today I  finished editing my last chapter. While I still have more general edits to make throughout the novel, I feel like I have completed something important.

Here are three things I have learned from my editing journey:

  1. Be clear and concise. Yes. If you are a writer like me, you likely have heard this many times. Of course. It seems obvious, but how many times do I write wordy sentences while trying to bring across a profound message? Writing clearly and concisely sometimes means you have to be “less descriptive,” but in the end, it comes off more powerful.
  2. Say only what’s necessary. This goes along with #1, but it is more specifically about honing in on your point and deleting the rabbit trails. Saying only what’s necessary will help the reader  focus on what’s important and stay engaged with the story. Long, drawn-out tangents lead to frustrated readers.
  3. Show, don’t tell. I used to think this was too hard and too much to ask of me. How would the reader know what’s going on if you don’t tell them? Well, the truth is actions do speak louder than words. As I edited my novel, I realized how much pleasure I got when I deleted the “telling” parts and replaced them with “showing.” Showing the reader how the reader is feeling by them making a fist is more powerful than just saying: “Tristan felt angry.” Showing gives the reader a better and more direct picture of what is happening, and it makes them feel included rather than a bystander who hears what happened from someone else. So, it really is the truth: showing instead of telling makes a huge difference!

Anyhow, that’s the gist of what I’ve learned practically from this editing journey. It’s been a pleasure working on my novel with this fantastic editor, and I look forward to working on more general edits soon.

In my next post, I will share what editing has taught me spiritually.

Have a wonderful night everyone!

Book

I’m getting published!!!

Related imageHello there blog readers! It’s been awhile! I hope the Christmas season is treating you well! It’s that time of year to celebrate the birth of God’s Son, who came to earth in human flesh to one day die and pay the price of our sins. God loves you so much, and wants you in His family. If you haven’t made the decision, today is the day of salvation! Trust in Him and be saved from death and receive a new life with Him!!

So, aside from the greatest news of all, I’ve got some other pretty good news! Last year, my novel, The Thrall’s Sword, got accepted by a small publisher, Ambassador International. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with them at first, but, long story short, I decided a few days ago that I would go with them to publish my book!

I am beyond excited, and in my excitement God has driven me to wrestle with a few things. What exactly are my motives for writing and publishing this book? Back in 2014, when I started writing this novel, I would say I was passionate about writing and could think of nothing else I’d rather do with my free time. Historical fiction fascinated me; including the historical fact that Vikings had such strange funeral rituals as to burn longships on fire with all their possessions, along with a slave girl to supposedly serve the dead master in the after life.

While at that time, I wasn’t a great conversationalist because of my shyness, within the world of my novel anything was possible. I could create complex characters, character dynamics, tension, plot twists, and climaxes. Stories and people came to life for me and made me feel more alive than I did in real life at times. Writing books justified my existence, whereas in real life, I seemed to only be “half-there” or “half-alive” because of my shyness.

Over the years, I’ve become “more alive” in real life–all thanks to Jesus Christ! As I have grown closer to Him, I have begun to awaken to things that really matter. I have become a better conversationalist (though I am definitely still a work in progress!). I have grown in my love for people. I have begun to value time spent with people more than my writing. A new dream has sparked within me, to teach English overseas to build relationships with people, and to share the good news of Jesus Christ in a world of darkness.

My desires have evolved into more practical and more necessary areas of teaching a common language and saving lost souls. And, frankly, fiction writing seems like the exact opposite of that.

Nevertheless, as I have grown and changed, so has my novel. What started out as simply historical fiction with no mention of God, evolved into a transformational, redemptive story of God’s forgiveness. If you have ever read any of Francine Rivers books and liked those, then I think you will enjoy my novel. Her books inspired me to write a powerful tale of a hardened heart softened and restored. My main character, Sigrid, is very stubborn and will assuredly annoy you at least once, only to wonder at her transformation at the end. While my book is fiction, through it I depict beautiful realities, because of the many timeless truths such as hardened hearts in need of a Savior, and a God who grants forgiveness to all who ask for it. Thus, I trust that God will speak to each person in the way He desires through my novel.

Today, I am more in love with Jesus than ever. I am passionate about discipleship, and I long to give over my life to serving God wherever He leads. Most of all, my desire has become truly and simply to know Him more and more. He is good. He is kind. He is worthy!

As I look back at the years I have spent poring my time and energy into this novel, I wonder at the fact that I had so much motivation, so much thoughtfulness, so much care put into this work of fiction. The truth is, it astounds me that I was propelled so strongly to complete this piece and make it what it is today. It astounds me the amount of patience I have had these five long years.

The only thing I can do is give credit to God. He gave me the gift of writing, He gave me motivation, He gave me patience, and He gave me love for Him and faith in Him (as He does for all who ask Him!). The truth is, every ounce of credit goes to Him. Apparently He wanted me to write a book and get it published. Apparently He wanted people to read this redemptive story. Apparently He is doing something through my life that I could never imagined back in 2014.

It’s only because of Him that I exist, because of Him I wrote a book, and because of Him I am who I am today. I want to give Him the supreme glory, because without Him, none of this would even matter. With Him, we have life–fullness of life! A life with meaning and purpose.

Please pursue Him, because He has an adventure for everyone of His beloved children. Please love Him, because He loves you abundantly more than you could imagine. Please surrender everything you are to Him, because none of it was ever yours anyway.

Thank You, Jesus, for all You have done and all You will do! Amen.

Do you struggle with giving the credit to God? Do you struggle with having impure motives, and needing God to purify your motives? Comment below your thoughts. 

Thank you so much, and have a wonderful Christmas!

excerpts

An Excerpt: This Huge Space Inside Me

lighted candle
Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

(Glossary note: Iosa is the Irish word for Jesus)

“What am I looking for?” I whispered.

Tyra pulled her blanket up to her chin and stared up at the thatched roof above us.

“Sometimes I feel like there’s this huge space inside me, wider and emptier than a starless night. Nothin’ I do can fill it up. Nothin’ but God, nothing but the grace He has given us through Iosa. That may not be what you’re looking for, but it’s what we all need, Sigrid. If it weren’t for God bursting inside of me, I wouldn’t be able to stand Ragnar. I’d run. He’d catch me and whip me. I’d run again. But with God, I’ve learned to have compassion on Ragnar. I’ve learned to fill up this void with Iosa’s love and His… strength.”

Tyra gave a gentle, rippling laugh. “God is good, Siri. He is so, so good. He gives me strength. He gave me the strength to tell Ragnar about Him. Ragnar hasn’t changed, but I have. And I pray someday he will change—and ye will, too.”

I said nothing.

“Good night, Siri. I love ye. Iosa loves ye.”

I closed my eyes, moving my tongue around my mouth. But I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t tell her she was wrong about her god, about everything. She had felt something, but it was only a feeling; she had thought something, but it was only a thought. Her perspective on life was radically different than mine. Iosa didn’t love me. Iosa didn’t even know me! Tyra’s experience with Ragnar was awful, so she had to deal with it the only way she knew how.

Yet… my heart was touched by her love and her strength. It couldn’t have come from her god, but it was beautiful. It was a pity her beautiful soul was wasted pouring into the life of that wretched man. Would she ever realize her efforts to love him could never thaw his icy heart?

Writing Samples

What Life is All About

This summer I will be attending a discipleship program for 10 weeks. Prayers are very much appreciated! ❤ It’s amazing how living life and growing in my faith and meeting people and getting to know them can affect and improve my writing, helping me write honestly and from my heart, since my heart is expanding into more meaningful territory. Though I may not have much time for working on my novel, I know this experience will be life-changing. And I know I will have time to slow down and ponder what life is really all about. 

As much as life seems like it’s all about the going and moving and chasing and running round and round here and there getting success and getting a family and getting a house and getting getting getting — as much as it seems like that… I think it’s more about the slowing down. The stopping. The stillness of a summer evening when the sun is slightly down and the stars are slightly out and you finally get the freedom to ponder. To rest. What really matters gently settles in your heart and peace befriends you in the coolness of the day that is coming to an end. The busyness kept it away for so long. You wish you could always be like this. Accepted. Your life of running didn’t fill you up. It left you empty.

What’s the point? Just being here is all that matters. So much for the trying. The trying and trying. You could never be enough to fill you up. As soon as you get big you deflate like a balloon who really tried its best, but the one needle-sized hole threw you off again. You need something inside you to stay the same. Unchanging, consistent – if you could just be that, you could at least understand yourself again. Whoever you are.

Because life isn’t about the rushing and rushing to inflate yourself only to soon get deflated again. It’s not about turning yourself into someone you like only to hate yourself the next day. It’s not about that.

It’s about the slowing down. The stopping. The understanding and taking it in. The breathing in the cool evening air and looking up at the beginnings of the little stars that decorate the galaxy in meekness and power. What wonders they are. Echoing the beauty of a King who sits on His throne in splendor, ruling in meekness and power.

Unchanging, consistent — He’s what’s inside you, filling you up. That’s what life is all about. Filling you up with the staggering wonder of your Ruler and Savior, until you have no room to worship your every whim and desire. Until the reality of the highest Power towers over you, and at the same time draws near you and woos you gently, swaying to a new song, speaking tenderly to you as the sun melts into the west and the stars glitter the night in deeper grandeur and purer joy.

Updates

6 Things I Learned at a Writers’ Conference

 

group hand fist bump
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Brief Update: So I realize I never explained what happened at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference back in May… Maybe I had an excuse or two: getting graduated from high school, parties, having a birthday, going on three trips in the summer, and now figuring out this college thing. Haha! So I’ve been pretty busy, and I’ve only had time to write for school.

In the future, when I have more time on my hands, I plan to query more literary agents for The Thrall’s Sword in hopes of getting a bigger publisher–if God wills it. Please pray that God would guide me in this process!

Last May I had the privilege of attending a writers’ conference, called the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference.

I’ve heard many times that if you want to get serious about writing, you need to attend a writers’ conference. After all, that is the place where you can meet literary agents face to face to share about your novel and—hopefully!—acquire a better chance of publication. Who wouldn’t want that? Maybe I should go to a writers’ conference for my birthday party and all my friends can get published!

But… no.

While meeting a literary agent in person increases the chances of your success, there is a lot more to writers’ conferences than meeting literary agents.

Authors from around the U.S. gathered in these beautiful green, misty mountains like we were vacationing in Middle Earth. Each session offered various tips and tricks for Christian writers to become not merely skilled at adding Bible verses into stories, but great at writing in general, and incorporating a powerful message through a relatable and engaging story.

I realize that not every writer receives such a wonderful opportunity, especially a young writer like myself, so I wanted to share with other young writers some valuable tidbits I learned (with sprinklings of my own reflections here and there).

So here are six things I learned at that conference:

1. Write Truth and Write it Well. Books full of truth are desperately needed in this culture that applauds lies. But what if our truth-filled books were well-written? The perfect blend of truth and style will not only enlighten but also entertain your reader. When truth is woven in a story of intrigue, tension, and conflict, the reader is more likely to accept it than if you shove it down his throat. (Sorry to burst your bubble…)

2. Avoid predictability. Don’t make your book predictable. Push against the current of where the story naturally wants to flow and think outside the box. Are these two characters bound to fall in love? Give both characters goals that don’t coincide with the other, to keep the reader wondering how that will ever happen.

3. Make the story plausible. You’re striving to convince your reader to invest in the characters and plot for a few hundred pages, after all. Don’t make nonbelievers to always look stupid, and don’t exaggerate your spirituality! But if a part of your story needs to be unbelievable, have your character challenge the believability.

4. Avoid preachiness. Just avoid it. Avoiding it does not mean, however, that you add darkness to darkness. Be real, raw, and human, but be a perfect, spotless, brilliant light shining in the darkness at the same time. How do you accomplish that? Imagine the most perfect person who is also a human and you’ll be right on track. Yes—Jesus! You need Him to help your very human reader to understand our most Holy God. Pray, pray, pray! Which leads to my next point…

5. Keep God at the center. Your whole purpose in writing should be to glorify God. Don’t write to get famous or to get published, write so God can be famous and published! Always focus on Jesus as you write, because all that matters is that you are famous in His eyes. Colossians 3:23 gives a great picture of what our attitude should be as we write for God alone: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (ESV). So write heartily! Writing is no drudgery or meaningless pursuit when God’s beautiful character and truth is soaked in the story from beginning to end. Always remember that it is He you are writing for, and not for men. He is your biggest fan.

6. Don’t be discouraged. If you ever feel discouraged, think about it this way: all you have to do is take the next step in your writing journey. Never let overly critical people stand in the way of you following Him, and don’t let the enemy tempt you to procrastinate. Your writing is a weapon to fight against the enemy, and there are people who need and are influenced by good writing. Once you surrender your work to God, you’re allowing Him to change people through your writing.

The Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference was an amazing experience that gave me a bigger view of how God is working through Christian writers. I presented my novel to one literary agent, though she wasn’t interested in publishing it. But even if you aren’t able to meet an agent, I definitely encourage you to attend a writers’ conference if you want to improve as a writer.

Whether or not you attend a conference, you can always write for the glory of God. And writing for God’s glory includes drawing the reader in to a realistic, captivating story. Once people see the great author you are, you can point them to the great God who used you. Writing isn’t just a hobby. It’s a powerful way to point the world to Christ.

So, please, keep writing. Even if you’re in college like me, you can always find ways to write that beautiful truth that people desperately need to here (through essays and such!). Write the unexpected that shakes readers’ understanding of the world, and yet make it believable enough to keep the reader engaged. Incorporate truth gracefully and discreetly, so the reader doesn’t cringe at your preachiness. Keep God always at the forefront, as your Guide through the process, since He is the Author of all truly great stories.

And finally, never be discouraged. Your words could be the only light shining into a dark soul.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5