Labor Day Weekend Reading

Looking for a Labor Day weekend read? Here are a few titles I’d recommend.

The Field (paperback version) is 50% off today through Monday! That’s right, it’s only $6.50, today through September 1st. If you’ve been wanting to read it, but haven’t had the funds or an e-reader (e-versions are $1.99), now is the time, folks.

Synopsis:

Once upon a time there was a village. Along the south border of the village was a gravel road, and beyond the road, a field. This was no ordinary field, for it was strewn with waste from and trespass into it was expressly forbidden by the King.

Although they have been warned about the consequences of trespassing by village elders and even the King himself, Delilah, Lilly and Hava cross over at the counsel of a philosopher who promises liberation. In doing his bidding, they quickly realize they do not know what they had always felt sure of.

Through their respective encounters with the Field, Delilah, Lilly and Hava each take up their own roles in the age-old battle between the King and those who oppose him.

Mortis by Hannah Cobb.

Synopsis (from Amazon):

A young assassin must betray all she knows. In an underground school rife with duels and deadly classes, Jane hides in the shadows to stay alive. She is the invisible assassin. But as she prepares to graduate from Mortis and take her place in the world as a fully-trained killer, Jane stumbles over shadowy secrets revealing dark truths that affect more than her world. Will she embrace the darkness, or betray the school that raised her-and the boy she loves? Once Jane sets herself against her school, there is no turning back because in Mortis, failure always means death.

The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis.

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Her parents argue and fight almost every day. Not only is their marriage falling apart, but teenager Posy feels her life is falling apart with it. Amidst anger and tears, she retreats to the old library down the street. Posy selects one mysterious book in an undiscovered corner of the library and is magically drawn into another world.

Posy finds herself in a kingdom ruled by a cruel and manipulative king and queen who have attempted to usurp the role that belongs only to the Author of their story. The princess flees, an uprising is breaking out in the kingdom, and the prince and other characters fight against their slavery to the Plot.

Posy and the prince search for the fled princess, encountering hideous monsters, fierce battles, incredible danger, and strange creatures that Posy only ever dreamed. They must travel to mysterious places that expose the darkest part of the heart, their own raw fear, and past wounds that haunt them. Will they find truth and forgiveness as they plunge into the book? Will Posy and the prince save the story? Will Posy heal the heartache she knew in her own world?

Public Displays of Convention by Sarahbeth Caplin.

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Being single. To some it’s a blessing; for others, a curse. Newly-dumped Anna-Kate can’t imagine a life without Jared being anything but empty and hopeless. Following her passion for classic literature, she accepts a job at a local bookstore, where she can spend her days reading about independent heroines like Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet: women who broke the conventions of their day, and inspire Anna-Kate to do the same.

With a colorful cast of co-workers who offer plenty of unsolicited advice and can’t take hints, the journey to self-sufficiency turns out to be wilder than Anna-Kate ever expected.

Me?  I’ll be hunkered down with an ARC of A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes (to be released September 23, 2014).*
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence.

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

I was also give a Kindle version of Of the Persecuted by Angie Brashear that I’m looking forward to reading this weekend.*
Synopsis (from Amazon):
Laila Pennedy awaits death by hanging. For the Rendow Clan rules the Woodlands Region, aiming to slaughter the Faithful. And she deserves to die. But Lars Landre, the man destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution, has other plans hidden behind his rare and mysterious blue eyes. Rescue.

Following the daring escape, Laila seeks the path of a warrior and vows revenge against the Rendow Clan. She embarks on a dangerous journey with Lars, one in which they endeavor to reach the promised safety of a magical village, to train for battle, and to ultimately assure freedom for those with faith in the Maker.

Clashes of weapons and souls. Brutal loss of lives. Unrequited love. How in all the Woodlands will Laila survive?

And of course, writing-wise, I’ll be plugging away at A Year with the Baptists.
It’s going to be a fun weekend, and I’m looking forward to it.
What are YOU reading this Labor Day weekend?
*reviews to come

 

What Haunts Me

This week I am writing about what haunts me in A Year with the Baptists.  It’s probably going to be a bloodbath, but I’ve got to be honest: true to the characters, true to the story.  I’m afraid of the emotion and discomfort I’m going to have to wade through to get it all down, and yet I know it will make the story that much better.

Here’s the teensiest glimpse into what I’ll be working on this week:

Teaser Quote 3

 

These were Emma’s last moments in the house where she had not only grown up, but also conquered demons. Demons that probably still lurked in dark corners waiting for a weak moment to attack, she considered as she stood in the stair landing, looking into the school room. She shivered at this thought, suddenly filled with fear and an impulse to run downstairs, yet something made her stay planted where she was.

A Waiting Analogy

Let’s say you’re about to make yourself a sandwich with a side of apple slices and a tall glass of water.

“Wait,” says your mom, “I’m making your very favorite meal in just a little bit.”

So you put all of the stuff for your sandwich away, because it’s your mom and you believe her, and you’d rather wait for your favorite meal anyway.

Several hours pass, and you’re getting hungry again.  Well, to be honest, you never stopped being hungry to begin with, you were just distracted by the prospect of something better.  Your mom is nowhere to be found, even though she said she was going to make your favorite meal in the world.  You’re starting to doubt whether she’ll make a meal at all, let alone your favorite.

Finally, you get tired of waiting, and you decide to make that sandwich anyway, except you open the refrigerator and discover that your little sister has used up all of the sandwich fixings on her own sandwich.  You’re a little bit angry at her, even though you reason with yourself that you shouldn’t be: after all, you’re the one who didn’t capitalize on that sandwich opportunity.  After all, what’s wrong with a sandwich? Your little sister certainly couldn’t tell you.

As you turn these hard, cold facts over in your mind, you spy a box of  crackers in the pantry.

Hmm.

You don’t particularly like crackers, and ugh, these ones happen to be filled with peanut butter of all things.  And if there is one thing you can’t abide, it’s peanut butter…on your crackers.

But there isn’t anything else.  It’s not like you can eat a sandwich.  It’s too late for that.  You just want something.

In the back of your head, however, there is this annoying thought that won’t go away: there is absolutely no nutritional value in these crackers.  They might satisfy your hunger temporarily, but they will do nothing for you, except maybe make you less hungry for your favorite meal that you’ve been promised.

You storm out of the pantry feeling jaded.  If you had known your mom was going to take this long, you would have eaten the sandwich.  No thanks to her, that option isn’t available to you anymore.

The thought occurs to you that you could make your own meal, but you know you’re not quite the cook your mom is, and it just won’t be the same.

Although your mom and the promised meal are nowhere in sight, the best thing to do is to wait for your mom to make and serve your favorite meal.  None of the other options are quite as right as that one, none will bring you the same level of satisfaction.  And you know it.

That’s why you didn’t eat the sandwich.

And that’s why you continue to hold out for that favorite meal.

And until your mom makes that meal, you have to keep reminding yourself of that.

Because, really, would your mom let you starve? Would she wittingly turn you away from something good, if she didn’t want to give you something better?

Depends on your mom, I guess. 😉

If My Siblings Wrote Books

For those of you who don’t know,  I have four brothers and three sisters.  (Yes, we all share the same parents; no, we’re not Mormon or Catholic.  We were an ATI family back in the day, though, so there’s that).  We’re all creative and artistic in our own ways, and a few of us are even writers in different capacities.  I got to thinking the other day: if my siblings were each to write a book, what kind of book would they write?

Obviously, this is all from my point of view.  I didn’t sit them down and ask them what types of books they would want to write or anything.   For the readers who are my siblings or know my siblings, how accurate do you think this is?

Brother #1:  I feel like my oldest brother would write a how-to manual on something, like installing hardwood flooring or a new shower, or maybe how to make those cool things that go on your fishing rod. (I’ve completely forgotten what they’re called, but he makes his own).

Sister #1: My oldest sister is already a writer, and I think she could write about a lot of things, but I see her first book being a cookbook, probably one of those chatty ones with anecdotes and helpful tips.  (In all fairness, she already has a sort of online cookbook: a meal-planning service, complete with menus, grocery lists, and recipes called She Plans Dinner).

Brother #2:  I think my next oldest brother would probably write a book full of pithy sayings and dogmatic opinions.  (Think along the lines of Duck Dynasty, but you know, a book).  Either that or a doctrinal manifesto.*

Sister #2:  I feel like my next older sister would write a book about crafty, D.I.Y. stuff.  She’s very crafty. (And I’m very punny).

Brother #3: My charismatic next oldest brother will probably write an inspirational memoir about his roaring successes.  If I had to guess a title, I’d think somewhere along the lines of I Became a CEO at Thirty-Five (And You Can, Too!), or if he goes with a photography as his theme, I’ll Fix It in Post.

Brother #4: My younger brother could potentially write a lot of books: books on musical education, a memoir (near the end of his life), or a book on doctrine.*

Sister #3:  My younger sister also writes, and I see her writing those romances that you see in grocery stores, or feel-good beach reads.

(Yes, this really is our birth order, and I’m sandwiched between brother #4 and brother #3).

Me? Well, as you know I’ve written an allegory, am working on a novel that explores themes I’ve been wrestling with in a fiction setting, and I’ve got a historical fantasy series percolating.  (Hey, variety is the spice of life).

*It’s worth noting that although brother #2 and brother #4 could both write doctrinal works, they would be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

For those of you who are my siblings or know them pretty well, how do you think I did? If you’re a writer, what kind of books do you think your siblings would write?

 

Loving the Insecure

I had never been on the receiving end of insecurity until about two months ago.  Obviously, I’ve struggled with my own insecurities over the years, but this time I was approached with another person’s insecurities.  It was overwhelming because I didn’t know how to respond, never having been in this particular situation before, and I think I bumbled a bit before I got my footing.  Thankfully, with some wise counsel, I was able to take a firm stand (which was appropriate and necessary, I might add).  However, in the time that has passed, my eyes have been opened to a weakness I have:  loving the insecure.

I should mention that while I have struggled with certain insecurities, I don’t generally consider myself an insecure person, nor have I ever.  In fact, for the most part, I like being who I am, and there’s not a whole lot I want to change about my body or personality.  (Spiritually, there is always room for me to grow, lest anyone thinks I’m saying I’ve arrived).   I err on the side of contentment.   Additionally, for the most part, I’m not concerned about others’ opinions of me, because why in the world would I trust another person’s opinion above what I know about myself?  I’m not validated or affirmed by anyone but God: He has made clear who I am and what I am supposed to be doing.  I’m secure in my Father’s hands, and while I don’t always trust Him implicitly as I should,  I don’t look anywhere else.  I don’t need to: He’s my Maker, He’s got me covered.

So.  Insecure people drive me a little nuts, probably because I mostly just don’t get them, and I try to give them a wide berth.  Insecurity can be catching.  I don’t want to be a part of the obsession with statistics, and evaluations, and trivial facts, and what everyone else must think.  I don’t want to rely on these things validate who I am or affirm what I’ve been called to do.

And frankly, it frustrated and angered me when I was forced to reckon with another person’s insecurities because this person insisted they were my own.  It grew even worse as it became apparent (to me and others observing the situation) that was exactly what this person was doing.  Nothing – and I mean nothing – brings out the fight in me quicker than dishonesty.  As I prayed about it (often in July), God showed me some things about this person, not just insecurity, but very specific insecurities.  (Not Divine revelation or anything, just discernment).   I went back and forth between feeling bad for getting so frustrated and angry and thinking this person should really just get over these insecurities and embrace confident living.  (Easier said than done, I know, I know).

This verse in Ephesians 4 caught my attention  (catches it every time really):  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”   The word bearing in this verse literally means tolerating.  I am to put up with my insecure brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am to deal with them patiently, humbly, and gently.  There have been many words spoken over the past few months concerning this situation that have not been patient, humble, or gentle – both to the instigator and to the people who have prayerfully supported and advised me through it.  For those words – the impatient, the prideful, the harsh – I am sorry.  I am still very much in training for how to communicate the truth in love.

However (and this is important), while I am called to embrace the insecure,  I do not, and will not embrace their insecurities – not for them, and not for me.  I will counter insecurity with truth as lovingly, patiently, humbly, and gently as possible, but I will counter it.  I’m not interested in feeding an insatiable monster.  Also, I’m not competing with anyone, so those statistics, evaluations, factoids, and opinions – ugh, they just don’t matter to me.   Please understand, I don’t owe or offer explanations or defenses for why I do what I do – my life is not some argumentative paper in college or a pros and cons list.

I read a great post by Ann Voskamp weeks ago, and it made me realize the burdens we place on other people, when really we should be calling them to freedom.  (Isn’t that what Christ came for? Died for? Lives for?) That’s what I want to do going forward when people come to me with insecurity:  I want to remind them of who they are (according to God, because let’s face it, nobody else matters) and encourage them in their calling.  I want to tell them they are fiercely loved, not only by me, but by a Maker who gave them their purpose.

I also want to inspire confidence by example: I am who I am for God’s purposes, and I find great joy in that.

I’m Lydia.  I’m a follower of Jesus and a minister to the people He has placed in my path between home, working two jobs, social media, and church.  I exist for Jesus first, and people second.  (Always). Writing is my path as ordained by God.  Because God has called me to write, I talk about the projects He has given me without shame, and research the best ways to publish and market my work.  I have a healthy respect for the fact that what I am called to do is not what everyone else is called to do; in fact, I think it is good.

Who are YOU?

 

 

 

 

Hard to Believe

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since I graduated from the University of North Texas with my Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Film.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since God told me to be still, and I didn’t, so I burned out instead.  In that place of burnout, though, I began to get niggling feelings about writing.  (I hadn’t focused on my personal fiction writing since before I went to college at sixteen).

It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since I started writing again in earnest, and in this time I’ve written a play, a book, and am over 35,000 words into my new novel (that doesn’t feel so new anymore).

It’s hard to believe that writing is my path, something so good, so enjoyable.

It’s hard to believe the passage of time, the transpiring of events in my life, how I’ve come into my own, and I’m different than I expected.

All of this reminds me that God is the masterful Author of my story, and that I need to be faithful with the stories He has given me to write.

 

Write What You Know

I have been so afraid the past twenty-four hours about what might pop up in my various social media feeds, especially on Facebook.  I have been afraid of seeing my friends and family affirm attitudes that display ignorance and judgment about a complex disease.  (My disease, in case you were wondering, gifted to me from both sides of my family, and perhaps some suffocating life circumstances as well).

Sure enough, I’ve heard about the ignorance and judgment coming from people who have clearly never wrestled with depression. How do I know these people don’t struggle with depression?  Because they’re sitting there at their keyboards, spewing ideas at the world at a breakneck speed of 70 WPM, without any consideration of the people who will be reading them.  They’ve shown up with bells on to tell those of us who do wrestle with this disease how we should handle it.  Unfortunately, they’ve broken the cardinal rule of writing (and really, relating to people): write (or talk about) what you know.

I was going to write about this anyhow, before I heard anything about Robin Williams.  You see, last week, I read a book and there really wasn’t anything wrong with the writing/story itself, but it dealt with depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.  These are issues in which I have personal experience, and I was disturbed to see them represented and resolved the way they were – vastly oversimplified.  The whole book gave me the impression that the author had done her research on these things, but had no experience in them.

This isn’t to say a writer must always write versions of themselves and their life stories.  (That’s just narcissistic).  There are just certain things one can’t write or speak about, because they don’t know them.  If you want to write or speak about something you don’t know from experience (say historical fiction), you must at least do so with empathy, that gift to see through the eyes of others.  Don’t attempt it through your own eyes: that only comes across as insincere and serves to drive people away.

This is what I have had to remind myself, both last week and today: some people just don’t know.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them from writing or speaking, because not only do they not know, they don’t know that they don’t know.  (Confused yet?)

I’m currently writing my own book about what I know – not just about depression, but about abuse, anger, dark nights of the soul, sexuality, and a host of other things that I have lived – so I’m not going to hash out what I know here.  Besides, you can read wise and healthy perspectives by Ann Voskamp, Nish Weiseth, and Megan Tietz, and whether depression is something you know from experience or not, I highly recommend you do.

I just want to admonish people everywhere: write and talk about what you know.  If you don’t know about it, please just sit down and be quiet.