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Inspiration for Beginning Writers

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Writing Tips

Writing Tip — Just for Fun

forestw-4574803_1280On Friday, I posted on my Facebook and Instagram pages that when I took my morning walk last week, the gloomy weather and the shortening days inspired a poem. I had to do some work on it, but some parts seemed to write themselves. It sums up my feelings for December.

And the way through the woods was dark.

The way through the woods was cold.

But I followed the path. I had to

Although it was faint and old.

 

The way through the woods grew darker.

The way through the woods grew colder.

But I trudged on. I had to

Though the cold weighed like a boulder.

 

The way through the woods went black.

The way through the woods disappeared.

And I stopped and stared. I had to

As my heart thudded with fear.

 

Then a light through the woods flamed on.

A light through the woods shone warm.

And I gazed at the light. I had to.

My only hope to find home.

 

The way through the woods was still dark.

The way through the woods was still cold.

But I walked on. I had to.

That light was better than gold.

Writing Tip — Writing in Time: Winter Solstice as Writing Inspiration

summer-solstice-1474745_1280With all the frantic activity associated with Christmas in the U.S., we Americans tend to overlook all other significant dates and holidays in December. Yet the winter solstice is the reason we celebrate Christmas in this month. Both the history and nature of the winter solstice makes for a rich vein of writing inspiration.

Many ancient cultures, according to The Christmas Encyclopedia by William D. Crump, figured out which day in the northern hemisphere had the shortest amount of daylight, all without the help of computers.

Babylonians, Syrians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and pre-Christian Celtic and Germanic tribes celebrated this time of year. Egyptians commemorated the birth of Ra, the sun god. Babylonians and Syrians saw the solstice as a symbol of returning fertility to the land. During the Celtic and Germanic holiday of Yule, noisy celebrations warded off evil spirits that roamed in the darkness.

In a brilliant move of counter-programming, the Catholic Church decided to celebrate Jesus’ birth in December and compete against pagan holidays. We still use some of the pagan traditions and have given them new meanings based on Christianity, like lighting candles and decorating with evergreens.

The juxtaposition of the most hours of darkness and the happiest holiday on the Christian calendar makes a great symbol for the journey of a character. As December grows darker, the character experiences more and more adversity, hitting bottom on the day of the solstice. Then on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, hope is restored.

For speculative fiction, a villain reaches her most powerful state during the winter solstice. The hero, whose powers are at their weakest, must come up with a way to stop the villain from taking advantage of the solstice.

How can you use the winter solstice as writing inspiration?

Writing Tip — Guest Blogging

blogging-1168076_1280Today I am the guest on the blog of new author Patricia Meredith , answering her twelve Christmas questions. I’d love for you to stop by and share your opinions on such Christmas topics as what’s your favorite Christmas movie or what’s the first thing you hang on your tree.

Writing Tip — Guest Blogger, Ronnell Kay Gibson

GIBSONTo wrap up the month, I have author Ronnell Kay Gibson visiting for the first time. Although she has published many devotionals and short stories, “Those Who Stay” is her first story to appear in an anthology. Glad to have you here, Ronnell!

What inspired you to write “Those Who Stayed”, a drama set during a hostage crisis in a store?

“Those Who Stayed” was based on a dream I about just that, a gunman who walked into my local Christian bookstore and posed the same ultimatum, deny Jesus and you can live, but those who stay will be shot. In the dream, I was the 17-year-old boy frozen in place watching the events unfold. All the other details and characters were created as I wrote the story.

 Why did you choose a teenage boy as your main character?

I write a lot of young adult fiction and as I was writing, it just felt the most natural.

 Did you find any special challenges when you wrote your story?

The biggest challenge was trying to keep it real and not preachy. What would a person do if this were a real situation? Would a mother really let her young son stay behind? Most moms wouldn’t, so why does this one? I didn’t want to have trite or pat answers.

 What excited you the most about this story?

Each of the character’s unique voices came easily, and that almost never happens when I’m writing.

Since we’re in a holiday mood, what’s your favorite Christmas tradition? And/Or what’s your favorite Christmas story?

One of my favorite Christmas stories is the children’s book, Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect. Just a sweet story about compassion and selfless giving.

My favorite Christmas tradition is our “Tree Trimming Night.” A night where our family gets together to put up and decorate our tree. Afterward we have pizza and everyone gets to open one present (wrapped in wrapping paper with Christmas trees on it, of course). As my kids have gotten older, we haven’t always been able to have our special night, but this year I’m hoping to bribe my daughter and her friends to come help.

I love trimming our tree, too, with my kids. Thanks for stopping by!

*****

From Christmas fiction off the beaten path:

“Those Who Stayed” by Ronnell Kay Gibson. Years ago, a gunman and a store full of hostages learned some important lessons about faith and pain and what really matters in life — and the echoes from that day continue to the present. 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, 24Symbols, Kobo

*****

Ronnell surrounds herself with words and teenagers. She specializes in young adult contemporary with a sprinkling of the mysterious. She also writes youth and adult devotions and is one of the editors for HAVOK Publishing. Self-proclaimed coffee snob and Marvel movie addict, Ronnell has also titled herself a macaroon padawan and a cupcake Jedi. High on her bucket list is to attend San Diego Comic Con. Ronnell lives in central Wisconsin, with her husband, two teenagers, and two Pomeranian puppies. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and on her website, ronnellkeygibson.com.

 

 

Writing Tip — Guest Blogger, Sandra Merville Hart

SandraMervilleHart_Headshot2Sandra Merville Hart has visited me before but as an author of historical fiction novels. But her short story, “Not This Year'”, is a real change of pace for her. Welcome back, Sandy!

You write historical fiction, stories usually set during the Civil War. What inspired you to write “Not This Year”, a story set in the 1980’s?

That’s a great question, Jennifer.

I’ve always loved reading stories and novels set during Christmas. It’s been a dream of mine to either write a Christmas novel or be part of a Christmas collection, so I jumped at the opportunity to write a story for Mt. Zion Ridge Press’s “Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path”.

“Not This Year” is inspired by a person who is very dear to my heart. I couldn’t talk to him to check every detail, but it’s based on a true story. I selected the 1980s setting because that is the timeframe of the events.

Did you find any special challenges to writing a story set in more contemporary times?

Since I write fiction set in the 1800s, I often use language of that time period to lend authenticity. I noticed myself using words a couple of times that would have been considered “old-fashioned” even in the eighties when the story was set. Of course, I changed them.

Though my first love is writing historical novels, this contemporary setting was a refreshing change.

Why did you write from the point of view of Ed, the father of the family?

This story was inspired by the character of a hard-working husband and father doing his best to support his family in difficult circumstances so it had to be Ed’s story. Telling it from another perspective might have lessened its impact.

What excited you the most about this story while you were writing it?

This story flowed out of me. It was easy to write. Because I write Civil War novels, research before I ever begin writing can take months. And then there’s constant research and fact-checking while writing.

This story was a nice change of pace for that reason.

Since we’re in a holiday mood, what’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Or what’s your favorite Christmas story?

 I love so many traditions at Christmas that it’s difficult to choose!

However, since we are talking about a Christmas book today, I have to admit that I look forward to reading Christmas novels and collections every year. I read old favorites and find new treasures. Reading holiday stories begins for me in November—if I can wait that long. 😊

I also love watching all the Christmas movies and listening to Christmas songs. All of these put me in the holiday mood.

Great to have you stop by again, Sandy! 

*****

From Christmas fiction off the beaten path:

“Not This Year” by Sandra Merville Hart. Anticipating tough financial times, the decision not to buy or exchanged presents leads to some painful and surprising revelations for a hardworking man and his family.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, 24Symbols, Kobo

*****

About Sandra Merville Hart

Award-winning and Amazon bestselling author Sandra Merville Hart loves to uncover little-known yet fascinating facts about our American history to include in her stories. A Musket in My Hands, a Civil War romance where two sisters join the Confederate army with the men they love, is 2019 Serious Writer Medal Fiction Winner and a 2019 Selah Award Finalist. A Rebel in My House, set during the historic Battle of Gettysburg, won the 2018 Silver Illumination Award and second place in 2018 Faith, Hope and Love Readers’ Choice Award. Her debut Civil War Romance, A Stranger on My Land, was IRCA Finalist 2015. Her novella, Surprised by Love in “From the Lake to the River” is set during the 1913 flood in Troy, Ohio. Trail’s End, in “Smitten Novella Collection: The Cowboys” is set in the wild cattle town of Abilene, Kansas. Not This Year, her story in the “Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path,” released in the fall of 2019.

Find her on her blog, https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.

 

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