Thursday, August 11, 2005

New Blog for Christian Fiction Enthusiasts by Christian Fiction Published Authors

From all of us at the Charis Connection
If you're reading this blog, you probably have an interest in Christian fiction. You may enjoy reading it, you may be writing, editing, or publishing it, or you may be taking your first steps toward learning how to create your own short stories or novels. Whatever your reasons, here's what we're about: we're a group of novelists who publish what has been called "Christian fiction," "faith-based fiction," or "fiction with a Christian worldview." Our contributing authors have a few things in common--collectively, we've published numerous novels for Christian publishers. We have a genuine passion for the art of the story. We are dedicated to continually improving our craft as we strive for excellence in every book. We believe the art of story to be a legitimate, viable means of attracting others to a loving God and Savior, who frequently used story to communicate deep truths. We believe in what we're doing and have made a commitment of our time, effort, and faith to constantly deepen the quality and broaden the outreach of fiction written from the perspective of a believer in Christ. Our ultimate purpose is to glorify the One who gave us the gift of creativity. Whatever brought you here, we hope you receive a blessing from your visit.

Guerilla Book Promotion: Ain't No Valley

To celebrate Ain't No Valley's release, The Ripe Harvest and Bethany House will award four $1,000 scholarships and one $1,500 award. Scholarships will be awarded in two age groups, 16-21 years and over 21 years of age.

Entrants should submit an essay (maximum 1,000 words) after reading Ain't No Valley. Essays must answer the following question:

Describe the character you most identified with and how that character sought and found a new beginning in life. Now, describe your personal situation and the plan you have for a new beginning.

Essays should be typed, double-spaced, and should include the entrant's address, telephone number, email address, name and age. Completed essays must be postmarked by midnight January 7, 2006 and mailed to:

Ripe Harvest Foundation, Inc.
Ain't No Valley/Get Lifted
PO Box 10402
Baltimore, MD 21209

Winners will be announced in March 2006.

For additional information about the contest and the book, see here or phone the Ripe Harvest Foundation at 410-542-5144.

Writing Out Loud

"Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God"
-Bible verse for thought: Romans 10:17

Last year I took a year long writing workshop with Chuck Palahniuk. Chucky gave us a monthly lesson on his writing technique and a homework assignment. My writing cronies and I critiqued each others work. And at the end of the workshop we wrote to Chucky about our experiences and our goals for this year. Chucky wrote me back and sent Selah and I gifts. My writing grew this year, because of that workshop and Chuck's motivating gift box. I have met most of my goals and at this moment every query I've sent I received an acceptance for submission. But that good record will change, since the fall is my designated short story submission time. (The spring was creative nonfiction, magazines and critical reviews for lit journals.) So of course, I am still a member of the workshop. My creative writing is not as strong.

This summer I hosted a summer reading series. Next thursday is the finale and then I will take all my surveys and reports from the participants and decide if cranking this thing up in the winter is a good move. But during this series I presented a short story that I submitted to an online magazine. I haven't received a rejection from it yet, because I just sent it off. However--with hindsight, I think that the story wasn't right for that e-zine. We'll see. Anyway...

In Chuck's workshop we did a two month study on Reading out Loud/Writing Out Loud. In this discussion Chuck disclosed that he uses book readings as opportunities to get feedback from his audience. Does the rhythm of the piece make sense to them? Do they catch the jokes, the timing? Because reading your story out loud gives you the chance to see how people react to the story, so that you can go back and add beats or change pacing. Since I knew that my writing was different from what I read in the e-zine(an ezine that wants different creative stories)--my work is humorous meets strange, not so cookie knew I needed to try it out on my audience.

Therefore, at each thirdthursday session I read my story "Straddling the Fence" for the group. I received fifty responses about it, and a nice critique from Chris Wells. All good. Thank you, guys. But I also got to see where I needed to change my phrasing or pull the joke back, or expand upon the seriousness of the theme. And I don't know if they will take it or not. But what I do know is that I have seen people moved by it already. I've heard people laugh right where I wanted them to laugh. I wanted them to get quiet right when I wanted them to and I wanted them to internalize what happened and say Oh! I got that. Hallelujah. And that has happened. So If they don't accept this story, then I'm fine. I'll post it on my online writing portfolio for anyone to read. (I need some new content there anyway.)

This month I'm trying to write a short story for a contest, so I will read what I come up with next Thursday at thirdthursdays and then I will read it at my writing group meeting that Saturday and I will read it again at my Bible Study supper club until its edifying.

So what does this mean, Dee?

When I talk amongst my writing friends we talk about will CBA take this? Will ABA take that? Is it too Black? Is it not Black enough? Who will hear my words outside of the Holy Spirit? And I say from my experience so far--is-- to write and then write it out loud. Faith comes through hearing. If write we our stories and present to them to our community, our church, our children, then we are working in the Body. And that is the most important thing. And--this is the kicker--if we keep writing out Loud, eventually someone will want to help us get our stories past our neighborhoods. Because then we are acting on our Faith. We are speaking to this world what is...
As Christ did when he said, "Peace Be Still."
We have to get out here and speak. Speak like a child speaks.

But there is also some prep work we need to do before we read our stories. ...the Word of God brings Hearing. What kind of hearing? Holy Hearing. We want to hear from God more than any other audience member. So we need do a little prep work. We have go to God and ask for repentance. Repentance for putting too much pressure on this divine work. For not putting him first in the making of the work. In our lives. We have to cleanse ourselves before we speak The Word. We have to prepare ourselves for constructive feedback from God, which will come from our audience. We have to prepare ourselves for when someone doesn't laugh, when someone doesn't say Hallelujah, sister as we read our story. We have to humble ourselves and then, believe--Faith--that what they reveal to us about our stories are from the Lord. We have to prepare ourselves so that we can discern through the Spirit those who will not be there to edify Him. This prep work is tough. But if we are christian fiction writers, then our approach must be christian. It can't be like a def poet stepping a cool swagger to the mic. We have to be humbling like Christ, ready to love.

This month's Celebration of New Christian Fiction Katy Popa gave us an interesting quote as a theme:
... under the imaginary table that separates me from my readers, don't we secretly clasp each other's hands? ~ Bruno Schulz
And that Schults snippet resonated with me. And I thought let me add that here, while I'm on this subject.

If we prepare to speak our works as Christ, and speak them out loud, and observe our audience as we speak, we should want them to grab our holy hands-so to speak-and get the thing that is at the heart of the story(in our case--GOD.) We want that. So we need to read out. Write out. What say you?

For this year's remainder, I encourage us all to at some point to read our stories to someone out loud. Get feedback from the people whom we are suppposed to be writing . Tap into your market, tap into your church and bless them with your spoken word. And believe that God gave you the right words to praise him through your stories, to connect him to others by it. We got it like that. You know?

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,
PS. I read my blogs outloud before I post.:)


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