• The Writer


    Hello! My name is Laura, welcome to my blog! I write weird stories, collect dragon plushies and stay up too late with my nose in a book. I am a wife, mom and child saved by grace. My hope is that you find encouragement here or at least a smile or too.
    God bless!

  • “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book that it may be for the time to come forever and ever.”
    ~Isaiah 30:8.

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  • Quotes

    We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    "The only just literary critic," he concluded, "is Christ, who admires more than does any man the gifts He Himself has bestowed."
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    "Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures."
    ~Flannery O'Connor

    You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.
    ~Arthur Polotnik

    Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
    ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

    "There are forms of insanity that condemn people to hear voices against their will, but as writers we invite ourselves to hear voices without relinquishing our hold on reality or our right to control."
    ~Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway

    Christians have sometimes been suspicious of stories, because they really can influence you. If you read the Twilight novels once a month for a year, I think you'd be a different human afterward—and not a sparkly one.
    ~Nate Wilson

NaNoWriMo and Priorities

(Re-blogged from Instagram)

I’ve barely written 3,000 words so far in my casual NaNoWriMo. My goal was 1k a day, but the only day that actually happened was day number one. This NaNoWriMo was about getting back into writing everyday, about taking steps to finishing another novel, something I haven’t done on about five years. I knew it would be hard with a five month old who’s teething, I just didn’t anticipate how hard.

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Most of last week instead of writing I just went to bed because I was exhausted from being up half the night with an upset baby. Or I read or played a bit of Destiny because I just needed to unwind and relax. (Or did dishes and/or laundry because baby was finally asleep and I could put her down.) Even though I haven’t been able to keep up with my goal, the silver lining is I started. The beginning is written, there are words on paper. Right now my priorities lie with taking care of my baby. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to write in the next couple of weeks, but even if I don’t write another word I’m still coming out ahead.

Someday, when baby teeth are in and nights are once more filled with sleep, I’ll be able to focus more on writing. Until then I need to be okay with my novel being on a back burner.

To all you parent WriMos out there (or just anyone) who are having trouble keeping up because other things keep taking priority, relax, it’s okay. Not hitting the 50k doesn’t make you a loser. Conquering that blank page, no matter the word count, is a victory that puts you in the winner’s circle.

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5 Excuses to Stop Making

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As writers we are full of excuses, and I am no exception.  If there is “good reason” for why that draft still sits unfinished, (or why it hasn’t even been started yet…) we will find it.  Here are five excuses to stop making and just write that book!

1. I don’t have time.

We make time for the things that are important to us.  If it’s important to you, make the time.

2. I don’t know if I can write this.

You won’t know unless you try.  If it’s an idea that is close to your heart go for it.  I’ve learned from personal experience that God plants certain ideas into our minds for a reason.  Some stories were meant only for you to write.

3. I’m not done developing.

One of my favorite excuses.  There comes a time when you need to stop researching, stop putting all those minuscule details together and just sit down and write.

4. I’ll start next week.

Code for, “never”.  How any times have you and I made this statement in our heads and then Monday rolls around and we write zilch? Too many times.  Start today.  It doesn’t matter if today is Friday or Thursday, there is no day like today to start.

5. It’s a dumb idea.

The excuse of desperation.  We’ve grown so use to making excuses for why we haven’t started for so long that know the idea has aged.  We’re so familiar with it, it no longer feels appealing.  Now is the time to silence that’s inner voices and remember why you loved the idea in the first place.  Focus on that point and start there.

There you have it.  No more excuses.  Go write something today!

Food and Writing

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A little piece of trivia you probably don’t know about me, I love to cook, and more specifically, I love to experiment with food.  I like to consider myself a hobbyist foodie.  (Foodie by hobby?)   If there is a recipe out there that everyone says is the best, I see it as a challenge to make it better, or just make it my own.

My most recent kitchen challenge has been grain free, sugar free cooking.  Grain free, sugar free living has transformed a lot of lives – one of them being my mother-in-law’s – by changing their health.  One of my baby-prepping goals is to experiment with recipes to replace my favorite grain and sugar loaded foods.  I want my children to grow up with better food choices and a different attitude when it comes to “real” food. It’s a real feel good moment when you find an alternative recipe for things like pancakes or chocolate chip cookies that you make yourself.  It’s like a little personal victory, one with spoils.

So what does food and cooking have to do with writing?  Believe it or not, a lot.  Both take the basic know-how of what you are doing and creativity.  Both can be over done and boring, or original and exciting.  They both take time, patience, practice and even some editing.  With alternative cooking, we are taking something everyone knows and changing it to make it better and surprise people with the results.  In writing, we want to take our favorite genre and turn it into something new with surprises around every corner.  Also, perhaps, we want to leave a better literary option for the next generation.

Cooking is an activity that inspires me.  When I’m stuck in writing, I turn to the kitchen.  Writing makes me want to cook, and cooking makes me want to write.  They both challenge my skills and my creativity.  Like in writing, when I play with a new recipe, I want it to be original, something I can be proud of and something other people will enjoy.  But sometimes I doesn’t turn out the way I want it too.  Sometimes it doesn’t work the first time and I have to go back, change a few things and start again.  Sometimes I think it could be better, improved with this spice or that.  Even though my husband has gone back for thirds, I’m still not satisfied.

It’s the same in writing.  We want to be original, not cliche.  We want to be proud of what we’ve done.  We want readers to be hooked and fall in love with our characters.  But there are those times when it just doesn’t work.  You can’t find the write ingredient to fill that plot whole and it’s just a big non-cohesive mess.  But then there are the times when it is where it needs to be.  Others enjoy it, it works, but we want perfection and to us, it is still lacking.  As writers we need to give ourselves permission to experiment, to write badly and not care.  We need to learn to step back, put aside that critical inner editor and leave things be.  That recipe is fine the way it is, could it be better? Probably, but to change it any further would ruin what it was meant to be in the first place.

So get in the kitchen, roll your sleeves up, make a mess, have fun and see what happens.

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If you’re interesting in my food experimentation, follow me on Instagram!

A sneak peak at some of my creations.

Coconut flour breakfast crepe.

Coconut flour breakfast crepe.

Almond meal/coconut flour chocolate chip cookies!

Almond meal/coconut flour chocolate chip cookies!

Winter Inspiration

Winter days are perfect for curling up with your favorite hot beverage and a good book – or work on your own book.  A warm mug, some fuzzy slippers, a soft blanket and a laptop or pen and paper.  Maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s being forced to stay indoors, but something about snow and winter weather seems to bread inspiration.  Whether plotting, writing or character developing, cold days are perfect days for writers.

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What kind of weather inspires you?

Outlines and More Outlines

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I might not always follow them once I’ve made them, but I’d be lost without them.  Outlining is a great way to get your thoughts in order and on paper, from figuring out your characters to mapping out your world.

(Jill Williamson has some great outlines and worksheets on her website.  You can find them HERE.)

Outlines make great road maps when you’re lost or stuck in a plot hole.  You don’t have to follow them to the letter, stories can change and evolve as you write, but they help keep you heading from point A to point B.  Even if you’re a seat of pants writer, on outline would be helpful, especially if you have a complex story.

I’m a spread out writer, I need lots of room on my outlines for notes and lots of details.  I’m also a character first writer, so a novel outlines helps me locate plot holes before I even start writing.

However you use outlines they are a great tool to have in any writer’s tool box.

To Give Up or To Not Give Up

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You have a story that you love, one that’s been around – either on paper or in your head – for a long time.  You’ve pulled it out several times, but each time the plot and character puzzle pieces never really fit together.  So you put it away and work on other projects until one day more of the puzzle falls into place.  Out it comes once more, you think you’ve got it.  Things are finally working and the whole things is outlined and ready to go, but when you sit down and start typing out the fourteenth rough draft the puzzle falls apart.

This is where I am (and have been) with my first novel, Heart of Hope, that I wrote back in 2005.  I worked on editing it on and off for a couple of years before finally putting it aside for I-didn’t-know-how-long.  It sat in my folders for a few years gathering virtual dust until the plot began to reshape itself in my mind.  Everything got a much needed over haul and the story finally began to grow up to a more un-cliched work of fiction.  I was excited to be working on it again.  Even though it had been a headache before, I still loved it and wanted to make it work.  I thought it was finally there, but as I began to construct the new rough draft it just stopped.  I fell once more into a gaping plot hole.  Once I finally crawled out of it I tumbled right into another even larger one.

I had lost count of how many times this had happened, of how many times I had excitedly pulled it out thinking it would finally work to watch it all fall apart over and over again.  When do I just call it quits?

Let it Go and Give it Up?

This story is nearly nine years old, it’s just a first novel, maybe it’s time to just let it go and give it up…but…I don’t want to.  I’ve been going over and over the debate of forgetting about it and moving on or just letting it sit for a while again or working on it anyway.  I know from experience that forcing it will only make things worse, but is it time to say goodbye?

I think we all have a soft spot in our writer’s hearts for our very first completed book.  It was our first baby, our first great accomplishment in our journey to becoming writers.  We love it, we hate it, we want to throw it away, but we stick with it.  We feel this way about most if not all of our stories/novels.  So what do we do when one just doesn’t work even though we’ve sweat blood and spend countless hours perfecting it?

Let Yourself Move On. 

I’ve come to the conclusion with this book that it’s time to just move on.  It’s not like I don’t have an army of other stories waiting to be written.  But part of me doesn’t want to move on because I think by “giving up” that I am failing in some why as a writer.  But that mind set is wrong.  When a story doesn’t work you haven’t failed, it’s just not working and we need to accept the fact that no matter how much we love it, it may never work.

For now Heart of Hope will be the story I may dabble with here and there when I need a break from something else, but I won’t beat myself up if it never fully works or ends up as a paper back in Barns and Nobles.  I’m still learning and I am far from perfect.  We don’t have to “give up” on a story that we love, but there comes a time when we may need to let it go and move on.  Don’t feel like a failure when that happens, even though you don’t have a workable draft you’ve gained that much more experience you can apply to another project.

Writing is hard and ideas don’t always pan out and that’s okay.  As writers we just need to keep trucking ahead one story at a time until something does work and we get to write those two satisfying words – The End.


Have you had any stories that just wouldn’t work no matter what you did?  Let me know in the comments. 

Like what you’ve read?  Check out other posts on writing and subscribe! 

Keeping a Journal

Want to know a great way to write every day?  Keep a journal!

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, I know I have, but it’s a good thing to be reminded of.  I use to keep a journal every year and even if the entries were rather sporadic at points it was a good exercise and it’s fun to look back on who I was that year.  One of my writing goals for this year is to keep a journal again, (or make a really good effort to keep one 😛 ).  I want to remember what my thoughts were as this new little one grows inside me or as we prepare to move into our house once remodeling is finished or what it’s like the moment I hold my child for the first time.

Keeping a journal isn’t just a good writing exercise, it’s a good way to capture memories.  When you write down what your thoughts were on a certain day, during a certain event in your life, then go back and read it months or years later, the memory is fuller, crisper, because there are details written down that you may have forgotten.

Give it a try this year.  Pick out a special looking note book, or type it out on your computer.  You don’t have to write much, you don’t have to write everyday.  You can write in the morning, afternoon, evening, or all of the above.  Just put some thoughts down on paper, even if you think they are silly or embarrassing.

Just go with the flow.

Magic & Fantasy: Part 2 – Good vs. Evil

art by Alan Lee

art by Alan Lee

One thing I love about fantasy is the ability to show the battle between Good and Evil in a more vivid and clear way.  In fantasy there are shinning heroes vs. great monsters, hobbits vs. dark lords, light vs. darkness, etc.  Fantasy allows you to show Good and Evil in a form everyone can easily recognize.  As a Christian, I want to tell stories that show the stark contrast between light and dark, freedom and slavery, death and salvation, fantasy allows me to do this as no other genre does.

A Light in the Dark

One problem I’ve seen in a lot of modern Christian fiction is their stories are “light on light”.  The writer’s are trying to show the light of Christ in an already light environment.  When you light a candle in an already bright room it makes no difference.  (This is true for more than just Christian fiction.)  In order to show the beautiful light of God’s grace and love, you have to show the ugly blackness of men’s hearts and the consequence of sin.  (Tolkien did this beautifully in The Lord of the Rings.  He understood the corruption of men’s hearts and show’s it with their desire to possess the One Ring, the very symbol of evil.)  Christ died a very ugly, brutal death for us on the cross, without such a sacrifice salvation for the world would be impossible.  In fiction, if there isn’t darkness, the light will have no impact.  Without the destruction caused by the Dark Lord, the beauty of the Shire and Rivendelle wouldn’t seem as peaceful and bright or worth protecting.

We Can’t Ignore Evil

There is evil in this world, and we are fighting a war with it.  Fantasy is perfect for showing us that war.  It shows us our enemies and, The One who is the ultimate victor.  I believe it’s important, especially in Christian fiction, to show people the darkness so they can better understand and appreciate the light.  You can’t tell someone they need salvation, without telling them why.  You have to reveal the sin, evil and lies in order for grace, good and truth to become relevant and important.  You can’t ignore evil in fiction, just like you can’t ignore it in real life.  It’s there, it “stalks around like a lion seeking whom it may devour.”  As Christians we have spiritual armor for a reason.  We’re in a war with evil, and fantasy is the genre that can depict that war in every detail.

Exaggerated Illusions

Fiction is the illusion of reality and with illusions you can exaggerate.  We can better understand reality through these illusions because they are meant to teach us.  I love this quote by Flannery O’Conner;

“Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.”

Those “large and startling figures” get people’s attention, and once you have their attention and have shown them the darkness, you can slowly turn on the lights and chase the shadows away.  In fantasy, not only can you show the exaggerated illusion of reality to better understand reality, you can show the illusion of the spiritual, to better understand the spiritual.  That’s another reason why I like fantasy, because of the higher level of spiritual.  That’s why you have magic and unearthly creatures.  Fantasy is a spiritual genre (more on that to come), hence, the battle between good and evil is so clear and vivid.

In a nut shell… a light in a bright room makes no difference.  A light in a dark room changes everything.

Missed part 1?  Just click the title! Magic and Fantasy: Part 1 – Overview 

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Inaccurate Consequences

When I first started doing in-depth research for writing, my Google search history might have shocked some people.

“How much blood can you loose before you die?” 

“How many strips can you get from a whip without dying?” 

“How fast can you go into shock from blood loss?” 

“How long does it take a broken bone to heal?”

As weird as it may be to Google things like those (and visually gruesome sometimes…), it is necessary to write accurately.  One common mistake I’ve found when critiquing (and I’ve done it too) is inaccurate physical consequences with injuries.

If your hero falls out of a two story window and lands on their back hitting their head, they are going to have a concision and will be groggy for a couple of days and have a killer headache.

If your hero is in a fight and gets banged up they are going to hurt – a lot – for a couple of days.  Muscles will be sore, bruises will be sore, they might have some cuts that are sore and will take a few days to heal…etc.

If your hero is shot (even in a none lethal spot), they could die from loss of blood and will, most likely, go into shock.  (Going into shock could kill them too.)

If a character brakes their leg, don’t have them running two days later. (Or walking for that matter, and when they can walk they’ll be limping.)

If a character is picked up in the mouth of a dragon and shaken, they are dead.  End of story.

If your hero is clawed across the back by a wild animal, it will take a lot longer than a week for them to be back to normal.  After they have a fever, lots of pain and can’t move for several days.  (That one was mine. 😛 )

How to Write it Accurately

1. When you’re rough drafting, if you don’t want to go into the research yet, at least make a note or do a quick Google search so you have the correct idea in place.  Then when you come back to it you have a better grasp of the accurate consequences.

2. Brush up on your human anatomy.  Helpful stuff to know when giving your character injuries and you don’t want them to die.

3. If you know someone who has broken a bone, had a concussion, been knocked unconscious (or put under for a surgery, that counts too), or has suffered from whatever it is you want to happen to your character, talk to them.  Find out first hand what it was like, what they felt and what went through their minds.

4.  RESEARCH!  Get books from your local library, use the internet or both.  Whatever you choose, better to research it to death then not at all.

 

Thanks for reading!  Good luck writing! 

Questions or comments? Leave them bellow!

Magic & Fantasy: Part 1 – Overview

art by John Howe

art by John Howe

As fantasy grows in popularity and people become enthralled with stories such as Harry Potter and Twilight, Christians become more and more suspicious of the fantasy genre as a whole.  Stories with wizards, witches, dragons and magic have been labeled as secular and evil.  I understand why a lot of Christians are cautious about fantasy and letting their kids read/watch it, but I don’t agree with the modern stereotype that’s been applied to it.

Fantasy is not evil no more than rap or pop music is evil, the problem is how it is used.  Most Christians dismiss fantasy because it has magic, but (and here’s a bomb shell for you) magic is not the issue.  Now don’t freak out, just stay with me.

NOTE:  Every section will be expanded on in it’s own post.

Spirit-ism and Fantasy/Blurred Lines

Fantasy is not real life, the rules are different, the way the world works is different.   One big difference is the boundaries of the spiritual realm.  In fantasy the lines between the physical and spiritual are blurred or none existent (hence, there is magic or “miraculous” powers in said world).  Because of this you can show the battle between good and evil more clearly, through a bigger picture.

Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures. ~Flannery O’Connor

I’ve noticed a lot of Christians are uncomfortable talking about or getting into the spiritual.  Sure we talk about being spiritual and the good spiritual creatures (angels), but when it comes down to the spiritual, that’s a different topic all together.  There is a good and bad side to the spirit realm and most of the time we only remember the bad.

The Rules are Different

Fantasy doesn’t really work without magic. Magic is to fantasy what science is to science fiction. The magic is what makes it a fantasy, just like futuristic science is what makes a science fiction. I tried writing my first fantasy without magic because it bothered me, but it didn’t work. It was incomplete and nothing fit together properly. Now, eight years later I’m rewriting it with magic. Finally the puzzle of the story is fitting together because I have the missing pieces.
Magic in a fantasy world IS NOT the magic in the real world. It may be modeled after it, (another reason why we are so leery of it) but it is not the same. The point of a fantasy is that it is not real. It’s in a different world with different rules. Usually this other world magic is a power that flows through every living thing. Magic is that worlds science. In science when you mix baking soda and vinegar together it creates a chemical reaction, in other world magic, when you combine words with elements, you get a “magical chemical reaction”. (A cheesy example, but you get the idea.)
When you put magic in the real world, that’s when the rules change. It is no longer other worlds magic that doesn’t actually exist, it’s real world magic. There is an evil power in this world, there are real witches and wizards and they are not good. Real world magic is a force, as Christians we should avoid. (There are exceptions when it is stated that the “magical abilities” of the character comes from God.)

Context is Important

Context is what makes all that difference when dealing with magic in fantasy. Real world or other world, good guy or bad guy. Context matters. Even the context of where the magic comes from. For example, in The Lord of the Rings wizards are beings known as Istari or Maia spirits in human form, sent from Valinor (the Undying Lands) to protect the children of Middle-Earth (or the Children of Eru aka God) from the Dark Lord Melkor. Symbolically, they are angels in mortal form there to protect God’s creation from great evil. For those of you who are familiar with The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is an Istari, but one that chose to follow the fallen Melkor, what does that sound like?

Magic and Spiritual Power

God’s power is “magic”. At least magic as we might interpret. His power described often as “supernatural” or “miraculous”, could be properly labeled as magic.
Magic in fantasy is in basic terms the ability to harness spiritual energy to complete a task. Magic is a spiritual power and because there is both good and evil in the spiritual there is good and evil magic users.

NOTE: I just want to say that I am not supporting or advocating for the practice of magic. I AM NOT. This blog series is about magic in Christian Fantasy (literature), a Other World setting, NOT about magic in the real world or it’s use.

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Click here for part 2 —>  Good vs. Evil

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