I didn't happen upon this organically, I had to teach myself to hush up and let others talk. To listen. To learn. Basically I talk too much and wrote in similar fashion.
Distance runners can train themselves to run farther, stronger, faster in mile+ races. It's amazing how the human body can be schooled to become a better version of itself in some cases.
But did you know that in shorter distances, the winner's circle will be narrowed by the amount of "fast-twitch" muscle fiber you're born with... and then choose to develop. If you weren't born with fast-twitch muscles, you're never going to give Usain Bolt a run for his money. The physical aspects of that muscle movement cannot be imitated or duplicated. Refined, yes. Improved? Most assuredly. But if you're NOT BORN WITH IT, you can't achieve the greatness.
Writing is different! Oh, thank you Lord! :)
I was a ridiculously verbose writer. Shame on me! I thought it was BRILLIANT, to boot. Oy. Oy. Oy.
But I've learned how to tighten, how to become more concise and how to parse words like mincing fresh onion.... Poignant and/or pungent, it makes the point when less is more.
I've had many teachers. Tina Radcliffe set a firm example with her eleven published short stories for Women's World... Melissa Endlich has worked to hone my "focus on the romance" skills for Love Inspired. And now, writing novellas has taught me which parts of a story to pick out to frame a narrow timeline. And that's a trick in a twenty thousand word story! But I find that the primary basis for all of these, the ongoing theme in most stories is wrapped around one thing: Forgiveness.
Self-forgiveness, forgiving others, old guilt needed reconciliation, seeking God's forgiveness. The key to most conflicts comes back to the simple-sounding and not so easy-to-do art of forgiving.
"Seventy times seven"... we've all heard Christ's instruction, but, whoa! Easier said than done.
"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us..." The perfect equation. An absolute equalization ratio. Freely and simply given. An examination of conscience says the reality is harder than the simple prayer lets on... and yet, those are God's words. His teachings. Christ's command upon that mountain.
They should rename this book "Story Fodder For Authors" or at least give it an AKA... because it is filled with 101 story ideas already fleshed out! From these simple seeds come next year's novels. Beautiful!!!!
My entry is on page 47.... "Mary's Girl".... and it was a story worth telling because while the theme is forgiveness, this poignant short story is infused with hope... because that's the other side of the forgiveness theme. If the story, YOUR STORY, isn't laced with hope, you've automatically limited your reading audience.
My sister once gave me a copy of a best-selling book, a dirge of anger/hate/want against a drunken/alcoholic/self-absorbed mother. Her words were "Read this! It says so much about our lives! You'll love it!"
I made it almost through the first chapter and threw the book away. Why?
There was no hope. Not a vestige of hope. No sweet light of faith, joy, warmth seeping through. I mean, shoot, peeps, who wants to have the entire history of dysfunctional families soaking into their pores????? EEEEEK! RUN SCREAMING!!!!! (Note that our Seeker Novella Collections are geared around "hope"... because we all need hope.)
Give me hope! Give me that joy! Give me the people who can look back, nod and say "Well, then." to all that's gone on and move forward, the grandmas and grandpas who survived hard times, challenged the West and won! We wanted the theme of sweet hope to run throughout the collections, the contemporary above... and the historical collection below.
Give me smiles! Give me babies, oh, sweet babies!!! Give me kittens and puppies and calves and Nigerian dwarf goats and women of strength and men of courage. When those elements combine with the grace of faith and forgiveness, it works for me!
Now mind you, the book I threw away was a BESTSELLER.... But I'm okay with shrugging a shoulder to a lot of bestsellers. Books that plant seeds of doubt and discord into the human psyche are not my cup of tea. Give me heroes and heroines with the power to overcome, willing to make a leap of faith and fun....
And to forgive as God instructed.
Do not live in the past. There is nothing for you there. Instead, claim the past as a key toward the future, your future! Use it. Own it. Wield it! (Think Luke Skywalker and that light saber!)
"The Power of Forgiveness" is a beautiful book, and by the power of forgiveness we set ourselves free to love... to hope... to shed guilt... to claim the future. Embrace the future by forgiving the past... and moving on.
Our souls need feeding, but we're suggestible creatures by design. Our brains absorb and can become self-absorbed, so we've got to be especially careful about the images we feed ourselves. Darkness begets darkness. Light blossoms into light. Choose light and tiptoe through the darkness... Or run, if you prefer! But light is always, always, always the better mental choice!
Now what's this got to do with the common cold, you ask? How is Ruthy going to tie that in or was it just a silly play on words???
Nay, doubters! :)
For generations wise mothers made fresh chicken soup for their families nursing colds. Laced with pepper and using the whole chicken, they believed that something about chicken soup helped their familes feel better.
"Old wives' tale".... "Silly talk..." "Nothin' to it!".... "Ridiculous!!!!"
Mothers ignored the scoffs and continued to make chicken soup for their families. Because they trusted their instincts. And then... THIS!!!!!
"Chicken Soup Really Does Help You Feel Better! Grandma Was Right!"
Multiple studies have now shown that either a key ingredient... or a combination of ingredients... in chicken soup help cold sufferers feel better! And furthermore, if you don't have time to make homemade, you can BUY IT.... and it still helps!
The key to this component is this: Trust your instincts. Take your story into the deepest corners of its origins and let it unfold from there, the seeds of forgiveness, forgiving, faith, fear and fun, weaving a backdrop that draws the reader in with a "been there... done that" mindset... but showers them with hope as they're drawn to that happy ending. Because everyone deserves a happy ending, even if their beginning was darkened with despair... And probably more so, then!
As we enter this season of Advent and anticipation, let's grab the joy of Christ's birth... a child of the poor... and infuse that joy into everything we do! By unleashing forgiveness in our stories and our hearts, we open ourselves to the best joy, ever!
The joy of an unfettered heart.
Today I'm giving away (well, they're on PREORDER so I'll actually give them away in two weeks when the book is released officially!!!) an electronic copy and a paperback copy of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Forgiveness". Come in inside, leave a comment or carry on a whole flippin' conversation, youse know I love to talk! I'll toss your name in the cat dish and we'll mosey this day away! I've got Christmas music playing, and we're in serious cookie-baking mode in upstate New York...
Right now I'm listening to "Joseph's Song..."
I love that song.... the image of a simple man, a working man, teaching the Son of God.... How can it be???? Let me always be of the race that knows Joseph...