Your Spiritual Packing List

by Angela Arndt, @aearndt

The 2017 ACFW Conference starts in the next week or so and the tension is already in the air. (My air, at least.) Will I get the appointments I want? Will I talk to the editors who publish the type of book I write?

Worry hangs like a backpack for weeks before the conference. Will I come home with a request for a query? A proposal? A full? Or, empty-handed?

I worry about my professional presence:

  • Does my One Sheet reflect my book well enough?
  • Is my elevator speech interesting?
  • And those pesky business cards: can I find them, should I update them, do I even need them?

I worry about getting there:

  • The TSA regulations, what should I carry on and what should I pack?
  • Which shoes are the easiest to get on and off?
  • Will I be able to get to the correct gate and make my connecting flight in time?

Sound familiar? I would do better to focus on this list, too:

  • Prepare to do the best I can.
  • Make a list of things to do and take.
  • Check off the items as I go.
  • Then forget it.

By that I mean stop worrying. (Yes, I’m talking to myself as I write this.)

  • Stop worrying about how people look at you.
  • Stop worrying if you’ll get an agent, an editor, or a contract.
  • Stop worrying if you’ll get a request for a query, proposal, partial or full.

Some of you may think this is your last conference, your last chance to accomplish your dream. I’ve been there, too, but you never know what God has in mind. Open your heart and mind to His leading. In order to do that, you (and I) need to make one more checklist.

Here’s your Spiritual Packing List.

  • Focus on how the conference will bless you. Remember, you’ll be with thousands who have a common goal of glorifying Christ with their story. When we sing, it’ll be like a tiny slice of heaven.
  • Okay, that’s a given but if I were to post all the things we could pray about, the list would be a whole post by itself. Thankfully, the ACFW staff and volunteers have prepared a 40 Days of Prayer for the ACFW Conference in the ACFW loop emails.
  • Bless others. How? Listen with your heart and watch for those who need encouragement. Find someone who is more nervous than you. Invite a lone passenger into the elevator, even if you have to crowd to get him or her in. If someone’s standing alone in the dining room, call them over your table. Pray with someone who is visibly upset.

After the conference is over when you’re tired and ready to go home, remember the ways you blessed someone and you’ll never remember being nervous.

Click to Tweet: Attending an upcoming #writers conference? @aearndt shares your spiritual packing list #writing https://ctt.ec/0xUHa+

~*~

Angela Arndt writes women’s fiction with a thread of romance. Stories of strong, independent women in difficult situations set in small Southern towns are her favorite. She and her husband live outside one in the middle of a big wood with thousands and thousands of honeybees. Visit her at www.angelaarndt.com

 

Five Lies Every Character/Writer Believes

by Angela Arndt, @aearndt 

Every good character has obstacles to keep him from reaching his goals. Whether your heroine is a nuclear scientist creating a secret device to save the world or a receptionist who’s secretly in love with the town doctor, any lie she believes that keeps her from reaching that goal must be exposed. It’s part of the plotting process.

Have you ever been in the middle of resolving that conflict and realized that the lie that your character believes is the same one you believe? Your secrets may not be as dramatic, but some part of you knows exactly how your character feels in that deepest, blackest moment.

Do these lies sound familiar?

  1. I’m Not Good Enough. If you’ve ever had a hero plagued by his past, you know how it can affect his actions. Whether it’s a murder or a lie, regret will keep him away from the future everyone else thinks he deserves.
    Your past may be brighter than a blizzard, but you still hear that lie when your manuscript is rejected. “If it’s not good enough, I’m not good enough.”
  2. No One Loves Me. The fraternal twin to the first lie, this one is based on fear. If your heroine pushes everyone away, she’s been hurt very badly. Her past is the key to her future.
    If you’ve ever lost someone, you may think no one will ever love you again. Being alone has a deep hurt and this lie runs just as deep.
  3. It’s My Job to Make Everyone Happy. This is the clown who makes things happen, always helpful, always understanding. But behind his sunny attitude, he’s paying penance for sin.
    What’s wrong with being a people-pleaser? Everything. You’re serving them instead of God. Your writing ends up on a digital back shelf and you never become who God made you to be.
  4. I’m Not Enough. This heroine twists her hair and bites her fingernails. She wishes she had blond hair instead of mousy brown. She’s so busy worrying about who she isn’t, she misses the boy who thinks she’s perfect.
    Comparing your stats (websites, social media numbers, contests results) to other writers’ is always a bad idea. Keep repeating this lie and you’ll convince everybody else.
  5. No One Else is Good Enough. The antagonist who believes this lie is the inspector who keeps the café from opening. He’s the director that makes the leading lady cry. But dig down deep: he doesn’t think he’s good enough either.

Lies make good stories and good walls. They separate friends and family, stifle creativity and most of all they keep us from having a solid relationship with our God.

There’s one truth that wipes out all, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Know this truth: He loves you, pubbed, un-pubbed, or pre-pubbed. His love covers all.

CLICK TO TWEETTweet: Five Lies Every Character/Writer Believes by @aearndt via @Novel.Academy #writing https://ctt.ec/i517C+

~*~

Angela Arndt writes women’s fiction with a thread of romance, telling stories of strong, independent women in difficult situations set in small Southern towns. Her biggest hope is that she will encourage others to overcome their “back roads” and find their own joy in the Lord. Visit her at angelaarndt.com.

When You Don’t Get Roses by Angela Arndt

As I sat there in the choir loft, sobbing during the service, most people thought I was still mourning a close friend who’d died that week. That was part of it. But most of it was ugly, red-nosed, can’t-find-a-tissue-so-I-have-to-sit-here-and-sniff self-pity. I’m a stepmother and Mother’s Days are complicated.

At the end of that service, our newest elder, Joey, came up to me with a huge smile, his hand behind his back. I blew my nose, smiling back through my tears.

Joey’s class was my favorite when I taught junior high science because they were so eager to learn. They inhaled the lessons and when we had extra time, I’d do my best to find wacky competitions to help illustrate what they’d learned.

Once, after an engineering unit, I asked them to create a bridge out of spaghetti. Their mouths dropped. After they stopped complaining, I read the weight component of the competition. Their bridge had to hold two ounces, but the bridge that held the most weight won.

The moaning stopped at the word, “competition,” and as I handed out the boxes of spaghetti and white glue, they were already designing. This was my favorite assignment, even though it left the lab was a mess.

But for some reason, assignment just didn’t click with Joey. A straight-A student, he came to me in a panic when his latest bridge failed the day before the assignment was due. I reviewed the lesson with the class one more time, but this time, I gave them a hint: look under real bridges. I’ll never forget the smile on his face the next day as he brought in a spaghetti suspension bridge, its deck reinforced with beams made of triangles. It held the required two ounces, but it won the competition because it held a one-pound weight.

Fast-forward fifteen years: Joey smiled as he handed me a pink carnation and wished me a happy Mother’s Day. Joey, the highway engineer. Designer of bridges. I inhaled the spicy sweetness of that pink carnation and smiled.

The object of this lesson is to trust God to care for your heart. We’re called to care for those God puts in our path. We’re not called to be appreciated.

Today I’m sending a pink carnation to Beth Vogt. God put me in her path and she’s encouraged me, mentored me and kept me going as a writer. If it weren’t for her, I would have given up years ago. Love you, Beth!

Who has God put in your path? How can you encourage someone today?

~*~

fb-Headshot aearndt 82113Angie writes stories about God’s love and small towns. She and her hubby live in the middle of a big wood. She’d love for you to join her at Seriously Write and her website, http://www.angelaarndt.com.

 

When a Happy New Year Isn’t by Angela Arndt

Happy New Year! How many times have we said that in the last week? From the customer service rep on the phone to the physician’s assistant, I know I’ve said that phrase at least fifty times.

But sometimes the New Year isn’t happy. And sometimes the words, “New Year,” can mean, “new grief.”

If you live long enough, you’re going to lose someone. And that first year is the hardest. How can you cope without them? How can you be productive when your heart is breaking? How can you possibly enjoy 2016?

Because I’m over a certain age, I’ve lost several members of my family: aunts, uncles, cousins, a sister, and my dad. We’ve lost friends that were our age and a sweet little four-year-old friend. It’s been hard to celebrate the holidays in the past and even harder to think of going into the New Year without them.

Depression is a common condition among writers. I think that having a creative spirit makes us feel things a little harder sometimes. It’s that gift of creativity that makes us writers, artists or musicians.

King David was also blessed with a creative spirit. He sang, composed music and wrote psalms. Yet, he was also a ruler and a warrior. He lost men under his command during wartime, including his best friend and his son, Absalom, who died committing treason against him. He also lost an infant son. So how did he manage his grief?

He kept writing. He poured out his soul to the One who created him and he didn’t hold back. He laid his grief at God’s feet, even accusing Him at times. He prayed for help, documented his exploits, praised God for His provision, and even wrote a public psalm to repent of his private sin. And his words still provide solace to us today.

Although reading his works can help salve our souls, we can also pour out our grief by writing, too. If we look at David’s work, many of the Psalms followed this pattern:

  1. He poured out his feelings.

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. Psalm 57:2

  1. He admitted how badly his grief hurt.

My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Psalm 57:4

  1. Then he praised God.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! Psalm 57:5

I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t waste any experience. If you’re suffering a loss or scared of what the New Year may bring, use your gift to spill out your feelings on paper. And if you get stuck in your grief, be sure to seek professional help: your pastor or a grief counselor.

I pray that each of you will keep writing and will be able to walk confidently into a happy 2016.

~*~

fb-Headshot aearndt 82113When Angela Arndt enjoys writing stories set in small Southern towns. Coincidentally, she, her husband, and their three very large dogs (a lab mix, Staffordshire terrier, and a 12-pound poodle) live in the middle of a big wood outside a small Southern town. She would love for you to visit her on her website, http://www.angelaarndt.com, or her team blog, http://seriouslywrite.blogspot.com.