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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Viewing the World Through the Eyes of Your MC

For those of you who follow me on Facebook know that in the recent month, I’ve kidded about how I’ve eaten at local Cincinnati area chili and pizza places in order for character research. And to be fair, the MC of my WIP is a foodie, so eating for character research is not too far of a stretch. All joking aside, I do like to get inside my character’s mind and get a feel for him/her.

Some ways that I have done this include the following:

  • I’ve gone to a local shooting range and fired the specific weapon (Glock 19) used by the special agents in my current WIP. I’d never used a gun before, and I wanted to know what it was like. Also, one of my special agents is a female, and I wanted to know what it was like for a female to use a gun.
  • I’ve listened to music that helps me understand my character and feel like them and for them. My current MC has reasons to turn his back on God. Today I listened to Sinking by Jars of Clay in my car.  
This song makes me think of my MC, and maybe it sounds weird, but listening to the song helps me with character development. I’ve also done this with a party scene for Dog Tags. I listened to lively music and tried to imagine what the party would look like. 
  • I’ve corresponded with experts who can help me understand my character. I’ve written to a retired special agent and asked him questions pertinent to my WIP. I contacted the Agency mentioned in my WIP and asked them for help in locating research materials. I belong to a crimescenewriters forum on Yahoo, where I ask questions. I’ve called local SWAT, and I’ve had someone in law enforcement help review my story. BTW, Wes Harris, is a great resource; his Website is http://writecrimeright.com. I’ve also contacted Jeannie Campbell, aka the Character Therapist, who is another great resource when it comes to character psychology. I could go on and on, but I have friends with medical, legal, and law enforcement expertise that I go to when I need help with research.
  • I read about real people similar to my characters. For Dog Tags, I read about Marines (especially books with different viewpoints) to help me get a feel for my MC, Mark Graham. For my current WIP, I read The Cyanide Canary.
  • I visit places that my characters visit. My WIP is set in Cincinnati. I live nearby, so I’m familiar with the area. I wanted to include a certain restaurant in my story, and so my husband took me there for our anniversary (plus, the food was good).
  • I uncover speech patterns. I have a British character in my WIP, and I’ve spent time online trying to learn colloquialisms that I can incorporate into dialogue. In Dog Tags, I made sure that Mark sounded and thought like a Marine, and Beth sounded and thought like a teacher.

Mark - He couldn’t blame her if she dishonorably discharged him from her life and never spoke to him again.

Beth - Mark sent her the same look as a middle school student who’d just received a detention.

How have you tried to view the world through the eyes of your MC?


Friday, August 9, 2013

Learn more about Karla Akins, author of The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots

Karla Akins is a pastor's wife who rides her own motorcycle. She is the mother of four boys and one step-daughter, and grandmother of five. She lives in North Manchester with her husband who is the pastor of Christian Fellowship Church, her twin teenage boys with autism, mother-in-law with Alzheimer's and three rambunctious dogs. Karla and her husband have been in ministry together for more than 32 years. You can contact Karla for speaking engagements via her website at KarlaAkins.com.

Karla Akins


Pastor’s wife, Kirstie Donovan, lives life in a fishbowl, so when she hops on the back of a bright pink motorcycle, tongues start to wag at the conservative, century-old First Independent Christian Community Church of Eels Falls. 

Kirstie loves roaring down a road less traveled by most women over forty, but she’s not just riding her bike for the fun of it. Kirstie has a ministry. However, certain church members have secrets to hide, and when God uses Kirstie’s ministry to fill the pews with leather-clad, tattooed bikers, those secrets could be exposed…and some will stop at nothing to hide the truth. 

Join Kirstie and her motorcycle “gang”—two church matrons and a mouthy, gum-smacking non-church member—as they discover that road-toughened bikers are quite capable of ministering to others, and faith is fortified in the most unexpected ways.

women is shown with a motorcyle


Top ten ways to turn people away/toward church.

Top ten ways to turn people away from church. Please note that I am not condoning any of the following.

(1)    Invite them, and when they show up to an event, don’t talk to them. Or, during handshake/greeting time, ignore them.
(2)    Make everything a one-up game when someone visits. What car do you drive? Where do you work? What size house do you have? How many vacations do you take a year?
(3)    Hide all information about where the church meets. Do not readily post where classes/groups meet. Keep all such information secret.
(4)    When someone calls to ask for information about the church, blow them off. Wait six months to a year and then call them.
(5)    When someone visits, let them know their attire is inappropriate.
(6)    Roll your eyes at people with noisy children and babies.  
(7)    Tell jokes about other ethnic groups/homosexuals/other religions/people from other political parties/anyone else who is different.
(8)    Ask for volunteers, and then when people volunteer, don’t call them. 
(9)    Hide all your faults. Act as if you are perfect.
(10) Make salvation all about a list of do and don’ts and keep Jesus out of the equation.

Conversely, how to turn people toward your church, and hopefully, Christ.

(1)    Invite someone to church and stay with them. Introduce them to others. Make them feel welcome. Your church culture might be foreign to them. What can you do to help them fit in? During handshake/greeting time, talk to people standing by themselves.
(2)    Instead of focusing on things that divide (are you married, do you have kids, do you make a lot of money), focus on neutral topics of conversation. Hey, how’s the weather? Do you like sports? Do you see that Bengals game? 
(3)    Post information inside the church (maybe on the walls) and in the bulletin. Post it on the church’s Website. Make sure it is current.
(4)    Contact people as soon as possible. Don’t let people slip through the cracks.
(5)    God cares about our hearts. Okay, maybe someone is wearing something inappropriate. Let God be their judge. Just love them and show them Jesus.
(6)    Just as Jesus welcomed little children, accept children in your church. Make your church one that welcomes families (as well as those without children; it goes both ways).
(7)    Jesus loves everyone. Don’t say you love everyone and then tell jokes about others when they are not present.
(8)    If you want volunteers, then you need to accept help from others.
(9)    People need Jesus. If you pretend to be perfect, they will wonder why people need Jesus. And besides, they’ll soon find out you are not perfect. (None of us are, except Jesus.)
(10)Point people to Jesus and not your institutional preference. That is, Jesus is the way, and not the color hair you have or the type of music you listen to.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Review of I, Saul, a new international thriller by Jerry B. Jenkins

I, Saul, by Jerry B. Jenkins


I recently read I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins (with James S. MacDonald). This international thriller is being dubbed as a Christian Da Vinci Code. I, Saul is a different sort of novel, and kudos to Jenkins for originality. The story involves Augie, a professor, who travels across the globe to help find an artifact tied to the apostle Paul.

Jenkins is one of my favorite writers. I enjoyed the Left Behind series, Hometown Legend, and the Precinct 11 novels. I even drove three hours once to hear Jenkins speak at Taylor University. All that to say, I am a fan, and yet, it just wasn’t my favorite Jenkins novel. To be fair, I read this novel through the lens of a fellow author. I would have liked to have seen longer scenes, characters developed more, and POV handled differently. It is highly likely that readers (who are not authors) might not feel the same and would thoroughly enjoy the story.

What I admire is that Jenkins did produce an original concept. It is always more risky to step out and try something different because not everyone might like it. I enjoyed the parts that contained Biblical characters Luke and Paul the best because it was interesting to consider what Paul’s life might have been like (apart from what we already know). 

This book might appeal to those who enjoy Biblical fiction, international thrillers, or novels by Jenkins. To learn more about I, Saul, please view the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUoos-jlmDE

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Men and Christian Fiction

Today's post is all about guys! 

photo of a man and his son


What do men want from Christian fiction?

For example, I've heard that women (at least my age) want stronger (and less wishy washy) Christian heroines and more realistic stories (because life is not perfect). 

But what do men want? 

If you're a man, I'd like your thoughts on Christian fiction.

(1) Where do you purchase Christian fiction (online, Christian bookstores, secular bookstores, etc. [or maybe you don't buy it at all])?
(2) How do you find out about books/authors (word of mouth, book reviews online, blogs, etc.)?
(3) Why do you read Christian fiction/what do you like about it?
(4) Conversely, why do you not read Christian fiction/what do you dislike about it?
(5) Who are your favorite Christian authors?
(6) Who are your favorite secular authors?

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