Half-Way Thoughts

I’m half-way through the first draft of my current work-in-progress, so I thought I would share just an unorganized list of thoughts that have crossed my mind in the process:

  • I’m not following the Three Act structure close enough.
    • That’s okay; God wrote this story…kinda…well, the original version.
  • Does the story spend too much time in the harem?
    • Well, it sets up everything else so, I guess not.
  • Ugh, if my readers turn Xerxes into a ‘bad boy’ romantic architype, ima be disgusted.
  • Woof, am I making Mordecai too self-centered?
    • Meh, makes his redemption better.
  • Is this story too dark for the YA Christian genre?
  • Is this story too religious for the YA secular genre?
  • Just keep writing. Worry about that later.
  • The greatest struggle for a Christian writer: figuring out how to have characters curse without swearing.
  • Wow! There are so many amazing self-published authors out there!
    • Do I really want to pursue traditional publishing?
    • Why do I want to be traditionally published?
    • Have I made an idol out of being traditionally publishing?
      • (insert repentence.)
    • So do I still want to be traditionally published?
  • Just keep writing. Worry about that later.
  • I should read some of my other books to inspire myself!
    • I have grown a lot since writing The Keeper. Woof.
    • No, be happy about what you have accomplished!
    • Should I unpublish my Eviryia books?
  • Just keep writing. Worry about that later.
  • Yay! I finally get to write an action sequence!
    • That felt kind short.
  • Are people gonna hate me for this plot point?
    • Nah, they should be used to me killing off major characters at this point.
    • (If you aren’t used to it, you haven’t read any of my books: read one now!)
  • I can’t wait to kill that character.
    • And that character.
  • What am I going to write after this? I don’t want my writing muscle to go flabby again!
  • Just keep writing.
  • Worry about all of that later.

The Power to Define Me

As I have been posting more and more on my Instagram page about my Scorpio necklaces and accessories, I realized that I haven’t really gone in depth on here about why I adorn myself with this zodiac symbol, especially as a Christian.

For those who haven’t read my book POLARITY, astrology and the zodiac are key elements in the story as the main character, Kendra, returns to her hometown of Polaris, and the pressures of the society there. Namely, the pressure to truly embody your zodiac sign. The zodiac, for those who are less familiar (and in the simplest terms I can muster), is a constellation symbol associated with the birthdate of a person. These symbols, and the stars that form it, supposedly can tell you what your weaknesses and strengths are, as well as predict your future (a la horoscopes).

So in the world of Polaris, your zodiac symbol is who you are. It tells you everything about yourself, what careers you are suited for, who your potential spouses are, even your personality. Kendra experiences those pressures more and more throughout the story, sometimes feeling trapped by these expectations, and other times using them as an excuse for her actions.

For me, these are very relatable struggles: to live up to the expectations others have of you, or to defy the assumptions they make about you.

So I’m a Scorpio. According to the zodiac, I am jealous, determined, controlling, violent, and passionate, and according to my daily horoscope, my “dilemmas are bigger than you anticipated they would be and many things are at stake, but you already know that answers are simple when they are ripe and clear.”

But am I those things? Do I have to be those things? Is that truly my identity?

Uh, no. I have the power to make my own choices, to decide who I am doing to be and what will define me. While I don’t find I am particularly violent or jealous, if I was to give the power of identity to my zodiac, maybe I would think that it is beyond my control to resist those sins when temptation came.

In the same way, I can allow an event that has happened to me – such as spiritual abuse – define me: I can’t trust scripture; people only use the Bible to manipulate others; I am not strong enough; I am not brave enough; I am because this happened to me. Or, I can allow what others say to define me: I never say no; I’m not good at keeping my house clean; I’m not good enough; I am because they said so.

These are all lies, but even a lie can seem true if you believe it.

Instead of giving this power to others, I have the ability to decide for myself what will define me. And everyday, I want to choose to allow Christ to define me: I am loved (1 John 4:10, Romans 8:37-39); I am forgiven (Colossians 1:13-14, 1 John 1:9); I am free from sin (2 Corinthians 5:7, Romans 6:18); I am hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:3); I don’t need to be afraid (1 John 4:18, Joshua 1:9); I am who God says I am (Ephesians 2:10).

And my Scorpio necklaces remind me of that truth. I decide. You decide. And don’t give that power to someone who is going to abuse it with lies. Give that power to Christ – it’s only in Him that truth and real love are found.

[So that’s my spiel! Can you tell I’m a people pleaser? I’m working on it.]

Rediscover Reading

Do you go through reading droughts like me? Sometimes I just can’t find the motivation to read a single thing. When it’s just too tempting to watch tv or be on my phone, and reading feels like a mental strain? I only recently came out of such a rut, and I don’t want to slip out of the habit again because reading has been lifegiving to me in this past season! I’ve felt more relaxed, like I find it is easier to slow down and disconnect, and more inspired, easily finding new story ideas and an excitement to write each day.

Are you stuck in a reading drought or looking to refresh your love of reading? Here are some things that have helped me climb out of the rut and rediscover reading:

  1. The Library. Sometimes, the problem is that I don’t have any books on hand that I’m interested in reading, and I tend to have shopping anxiety so buying a book when I don’t know if I will like it or not is never easy for me. I also don’t want to waste time on a book I’m not enjoying, but I feel guilty if I don’t finish a book I spent money on. That’s why I love the library! I can check out three or four books at a time that catch my interest with no strings attached! If I don’t like a book, I don’t have to finish it; I can just return it to the library and start on the next one until something hooks me in.
  2. Book Club. Last year, my cousin and fellow author, Valerie Cotnoir, started a casual book club, which has been a big motivator for me to finish reading books. We don’t have to read the same book, but every month we gather to share about what we had finished reading and what we thought about it. It is really rewarding to be able to tell someone about a book rather than just write a review on Goodreads, and it’s also a great way to discover new books!
    • If you don’t know of any book clubs that interest you, start your own with friends you know who love reading!
  3. Readathon Day. This was my latest discover and it was a gamechanger, not only for my reading goals, but for my self-care! I dedicated two full days just to reading (although even just one day or one morning would be helpful, I think) and told my husband I was just reading for those two days. I got a book I was very excited about, cleared my schedule, gathered my favorite coffee and snacks, and snuggled down for a good read. I not only felt free to relax and just read (after all, it was in my planner), but it made me so excited to sink into the story that I’m writing.

You hear it all the time: writers are readers. And it sounds like a chore, like you have to read in order to grow in the very concrete skill of ‘good writing’. But I have found that reading grows so much more than a critical eye for good writing technique, it has grown my imagination, it has grown my ability to rest, and it has grown my love for storytelling.

My goal this year is to read 12 books – one a month, just in time for book club – and have had readathon day every 1-3 months. You can follow my reading journey on Goodreads.com – and you can review my books if you have read them there as well!