His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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Book Challenge Day #12 – As the story pours onto the page

clay pots pouring water

For the fiction book I’m trying to write and publish in 3 months, a couple of days ago I dictated the essence of chapter 2 into the memo app of my iPhone. This morning I worked on transcribing those notes into my notebook, and converting them into more of a story. BTW, I enjoy handwriting rather than typing directly. I read somewhere that handwriting uses more of the creative portion of your brain than typing, and thereby can add to the creative output. I’ll type my handwritten draft later.

Well, I don’t know much about how to activate the creative portion of my brain (other than a glass of wine or beer in the evening), but this morning the story of chapter 2 seemed to pour out of my mind and onto the pages. I would listen to a snippet of my notes, and then while focusing my thoughts on the Spirit of Jesus within me, the words began flowing down my arm, out my fingers, into the pencil and onto the paper. I so enjoy this part of writing, this free-flowing creative part, especially when I’m not writing alone, but collaborating with Jesus.

Is He really guiding my hand? I believe so. I almost feel it. Maybe not with every word. But when I look back at what’s been written, I’m convinced it’s not all from me. It’s too good to come from me.

 

(July 28, 2015: day 11 down, 82 more to go, of The Challenge… to write a book, from concept to self-publish, in 3 months.)

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Book Challenge Day #11 – This is not my book project

ghost writer

I’m writing this post just to remind myself this is not my book challenge project. As I believe the idea came from the Spirit of Jesus within, I want to remember not to try to wrestle control from Him. My ego, of course, will want control. My ego will want to make a certain amount of progress each day, gain a certain number of new followers interested in the challenge, and make sure the book is actually published by the October 17th deadline.

But I must remember, this is not my book project. It’s God’s. The daily progress isn’t important. The number of people who follow the project isn’t important (though the people themselves are very important – I just felt like adding that), and the deadline isn’t important.

What’s important with how I deal with this book challenge is the same thing that’s most important with the everyday challenge of dealing with life… my focus on God. As long as I keep my heart, mind, and soul focused on God within me, all is just right. The book challenge is not my purpose; it’s just an outcome of my purpose, which is to live with the Spirit of Jesus living through me.

 

(July 27, 2015: day 10 down, 83 more to go, of The Challenge… to write a book, from concept to self-publish, in 3 months.)


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Book Challenge Day #9 – Talking Through Chapter Two

Day 8 of my personal writing challenge turned out better than I could have wished. After having written chapter one in the morning, I wrote chapter two on my drive home from work in the evening.

Actually, I spoke chapter two into the voice memo app on my iPhone. As I was pulling onto the freeway, a clear picture of chapter two started painting itself in my mind. Rapidly, the picture became vivid and complete. Yet I worried about my crumby memory. How was I going to remember all this by the time I got home and could write it down?

Well, the Friday evening commute traffic gave me a “break.” While in the middle of a solid stop that lasted almost a minute, I safely activated the voice memo app, set my phone down and started dictating the picture of chapter two that was fresh in my mind.

When I had emptied my mind of chapter two, I turned my thoughts to God, and gave Him big thanks for making this so easy for me. I know chapter two is from Him, because I don’t have the talent to come up with something that looks so good.

 

(July 25, 2015: day 8 down, 85 more to go, of The Challenge… to write a book, from concept to self-publish, in 3 months.)


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Book Challenge Day #8 – Follow the Bouncing Ball

bouncing balls

The only time I have to write is early morning, yet it can be the worst time. My mind is so scattered in the morning. Oh, things begin to come into focus as the coffee takes hold, but my mind still tends to bounce from one thought to another, just more slowly. It’s like a super-ball hurled to the garage floor, bouncing around so fast it’s hard to keep your eyes on it, but slowing a bit over time. Such is my morning mind.

Well, the coffee cup is empty now. My mind is able to spend more time focused on the loving Spirit of Jesus within me. And He’s helping me, tugging on my thoughts, keeping them from bouncing too far away again. So now I’ll open my notebook and see what grows out of my pen. Will there be progress with my book challenge this morning? Stay tuned…

 

… I’m back, an hour later. It’s amazing what can happen when I step on the bouncing ball of my thoughts and focus on Jesus. I just finished the first draft of the first chapter. And though it’s still rough, I like the tone that’s being set.

It always happens this way when I’m writing. The best stuff grows out of my pen and crawls across the pages of my notebook only when my thoughts are set on Jesus within me, when He is writing with me. And I’m so grateful.

 

(July 24, 2015: day 7 down, 86 more to go, of The Challenge… to write a book, from concept to self-publish, in 3 months.)


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Book Challenge Day #6 – Still on the Foundation

ghost writer

I made some good progress this morning on the foundation of my 3-month-to-publish book idea. The story is historical fiction, writing in a first-person narrative style. The outline is almost finished, with the flow of the story and the chapters defined.

My progress this morning started with a prayer. As with most of my mornings, it can be hard to clear my cluttered head of the junk that fills my life, and focus my mind on the Spirit of Jesus within me. But for some reason, this morning was easier. I think it was because I felt frustrated with myself, and my own cluttered mind. So I mentally grabbed a large broom and vigorously swept all that clutter out of the way so I could clearly see Jesus. And it worked.

Oh how I cherish those moments when I feel really close to Jesus, within me. I found such a moment this morning. And in that moment, Jesus gave me an image of what I could do with the book idea. So I opened my eyes and started writing. And I’ll start all over again tomorrow morning.

 

(July 22, 2015: day 6 down, 88 more to go, of The Challenge… to write a book, from concept to self-publish, in 3 months.)


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Book Challenge Day #5 – Fuzzy

ghost writer

Day 4 (yesterday) was lost to my busyness. No progress. Barely a thought given to this book I’m trying to write and publish in 3 months.

Day 5 is starting with a fuzzy mind. Yet there is progress this morning. I’ve loosely defined all the chapters. The outline is beginning to firm up. Yet I’m feeling itchy to actually start writing.

By the way, most of my progress will happen in the mornings. With my full-time job, the early morning is the only writing time I have. And evenings are usually sacrificed to fatigue from a busy day. My shortage of available writing time adds to the challenge.

But since I’m convinced that God gave me this book idea, I have faith that He will see this book get written. Will it be published within 3 months, according to the personal challenge I’ve given myself? I would like to give that one to God, and not be concerned about it. But I won’t fool myself – I’m sure there are days ahead of me when I will severely stress about my self-imposed deadline. Yet this is just another reason to rely on God to help write this book.

 

(July 21, 2015: day 4 down, 89 more to go, of The Challenge… to write a book, from concept to self-publish, in 3 months.)


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Book Challenge Day #3 – Stressed

Currently in a hotel room, going to a wedding this evening. And this is my first post thumbed out on my iPhone. So please pardon the typos.

A crazy full weekend. But that’s not really the source of the stress I’m referring to in the title of this post. Yet it’s a factor. You see, God keeps painting a panoramic picture of the book He’s inspired me to write. Even the details are coming clearly into focus. And some of the dialog as well.

Anyway, my stress is coming from the fact that this weekend I have no time to do anything with all these images and ideas filling my head. And as is my nature, I tend to be impatient. With so much of the book so clearly shown to me, I want to start writing it now!

Patience CJ. And thank you so much Lord for overwhelming me with your generous gift of this exciting and challenging book project.

See ya tomorrow. CJ


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Book Challenge Day #2 – The Wanderer

ghost writer

It’s been a little over 24 hours since I took on the challenge to write a book, from concept to self-publish, in three months. My head is spinning with ideas. Yesterday was wild – on my drive to work in the morning, I actually abandoned my original book idea for another idea.

I was praying my way down the highway – praying that some sleepy commuter doesn’t rear-end me, as I often do, yet also praying about the book idea I had originally come up with. Then, in an instant, a new and very fresh idea started rapidly growing in my mind. By the time I got to work I had a general outline all figured out. I even had the last chapter written, in my head. And I have a title – The Wanderer. I parked my car, quickly scribbled some notes, and reluctantly walked into work, glad as always that it was Friday.

Usually on a Friday evening, my exhausted drive home is filled with thoughts of that first beer or glass of wine that waits for me. But not yesterday. The book seemed to be writing itself within my head. Filled with unusual energy, I first went swimming – the only form of exercise that doesn’t hurt my often achy, aging body. More ideas flooded into my mind as I swam. More scribbled notes in the car before finally driving home from the fitness club.

God was really speaking to me yesterday, clearly outlining this next book He wants me to write. I think He’s enjoying this as much as I am.

 

(July 18, 2015: day 1 down, 92 more to go, of The Challenge… to write a book, from concept to self-publish, in 3 months.)


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Book Challenge – Day #1

ghost writer

Challenge to self: write and self-publish a book within three months. This isn’t a new idea for me, but while checking out many of the presentations at the on-going Self-Publishing Success Summit, I finally felt energy growing within me… let’s do it.

So this morning, right after getting out of bed, I started talking with God, asking Him for ideas. What would He like me to write about that could be contained in a short, maybe 20,000-word book? I so love writing with God, because He’s always there for me. I think He loves writing too, for it’s another way He can communicate with His children. Even before I started making coffee, an idea started coming into focus. And half-way through that first cup of coffee, I started drawing a mind-map with the ideas that were coming into my still-dreamy head. And now, the whole story is laid out before me.

I think God has a sense of humor, because the idea he gave me is a fiction story. Yet all my experience is writing non-fiction. To pull this off, I’ll have to dig deep into my past, when I was a young kid who loved to make up stories. I’m excited.

Anyway, if you’re interested in following my progress with this challenge, check back once in awhile. I’ll try to share the experience. October 17th, 2015 … wish me luck.


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Feeling Lost

confusion

I just finished revision 12 of the book I’m writing. I usually feel excited when I finish a revision, but not this time. I think it’s because the book finally feels done. By done I mean that the content is finished. Yet it still needs a good editing for grammar and all that mechanical stuff.

But now that the book feels so close to being finished, I’m feeling a bit lost. I don’t know what to do next. Oh, this morning I messed around with the book proposal a bit – yes, I’ve decided to first try the traditional publishing route. Also, I recently submitted my first query letter to a literary agency. But I currently don’t feel the energy I have when I’m working on the actual book.

Maybe I just need a break to re-charge. But I don’t want to take a break. Even though I don’t feel much energy right now, I still have a driving passion to get this book into the hands of as many people as possible. I believe this book has the power to heal troubled hearts.

Are you a writer who has walked a similar path? Have you ever felt lost while in the middle of a book project? Do you feel that way now?


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Breaking Into My Anxious Thoughts

coffee with Jesus

A typical morning: coffee mug warming my hands, Jesus Calling devotional opened to yesterday (I’m usually a day behind), and my mind ping-ponging between the book on my lap and the Spirit of Jesus within my mind. And of course, my mind often takes a side trip and finds something to be anxious about.

This morning it was the idea of eventually publishing the book I’m writing. The marketing piece of this project isn’t very appealing, though it’s something I feel comfortable with. But like most would-be authors (I suspect), I would rather spend my time writing than marketing. The accelerated blogging, more time on Facebook, and whatever other opportunities make sense at the time – all this was feeling more like a dark cloud on the horizon than something to get excited about.

Then Jesus broke into my anxious thoughts. He immediately reminded me that it’s not up to me whether the book gets published, or up to anyone else. It’s God’s decision. And that’s just the way I want it. Having God in charge of this book project removes all of my self-induced stress. Jesus broke into my anxious thoughts, and the anxiety melted away. And I’m so grateful.


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My Never-Ending Painting Project

GG Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge – an icon of engineering risk-taking. To protect the bridge from the constant onslaught of corrosive salty air, high-climbing painters sandblast off the old paint and replace it with fresh paint. This continues until the painters finish the entire bridge, and then they start all over again, going back to the beginning. It’s a never-ending painting project.

This is how it feels with the book I’m writing. As soon as I finish one revision, I go back to the beginning and start working on the next revision. I recently started working on revision 11 – by now I should just be making fine adjustments. But I’ve been taking the heavy-duty sandblaster to this revision, removing large chunks of old “paint” and replacing them with fresh paint. It’s my never-ending “painting” project. And I love the work.


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Falling Into My Stress-Pit

Out-of-the-Slimy-Pit

As a kid, when I would run out the backdoor to wander the hills behind our house, my mom liked to shout, “Don’t fall in a hole.” Even now, as a much older kid, if I tell mom that my wife and I are going on a hike, she’ll end the phone call with, “Don’t fall in a hole.”

Well, I recently fell again in that same old hole of my own digging. While on the journey of writing a book, I started over-planning my next steps. The revision I’m now working on will be followed with a good cleaning up by an editor friend of mine. I need to finalize the proposal. I will then follow the path of trying to convince a traditional Christian publisher, by submitting the proposal to the Christian Manuscript Submission website. And if that doesn’t get anyone’s attention, I’d turn to the path of self-publishing, likely with the help of Westbow Press. And I could ask my artistic niece to create a cover design – I really like that idea. These, and more tasks, started crowding my thoughts. And of course, I started dreaming up a schedule for all of this.

I was deep in the hole now, over my head in the stress-pit of my over-planning. The fun was dying from my book project.

But thankfully, Jesus reminded me of my folly. He reminded me that it’s His plans and schedules that are important. He’ll take care of the timing. All I need to do is make myself available to Him, to write when He wants me to write, and to do all that other stuff only when the time is right. The stress is now gone… at least until I start digging my hole again.


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My Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch

I’ve been working on refining the description of the book I’m writing. I think it’s about time – I’ve been working on this thing for almost seven years, and I tend to awkwardly stumble to an answer when people ask what the book is about. Lately I’ve been working on the elevator pitch; the briefest of descriptions. Here’s what I have so far, maybe for an elevator ride of about five floors.

Book title: His Truth Will Set You Free; knocking down the prison walls of manmade religion.

Pitch: The manmade false ideas that pollute Christianity are like large stones in a prison wall, mortared together by pride and greed, holding captive unwary believers and barricading those seeking answers. This book demolishes the prison walls of false messages with the mighty truth of Jesus Christ.

I’m curious; based on that brief description, would you read such a book?


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A Big Step for Me

big step

Six years! That’s how long, so far, I’ve been working on writing my first book. And finally, it’s about ready to publish. Friends ask me if it’s finished. I say yes, but it never feels finished. I feel I could forever tinker with it. But for now, the tinkering is over. I believe God is telling me to jump out of my boat and take the next big step in this journey with Him… start submitting the book to publishers.

I could self-publish of course. That would be easy. But there’s not much about this six year journey that has been easy for me, so why start now. And besides, something tells me God wants me to first try traditional publishing.

So the first thing I’m going to do is submit a proposal through the Christian Manuscript Submission (CMS) website. It seems like a cool way to get the book proposal in front of many different publishers.

Do any of you have experience with CMS? I could really use some advice.

Thanks, and I hope you all have a great day. CJ