28 June 2010

Training Camps!

Hey, Everyone! How's your summer going?

Mine's been awesome--and is flying by insanely fast! Last Monday we sent out teams to Guatemala, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Mexico, DR, Romania, Peru, Nicaragua, and Kenya. We've had some time to rest--but have needed this week to prepare for the next camp! I am so excited!

Yesterday we started our second leader training. Our students come on Wednesday and will fly out Monday, July 5. Then we start welcoming everyone back! Whew!

Below is a taste of our Training Camps. We have all of our students fly into Atlanta, bus them up to Gainesville, and spend four days training them, watching them bond as a team, and pouring into them. It's a lot of fun and very little sleep. Totally worth it!

See y'all in August!


14 June 2010

Time for Training Camps!

Hey, Friends!

So, yesterday marked the beginning of what I've been working towards for a year: our trips are here! Over the next few weeks we will train and send out 16 teams (over 200 people!) to Guatemala, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Mexico (2 teams), Dominican Republic, Peru, Nicaragua, Romania, Kenya, Costa Rica, Haiti, Scotland, Bolivia, Philippines, and Uganda.

So this is the last you'll see of me for a while. I'll be working long days and won't be online much. I will miss you, Friends! But I'll be back in August, I promise! And I'll do my best to keep in touch/come by your blogs as time allows over the next few weeks.

Pray for us--for our teams--and for me. We need wisdom, strength, energy, grace, and so much more!

See you later!

11 June 2010

The Mannequin in the Room

After that initial scene, do you ever go back to your setting and make sure it works? Do you continue to build on it? Take away? Tweak it?

Have you ever had to change it?

While we were in Bolivia, we stopped to take this picture in the city of Santa Cruz. That's my friend and I with the owner of a small shop.

Do you see it?

I screamed the first time I saw this picture. And pretty much every time after that. Creepy!

Have you ever read your manuscript and found one of these? It's easy for us to get caught up in the story, or even the nuts and bolts of technicalities, and miss something so obvious. Whether it's a season that's out of whack, room decor that doesn't quite fit, or something more serious--a character flaw, a character's existence, a story thread that doesn't go anywhere, etc.

Sometimes the problem isn't as difficult as we think it is. While we need to be willing to dive deep to fix the story, sometimes all we have to do is move the mannequin.

Or just be aware of our setting. :0)

See y'all Friday!

09 June 2010

When the Life Has Left the Building...

Hey, Friends!

This week we're going to talk about setting, one of my favorite things to explore in stories. Setting is so important. Written well, it can become another character. It carries and continues a story, grounds a scene, and provides history as well. It can foreshadow, deepen themes, and even create movement.

I was thinking about this a few weeks ago when I went to visit my parents' house. When I first moved back in January, I packed up my room at my parents' house "unseen" items first--the clothes in my drawers and closet, the boxes under my bed, the supplies from my desk, etc. Because my apartment is fully furnished, I couldn't take any furniture. We loaded up my car and part of my mom's, drove up here, and moved me in less than two hours.

When I returned to their house the next weekend for the rest of my stuff, I walked into my room and everything looked. . . almost normal. If I looked in the closet or in the dresser, I noticed the emptiness. But from outward appearances, it was like I still lived there.

Then I packed my books.

The next time I walked into my room, it was empty.

The furniture was still there, along with a few odds and ends I either didn't want to take or chose to leave for a specific reason. But it's as if the life left the room. Each time I visit it feels less and less like mine. Though I have a connection to it still, that link fades more as time passes.

For every setting, something brings life. Sometimes you don't know what it is until it is missing. It's different for each place, for each character, for each scene. For my room, it was the books. For my novel, it's a combination of the actual location, a physical place in that location, and the repeated appearance of a certain color.

What brings life to the setting in your novel?

In your house?

See y'all Wednesday!

07 June 2010

An "Almost" Midsummer Night's Eve

You know that feeling of anticipation children feel for Christmas? The utter excitement as they wait for December 25 to finally come? I've been feeling that for weeks.

It's been two looonnnnggg years and I have been very impatient. Waiting...waiting... waiting for my favorite author to publish another book. When the announcement came, I rushed to Amazon to pre-order it. June 1st felt like forever away. And who knew how long I'd have to wait for it to arrive in the mail. So I tried not to think about it. But I couldn't help it.

On June 3, I just happened to be in a bookstore. And I looked, hoping to sneak a peek. But alas, it wasn't there. When I arrived home, a package sat at my doorstep.

The book I've waited on for two years was there.

Friday night, I sat on the swing in my parents' backyard, the blue June evening whispering in the breeze. Frogs croaked in the sunset, fireflies twirled about, lighting the sky (seriously, only God could think of a bug whose rear end lights up), and my poodle trolled the yard. I read until I couldn't see anymore. It was a perfect summer evening, reading the most perfect book.

What a gift--the kind that comes... well, for me, hasn't come in two years. I still remember the last evening I had with this author and a summer's eve.

Reading Charles Martin's The Mountain Between Us was better than Christmas. His stories are masterpieces, but what I love most are his characterizations and his voice. It's how he writes that moves me... he can craft sentences so powerful I want to weep. My opinion doesn't mean much because it's as subjective as anything else, but he is the most talented writer I've ever read.

Martin wrote about something interesting on his blog and in the end of this book. He said that between this one and the one two years ago, there was another story. One he finished, delivered to his publisher, and was told a flat, "No. Try again."

Can you imagine?

His story really encourages me. First of all, because he kept writing. Second, that even the greats can be told "no". It makes me feel less out of their league. And I still want to read that book! True fans don't care about the commericial aspect of stories like publishers do.

I finished Mountain in less that 24 hours, fighting the dueling urges to devour the book in one sitting vs savoring it for all it had. It sits behind me now, closed, and I am satisfied.

So totally worth it!

Don't you love a perfect evening?

See y'all Wednesday! We're going to talk about setting!

04 June 2010

When We Forget. . .

Hey, Friends! One thing I forgot to say on Wednesday: that for those of you who loved the LOST finale, I'm so happy for you... and a little jealous of your fulfillment. Obviously, my opinion (strong, because it's based on emotion) is as subjective as everything else. :)


The thing I loved about LOST was how the show constantly surprised me. There used to be twists I couldn't predict. The characters were so rich... bigger than life.

Then the show became predictable.

It's like the writers got to the end and forgot everything in the beginning. They answered some questions, but forgot major themes. Then again, it could be how I interpreted it. For the sake of today's post, we'll pretend it's so.

Have you ever looked back at your past few chapters and realized you lost your way?

I don't think I have yet in writing. But that thought scares me to death. I know there have been times in life where I looked back, found my detour, and wonder how I missed it at the time.

I don't know if there's a lesson here... just an encouragement to remember--whether in life or in writing. And not to choose the easy way out, even if it's. . . well. . . easy. If we don't, in the end, everyone is disappointed.

By the way, I'm not saying all the loose ends need to be tied. I like it when the story ends with the possibility of imagination. But it's important to be faithful to the story.

See y'all Monday!

02 June 2010

When Writers Break Their Word...

Hey, Friends! Hope you had a great Memorial Day!

Any of y'all catch the LOST finale? I've spent the week in mourning, but not for the original reason I envisioned. I always thought I'd be upset the show ended. Instead, it was a feeling of deep disappointment.

I spent 4 years mesmerized by the show, perhaps a little too obsessed. I scared people by remembering tiny, insignificant details and bringing them up in conversation. Yes, I did. But when it came time to the finale, I didn't care. In fact, a friend and I concluded that the only good part of the entire show was that they didn't kill the dog.


Because the writers didn't keep their part of the bargain.

From the beginning they said it would all be explained. That it would be an incredible ride. And it was until this last season. They didn't explain enough. The parts they did explain were dumb. After investing so much of my life in the show, I felt cheated.

They broke their word. And now I don't have closure.

We have a contract with our readers. We need to be faithful to the story. We need to keep our word, to fulfill our contract with our readers. If not, we leave them disillusioned.

After all, we don't want our readers to say, "At least we didn't kill the dog."


See y'all Friday!