Review of Storytelling for Pantsters

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always dreamed of writing the next Great American Novel. Certainly cliche for a blogger, I know.

We all have dreams, right?

But the thought of actually writing a long work of fiction that is coherent and meaningful hits me between the eyes with fear and leaves me with writer’s block. It’s almost easier to keep it as a dream rather than begin the actual work of crafting my first novel. Blogging is much easier, simpler in so many ways.

Having read all of the “greats” in college–Hemingway, Steinbeck, Woolf, etc–I am intimidated by even attempting to take on a novel as my next project. How do I top that?

If you feel similarly, then definitely check out Annalisa Parent’s new book, Storytelling for Pantsters. In Parent’s book, she not only addresses these common fears of first time authors but also lays out tips to master the craft of writing in a simple and engaging manner. Whether you have an MFA or are new to the field of writing, you will find something of interest in Parent’s book.

For writers like me who tend to “fly by the seat of their pants” when it comes to writing, Storytelling for Pantsters is valuable in that Parent not only accepts that some of us might not outline all of our writing, but she also teaches us how to use this as part of the whole writing process. In the book, she illustrates how writing doesn’t have to be a linear process, but can instead be circular in fashion, beginning with a free write and later drafts further refining the work.

Even with a degree in English, I have often been unclear on the elements of a work of fiction, such as plot pacing and the balance of action vs. character development. Parent provides aspiring authors with clear direction on these points as well as other tips on making a manuscript worthy of publishing. Her long-time experience with both teaching and publishing lends itself to a focus on the information that new authors need, along with the ability to clearly explain these elements of the craft.

Too, she also gives the reader encouragement to get past their fears. This is such a big part of being unable to write, and yet it is often ignored by those who teach writing.

Easy to read and yet full of important information, Annalisa Parent’s new book, Storytelling for Pantsters, is highly recommended for any author who would like to improve and work on their writing process.

 

Purchase Storytelling for Pantsters

Storytelling for Pantsers

Annalisa Parent

Laurel Elite Books

ISBN Number: 1947482017

What We Bring to the Table

what-we-bring-to-the-tableRecently we had a couple of friends over for dinner. In the past, I might have made something special for their visit. Pecan Sandies or even homemade ice cream. But this time? I baked a pie fresh from the freezer.

The pie was good, if a little crumbly, but a part of me felt a bit bad about it. Sure, I’m going through cancer treatment, but still…

I suppose the question in the uppermost part of my life at the moment is what do I bring to the table?

Until recently, I could have answered that question easily. I worked and cleaned and blogged. I was a wife and mother of fur babies. I had a place and a purpose.

Now most of that part of my identity has fallen away. Cancer has taken my job and my sexuality. And even doing the most simple things, such as paying a bill or fixing dinner, can be quite an accomplishment. Blogging too has been more sporadic as the pain from the treatments has increased.

As the prognosis for my cancer has become worse and worse, I have struggled with my faith more and more. The comfort that is so often spoken about among Christians seemed far away. And with each loss, I wondered why all of this was happening.

Reading the upcoming book from Katie Ganshert, Life After, I could so relate to Autumn’s crisis of faith depicted in the book. Looking back on the traumatic event that had changed her life, she asked questions similar to mine. At one point, though, she thinks,

“Maybe comfort wasn’t to be found in the why.

Maybe comfort was to be found in the who.

A God who wept.”

I suppose I realized that night as we ate the crumbly pie that my life has changed dramatically and that I may never be able to do things I once accomplished with ease.

But perhaps I still have something to bring to the table, even if it’s a frozen pie. And blog posts that come less often but are maybe just a bit more meaningful. Days that aren’t centered around a work schedule, but about communicating with family.

In the novel, Autumn goes on to conclude,

“Maybe it was time to stop trying to make the puzzle pieces fit. Maybe it was time to let go of the why and remember the Who.”

I may never understand the why of all of this, but I’ve got to move on, keep trying to bring something to the table, even if it’s not what I would have wanted. Letting go of the why is what I need.

That and some time to remember the God who cares and comforts, the God who understands our struggles.

Waiting and Darkness

waiting-and-darknessI don’t do well with waiting, y’all. Seriously.

I like to plan and have a purpose. Good days have always been those that are productive, filled with work and chores, the completion of tasks that always seem to pile up around us. Busy-ness has been my specialty, and I love the feeling of accomplishment.

But what do you do when your plans are smashed and purpose is well…unknown? When all of the things that you’ve worked so hard to accomplish disappear, leaving you with simply waiting?

If you’re me, you probably get depressed, angry even. As Julie Manning describes the feeling in her upcoming book, My Heart: Every Beat Surrendered to Our Unchanging God,

“The fear and darkness would consume me, sometimes just for a few hours in a given day and other times for multiple days at a time.”

These past couple of weeks have been such a time for me. I’ve hidden myself in novels, passing the days in stories of fictional characters, fantasizing about things that can never be.

I quit doing everything I should. My Bible lay unopened and prayers were simply angry cries. And of course, there have been many pity parties, attended only by me and my cats. As Manning goes on to say,

“The soul longs to trust Jesus with every fiber of its being, and yet the human heart is fragile and untrusting.”

When all you have is the waiting, do you still trust God? When the future is unknown and there is nothing left to do, what then? When we are truly faced with our own mortality, when it becomes more than an abstraction, how do we live each day?

I wish I could provide some easy answers, something akin to those positive memes that fill my Facebook stream. But unfortunately life and the human heart aren’t always that simple. Sometimes life is a gray unknown with no exit in sight.

At this point in my cancer treatment, I’m just tired. This isn’t even close to the life I imagined for myself. But some part of me is still grateful.

Today’s a new day. God is still God. And perhaps there will be more than the waiting.

Truths and Healing

roseThis past year? Well, it was pretty awful. Lots of revelations and revealings and truths that I really didn’t want to know.

They needed to come into the light, though. Sometimes knowing and understanding can bring change, even if it is unwanted at the time.

I cried and cried as I discovered one awful truth after another.

But I also prayed. I leaned into God when there was nowhere else to go. And I managed to make it through each day, until finally a new year was upon us.

When I received the chance to be on the launch team for Surprised by the Healer: Embracing Hope for Your Broken Story by Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery, I knew this would be a meaningful book, one that actually left me thinking and wondering and praying even more. I wasn’t disappointed. Through the stories of these brave women’s lives, the truth that we all need to know is revealed, that of the Healer, Jehovah Rapha.

In the book, Dillow and Slattery write, “The greatest evidence that a person has experienced the love of God is that she will be changed–not perfect but changed.”

Yes. In the past I would have retreated, given up in the face of pain. But leaning into God helped me move through the worst of it.

Are things better now? Have my circumstances improved? Honestly? No, they haven’t. But I’m changing, and that’s only through God’s grace, not my own will.

Ultimately, even if the pain and the circumstances stay the same, God is still here. And through His power we can have healing and hope.

Dillow and Slattery state, “Dear friend, your healing journey is about more than managing your anguish and fear. The Healer has bigger plans for you than a pain-free life. He intends to transform your story into one of victory.”

Healing is possible through an encounter with the Healer.

I pray that I would be changed through Him because the love of God can give us healing and victory even when life is still a mess.

 

 

I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it!

Hey, y’all! I’m so excited! I found out recently that I was accepted as part of the launch team forĀ Nicki Koziarz‘ upcoming book, 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.

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I don’t know about you, but I can always use the encouragement to persevere and keep on going. In the past, I’ve allowed discouragement to get the best of me. I admit that I’ve often quit when I should have kept going.

But I’m hopeful and determined! And I am so happy to not only be a part of this launch team but also learn from Nicki’s book.

I hope you are ready for some encouragement in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!