Friday, June 24, 2016


"For when I am weak,

then I am strong."

II Corinthians 12:10

None of us like to admit our faults. We'd much rather portray ourselves as cool, confident, and in-control. But the fact remains--it takes weakness to reveal strength. A plant is fragile until it endures the harshness of the elements to form strong roots. A young child is vulnerable until life's experiences and teachings bring about maturity. Growth stems from weakness.

The same is true of characters in a novel. A perfect hero/heroine lends to a boring story. After all, who would Scarlet O'Hara be without her sassy, selfish attitude? How could the Wizard of Oz's cowardly lion gain courage without first knowing fear? How could Tom Sawyer learn the value of honesty and hard work without his scheming, care-free spirit?

Every character needs at least one exposed flaw. Without weaknesses, a character isn't genuine or true-to-life. If you want characters that leap off the pages at readers, you must define the flaws in your characters. The following steps will help you get started.

When choosing a character's weakness, it's important to think about what you wish to accomplish in your story. Is forgiveness your theme? Then perhaps your main character needs to possess an unforgiving attitude. Do you hope to instill spiritual awakening in your readers. Then, at the onset, your character might hold to an unbelieving heart. Whatever flaw/flaws you choose, be certain you have a goal to work toward.

Once you've decided on your character's flaw(s), decide what circumstances will best challenge those weaknesses. What can you throw at him/her to draw out these flaws? When we pray for patience, the Lord doesn't magically take our impatience away. Instead He places us in situations that require patience. The same is true of novels. The only way our characters will grow is if they are challenged, both internally and externally.

This is where our characters make the conscious decision to master their flaws. They no longer are imprisoned by their failings, but are alert to them, and able to rise above them for their betterment. Readers will connect with imperfect characters who, through the course of the novel, grow and mature out of their frailties. Satisfaction comes in knowing a character has changed for the better.

What tips do you have for making characters more genuine? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Read more of Cynthia's work at: Putting on the New Blog
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Friday, June 17, 2016


"Give, and it will be given to you.
A good measure, pressed down,
shaken together and running over,
will be poured into your lap."
(Luke 6:38)

RAK - Random Acts of Kindness. We've all heard of them. Once in a while they break through the myriad of bad news--the murders, kidnappings, jail breaks, natural disasters, political  turmoil, civic unrest--and bring a bit of sunshine into our lives. Like the 19-year-old waiter who recently received a $1000 tip because he took time to visit with a customer.

In a world where wrong seems right and right seems wrong, we need these rays of hope to spur us on. Each of us has the choice to make this world a better place, or a more bitter one. Even small acts of kindness can make a world of difference in another person's life.

Want to help brighten up your corner of the universe? Here's my top 20 ways to make the world a better place!

20) Attend your child's activities

19) Be an informed voter

18) Send your spouse flowers

17) Visit a shut-in

16) Call your parents and thank them for raising you

15) Contact a Congressman to express your feelings on an important issue

14) Make someone laugh

13) Prepare a meal for a grieving family

12) Send a care-package to someone in the military

11) Smile

10) Comfort a hurting friend

  9) Speak words of encouragement to a flustered store clerk

  8) Invite a non-Christian neighbor over for a cook out

  7) Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center or homeless shelter

  6) Hug a child

  5) Open your home to a missionary or someone in need

  4) Tell someone you love them

  3) Sacrifice something you want for someone else's sake

  2) Share your faith

  1) Pray!

How many on the list have you tried? What other ways can you suggest to make our world a better place to live? I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Read more of Cynthia's work at: Putting on the New Blog
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Friday, June 10, 2016



"Let your eyes look
straight ahead;
fix your gaze
directly before you."
(Proverbs 4:25)

A good writer pours his/her heart into every grueling sentence, spending countless hours weaving words together until they transform the reader to another time or place. Finding a large slot of time to write can prove a struggle in today's busy world. And if you're like me, even when I have the time, distractions often tug at me, eating away at the minutes.

With so many things pulling at us--family needs, job commitments, church functions, phone calls, media devices, household duties--staying focused can be a real challenge.

We all deal with distractions. How many times do you check your phone or email a day? How many of us cheat one aspect of our lives to fill another? If we aren't careful, we can crowd out what's truly important.

Here are five essentials to help keep distractions at a minimum in writing, and in everyday life as well.

1) Pray

Writers: Start each writing session by asking the Lord's will to be done in your writing. As Christian writers, our purpose is to bring glory and honor to God. He alone can give us the words to speak into the hearts of others.
Everyone : Start your day by seeking the Lord's guidance and blessing. We never know how He might use us to touch others' lives.
2) Organize

Writers: Begin by organizing your thoughts. What do you want to accomplish in this particular writing session? What's your goal? Having a plan of action can help you keep on task.
Everyone: Make a mental list of your plans for today and how you hope to accomplish them. Make the best use of your time by determining beforehand how you'll go about them.

3) Prioritize

Writers: Decipher what is most essential for that day. Have you made commitments to another writer, editor, or agent you need to follow through
with? Do you have a deadline to keep, or a schedule to maintain? Start there,
then work your way down to the other items on your list.
Everyone: Ask yourself, what matters most? Decide what needs to be done first. Then chip away at each task one by one.

4) Eliminate

Writers: Remove unnecessary distractions--noise, clutter, phones--whatever lures you from your writing. Resist the urge to check social media sites. Set a time limit on how long you'll write, then reward yourself afterward with a break of some sort. Scrivener is great for this. You can easily set a word count and work to meet your goal.
Everyone:  Remove unnecessary clutter from your life. What can make your life easier? What can you eliminate that will help enhance the rest of your life?


Writers: When your allotted writing time is over, give it a rest. Enjoy time with family, other hobbies, or focusing on other commitments. You'll be fresher and more ready for another writing session when you lead a balanced life.(Of course it's always fun to brainstorm in the shower, doing laundry, or while preparing a meal!) =)
Everyone: Seek a healthy balance between rest and work. When at work, "work with all your heart, as for the Lord" (Colossians 3:23). But when you're home--be home. Enjoy the blessing of resting both mind and body. After all, even the Lord rested on day 7 after creation! So what's good for Him, must be good for

How do you handle distractions as a writer? I'd love to hear your input!

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