Springs of Inspiration with Siri Mitchell

Anyone else ‘Spring Forward’ yesterday? 🙂

Hopefully most of us did…or at least have caught up with the ‘springing’ now.

To bring in the spring, I’m starting a month long series on Springs of Inspiration – spiritual change in fiction.

Siri Mitchell is my guest today. I just finished reading her newest novel, The Messenger, and as usual it was BEAUTIFUL! If you enjoyed her novel, Love’s Pursuit, you’ll get a similar flare with The Messenger yet set during the Revolutionary War. Two totally different main characters, of course – and I love them. Siri has an amazing way of getting into deep POV with her characters. I never imagined to find a hero in Jeremiah Jones -but WHAT a hero he becomes 🙂

So happy to have you with us today, Siri – and WHAT a blessing to have just been ‘inspired’ by your writing. Finished The Messenger, Saturday night.

1. What is your favorite inspirational (i.e. salvation, repentence, forgiveness,) scene you’ve ever written from one of your published works?

My favorite inspirational scene was in Love’s Pursuit at the very end of the book when my heroine finally came to an understanding of God’s grace. I cried buckets when I wrote that scene. I still cry whenever I think of that scene. (Thanks, Pepper! {sniff})

Sorry, Siri – if it’s any consolation, I cried when I read it.

 2. When you’re in a writing slump (or frustrated in your writing journey in some way) what is one verse that encourages you?

When I’m in a slump or frustrated, I always look at a card I keep in front of my computer screen:

 “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:11-12 (NIV) It’s very encouraging to me. I don’t have to match the novel I envision in my head. I don’t have to write the best book of all time. I just have to write the best book I can, using the skills that I have right now.

Great reminders, Siri. Thanks so much!!

God’s called us to write (or live) for His glory. He hasn’t called us to be anyone else than the person He’s made us to be. We look to Christ as our example, but we also are blessed with God-gifted abilities.

So we are called to use what he has given us.

Who we are.

Where we are.

Blessings,

Pepper

Fun Posts and a new Review

Hey guys,

I’m blogging at The Writers Alley on Monday about the Green Eyed Monster 😉

But Sunday, don’t forget to stop by and check out Jennifer Slattery’s post-conference tips.

And my review for Deeanne Gist’s newest novel, Love on the Line, is up at www.pepperbasham.com

Conference Tips with Ruth Logan Herne

For the unpubbed author, there is nothing better than finding people who support and encourage you.

People who teach and guide you.

People who tell you the truth, critique with love, and have a snarky sense of humor.

Ruth Logan Herne has been one of those people for me!

One of the fabulous fifteen of Seekerville, Ruthy has made an amazing hit into the published world since her first book Winter’s End came out in March 2010, Ruthy has successfully released  FIVE more books with many more to come! Her novels have consistently received excellent reviews and Winter’s End is a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards this year (I plan to CHEER in person!!! Probably annoyingly loudly. Go, Ruthy!!)

So, without further ado, what are Ruthy’s top three conference tips?

Oh, honey, that one’s easy.

Write.

Write.

Write.

Everything else is extraneous.

Fluff.

Window-dressing.

Frosting.

Can’t make a cake without flour…

Writing’s your flour. THe basic ingredient.

Simple, yet profound. Thanks Ruthy.

Without words on a page, there’s little chance of publication – so….we have some work to do. 🙂

To learn more about Ruthy’s books, visit her website at www.ruthloganherne.com or stop by Seekerville!

Do you have someone or more than one someone who encourages you along this writing journey?

****************************************************************************************************

photos courtesy of www.ruthyloganherne.com

www.wellsvilledaily.com

Indiana Jones – Plotting like the Movies ;-)

I’m blogging at The Writers Alley today about plotting with Indiana Jones.

Stop by and have a little fun with me and our whip-weilding hero. And join The Writers Alley for the next two weeks as we talk about story structure by using some of our favorite movies.

It’s Summer at the Cinema

Meet Me at the Movies!

This Week on Words Seasoned with Salt

On Monday, join me as a display the pictures that inspire my stories. Storybuilding Places. The scenery that builds the set for the characters in my historical, contemporary, and speculative fiction novels.

Wednesday is a devo-writing post about Who is Jesus – Knowing Your Characters from the Inside Out

Stop by Friday for latest news or book reviews.

Don’t forget to Sprinkle God’s Love to a Needy World today. A little seasoning goes a long way when God’s the chef.

Blessings,

Pepper

Writing Dialogue with The Woman At the Well

Ever just been WOWED by a scene in a book? Maybe the descriptions bloomed with detail, the characters flickered to life, or the plot gripped at your heartstrings like candy in the hands of a 3 year old.

Or maybe…

Something in the dialogue captured you and deepened ALL of the above.

Ever read a scene like that? Where dialogue opened the door to deeper characters and plot?

Well, it happens right here in the story of The Samaritan Woman.

A few important things to note:

  1. This is one of the longest scenes in the book of John
  2. The pace slows considerably (to draw attention to it)
  3. Jesus talks to a WOMAN
  4. Not only THAT, he talks to a SAMARITAN WOMAN
  5. AND…. A woman with HER kind of background (VERY taboo for a single, Jewish, righteous sort-of-guy)

Hmmm….

Do you think John is trying to get our attention here?

Jesus defies convention to get to the heart of the matter. He’s more concerned about PEOPLE than popularity.

Because, God is in the business of rescuing his kids – especially the ones who know they are broken. Outcasts…searching.

This woman had been searching for love for years. Five husbands later, she still hasn’t found it. She’s parched. Dry. Thirsting to death for a love that will never satisfy.

Ever been there?

Then Jesus comes and offers her the one thing her heart truly needs. Real love. Living water. The heart’s only thirst-quencher.

It changes her life.

What about the writing tip?

The dialogue for this story teaches us some important techniques to use in our own writing.

Make each phrase count.

Don’t spend your time placing a conversation into a place where you don’t need one.

Move the story forward with dialogue

Similar to the first one, dialogue should move the story forward. Create more depth. Gives us more understanding about the characters and plot. We learn more about Jesus through this conversation. He doesn’t mind defying conventions to heal a wounded heart. He seeks out the destitute and broken instead of waiting for them to come to him. He is not afraid of the hard questions. He is confident of who He is and His purpose.

And it transforms the woman’s life. As it changes ours.

 Make it realistic

The conversation isn’t ask a question – answer a question.

It’s more realistic, with questions going unanswered, redirections, changing the subject….

All the things that happen in natural conversations are the things that help make our dialogues more realistic.

 Pick up a Bible and read John 4 from a new perspective – as both an author and a seeker of Living Water.

Your thirst for answers, refreshment, and satisfaction is sure to be quenched.

What are some tips you use to keep your dialogue realistic and with forward momentum?

****************************************

Pictures courtesy of:

 http://themasterstable.wordpress.com/2008/04/03/jesus-example-the-samaritan-woman/

http://www.thestudiogallery.us/Works%20of%20Faith.html

More Than Meets The Eye

Needless to say, the Bible is a fount of deeper truth. There is a story on the surface, but a treasure of meaning hidden just beneath. It’s probably old hat to you guys, but a wonderful discovery to me. Each detail in the stories of the Bible are vital, even the ‘seemingly uninportant’ ones. In fact those are the ones that usually point to the ‘heart’ of the story.

For example: Shepherd boy defeats giant with a slingshot and a smooth stone.

That’s the story.

But underneath, as with the entire theme of the Bible, the ‘heart’ of the story is “God’s ultimate power to rescue His people” (and he usually uses the most unlikely heroes – but we’ll save that point for another day 🙂

So, the next story let’s focus on in the Gospel of John, is Jesus’ first miracle.

Here are the verses:

 1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

   4 “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b]

 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

   They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

On the surface, this is a wonderful introduction to Jesus’ power. His miraculous abilities to go beyond the natural and do something supernatural.

Deeper? Well, let’s look at the bold:

In a sense, this first miracle is the introduction to why Jesus came into the world. What the Jews had used for centuries, the ritual washing, still hadn’t made them clean. Though they may clean their bodies, who would clean their hearts?

It takes a miraculous change. Something that takes the plain and makes it extraordinary. Something that takes the insufficient, and makes it the ‘choice wine’ or the ‘best’.

And that’s what happens to each of our hearts when Christ gets involved.

So….

How does this apply to our writing?

Does your story have a ‘heart’? Does it carry wealth beyond the black and white print? Every story has a purpose. What’s yours? Because the ‘purpose’ threads through your book so that there are glimpses of a deeper truth. Every good story has one (or more than one).

The purpose is usually in your pitch or maybe even on the back cover of your novel.

It’s the driving force of the novel.

As Christ is the driving force of your heart.

Blessings,

Pepper

Love at First Thought with Siri Mitchell

Oh boy, a new week of wonderful guests. Wanna know who’s stopping by?

Well, Wednesday, the lovely Patti Lacy is my guest.

Friday, we get to enjoy the sweetness of Audra Harders.

But today…

Get ready for the fabulous Siri Mitchell.

I just received Siri’s newest novel in the mail. A Heart Most Worthy. I can’t wait to read it. Siri is one of those authors who really likes to challenge herself as a writer. If you’d like to learn more about her versatile novel-writing background, check out this interview at The Writers Alley.

Siri gives us some insight about where her ideas come from. Check out the wonderful list of inspiring thoughts.

It seems like most of my recent novels have begun with something — some fact, some picture, some idea — that makes me go ‘hmm…’

A Constant Heart — Women poisoned themselves with their cosmetics.

Love’s Pursuit — A woman could be accused of doing something terrible (even though people ought to have known better) simply for what she was wearing.

She Walks in Beauty — Women ruined their health by wearing corsets.

A Heart Most Worthy — A group of woman at a dressmaking shop sewed wedding gowns for each other >>> to which was added the fact that Italian immigrants were the second most lynched group in America (after African Americans)

Hannah’s Heart — (I’m currently working on this one) There was at least one Quaker spy and there were several Quaker generals during the Revolutionary War. What made them decided to abandon their believes and take sides?

Other facts that have struck me and are waiting to be turned into stories somehow: Did you know if you put daffodils and tulips in the same vase, the daffodils will poison the tulips?; a woman who feels the urge to constantly re-arrange her furniture; in France, the Havilland China company imported American painters for their dishes — these people were regularly attacked and couldn’t go anywhere at night.

Rarely do any of these facts or ideas have anything to do with a plot. Sometimes, they’re not even about people…which can present some problems since novels are about people. But I just note them all down on a spreadsheet and when it comes time to choose what to write next, I review all the ideas and see which ones my subconscious has been working on.

My contemporary novels were different. Kissing Adrien was inspired by a non-fiction manuscript I’d written. Something Beyond the Sky was inspired by my own experiences as a military wife. Chateau of Echoes was my last-ditch attempt to get published, so I threw in all the elements I liked to read in a novel; I was also feeling homesick for France, so I imagined myself up in a castle. The Cubicle Next Door began as a book about a girl who used to be nice, but Jackie sort of hijacked it. Moon Over Tokyo I think was written in an attempt to explain Japan to myself.

Ideas are everywhere! I can’t turn all of them into novels, and sometimes my skill set has had to grow in order to be able to turn one of them into a novel, but somehow my brain seems to know which ones will work and which ones are just interesting facts to know.

Isn’t this fascinating?!? Look at all the various ways Siri finds her inspiration. Wow! And she has a wealth of books to prove that inspiration does pay J If you’ve never had an opportunity to read a Siri Mitchell book, get to Amazon or your nearest bookshop TODAY!! They are worth it!

And have I mentioned that she is SUPER sweet in person. Really, truly!

 One quick inspirational ‘beginning’:

2 Timothy 1:8-10

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Our good works, our writing, our love…none of them make God love us any more than he already does. You know why? He already loves us completely. He brought us into His kingdom as sin-cloaked rebels transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ. We were hand-picked, just because of love.

His love.

Extravagant, beautiful, unconditional, and far beyond our understanding.

He saved us. He called us.

Just because of love.

Grace.

Love at First Thought with Ruth Logan Herne

I’m continuing with my blog series Love at First Thought, where authors share the inspiration behind their beautiful novels.

I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have a very special person as guest today.

In fact, she’s so special that I’ve adopted her.

She’s my writing mother. Do you want to know the reasons I had to adopt her?

  1. She’s WAAAAY too young and savvy to have a daughter my age, of course.
  2. Not only is she savvy, but she’s sassy too – keeps me in my place. (you know, the kick- you-in-the- pants-when-you-need- it kind of person.
  3. She has an amazing sense of humor. Hilarious. Even if it’s at other people’s expense.
  4. She has a heart the size of New York. (So the big stick she carries isn’t as intimidating…mostly)
  5. And she’s a Seeker-extraordinaire

Welcome Ruth Logan Herne to Words Seasoned With Salt.

Here’s the inspiration for her novel, Winter’s End (to read a review, go here)

Winter’s End.

I saw this farmhouse,  frayed and faded.  Mold-hashed. Worn. Tired. In need of care. And a man’s soul, the same way. Aching, both of them, but no time to fix either. I saw a hospice scene, an older man but not old, in a hospital bed, dying. And I saw a young woman who worked so hard to be normal, to appear normal that she almost thought she was. But she hated the cold. Hated the snow. Hated the long, dark days of winter. Hated the memories that  winter spawned, that feeling of never quite being warm enough.

He was wed to the land, born to it, at peace with it when no other sanctuary offered him shelter. His land. His farm. His family. His home. His legacy.

She wanted and needed peaceful faith, a bucolic setting, a Kincade cottage of hopes and dreams, lit from within.

She couldn’t stay.

He couldn’t leave.

Oooh, doesn’t that sound so good! And it is!! Not only that, but Ruthy has loads of new books coming out this year. Learn all about them at www.ruthloganherne.com

And check out the wonderful world of Seekerville while you browsing the Web.

Inspirational Beginnings:

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

 1 There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.

 9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Have you realized yet that things come and go? That even the best things in life only last for a definitive time period.

The old adage “Nothing lasts forever” might come to mind.

Well, Ecclesiastes is trying to help us gain perspective on eternity. Because, until we grasp the idea of a God over All things – we will spend most of our lives getting lost in the moments. Trudging through the tough times or the ‘waiting’, without stepping back to catch a glimpse of a God’s-eye view.

It’s easy to get lost in the moments. Who likes to wait? Or be discouraged? Or feel grief and pain?

But the good thing is – those are only part of a season, not an eternity.

And the wonderful seasons? Well, they’re only here for a specified time too. Remembering this (especially for me as a parent) should keep me from holding on too tight and trusting God a whole lot more. (I’m still working on that one)

The only safe, secure, unchanging foundation at the heart of eternity is God. Eccl states “He has set eternity in the human heart.” Wow, what a thought. Our hearts are already set on an eternal timepiece, waiting for the next tick of time.

It’s so easy to get caught up in worldly affairs that we forget the BIG perspective: God’s. There’s relief and hope within his constant care. When our world falls to chaos, his eternal, strong, and nail-scarred hands remind us there is a bigger picture we cannot see.

The comfort is in the fact that our Father God loves us…THAT much!

We can trust Him with the seasons of life, and cling to the knowledge that at Winter’s End, Heavenly Joy will be our reward.

Blessings,

Pepper

Love at First Thought with Margaret Brownley

Well, Margaret Brownley already knows this, but I’ll just share it again.

I absolutely loved all the kissin’ that took place in her novel, A Suitor for Jenny. Love it. And it had such a great mix of humor and conflict (with nicely placed smooches inbetween), I could help but enjoy the read.

Her first inspirational novel, A Lady Like Sarah, has been my FAVORITE of her novels so far, but as far as lip locking action, A Suitor for Jenny is the winner of the two.

Both books are fabulous fun to read.

If you want to get an idea, check out my reviews here:

A Lady Like Sarah

A Suitor for Jenny

Well, Margaret is going to share some inspiration for you.

Years ago I cut a picture from a magazine of a bride hanging upside down from a tree branch. She didn’t seem to care that her hair was mussed, her dress dirty or even that the groom and guests and, heaven forbid, her mother might be panicked.  Who was she?  I wondered.  What was going through her mind?  Who was she marrying?  Love at first thought?  Not exactly, but one day the muse kicked in and I finally had my answers.

Her name is Lucy Fairbanks and you’ll meet her in my June 2011 release A Vision of Lucy.  Lucy is a photographer and will do anything to get the perfect photograph. To that end she climbs trees, jumps fences and falls onto a run-away stage.  She also learns the hard way to never, never ask an outlaw if you can shoot him—whether with a camera or a gun.  As for hanging from a tree, you’ll have to read the book to know how that turns out.

Woohoo, Margaret, I cannot wait to find out more about Lucy.

Thanks for sharing this with us today.

Inspiration from “Beginnings”

Psalm 111: 9-10

He provided redemption for his people;
   he ordained his covenant forever—
   holy and awesome is his name.

 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
   all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
   To him belongs eternal praise.

I heard someone say once “Knowledge may be the right thought, but wisdom is having both the right thought and the right action.”

True wisdom is all based on our starting point, and the best beginning is in the Creator. Why? Because we only see a very small puzzle piece of a very large picture. Our lives are minute segments on a grand palate of eternity, so trusting only in our own finite perspective may seem a bit…foolish?

God Word is a guide of GBR – God’s Best rules. If we trust, respect, and honor our heavenly Father, we try to obey His Word.

Do we fail? Sure, and that’s why we need Jesus, but for the most part God’s ‘rules’ set up a guideline for our safety. His guide for us reigns in the, otherwise, chaos of the world.

We act wisely when we put our trust, confidence, and honor in God by putting it into practice. Doing something.

The ‘beginning’ of wisdom is the recognition and acceptance that God knows best.

Not always easy, but the road that leads to Him is worth the heartaches along the way, because there is a guaranteed ‘happy ending’.

Stop by on Friday for Ruthy Logan Herne!!

Blessings,

Pepper