I’m here with another Fact or Fiction post, this time geared especially toward the field of writing! No matter what kind of writing you do, this applies to you! To those who don’t write, I hope you learn something about how your favorite books come about! 😉 Let’s hop in!
Claim #1: You Must Write Daily to Be Successful
While it is great advice to write something daily, if you miss a few days, it’s not the end of the world. I am certainly in favor of forming this habit and I try my hardest to write something by hand or on my laptop every day. But guess what? Life happens! I am a ministry kid and there are sometimes when writing just isn’t gonna happen! And that is okay! So, if you miss a few days, a week, even a month, don’t be too hard on yourself. If God puts a book in you, He will give you the perseverance to get it out there in His timing.
Claim #2: You Must Have an Outline to Write a Good Story
While you don’t have to have an outline of your story, this is one of the most crucial things in a story’s development. I wrote The Land of Cotton without an outline, other than a list of chapter titles and let me tell you, it was a big mistake. In my first draft, story lines weren’t finished, characters appeared and disappeared at random and I used three people where I could have used one!
So, take my advice and at least attempt making an outline of your major plot points. You won’t believe how much this will help you! (Click here for more on this topic!)
Claim #3: If You Aren't Traditionally Published, You Aren't a Real Author
Thankfully, this opinion has started to die over the last few years, but for a while, if you were a self-published author, people didn’t take you seriously. But let me tell you, self-published authors have to work twice as hard as traditionally published authors! Traditional publishing requires the author do one thing: write books. (This includes revisions the publisher gives them.) The publisher does the editing, designs the cover, markets and sells to big name book shops, arranges book tours and formats and…yeah, you get the idea.
Self-Publishers have to do it all. I have to write the story, edit the story, find people to edit behind me (thank the Lord for my mom, sister, brother-in-law and grandpa who are far better at English than I am!), design the cover, or get with someone to design it the way I want, advertise and market, actually talk to people to get them to buy my book, set up interviews and book signings (I don’t have an agent…) and then…I have to start the process all over again. So, don’t let anyone ever tell you that self-publishing is the cheater’s way. It’s a hard road to travel!
Claim #4: If I am a Writer, then the Story Will Come to Me Easily
Oh dear, no! Some days, the stories pour out of you and you wonder if you will ever get them written down in time! Other days, you are sure this was one of the biggest mistakes you ever made in your life! I’m currently at a stand still with my draft of book 5 in The Battle for Heritage Series. It’s frustrating. It’s annoying. And it makes me feel silly. I mean, I’ve published 4 books, written 7 and have tentative outlines for several more. Why can’t I get this story on paper? There are many answers to this question, but it would take too long to explain here. Keep in mind, every writer has had those days when getting the words out was hard. Take a break, reread what you have and plow on through; eventually, you’ll get back on track!
Claim #5: Anyone Can be a Writer
Okay, so technically, this is a fact, but I beg to differ. I believe that while anyone can be a writer, many shouldn’t be. *Thinks of a list right now…* It’s not necessarily because they aren’t talented (though that can be the case sometimes), but because they are not writing books with good intent. Horror stories should never be written. Books that glorify sin should never be written. Books that lie should never be written. Get what I’m saying? When you think about it, unless the book can be used for God’s honor and glory, it probably shouldn’t have been written. I read historical fiction and while I’ve found some clean, well-written, non-Christian works, it saddens me to know the book had so much potential but fell short of what it could have been. I loved Sophia’s War, but I would have loved it even more if the book had shown me the struggle that went on in Sophia has she tried to follow God and rest in His plan for her life. Or what if when Nancy Drew got stumped in her mystery, she stopped to pray, and God sent the answer her way, instead of her brilliant mind? See what I mean?
I hope this post has been a help to you! Have a blessed day!
I’ve been hearing about Unbroken for years now. It’s been recommended to me and I’ve wanted to read it ever since I heard about it. Well, this year, I sat down and read it. Today, I will share my review of this dramatic, heart-wrenching story.
By Laura Hillenbrand
Summary: The story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympic runner, WWII Bombardier, Plane crash and raft drifting survivor, Japanese POW and Witness for Christ. A story of overcoming hatred and using your pain to help others, offering forgiveness to those who have wronged you. Also, it tells just how badly the Japs treated their prisoners.
My Review: Okay, so this book was different than what I expected. I thought it was going to be solely about Louie, but it turned out to be more like a documentary, with Louie as the main character. I was a little miffed by that at first, but as the story progressed, I found I really enjoyed the extra insights from the experiences of others. I also learned enough about Wake Island in this story to spark my curiosity. Whole ‘nother story, but oh! So heart-breaking!
I personally was a little disappointed that there was no clear announcement of Louie’s getting saved, though he most certainly did. It was more alluded to than anything else. I felt that in some way, his Faith was down played, but in other ways, I was surprised at how much the author included in the story.
There was some language in this book, which I had been forewarned about. There is also quite a bit of talk about the sadistic behavior of the guards (one in particular) that was a bit disturbing. I DO NOT recommend this book for children or young adults. It is hard to read and brutally honest about what the Japanese soldiers did to our troops, as well as giving rather disturbing details about the diseases and tortures these brave men endured while in captivity. It also talks about alcohol, smoking and other things of that nature, which though they are accurate depictions of military life, I cannot and will not condone or pronounce as acceptable behavior, even for unsaved individuals.
There is a Young Adult version of this book, which I skimmed through and it appeared that the language had been removed. I also have a copy of this version and plan to review it when I read it.
For younger readers, I recommend Louis Zamperini by Janet and Geoff Benge. While still a hard read, it is more suitable for younger audiences and emphasizes Louie’s Faith very well.
What I Loved: I loved hearing about R.A. Philips, Louie’s friend and pilot. He survived the same torture as Louie and more of a different kind. I didn’t enjoy reading about the POW camps, but it gave me a deeper appreciation of our guys in khaki. And of course, seeing Louie’s life change was the best part!
What I didn’t Like: In addition to what was mentioned in the review, the guard known as the Bird was the most disturbing part of this book. *shivers* I will never understand how some people think treating their fellow human beings the way he did was acceptable. And Louie’s letter to him after the war? Oh, it takes a strong Christian indeed to be able to forgive a man like the Bird!
Overall, this book was eye opening, heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. It’s a type of book that makes you pray, “Lord, please, never again!” I truly hope that people will read it, get help and seek what Louie found to be the answer to all his problems: A personal Relationship with Jesus Christ!
Have a Blessed Day!
Soldier Life...something that has fascinated people for generations. It’s also something we civilians always wonder about and never quite understand. But today, I’m sharing some facts for those researching about the War Between the States, focusing on the Sergeant. (Click here for Episode 7!)
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on soldier or the War Between the States. But I have researched these topics extensively. My goal here is to give readers, writers and researchers the information I wish I had been able to find all in one place. Pulling from books and webpages takes time! To whoever finds this post helpful, this was written with you in mind!
Okay, so first, there are two different types of Sergeants. There are regular sergeants (the ranking one is called the First Sergeant) and the Sergeant Major, who is the top Non-Commission Officer (NCO; in other words, a guy who is in charge whom you do not salute.)
The duties of a regular sergeant are…
Most of the information I gathered was for the First Sergeant and the Sergeant Major, so I’ll expand a little on what they did to keep their part of the army running (the jobs were the same in the North and the South).
The First Sergeant was selected by the captain of the company from among the other sergeants. Then the commanding officer of the regiment would make his position official. Likewise, his commission could be revoked by the commanding officer. He is the main guy supervising the entire company (100 men!). The Captain gives him his orders and he sees that they are carried out by himself and the other sergeants. Think of him as the foreman on a worksite.
The First Sergeant is the one who keeps the rosters, lists of the men serving in his company, noting who is where during the day and night. He was expected to memorize the names in alphabetical order, so that he could call the roll at any hour. I’m sure once campaigning began, that got confusing, with men being killed, captured and reported missing. Not only did he need to know everyone’s name, but he also needed to know what they looked and sounded like and where they were supposed to be in the camp line up. This is because soldiers would sometimes answer for their buddies who were away from drill without permission.
When Roll Call is made, the First Sergeant lists the absentees to the officer overseeing the roll call. All the other NCO’s are responsible to him, making sure that their work is done correctly and that the paperwork is filed. He is also allowed to arrest soldiers and NCO’s, while reporting any action like this to the Captain, along with the details of the situation. He is also the one who oversees the guard details. (See my post on Corporals for more details)
Just as the Corporal of the Guard is the most important job for a corporal, the most important duty for a first sergeant is issuing and keeping records of supplies: weapons and ammunition, uniforms, camp supplies, etc. He also has to keep record of who received what and when, and if anything is misplaced, he has to find out if it was stolen, sold or if it was an innocent mistake. He was also responsible for issuing rations to the men, and overseeing the company funds.
The sergeant is responsible for the actions of the company, to set a good example for him. Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose a man with a good temper and a strong sense of justice. He’s not supposed to be close friends with the men under him, but he should be the kind they can come to with anything on their minds without fear of talking out of turn. He’s the buffer between the men and the officers.
Now, the Sergeant Major, as I said, is the ranking NCO of the regiment. Here is one of the differences between the first sergeant and the sergeant major: one is regimental, the other is company oriented. The sergeant major is appointed by the regimental commander and there is one sergeant major in every regiment. (There are ten First Sergeants in a regiment, because there are ten companies.)
The Sergeant Major pretty much does what a First Sergeant does, only on a larger scale. His roster is of the NCOs (Sergeants and corporals) and he must also keep the time in camp. That means waking up the musicians in time to sound Reveille at the proper hour in the morning.
The First Sergeant turns the morning reports in to the Sergeant Major, who in turn gives them back to the sergeant, along with the orders for the day. He instructs them in details that will be expected of them the next day and copies the orders into the “Company Order-Book.”
He will also attend the Mounting of the Guard, with the First Sergeants reporting to him that everything is in order. He is the NCO all the lower-ranking NCOs look up to, so it is expected for him to act as the model soldier in the way he dresses and carries himself. He should be punctual and disciplined. When promotions come along, if he has carried out his duties correctly, he will be the first NCO to get an officer’s commission. Then, a first sergeant will take his place.
That’s all I have for today. Have a blessed week!
And I’m back with another book review! This book was a sweet little read, but I do have a few cautions about it. If you love World War Two and those who protected our Jewish friends, then stick around!
Number the Stars
By Lois Lowry
Historical Fiction: World War Two Denmark
Suggested Age: 8-12 for understanding (if edited or explained by an adult); 16 for content.
Overall: This was a neat little book about the Denmark underground under the Third Reich. Did you know that the Danes smuggled out nearly all of their 7,000 Jewish citizens?!? That’s amazing! And the mode they used to rescue them and get past Nazi search dogs was so interesting!
There were a few things that I didn’t like about this story…quite a bit of lying (and justifying it), mentions of alcohol, and smoking. There was also a comment made by a Nazi to a lady that I thought that was inappropriate for a children’s book. The little sister was supposed to be a bit of a brat, but for the most part, everyone got along.
I also thought the end was fast. You find out who lived and who died and why they died all in a rapid-fire style, and I felt too overwhelmed to really feel the sorrow for the character who died. It happened to be my favorite character too, which didn’t help. Overall, the realness of death was lost on me due to the hurried style.
But one thing is for sure, I would love to meet King Christian 😉 He seemed like the kings in stories, ones who truly put their people’s needs before their own. Whether he was really like that or not, I’m not sure, but I thought it was a neat touch!
Have a Blessed Day!
Hello and welcome back for my newest book related post. But …I’m cheating. 😉 I have only one actual research book to share today. But don’t despair! I’m going to include a few fiction titles to this list to round out the end of this series (for now anyway 😉). So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!
1. Manhunt: The Twelve Day Hunt for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson (Don’t currently have my book with me, it’s being loaned out, it’s that good!)
This book! It’s so good! Okay, so that sounds terrible, seeing as how this is about someone dying… Anyway, this is the best book I’ve read about the Lincoln assassination. It’s non-fiction written like a novel! (I think you call that narrative non-fiction…?) Anyway, Mr. Swanson spins an excellent narrative. At times there are bits of history that we just don’t know what happened. I think there were (I think) three days of the Manhunt when we don’t know what John Wilkes Booth was up to. What did Mr. Swanson do? He used it as a springboard for some background story on the Booth family! It was brilliant! Because of some of the details, I would recommend either editing it first or waiting until the reader is at least 16, depending on their maturity level. It’s very well researched! I’ve read it…3 times? And I’m going to be reading it again when I get it back, to refresh myself for the writing of my 5th book on the War Between the States! (Title is still under wraps!)
2. Iron Scouts of the Confederacy by Lee McGiffin
Okay…I did a whole post on this book, so I won’t reiterate here, but people! You need to read this book! It too is Narrative non-fiction, but not really a research book. It’s about Wade Hampton’s elite Cavalry unit and I just adore this book. This is another one I’ve read two or three times and hope to read again soon! Recommended for all ages!
3. Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Okay, so this one will need editing. But, it is worth it. It’s language, not content. But this book I learned a lot from. It shows the struggle of duty and fear for a young soldier and how he overcomes what he feels is cowardice. I personally just wanted to tell him everything would be okay and your not a coward, you’re just young and scared. Even though he didn’t subscribe to my personal view of the War Between the States, Henry taught me a lot. It made me understand some of my own characters a little better.
4. Iron Thunder by Avi
This was my very first Avi book! It was written in First Person Point of View (POV) so that was so neat. The main character is Tom Carroll and his service aboard the USS Monitor. (There actually was a Tom Carroll aboard, but they make it clear, this is a different person ) While some of the talk about the south was offensive to me, I found it very intriguing to learn about the Iron Clads of the War Between the States. I would love to find a book like this about the CSS Virginia (which this book calls the Merrimac, which drives me nuts!) It was very informative and worth reading. Minimal editing needed, recommended for ages 8 and up!
So that pretty much wraps this series up for now! If I read anymore for my The Battle for Heritage Series research, I will let you know!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.