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Itís (almost) here! A Heart Most Worthy should be showing up in
your local bookstore any time now. Itís available for pre-order from
Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and Christianbook.com. My European
readers may have to wait a few more months, but Iím hoping it will soon
be picked up for translation into Dutch.
Italian food, ornate dresses, and three fabulous heroes. Who wouldnít
love a book with those elements?
Iíve been anxious for you to read AHMW because I set up a few
challenges for myself as I was writing. This book has three main
characters Ė a departure from my normal one or two. This book was also
written from an omniscient point-of-view, which is quite different than
my normal. I had fun with it. Did it work for you? Iíd love to hear what
you think and I hope this book will be just as fun for you to read as it
was for me to write!
Approach to the World
This is the fifth installment of my look at life from a novelistís point
of view. Many of the things that make a good novel also make a good
life. I thought it would be interesting to look at the major elements of
the novel and see how they apply to real life. Iíve already analyzed
character development, plot, setting, and dialogue. (If youíve missed
any of these and would like to receive them, please let me know.) This
time, for the final installment, Iím taking a look at theme.
Theme is simply the moral of a story. Itís the message conveyed; what
the story is really about. Theme is revealed through the values
of characters as they confront obstacles and resolve conflicts in
pursuit of their goals. It can be considered the foundation of a novel.
Often a theme is articulated by a premise. Over the course of a story,
ideally, a character decides to leave behind a vice and choose a virtue
to replace it. Instead of being beaten back for choosing the wrong
thing, she starts to become rewarded for choosing the right thing. This
example of a premise comes from A Heart Most Worthy: Being who
you truly are leads to liberty and integrity; pretending to be someone
you are not only leads to bondage and death.
A story has to be about something. And if you think about it, so should
So, what are you about? What motivates you as you go through your days?
What lesson is it that you keep trying to learn? If you look back
through your years, thereís probably one thing that keeps tripping you
up or one thing over which you constantly struggle to triumph. What is
And, more importantly, why donít you just do it?!
If only it were that easy! Weíd all change if we could, wouldnít we?
Itís worth thinking about that peculiar inertia that seems to paralyze
us, though. Where does it come from? And why canít we seem to learn from
We all have our foibles and weaknesses, but in the world of story, that
Ďinabilityí to change can come from external or internal sources.
External sources, though dramatic (hurricanes, train wrecks, divorce,
death) cannot usually be changed or controlled by the character.
Internal sources, however, are different. When internal sources are at
work, characters are nursing some sort of long-term wound or they
believeóin the deepest parts of their heartóin a lie. Usually, when held
up to the light of truth, the lies are laughable. Hardly fit for a
psychiatristís couch. Here are some of the more common ones: Iím
unlovable; I donít matter; I donít deserve to be successful; Iím only as
important as my (fill in the blank here); if people knew the real me,
theyíd run away. Any one of those creates unbelievably dysfunctional
behaviors: pushing people away, self-sabotage, susceptibility to abuse.
This creates internally-generated conflict in novels. Which is good. But
in real life, it wreaks havoc and destruction. Which is bad.
Why do we do these things to ourselves? Why do we choose to believe in a
lie instead of basing our actions on truth?
The choice seems quite easy when itís analyzed. The problem is that if
you have a wound or believe in a lie, youíve built your life around it.
If you decide to seek treatment, your whole world is liable to crumble.
People might start treating you differently (better, Iíd hope!), and
expect different things of you. Changeóeven when itís goodóis scary
sometimes, simply because itís different. And if you decide to believe
the truth about yourself (you are lovable; you do matter; you deserve to
be successful; youíre important simply because youíre you; if people
knew the real you, they might just like you), instead of the lie, it
means you become responsible for your behavior. And your destiny. If you
hadnít let yourself succeed before, what happens if, when you give
yourself a chance, you fail? What happens if, once you decide to let
someone love you, they leave?
Thatís when things get risky, donít they? But remembering your theme,
what happens when you start acting out your moral premise? If you leave
the wound behind, if you start from a position of virtue and truth, the
potential reward for your risk is so much greater. And so much better.
After all, you know how youíve been rewarded for keeping that wound
fresh and open. You know whatís happened when you lived your life
according to the lie. Canít get that much worse, can it?...and isnít it
likely to get a whole lot better?
Things can change. You can choose virtue. With God all things are
possible. The beauty of story is this: itís never over Ďtil itís over.
Every good novelist knows that the whole story changes once you change
the theme and once you engage the premise. As I end this series, my
challenge is this: live with a point. And never stop being who you are!
She Walks in
was named the inaugural INSPY Award winner for historical fiction! Iím
especially proud of this award because it was judged not by editors or
agents or even other authors. It was judged by blogging readers. Itís
encouraged me enormously to know that this book did what I hoped it
would do: entertain and inspire the people that I wrote it for.
This March, Iíll be taking part in the Virginia Festival of the Book.
Iíll be selling and signing books on Saturday, March 19, in
Charlottesville, VA at the Omni Hotel along with fellow Bethany authors
Paul Robertson and Bethany Pierce. If you live in the area, Iíd love to
meet you! (And if you have a special title request, please e-mail me so
I can bring it along.)
ever missed yourself? Wondered who you really were? Iíll be speaking on
Finding Your Voice at the Cherrydale Baptist Church's Womens'
Retreat on April 29 and 30 in Arlington, VA.
So often women find themselves becoming the person others want or need
them to be. Sometimes the essence of who we are is laid aside for the
roles we play: daughter, friend, employee, wife, mother, and
grandmother. I want you to rediscover your voice. Everyone has one and
each voice is unique. As all novelists know, voice cannot be taught; it
has to be uncovered. And that can only be done by accessing the deepest
places of the soul. By figuring out 1) who you were created to be, 2)
why youíve kept yourself from being that woman, and 3) calling forth
that voice to share it with the world. After all, itís been there inside
all this time, just waiting for a chance to be let out!
If youíll be in the area, come join us! Iíd love to meet you.