In the Word Wednesday: Pick up the Pen and Do it Again

A clean white screen with a blinking cursor thrills me. I know something beautiful is about to happen.

You don’t have to be a writer to feel this way. It might be a new project you’re about to begin. I love a fresh can of paint and a plan, as well.

Not long ago, I was teaching on the book of Jeremiah to the Young Adults. The passage I taught from was Jeremiah 32, when he buys a field and gives the purchase deed to Baruch, son of Neriah–not to be confused with Baruch in Nehemiah. 

During this time of studying the history and people for this passage, I had written a book for a contest. A week before I had to send it, I found an embedded watermark on most of the chapters. I freaked out because if any logos were discovered, it would disqualify me. I called everyone I knew that was computer savvy, googled the problem, and found that some 2007 installments of Microsoft had these issues.

I had to take my hardcopy of the book, and in less than a week–rewrite the entire novel. 93,ooo words. Sigh. I cried. Bawled. Sobbed. Screamed…and so forth. My back ached, my fingers cramped and my neck became stiff. I lost sleep from staying up to write. I missed fun activities with friends and even family.

And of course, I had to study for my lesson which included biblical history in order for them to grasp what I was teaching. Friday afternoon came. I was nearly done with my writing and going over the notes about Jeremiah when the Lord whispered in my ear, “You are Baruch.”

So turn with me to Jeremiah 36. Jehoiakim was on the throne at this time. And Jehoiakim did evil in the sight of the Lord. God instructed Jeremiah, “write on this scroll all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day.” That’s a lot of words.

Jeremiah finds Baruch, son of Neriah, in verse 4 and dictates all the words to him. There is no keyboard, spellcheck or track changes. Just papyrus and ink and one man writing words. Then he sent Baruch to read all the words to the people.

Moving on to verse 20-26… When the king found out what Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s instructions (because he didn’t care for what was said)–words God gave him–he was furious! He took the scroll and threw it in the fire. In verse 27-31, The Lord commanded Jeremiah to recite the words again and Baruch had to rewrite the entire scroll. Imagine the work involved. The hunched shoulders, callused fingers, and aching back. But on those pages were words that were going to change lives. Touch people’s hearts and encourage them.

Verse 32, “Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch, the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And besides, there were added to them many similar words.”

Writing is hard. Rewriting is challenging. Don’t give up. When I rewrote it all, I found places that needed tweaking, and I added many similiar words. It was a better book because I had to redo it. Don’t get discouraged when your work gets rejected. Rewrite. Rewrite and know God has a plan and purpose for those words.

Nebuchadnezzar took a young Jewish boy captive. His name was Daniel. Look at chapter 9 in Daniel, starting with verse 2, “…in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolation of Jerusalem.”

Baruch didn’t give up. He rewrote those words Jeremiah gave him from the Lord, and Daniel read them and understood that the time was nearing for the captives taken away from their land, to be freed! It sent him on his knees in intercession and supplication. It brought an amazing encounter with the Lord. And it brought lost hope to a people who thought they’d never get to go back home again–people who thought the Lord had abandoned them.

If God has given you a story to write or a project/ministry to launch, don’t give up. Not even when someone shreds it. Rewrite/Restructure it. Learn to trust. Obey. Believe. God will get it in the hands of the right people. At the right time.

You are Baruch and you can do it!

“For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 

What scriptures have kept you motivated to keep pursuing your dreams?

Must Meet Monday: Darlene Shortridge

Connect with Darlene on
facebook fan page
twitter and
Darlene’s blog
click the links to
take you directly to her sites!

Darlene Shortridge happened upon my blog and I’m so glad she did because we’ve gotten to know each other and I enjoy following her blog. She usually makes me laugh with her quirky and witty humor and by the end of her blog–she’s wrapped it up into a deep spiritual message.

I also enjoy our facebook friendship. Not only is she a writer, but she’s also a fabulous cook. Now, I’ve never tasted any of her meals, but reading about them makes my mouth water.

I had the cool opportunity to read her ARC of Until Forever and review it. You can read my review hereEveryone, meet Darlene.

            Tell everyone about yourself, Darlene!

First off, My most important roles in life are as a wife and a mom.  I love my family and the life God has blessed me with.  Next, I am a writer.  I live in Northeast Wisconsin with my husband, Danny, our two children, one of which is getting married in a couple of months, and our dog, Leia.  My chosen college major was voice and I  learned that writing was dear to my heart.  I have written songs, poetry, children’s plays and curriculum, short stories, posts for my blog and my first novel. 
Wow! You’re busy. When do you find time to write and where do you let the magic happen?
I write in a corner of my living room at a small computer desk and presently in a very un-comfy computer chair, usually late at night when it is quiet.

              So do you seat of the pants it, or plot?

 I do plot.  I would say I am part organized and part seat of the pants.  I do outline, but I am free to deviate from the plan.  I have to have a general idea of how I am going to get from point a to point b, or I get lost and have no direction in my writing.  In doing this I plan out practical, believable ways my characters achieve their goals in my story lines. 
       Did  you have any particular inspiration for the idea? And what would you say the main theme or message is to readers?

            I’m getting old here.  You expect me to remember that?  I don’t think I got the idea from any specific one place.  Mostly this work is complete fiction.  There are little things in my life that parallel Until Forever, really little things.  Like…my son loves pizza, as does Ethan, the little boy in the story.  I get the question all the time asking if this is my story.  It is not.  When I write my story, it will probably be one of the best books I ever write.  It is not time for that…yet. 
      My husband really likes to answer this question with a question.  “How do you forgive someone who commits an unforgivable act?”  So, ultimately, I believe this story is about forgiving one’s self, each other, and God, for His “supposed” offenses. 
      We tend to blame God for hurts and problems in our lives when nothing could be farther from the truth.  His love is so great we cannot contain it.  He longs to hold us in His arms and comfort us when the consequences of sin permeate our lives. 
      Good word, Darlene, and so true. That clearly comes out in your novel. I know women 18 and up are your target audience, but share with us a neat little surprise about your book!
      Men love this book!  I do not know why. Haha!  This was not intentional, I did not write this with men in mind.  I have had men approach me crying, thanking me for writing this.  I believe the men in our world hold on to secret hurts and deep-seated feelings of being unforgiven. 
      Because men as a whole are less emotional than women, we tend to downplay the affects of sin and grief men hold on to.  Until Forever opens up some of those portals and exposes the hurts.  It also offers them hope, hope that they can turn from sin and be a good father and husband.  
       I thinks that’s incredible! What kind of books do you enjoy reading? Any authors who inspire you?
       I have really been into Liz Curtis Higgs lately, especially her Scotland series.  Love it! I read a variety of books.  I find I am constantly learning from other writers.  I read self help books, books on finance, books on writing and then lots and lots of fiction.  Lately I have been reviewing books for other writers.  Not only is it interesting, but also this opportunity has given me new and fresh ideas for my own writing.  I tend to shy away from any type of horror and mushy romance, other than that I will give it a go. 
      I love Liz Curtis Higgs too. I had the chance to meet her at the WFTS conference in Feb. She’s amazing! Before you go–and thanks so much for coming– Darlene, tell us who published you and a little about your pub experience.
      I  started looking for a publisher shortly after completing Until Forever.  I ended up with three contract offers, one from a full service publisher and two with subsidy publishers.  I realize the obvious choice to most would be with the full service, but neither my husband and I nor our pastor had a peace about this particular publisher. 
      I ended up with Tate Publishing.  I believe it was the right publisher for us at this time.  I was able to maintain some control of the direction my novel took, which was important to me.  LOL…the publishing process was long!  Publishing is not for the faint of heart, nor those with the “I want it now” attitude.  Patience is a necessity! 
      I quickly came to the realization that while editing was my least favorite part of the process, it is the most important part.  I poured over the manuscript looking for errors.  I also learned this is something we as authors must do.  Our editor does not do this for us.  That was a wakeup call.  My favorite?  Ah…finally getting the book cover exactly the way I wanted it and holding a copy in my hands.  My daughter did a mock up for my graphic artist.  That really helped in sharing the vision for the cover with my artist. 
       Darlene is giving away a copy of Until Forever! If you would like a chance to win it, leave your favorite recipe in the comments section and your contact information. The winner will be announced on Friday!
      Here’s a teaser for Until Forever and one of Darlene’s recipes!
      “Until Forever is a story of a young family that is torn apart by the devastating effects of alcoholism. Can healing take place in a relationship when an unforgivable act is committed? Will Jessi’s pain and Mark’s guilt keep them apart forever, or will unforseen circumstances bind them together? 


     Join Jessi and Mark as they travel many roads that lead them to places of healing and forgiveness.  Where will God draw the line at allowing circumstances in our lives that lead us to Him?  Is there any earthly pain that isn’t tolerable if it leads us to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?  As you read “Until Forever” you may find yourself asking these types of questions.  As in real life, the answers don’t come easily to Jessi and Mark.  You will find yourself walking in their shoes, crying their tears and laughing with them as they experience real pain and find true joy.”


Layered Brownies (Yum, Darlene! Thanks!)
1st layer:  2 c. sugar, 1 ½ c. flour, ¾ c. baking cocoa, 1 tsp salt, 1 c. vegetable oil, 4 eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla
Grease 9×13 baking pan.  Mix above ingredients and press into baking pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Refrigerate to cool. 
2nd layer:  ½ c. butter, ½ c. packed brown sugar, ¼ c. sugar, 2 tbs. milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 c. flour.  Spread on cooled brownie mixture and refrigerate to set. 
3rd layer:  melt 1 ½ c. chocolate chips with a little bit of shortening to thin.  Spread on
second layer and refrigerate. 
The brownies will be ready to cut after the chocolate has cooled in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. 
A tip:  If you do not like the edges of brownies, cut them off while cutting into squares.  This will make all the squares uniform and make each square equally as tempting!

Go Ahead and Snoop: Making Fictional Characters Curious


Admit it, you’ve snooped in someone’s house before. A bathroom cabinet, a dresser drawer. You flipped open a Bible that was sitting on an empty seat in church to see their notes, lying to yourself that you really just needed to see who it belonged to so you could turn it in, oops it opened in the middle…

You’ve walked into a friend’s home and opened their fridge, wanting nothing in particular, just…looking. As you get out of your car, you glance into the one parked next to you. How many more french fries can one vehicle handle? Nice undies lying around. I bet that old crusty baby bottle smeeeeelllllls! Oh, a dollar! Door’s locked. On your way home, after dark, you have near misses with mailboxes because you can’t help but peer in lighted windows.

Why do we do these things?

Nosy? Busybodies? Possibly.


We’re curious about human behavior–about people. That’s why we read. We want to know what others think, do, say, and where others go. We find relief in knowing we’re not so different, or relief that we’re better off (sad but true).



Don’t forget the details that make your characters interesting. Ask the question, “What would be in his/her medicine cabinet, fridge, drawer, backseat, etc? Then put those items there.  Know who you’re writing about well enough to know the answers.

Make characters curious. Have a character open a fridge, a medicine cabinet, glance at mail when the friend is out of the room. Things you have done or want to do.

What do you think? If you see basic human behavior in a seemingly invincible character does he or she become more believable to you?

Have a great weekend! The winner in Monday’s giveaway for Susie Brown’s Small Wonders is Michelle Massaro!