This is from my recent post over at American Christian Fiction Writers forum.
I miss writing. I miss that free flowing, wild abandon “banging out the story on a blank page” feeling – when all the creative juices are flowing and I am IN the story side by side with the characters. That kind of writing. This is what I live for as an author.
However, published authors have to live in a real world of published works and the writing is only a small part of the work. For me, filling up the blank page and allowing this living, breathing, dynamo of a story to struggle its way from my mind and fingertips onto a page is the fun part. It’s the OTHER stuff that becomes work.
The reality is, being a published author is a job. The story in your mind belongs to you. But, once that story becomes the subject of a contract, it belongs to the Publisher! You can still mold and shape the story but the story now serves a new purpose. It exists not to be read and enjoyed and to inspire or convict. It lives to make money. The story is now a PRODUCT!
How do you then keep the fun in being a published author? Here are three tips.
1. A good editor will only make you a better writer and a better author. Editing is the hardest work of being published. It is painful to cut and tweak and excise entire characters. But, with the right editor, your story suddenly becomes lean and hard and vibrant! The fun returns when you get that “WOW” reaction from taking a mediocre scene and watching it vibrate with new energy!
2. Social media and marketing are the leeches that drain me of my time and energy. I spend almost two hours four days a week on my Facebook page, Twitter, and website. How can you find some joy in this? My newest nonfiction book, “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Finding Happiness” generates weekly emails saying how much the book changed someone’s life. Most of these responses come from readers following my blog. Social media gives my readers an ongoing method to communicate with me. All it takes is a positive feedback to make my day and make the work worthwhile!
3. Book signings are disappearing. But, I crave the face to face encounters I have with a signing. I support my book stores. I meet some of my fans. And, I meet new people who’ve never heard of my books. Every book signing allows me to have a “divine” appointment with someone who has a very special need only I can fill at that moment in their life. Signings may be few and far between and I may only sell a dozen books, but I meet people. Meeting people is my life’s blood; my joy; my icing on the cake. In today’s world of increasing technological reliance we are now more connected than ever. But, we are more isolated than ever. Meeting someone and sharing a smile and a handshake makes all of that editing and marketing “work” worth it!
“The only thing worse than nostalgia is amnesia.” Ravi Zacharias, famed speaker and author once said this. For months, I felt like one of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness. In an unprecedented turn of events, I had not been involved in any of my church’s activities for over a year. When my co-author, Mark Sutton was our pastor, my second “job” kept me occupied at our church. When he retired, it seemed I did too.
At first, I was very uncomfortable. My connection with the “inner circle” was severed. My knowledge of the direction of the church was no different than the person sitting next to me in the worship service. The very fact I was SITTING in a worship service instead of running around behind the scenes helping to make things happen was a disturbing but new development for me.
I was alone in the dark bedroom. I had pulled the sheet and blanket up over my head to shut out the world. I wanted no light; no sound; not even a speck of floating dust to touch me. I wanted to not BE.
Pain so bad it took my breath away filled every fiber of my being. Not physical pain. Emotional pain. And fear, yes there was fear. If I could just shut the world out for a few moments I might find some relief from this pain. Perhaps I could sleep? Probably not. Often elusive, sleep came for me with great difficulty and even if I did manage to slip into a sleeping state I knew it would not be restful. Because the dreams waited for me. Vivid, realistic, outlandish dreams. Read the rest of this entry
I want to thank my faithful readers and wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. To close out 2014, I want to share a very special story with you.
That night the trek had been arduous and demanding up the rocky slope to the winding Roman road. I had spent most of the day tending the tenants in my inn but the streets of Bethlehem were so crowded, I couldn’t take it anymore. Leaving Lydia behind to tend to the last few customers, I decided it was time to take my annual walk up the mountain.
The road on the mountain side wound its way past Bethlehem toward the distant city of Jerusalem. They say the Roman roads connected every city in the empire to Rome. All roads led to Rome. And, they say the Romans brought us a more civilized, advanced way of living. But, the cost of that way of life was at the expense of their terrible cruelty. They had given power to our “king”, Herod. And, there were times his cruelty surpassed even that of the Romans.
Just noticed this review on Amazon for “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”:
Hennigan continues his series that brings supernatural fiction back to its roots. Before the fascination with vampires and the like, back in the day authors like Frank Perretti were writing about the supernatural wars. Those tales are somewhat dated now, but Hennigan’s Jonathan Steel, demon hunter, is bringing a more realistic feel to the battle between good and evil. Here, in book 3, each character is presented in the first person. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The author also manages once again to weave in a few discucsions on issues of religion without coming across as a lecture. Yes, the author writes from a Christian perspective, but doesn’t every author write from their belief system? It’s all on how they present it, and many want to hit you over the head with it, yet the religion-haters complain if Christian authors don’t put a disclaimer on the book. Nonetheless, this is a solid series that most supernatural fans will enjoy. Hopefully the series will continue to go upwards in terms of conflict and peeling back the veil from evil. And, of course, it is always best to start with book 1.
Check it out at this link.
I have a confession.
I suffer from depression.
It has been a constant companion my entire adult life. Sometimes, it is quiescent, hiding away in some dark corner of my mind. It seems at times that it is patiently waiting for me to be at my happiest, most joyful, most peaceful frame of mind before it pounces from its den. When it comes, it doesn’t always sneak up on me. Most of the time, I can feel its hot breath on the back of my neck and I get this feeling of dread as if something horrendous is about to happen. It is then it hurls its dark, cold arms about me and pulls me under; smothering me with joylessness and despair. My energy is sapped away like some greedy sponge soaking up droplets of water in the desert.
As you can tell, I’m very familiar with depression. And, this time of the year I fight it every moment of every day. In fact, I haven’t posted a blog on this website since Thanksgiving. Why? I’ve been barely keeping my head above water! Sometimes, I feel like I’m just barely surviving. It seems I’ve been in survival mode far too long. But, it’s Christmas and I want to do more than just survive. I want to thrive!
For many of you suffering from depression, this is the hardest time of the year. So, I want to suggest something. Do more than just survive. Thrive! And here are some strategies I talk about in our book for helping you get through these tough times.
First, find a creative outlet. Wait, Bruce. I don’t have a creative bone in my body! If you have an imagination, you have creativity. Don’t sell yourself short. Got created us in His image and He is the Creator. For this Christmas season, try creating a gift for your loved ones. It may only be a cut and paste Christmas card or print out your favorite Bible verse and frame it. There are many outlets for creative endeavors. And, using the part of your brain that is creative counteracts the part of your brain that is wallowing in depression. For instance, this year I decided to do something very creative for my family. It has to do with music and writing and story and images. I can’t talk about it because they might read this! Once I’ve surprised them with it, I’ll tell you all about it! And guess what? After getting into this project the first of November, I discovered that creature, depression has stayed mostly in its cave.
Second, turn off the tech. This may sound somewhat contradictory at first. But, just because we are connected doesn’t mean we are communicating. Our technology has allowed us to be more connected than ever. But, in the process, it has left us more isolated than ever. So, turn off the tech and engage in the real world for a change. Go for a walk outside. Read a REAL book. Go to a Christmas concert or musical and listen to LIVE music! And, while you are at it, meet up with REAL people. Which leads me to number three.
Third, take those virtual relationships I talked about above and make them REAL relationships. Go to church and worship with others. Find a Bible study group and participate. Make an effort to repair those damaged relationships with those people you are dreading to meet at Christmas time. My wife has met many friends online playing bridge and she has turned many of those connections into real, lasting friendships. This past March, we traveled to New Zealand at the invitation of one of my wife’s friends and made friends with Alex and Grant for a lifetime.
These are just a few suggestions on taking those holiday blues and turning those frowns upside down into smiles.
And, for a moment, pause and remember that God, the Creator of our universe, made himself a tiny baby. That baby was born to a peasant woman in the tiny, obscure town of Bethlehem in the darkest time of mankind’s history. Reflect on the love God had for you! Christmas is for you! And me! And, all of us loved by God. That should make you smile! Have a Merry Christmas!!
Don’t forget to order your copies of the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel in time for Christmas delivery at 11thdemon.com. And if you are suffering from depression or know someone who is, check out conquering depression.com for information on ordering our newest book, “Hope Again: A 30 Day Play for Conquering Depression”.
I just returned from a six day trip to Walt Disney World. Every other December, I take my immediate family to Disney World in Florida. The trip is normally for me to attend an annual radiology educational meeting. This year, I chose to take to take my family for fun and joy. Going in December to Disney World is not for the faint of heart. It is one of the most crowded times of the year. This year was no exception.
There are some definite events we attend on these trips. We go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom. This event is a special ticketed night in the park. We also attend the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT. Sometimes, we attend the Holiday version of the Hoop De Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness. We also see the light show on New York Street at Disney Hollywood Studios and sadly, this will probably be the last year for that event.
As a Christian, Christmas is a very important event for me. It is a time to pause and celebrate the birth of the Savior, MY Savior. I usually begin my Christmas celebration on November 1st when I begin listening to my Christmas music. Each year, I collect new albums and recordings of Christmas music. I was so excited to listen to Z88.3 on the FM radio in Orlando. This year, this predominantly Christian music station chose to play Christmas music, both secular and Christian around the clock.
Unlike past years, I don’t sense a great war on Christmas this year. Merry Christmas is displayed in public places, stores, and in the park. The political correctness that threatened to remove the name of Christ from Christmas celebrations in the public sphere seems to have backed off a bit. However, I was disappointed at the changes in the ending of the Candlelight Processional with the removal of the powerful poem, “One Solitary Life”. And yet, I have to continue to be excited that the scriptures of the birth of Christ are read in their entirety during the wonderful musical presentation of the Candlelight Processional. The Gospel is still proclaimed loudly each year in the Disney parks through this event. This year, we once again had the opportunity to have Edward James Olmos as our narrator in a very moving and touching reading of the Nativity account from the Bible.
And, at the lights on New York Street, there is always the quiet corner where the Nativity is portrayed for all the world to see.
There are themes that resonate from the Gospel accounts. Peace. Joy. Goodwill to all Men. Kindness. Love. Amazement at the wonders of our universe when the star is seen in the night.
This year was no exception and I enjoyed a wonderful week with my family during this holiday season. No matter what your religious affiliation or lack of any commitment to the world of the supernatural, I don’t think any of us can disagree with the need for more Peace, Joy, and Goodwill to All Men. If you do not know the Savior, at least know these virtues transcend all worldview and we need more and more of those values in our daily lives.
May you find true Joy, Peace, and Hope again in this Christmas season.
Escape from the confusion of Black Friday. Go to 11thdemon.com and order any or all three of the books in the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel. I have a special sale on for the holiday.
Or if you are suffering from depression or know someone who is, order them a copy of “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression” along with a set of Life Filters at conqueringdepression.com.
Thanks to all of my readers for their support. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!
TIP #4: GET OUT THE SCALPEL, IT’S TIME TO EDIT!
I love to write. I love to just sit in front of a blank screen and bleed all over the page. There are snippets and gouges and puzzle piece bits of story saved all over my hard drives. Sometimes I see a file with an intriguing title and open it up to find a little nugget of gold I had forgotten I had written. More often than not, however, I open a file and find a little rat pill.
Not everything I write is worth saving. Not everything I write deserves your attention. Like excessive adverbs! I enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series but I don’t believe there is a single adverb in the English lexicon that J. K. Rowling failed to use in her book series. But, when you’ve sold billions of dollars worth of books, you can pretty much write anyway you want.