Giving Your Characters the Gift of Forgiveness

Christmas is the season of forgiveness, but I’m here to tell you it’s not easy. Take a look at any social media network and you’ll find groups of people who are offended by everything from skin color to use of a certain phrase. While I am first to preach tolerance, there are some things that seem pretty unforgivable!

For example, I am not sure I can forgive LeAnn Rimes for butchering one of my favorite songs. “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” was fine just the way it was. There was certainly no reason for her to add a country twang and double the pace.

Another example of something that seems unforgivable is when someone tells a lie that involves my kids. Treat me like crap if you must, but please do not drag my boys into it. They are not angels by any stretch, but they are my¬†angels and nobody’s going to lie about them.

And finally, let’s talk about pictures of me on social media. I’m not a huge fan. It’s taken me six years since first creating my Facebook account to be comfortable enough to post a selfie. When I find other people have posted them, I have a little meltdown bemoaning all my flaws to my husband, who patiently and lovingly suffers through it. Every. Single. Time. (Because after all, the photo on my book jacket will be much more flattering.)

Now that I’ve given some examples of seemingly unforgivable acts, look at them from the point of view of a character in a book.

  • A musician hears a remake of his song on the radio, and plots his revenge.
  • A neighbor lies about kids traipsing through her flower beds to hide the fact that a feral cat colony living in the crawlspace under her home is the real culprit.
  • A photographer posts a photo of a political figure online acting suspicious to social media and, as a result, winds up stalked by members of the mafia.

In each of the above situations, the character wields quite a bit of power. They can forgive or not, and that will weigh heavily on the outcome of your story. Just like whether or not I forgive people will affect the outcome of my story. I’m trying to come to terms with the second and third items on my list, but LeAnn Rimes will never hold a candle to Gayla Peevey when it comes to my favorite Christmas song!

Have you given your characters the chance to forgive anyone? Were any of their situations inspired by things in your life? Let’s chat about it in the comments section below!

7 Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

Christmas time’s a-coming! If there is a book lover on your list, then you might be wondering what to get them. Lucky for you–and anyone else in this predicament, book lovers are easy to please!

How could we not want to go above and beyond to reward book lovers for their happy-go-lucky nature when it comes to receiving presents? Here are some ideas for the book lover in your list:

  1. Bookmarks – It might seem like the obvious choice, but we book lovers can’t ever have too many bookmarks. I use mine in both books I’m reading, and notebooks I’m using to jot down ideas for my next writing project.
  2. Book Light – Show me a book lover, and I will show you someone who stayed up reading past their bedtime. Clip-on book lights allow reading in the darkest of conditions, whether you clip it onto your book or your glasses.
  3. Notebook – A book lover can use a notebook to write down thoughts about their favorite books. And a writer can never have too many notebooks–just sayin’!
  4. Book Art – Sites like Etsy and Uncommon Goods offer unique gifts, a lot of which are handmade by up and coming artists. You can tickle the book lover in your life while simultaneously supporting creative arts.
  5. Gift Cards – I have never known a book lover to turn down a gift card. In the past my family has given me cards for shopping at Amazon, coffee shops, and local bookstores, and I’ve enjoyed them all with equal enthusiasm.
  6. Travel Mug – It’s easy to get lost in a good book, but important to stay hydrated. A travel mug helps solve the problem and if it gets knocked over then the lid means the mug’s contents are less likely to spill on the pages.
  7. Warm Blanket – Last year my mother-in-law gave me a blanket for Christmas. It is not only dog-themed, but it is also made from the warmest fleece I have ever felt in my life. When I curl up on the couch to read on a chilly evening, you can bet I have my blanket with me.

And there you have it! It is no coincidence that writers are also book lovers. If you have a writer on your holiday shopping list, then many of these ideas would work for them as well.

Do you have a different idea not listed here? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

Why Fiction Writing Is like Therapy

Writing fiction is like therapy. I enter a virtual room (within my brain) where a group of people (my characters) sit in a circle and tell me their stories. Sometimes their stories intertwine, and sometimes their stories are standalone.

And sometimes, their stories imitate things from my life.

Let’s look at Maggie Sawyer, for example. Unlike me, she’s in her mid-30’s and single. Her high school boyfriend has just re-entered her life, but they’re not hooking up any time soon. Like me, Maggie has some issues, one of them being a parent with an explosive temper. (Boy do I know about that!)

When Art Imitates Life

It’s no secret that artists create things that imitate life, and nothing makes art more appealing than a little tragedy. When I write, I slip the dark things from my life into my fictional works. It helps me confront them in a creative way.

Slipping those negative emotions into my fictional work also helps me take control of the details of the situation behind them. Sometimes I come up with a different outcome. Maybe even a better outcome.

Accepting the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Everyone has creative talents and I’m blessed with more than a few. During my quilting phase, I made memorial photo quilts. When on my knitting kick, I whipped up scarves and hats for the local cold weather coalition. And during my pen and ink era, I sketched pets that had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.

Looking back, it’s easy to see how I’ve spent my entire life using art to get past the rough times in life. Depression and the holidays go hand in hand, and the ugly black claws are already threatening to sink in. If this happens to you, then please reach out and talk to someone.

For now writing is doing the trick for me. Whenever a dark memory threatens to drag me down, instead of wallowing in it, I’m pulling out my notebook and jotting down details. Making poor Maggie Sawyer suffer along with me in her own, fictional way really does help.

If you’re a writer, I’d love for you to chime in with your thoughts on this subject. And if you’re a reader, then let me know how you tackle the tough times, through the holidays or otherwise.

Happy Thanksgiving!