Dreaming Up Books

Authors get ideas for their books in all kinds of ways. I myself get story ideas from a lovely combo of imagination, life experiences, personal convictions and passion, and, yep–sometimes my story ideas come from dreams.

I don’t just mean dreams as in wishes or aspirations, but the actual dreams I have when I go to sleep. Sometimes they’re nighttime mini-sagas that I find so entertaining or moving, I have to write ’em out!

Come to Yourself, Mr. Jones is heavily based on one such saga where the leading man was originally a music artist, movie star, and professional athlete all rolled into one. It made natural sense in the dream, but I had to iron it out in my mind once I decided to develop the dream into something readable for the public.

So, then. What’s the hero’s career in the story I wrote? I know what it is, and readers may or may not piece it together. But I purposely left it a little ambiguous because the hero’s career is rather beside the point. It’s his status, not his specific job, that matters to the plot. Besides, sometimes it’s fun to leave things up to a little interpretation.

Eminence is based on one of my dreams set in historical Japan, somewhere between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. There are things I’ve found fascinating about samurai culture over the years, but when I decided to develop my samurai era mini-saga for readers, I didn’t want to tie down or confine its themes about personal identity and the value of humanity to a particular culture.

So, I worked the dreams’ themes and its major scenes into an unidentified (made-up) country with fictional customs during an unspecified historical era, with characters of no specified race(s). I even took the characters’ names from a hodgepodge of origins and incorporated a few different languages into the dialogue and narration, to keep the basis diverse. (Albeit I bent some language rules here and there, since the characters’ language is also unspecified.) It’s humanity, period, not certain races or nationalities, that Eminence means to represent.

And then there’s Love Unfeigned. I gathered key scenes from about twelve dreams and wove them together for this one, with pieces of my own life sprinkled in. Yeah, I know such a mishmash could have the potential to turn into a disjointed mess, but even I marveled at the way the scenes began flowing together, once I realized who the heroine, hero, and villain would be.

It’s like characters lead the way in these matters at times. “You–with the pen. Here’s what we’re gonna do, here. Write it down for us.”

I’ve got several more mini-sagas and saga scenes stashed away that I’ve not developed into publishable material. I keep ’em around just in case a writing project arises to which I can say, “Hey! I’ve got just the dream for that!”

Think about it. Has anything awesome ever come out of one of your dreams?

“Your Lifework Doesn’t Matter.” Really?

Life's Work

My point, right out the gate: I’d advise against being quick to call what other people do with their lives–their art or vocation–unimportant just because their work may be (or seem) unimportant to you.

My reason for posting this point at this particular time: while waiting in anticipation for the NFL Super Bowl, I heard someone enter a Super Bowl discussion and dismiss the biggest event in professional American football as something that didn’t matter, before the person went on to change the subject.

Oh, it wasn’t the first time I heard someone indicate that competitive sports, particularly of the professional variety, don’t matter. After all, games like football and all the rest are just that: mere games, right? Mere entertainment. And games aren’t important like ending wars and addressing famine and finding cures for diseases and…

sportsBut, may I ask, just how long have human beings been playing games? Why isn’t game playing just a passing fad instead of an enduring part of the human experience, century after century? Why do thousands and thousands of people from all over the globe gather to play games with each other every four years at the Olympics, while millions and millions of other people watch? Why do men and women dedicate their hearts, minds, bodies, years, their lives to the lifework of athletics and competition, both amateur and professional, giving us tangible pictures of strength, skill, agility, strategy, endurance, perseverance, passion, cooperation? Why, year after year, do people tune in to certain channels on certain days; spend their hard-earned finances; flock to particular parks, fields, rinks, arenas, and stadiums; round up their friends and families or gather with complete strangers at appointed times to witness athletic competition? For “mere” entertainment?

I daresay that the athletic experience, whether on the side of the athletes or the spectators, meets a human need, as, critical as they are, peace from wars and cures for diseases aren’t the only needs humans have. (Of course, many amateurs and professionals also use their platforms as athletes to advance all manner of other worthy causes, which would take another blog post to get into.) Sports might not be the “thing” that meets an intrinsic need in you personally, that gives you an experience worth savoring and remembering and that teaches you something about the rest of life (as sports do for countless people.) Books might be your thing instead. Drawing or painting might be your thing. The ballet might be your thing.

balletBut a novelist can’t look at an athlete and say, “Your lifework doesn’t matter,” as much of what novelists do through books, athletes do through sports. A dancer can’t look at a painter and say, “Your lifework doesn’t matter,” as much of what dancers do through dance, painters do through artwork. Filmmakers, comedians, musicians and composers, stage actors and playwrights, acrobats and circus performers, parents who amuse their infants and toddlers through Pat-a-Cake and Peekaboo and an untold number of impromptu games that have no name–I could go on to list how all kinds of people who provide others with entertainment are meeting a human need by doing so.

Hey. Even bloggers meet needs through writing interesting blogs.

So. Back to my point. I’d advise against being quick to call what other people do with their lives–their art or vocation–unimportant just because their work may be (or seem) unimportant to you. Chances are, the people you dismiss may be doing more for the world than you think they are.

 

Walk to Beautiful by Jimmy Wayne

Memoir Books 3

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Four Silver Stars

Walk to BeautifulWalk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way by Jimmy Wayne with Ken Abraham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

When, Jimmy?… When will you do anything to help someone other than yourself?

If it takes nothing else, it takes courage to write something like Walk to Beautiful, country music star Jimmy Wayne’s personal account of childhood hunger and homelessness, abuse and neglect, his experiences in foster care, and his (oftentimes humbling) rise in the music industry.

I couldn’t read Wayne’s story without reacting physically at times, whether that was gasping, cringing, laughing, or blinking back a few tears. “The Crazy Years” of Wayne’s childhood are just that, with enough tumult to make the reader’s noggin spin, and conversely, the compassion Wayne runs into in “Saved by Love” is a relief to come across. I take it I’m not familiar enough with country music, its artists and songs, for most of the names and titles peppered through Wayne’s career accounts to have made much difference to me, but the highlighted events kept me reading.

What I find most compelling is how the author comes to himself, that he evidently doesn’t want to be famous just for the sake of being famous, but he uses his platform to further a cause his life has made him genuinely passionate about. Here’s an engaging memoir, a call to action, and an inspiring read.

 

The Desire by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley

fiction-books-2

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Revell provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Four Silver Stars

The DesireThe Desire by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

They held hands and prayed, acknowledging how big this thing was…
When they were done, she looked up at Jean and felt something else inside.
Hope.

A sweet novel, The Desire is. I hope that isn’t an inappropriate or insulting way to describe a book written by two men, but it is indeed a sweet story. While the characters, particularly Michele, Allan, and Christina, face some tough and complicated situations–unplanned pregnancy, infertility, marital challenges, meeting impoverished orphans–authors Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley deal with these situations with a certain simplicity and grace that eased me right through the novel.

The story takes its time to unfold in what I’d call a Coffee & Cream fashion: you’re not going to rush through what’s happening in this novel, but you’re going to sit down with these characters over coffee and cream and hear them out about what they’re thinking and feeling. The approach felt a bit redundant at points, as though the story wasn’t going to move on to what would come next until each character got to stop, think, and feel about what came before, if I’m saying that right, but overall, the pace of the novel was relaxing, without plodding.

There were quite a bit of tears, especially from the female characters. I think that too many tears in a story weaken their effect, though I can’t say that, considering the characters’ sensitive circumstances, the crying was out of place.

The Desire has the essence of a New Christian’s Faith and Living Handbook, with scriptures and the characters’ reflections on and growth through them, particularly Michele’s. I’ve come away with my own little boost of faith after reading this novel–nothing fancy, but a reminder that while you trust God when things happen that you don’t like, remember that things you do like can still happen, too.

_______________________

While The Desire can be read as a standalone novel, it’s the third book in The Restoration Series. Here’s my review of The Legacy.

The Dance (The Restoration Series, #1)The Promise (The Restoration Series, #2)The Legacy (The Restoration Series, #4)