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Seekerville: The Journey Continues

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Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction
with Beth Erin

Have you ever wanted to incorporate an unusual experience from your life into a story yet hesitated? As you read the following excerpt, I’d like to encourage you to be brave and honestly ask yourself, “Is my experience more unbelievable than facing off with a fearless hitchhiking mouse???” Read on then see what this author has to say about her experience…


excerpt...

Something tickled against Julia’s leg as she drove. She looked down but didn’t see anything. The cloth of her slacks must have shifted against her skin.

“What sort of house are you looking for?”

“Well, something with character and close to town.”

The tickle happened again. She shook her leg as Henry continued to talk. The tickle moved up to her knee. She glanced down, and her breath congealed into an unlocked scream in her throat.

On her knee, looking around as if it was the most normal thing to do, sat a tiny, brown field mouse.

“I’ve always loved the rock homes, or even barns people have refurbished to maintain the general appeal of Derbyshire’s countryside and architecture.”

Oh no! Henry! She had to keep him from knowing the mouse was in the car with them. After all, she’d promised to protect him. She focused her gaze forward and pushed words from her throat. “Rock houses? And…um…what do you mean exactly?”

He paused and examined her with those marble-like eyes. She forced a smile to encourage him, and with another hitch in the silence, he began explaining the beauty of the gray fieldstone homes sprinkled through the lush green hillsides the mouse moved an inch or two up her thigh. She held in a squeak but couldn’t keep her leg from jerking. Somehow, the little mouse completed a ninja move from the door handle to the edge of the dashboard nearest her window.

Stranger Than Fiction
And there it sat, staring at her with its round, black eyes, whiskers twitching as if it knew exactly who to visit next. Her stomach tensed. Her body froze. How could something so small be so unnerving?

Henry continued to talk, thankfully oblivious to the entire situation, but Julia quickly took inventory of the road ahead. One the right, the road dipped into a deep ditch. On the left, there was oncoming traffic.

Three cars.

When was there ever so much traffic on this isolated country road?

She gritted her teeth together.

When there was a mouse loose in her van and a mouse-phobic hero trapped inside, that’s when.

She examined the passing landscape. They weren’t going super fast, so maybe if she rolled down her window, she could just flick the mouse out.

Henry’s words came to a stop. She hadn’t heard one of them, but she conjured up another distracting question.

“How soon do you hope to buy a house of your own?”

He studied her again. “Like I said, as soon as possible. I’ve been saving a long time and had some solid success with my last few projects.”

“Oh, how wonderful. Which movies have been your favorite to write the music for?”

His wonderful voice filled the space again, and Julia reached over to roll down the window. Only an inch at first. The mouse didn’t move, just kept plotting.

Another inch.

His whiskers twitched.

Another car passed them on the left.

Another inch. Julia released her hold on the window button and began a stealthy ascent toward the furry rodent, but as the wind fluffed the back of the mouse’s fur, it took off…across the dashboard, stopping directly in front of Henry.

“There’s something about creating the unexpected and having others appreciate it that’s reward—”

Stranger Than Fiction
Yep. Henry saw the mouse. There was this moment of a stare-down between man and beast…well, not really. Could a little field mouse be referred to as a beast? From the expression on Henry’s face, maybe.

Julia tried to keep her gaze ahead and somehow prepare to vault in front of Henry should the little rodent decide to leap. She slowed her speed.

“In thirty seconds, I can pull over,” she whispered.

“It’s staring at me.” His voice rasped the words, his face frozen forward.

“I’ve never heard of anyone dying from a mouse attack. I promise. Twenty seconds and we’ll pull over.”

He’d gripped the armrests so hard his knuckles turned white. “I may have a heart attack in ten, because my pulse is playing a hard and fast drumroll in my ears.”

Julia accelerated. “Ten seconds.”

(shared with permission from When You Look at Me by Pepper Basham) 

author's note...

"I’d love to say this scene was fictional because the memory still causes an uncomfortable chill to move up my leg…a memory chill, I guess, but it wasn't. Thankfully, I was alone in my minivan on my way to work, but the entire scene played out pretty much like poor Julia sees it. And, of course, I’d was driving on the ONE STRETCH of country highway where I couldn’t pull over.

Needless to say, when I finally made it to work, I was still shaking…mostly with laughter, but shaking nonetheless.

What happened to the mouse? Well, you’ll have to read the rest of the scene to find out. Needless to say, the whole purse whomping incident was not exaggerated…and I’m sure there were some worried passersby who witnessed my madness too!" - Pepper Basham

further encouragement...

Just in case y'all might still be feeling a bit apprehensive about sharing your own experiences, you don't have to rely on only one example… I’ve collected several for your consideration!

“When the peacocks go on the attack in one of my books....yep, that happened to me at the zoo. Who would have thought..." (In Good Company) - Jen Turano

“A late-night skinny-dipping adventure off the coast of Akumal, Mexico, which turned into an unsettling experience when some guy walking along the beach spotted our swimsuits ... & sat down to wait until we came out, became an even more intense scene in my third novel, Altared." - Sharyn Kopf

“The family story that my grandfather ignored the rattlesnake under the table until he finished his fried chicken! Totally retold it in Still Waters!” - Lindsey P. Brackett

Stranger Than Fiction
“When my dad was in the army his troop was under attack so he and his friends jumped out a second-story window, landed and ran to safety. My dad landed on his feet (which is horrible for your body) and ended up with knees swelling to the size of volleyballs and damage there for the rest of his life. I gave the hero of my debut novel the same injury/cause.” - Jessica Keller

“In my first novel, Like There's No Tomorrow, with Ian the Scot and Emily the American... the part when Ian was nudged to pray for the person he hated, and how, after doing it and begrudgingly at first, over time, he felt a release from the hate and felt only compassion for the person. Based on a real-life experience of mine.” - Camille Eide

“This happened to me, and I wrote it into one of my contemporary novels.

I drove up to the drive-through window at the bank, removed the canister, put my transaction inside, and returned the canister to the Pneumatic Tube...then sat back and waited for the inside teller to greet me. She did not. In the meantime, cars on either side of me kept moving, which I thought was highly unfair. A couple cars pulled up behind me, and the third car back even honked, trying to “wake up” the teller I presumed. The longer I waited, the more impatient I grew. I even glanced back at one point and threw up my arms at the guy behind me. The grumpy driver did not respond.

After another minute or two, the speaker crackled and the teller said, “Are you just about done out there?” What? I imagine I gave her a dumb look, and that’s when it dawned on me! I had not hit the ‘send’ button. My canister had not even moved! Quick as a fly, I hit the button, shrunk down in my seat, and waited another minute. When the canister came back, I didn’t even bother to count the money. I just skedaddled out of the bank parking lot, hitting a curb on my way to the road. Halfway home, I glanced at the seat next to me. There was the canister!!! That poor, poor man who had been waiting behind me - not to mention the other customers!” - Sharlene Baker MacLaren


Whether your experience is hilarious or miraculous, scenes inspired by your life season stories with something precious and unique, YOU! Stranger than fiction moments are also a great opportunity to connect with your readers by sharing the real story in an author note or your newsletter or on social media! Embrace the outrageous story fodder God has blessed you with, writer friends! 



Have you used (or are you considering using) real-life stranger than fiction experiences in your stories? We'd love to hear them and your thoughts on the topic!


Stranger Than Fiction
Beth Erin is a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and blogger. She strives to edify and connect with readers and authors at Faithfully Bookish and on social media. 


Beth also contributes to the Seekerville, Hoarding Books, and Diversity Between the Pages blogs. She is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories.

You are a Salty Bunch


You are a Salty Bunch

“You are the salt of the earth…” (Matthew 5:13) 

You are a Salty BunchHello friends! Annie here! I am beyond humbled and ecstatic to be here chatting with y’all. Let me introduce myself a bit for those that don’t know me. I’m Annie and I love to read. Surprising, isn’t it?! Yes, I also have a tinge of dry sarcasm that doesn’t always translate well. Nevertheless, I love to share my thoughts, especially when it comes to books. I have two very adorable (and mischievous) puppies, Gabby and Reagan. They haven’t understood the meaning of quality reading time for mommy yet. We’re getting there.   Many of you will know me as Just Commonly, which is the name of my blog, and along with fellow Seeker, Carrie and avid reader, Bonnie Roof, we are also the founders for Christian Fiction Readers Retreat (CFRR). The ultimate question: why do I love Christian Fiction so much?  Now begins the story. . .

Many people will have at least one year they can't let go, an unforgettable year, and a year that changed something in them.  That year for me was 2013.

When the double pink line appeared, a smile crossed my face. Our first pregnancy. Elation soon turned to worry as my Darcy was told to keep an eye on me.  Nevertheless, we continued on our days and doctor visits. On our ride to every visit, Plumb's Need You Now played on the radio, despite different days and times of the day. A song that to this day comforts me. Then one day, excruciating pain incapacitated me. I woke up to my front door kicked open by my Darcy trying to get to me, and a trip to the hospital. No one told me anything for what seemed like forever, and finally a familiar face, my doctor, came and told us the news. I had what they called an ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy outside the uterus in layman terms. At 12 weeks, I was in serious danger, and my "baby" would not survive.  On May 13, 2013, I was no longer pregnant. I was in a daze for weeks to come, yet on every follow-up visit to the doctor's office, another song played on the radio. Blessings by Laura Story. Nothing is a coincidence. Those songs prepared me and reminded me even when I didn't notice at first, that our God is our Father, and He's comforting me. Some may have already heard this story in one of my earlier posts, "God of Coincidenceson my blog. And you may ask, "What does this have to do with Christian fiction?" Well, you see, the songs prepared me and comforted me at a crucial moment of emotional and physical pain. Yet, it was Christian fiction that healed me. Or at least it was what God used.

You are a Salty BunchJust as God inspired and used musicians like Plumb and Laura Story in their music and lyrics, God also inspired and gifted authors the words to their stories. It was these stories that mended the brokenness I felt since. My first encounter with Christian fiction was in that very year, and that's because I used books to escape. Unbeknownst to me, the books with the pretty covers and the historical settings gave me more than a story.  What I thought was an escape, had become the soothing balm to my soul. Physical pain may have dissipated, but the emotional trauma wasn't so easy to forget. I thought hiding behind history and make-believe would never remind me of the loss and inadequacy I felt. God had other plans. He used stories that had nothing to do with me to connect with me. 

You are a Salty Bunch
God called us to be "salt of the earth" and "light of the world." I've heard many say that it applies only to missionaries, but aren't we all missionaries in our own ways?  My author friends, your stories give readers flavors, widespread and essential. When you follow God's heed in your writing, each word, each story, and each novel are granules of salt, scattered, waiting to be tasted.  Now it's up to readers to taste and experience. And don't worry about the negative reviews. The message doesn't always hit us at the same time, and even when it's already tasted, it may not be fully understood until the time is right. You've salted and now it's up to God on when and to whom He plans on letting the flavor of that granule of salt explode. As always, God's timing is perfect.

Personally, I think Christian fiction kind of sneaks up on you.  Just like a kind word, you'll never know when someone will need it. Its many flavors rival the flavors of the world, and there’s always one or more that fills your hunger just at the right moment. As authors, your flavors have the potential to reach masses, so be "the salt of the earth" and continue to implode flavors on us readers, either openly or stealthily.

I guess in short, I love Christian fiction because it's personal, and the experience may not be the same for another. To end, I want to thank every one of you - authors, for your stories and readers, for your support and sharing of these stories. 

Giveaway

I'm gifting an author (from published or on non-published island) their choice of either ebook or print of one of the Writer's Guide Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (open internationally as long as Amazon or Book Depository will send it your way). And 1 reader will win a surprise pack of books that I hope will flavor your life (US mailing addresses only).  Just leave a comment to enter for a chance to win (and let us know if you want to win the author or reader giveaway). 

 Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Your Story Matters (Or... What a Reader Wants You to Know)


Your Story Matters (Or... What a Reader Wants You to Know)

Hi, dear Villagers! *waves*

Let me take a brief moment to introduce myself. I'm Carrie, aka MeezCarrie, of ReadingIsMySuperPower. And I LOVE STORY!! I love short stories. I love epic stories. I love in between sized stories. I love contemporary stories. Historical stories. Mystery stories. Amish stories. Even some speculative and YA stories.

But most of all? I love THE Story. The one that starts with the ultimate 'once upon a time' - "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1) - and ends with the best 'happily ever after' ever (Revelation 21:4)

Because we are all part of that Story.

Yes, we all have a story in progress that is our own life. But everyone we meet does, too. And all those stories-in-progress are part of the Big Story that God is telling. Let me tell you - that is SO exciting to me!

I'm one of the new Seekerville bloggers, but I'm not seeking publication. I'm content to read other people's stories and talk (incessantly) about them. But that up there? What I just said about being part of God's Story?

That means I'm sorta like all the rest of y'all.

In a small way.

Ok.. not at all the same.

BUT... I am part of the greatest Story in the world. And so are you. That's pretty stinkin' incredible. The Author and Finisher of my Faith is telling a Story about me and about you. And He has promised to keep writing it until it's completed - not when I die or when you die, but until the day Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)

Back in November, I had the pinch-me privilege of speaking with Cynthia Ruchti at the Art of Writing Conference just ahead of the 2017 Christy Awards gala. We talked about the darts of author discouragement and how to dodge them. After our session, a woman came up to me in tears. She whispered, "I didn't know anybody else knew how I feel." And then we both were in tears lol!

Author friends - can I encourage you a moment? You're not alone. Writing may be a solitary career but the discouragements are consistent. Fear of rejection. The reality of rejection. Fear of the  possibility of a bad review. The depths of despair over an actual bad review. Your family doesn't take you seriously. Your friends don't take you seriously. It doesn't pay the bills. It barely pays for coffee.

Oh... wait... I was supposed to be encouraging you. LOL.

I really was headed here, I promise.

You're not alone. And you're not left defenseless.

God has given you each other, and He has given you His Word. Community and grace wrapped up in a safe place like Seekerville.

You want to know another secret? YOUR STORY MATTERS.

Yep. I went there: all caps.

Because it's so incredibly true and so incredibly important to understand.

The story you're writing matters.

That story you've agonized over. The one that's kept you up all hours of the night. The one that may or may not currently be taunting you with a blinking cursor of 'I got nothing'. It matters. Even if no one else ever reads it. Even if no agent or publishing house wants it. Even if your beta readers and editors send it back with more tracked changes than you had words to start with.

Your story matters. Believe it. And believe in it.

But you know what? The story that God is writing in you and through you matters most of all. He is making you more like Jesus every day. He knew you before He formed you in your mother's womb, and He had already had plans for your life. (Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1) He created you as a writer before you even had fully developed hands to hold a pen or tap away on a keyboard. Even better - He knew your role in His Story before you ever made your grand arrival on planet Earth. And that story matters on a scale we can't even begin to imagine.

Maybe you're like me and the only thing you write is a blog post... or a grocery list. Your story matters too. God placed you in His Story at just the right time and in just the right place so that you would come to know Him (Acts 17). He pursued you with an everlasting love and has engraved you on the palm of His hand. (Jeremiah 31, Isaiah 49). Think about that for a second - you matter so much to the God of the Universe that those nail-scarred Hands have your name on them.

Your story matters. Believe it. And believe in it.

I know good stories. I'm surrounded by them, à la the Dr. Seuss method of decorating. All the crannies, all the nooks, etc. This Big Story that God is telling is a good story. It's the best story. It's the standard by which all other stories are measured (whether they realize it or not). It's also a true story. This fairy-tale to beat all fairy-tales - a prince on a white horse come to vanquish the enemy and rescue his bride - that's OUR story (Revelation 19).

So when you're tempted to throw in the towel and give up on your story - the one you're writing or the one you're living - remember this:

Your story matters. Believe it. And believe in it.

Leave a comment and let me know your favorite Bible verse for when discouragement hits! I'll toss your name in the proverbial hat (US only) for a chance to win this cute mug that reminds us that God isn't a pantser in this story He's telling. He's got a plan, and He's sticking to it! Check back Saturday for the Weekend Edition to see if you're the winner! (If for some reason the item is no longer available on Etsy when the winner's name is drawn, a comparable substitute will be made with winner's approval.)


Your Story Matters (Or... What a Reader Wants You to Know)
Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot She can be found lurking at various blogs and websites (because she can't stop talking about books) but her main home is the blog she started in 2015 - ReadingIsMySuperPower.org. You can also connect with Carrie on Facebook and everywhere else social at @meezcarrie.




Stranger Than FictionYou are a Salty BunchYour Story Matters (Or... What a Reader Wants You to Know)

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