Category Archives: The Arts

God created us to reflect Him through the arts

Hate To Write Bios

 

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Today, I was tasked with writing two bio’s, a short one and a longer one for my publisher. Really short is not so hard because there’s so little you can say. You just write, “Dena Netherton used to sing and teach, but now she writes. Here’s what she writes…”

Bada bing, bada boom.

The slightly longer bio is harder. Because, if it were a really long bio I could write all sorts of boring stuff that you really don’t want to read, and it would be okay, ’cause it’s supposed to be long.

But @250 words is challenging. I can’t be boring, but I can’t do the Joe Friday style—”just the facts, Ma’am—” either.

Should I leave out all the usual stuff about being born and raised near San Francisco, where I studied (the Midwest), and where I’ve lived? (Just about everywhere in the continental US.)

The middle-sized bios I don’t like are this kind: “Jane lives in the country with two cats, three dogs, and a grumpy husband. But she loves coffee. Lots of it. In her free time she loves to go to yard sales.”

First of all, I don’t have a dog or a cat (please don’t come down on me; I love animals, particularly donkeys), and my husband is perfectly lovely. I’m not a particularly interesting person, either. On the plus side, I have musical talent, a high IQ, and I’m told my stories are pretty exciting. And I find everyone fascinating, so I’m good at listening.

On the negative? I’m short and looking older every time I pass the mirror. I love donuts, but I shouldn’t. Things stress me out because I’m a perfectionist. My memory isn’t as good as it was two decades ago.

Some weird things happened to me:

A police officer practically tackled me one dark night in San Francisco because he thought I was intending to bomb a high-ranking city official’s house.

I—a shy, Christian, non pot-smoking gal— road a hippy bus, packed with pot-smoking, skinny-dipping, free-lovin’ hippies cross country. Somewhere between Cheyenne and Lincoln, NE, I got to share my faith with a guy. I still wonder what happened to him.

I’ve been assaulted several times—never seriously, though—while traveling to some of my many musical gigs.

I tumbled down a dark flight of stairs, but some unseen force—obviously an angel— caught me and gently placed me in a seated position on the steps.

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Now that you know these weird facts, you’ll never have to read an entire long bio of Dena Netherton.

But I’m still trying to figure out how to be interesting at under 250 words.

 

 

What If?: Writing Suspense

I have an imagination that seems to be suited for suspense. Maybe it comes from being the youngest child in my family and having to sort out when my bigger siblings were joke-threatening, or when they really meant it.

Disclaimer: I love my brothers and sisters and our sibling disagreements never amounted to more than squabbles. Nothing serious.

For example, when I annoyed my older sister too much, she’d say, “You’re going to get it.”

And I’d say, “Yeah? Well, what are you gonna do to me?”

“Just wait and see.”

She’d make a sudden move toward me—which might start as a wrestle to the floor, followed by an awful tickling session—and I’d squeal and run away.

My older brother left me with worse angst. The kind that comes from not having things fully explained. For a child too young for much abstract thought, my brother’s stories about the horrors of getting a cavity and having a “giant drill” blasting away inside my mouth sent me running to my dad for confirmation. Naturally, I’d pictured the dentist wielding a jackhammer.

And then there was the other story he told me about giant ants who ate people. This was loosely based on a newspaper article about swarms of giant ants attacking villagers in the Amazon. But I didn’t know where the Amazon jungle was when I was five. And my brother didn’t bother to explain that “giant” might have been one inch long, not six feet long. He joked about the ants coming up from my grandmother’s kitchen cabinets to get us at night. I was really scared of cabinets for several years.

Like earlier generations of children fed a nightly story-time of Grimm’s fairy tales, I learned to fear the dark, and what’s around the corner or inside certain cabinets, and to wonder if that horse in the pasture down the road is really just a horse, or an enchanted prince.

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Suspense—whether I’m writing a scene or a chapter or an entire novel— is all about unanswered questions. Now that I’m not wondering about the tall tales my brothers and sisters told me, here are the suspenseful questions I mused about this week. (I particularly like number 5)

  1. Is that religious gal I met at the bookstore for real? What’s behind her smile? Am I a new friend to her, or a potential cult follower?
  2. Do I know my friends well enough to trust them with a secret that means life or death for me?
  3. What if I woke up to find my family has disappeared and everyone insisted I never had a family?
  4. What if my husband were a foreign agent and he only told me this on his deathbed? But he left me with a post office key.
  5. What if anyone you were touching could not die? What if the wrong sort of people found out about your gift? What if they kidnapped you?

 

Do you like to read suspense? Some people read for escape. Is that why you read? What did you wonder about this week?

 

 

 

Above My Pay-Grade

“I gotta tell you, I’m not techy.” Imagine me screaming these words and you get the picture…or the audio.

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My publisher wants me to build my newsletter list. Simple for her. Not so simple for me.

My stomach is in knots, my head hurts, and my eyes are starting to blur.

I’m getting used to an email distribution system. The system instructions say:

“Type the recipient name here.”

Okay, but what about all the other names?”

“Drag this block over here…or wherever you want it.”

But it won’t stay where I put it.

“Upload a photo.” Ugh, it’s too big. How do I resize it?

“You have some text that needs to be removed.”

I go to remove it. “Are you sure you want to delete this text?”

“Cause once you do it, you’ll never ever, ever, ever, ever get it back. So ARE YOU SURE?”

Okay, it’s my first newsletter, so I hope my recipients are going to be understanding, even though I probably put the wrong names at the top of the letter.

Forgive me. I’ll do better next time.

This experience reminds me to show people grace. Just as I would want others to overlook my mistakes and perhaps give me an encouraging word. I’m trying to improve, and I’ll bet you are, too.

It’s good to learn new things. It teaches us humility!

 

 

 

We Love Our Readers Sweepstakes

 

FRONT Havens Flight

Hello Readers!

Several of the authors of Write Integrity Press (me included) are giving one lucky entry of the We Love Our Readers Sweepstakes a free Kindle or a 100 dollar Amazon Gift Card.

The Sweepstakes runs now through September 28th.

To enter, here’s the link:

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Good luck!

 

 

 

 

Wilderness and Writers

 

Last weekend Bruce and I decided to revisit some of our favorite scenic spots on Washington’s Highway 20. The clouds and rain have still not gone to bed for the night, but given the amount of rain the Pacific Northwest has gotten this year, I hoped to see waterfalls.

I was not disappointed.

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Close to the town of Marblemount, we passed more:

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After Newhalem, I photographed about six more, but you get the idea.

What is it about waterfalls that make our hearts beat faster, in awe? Is it merely  the water? Or is it the distance that it falls? The “shhhhh” sound as it tumbles and whash-boards over the layers of rocks? Or the white spread and spray, resembling a bride’s veil and train?

We continued on Highway 20 until we met the road closure, turned around and parked at the top of Diablo Lake. When the sky is blue, the lake resembles Canada’s Lake Louise, with its turquoise water, hedged by giant, snow-capped peaks.

But today, the clouds, fog, and wind stirred up gun-metal gray waters.

There were only two cars in the vast parking lot: ours and a woman accompanied by her little boy, who complained about the cold while the mother insisted he “at least take a look” at the lake.

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There’s a kind of visual that inspires the writer in me. It’s the one where the sky is as gray as the mountains, un-mirrored in the lake they overshadow. The clouds twist and swirl, and hover over the mountain peaks as if God had settled there, waiting to speak with Moses, His prophet.

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They say that stories are largely inspired by social interaction, where conversations and situations create a personal challenge in the protagonist, giving rise to an interesting story concept. Perhaps that’s why so many writers love to hang out in coffee houses, watching and listening.

But I think viewing God’s dazzling creation, His mountains, lakes, and waterfalls, is another kind of stimulant. A trip into the wilderness sends a message to the mind: Here’s your backdrop, here’s your setting. Now go and search your memory to find the right characters to populate this stage.

Tell me, what scenes prod your creativity?

 

A Bit Of Respite

I took a breather yesterday from all this marketing stuff about my new book, Haven’s Flight, which launched on April 4th on Amazon.

Being a newbie to the business of publishing novels, I had no idea how many promotional things I’d be asked to do.

Not that it wasn’t all fun things. But it was a lot to do.

For example, last Friday, March 31, I did an interview for Suspense Sisters blog about  Haven’s Flight. If you’re curious you can see that  here.

And then, just this past Tuesday, April 4th, I did an hour-long radio interview for BlogTalkRadio. Marji Laine Clubine hosted the show, and she’s just delightful. Listen to it by clicking here.

So, as I said, I took a breather from marketing activities and drove down to the pier to walk and soak (literally soak, since it was raining and raining) up the flavor of the sea and the culture of marine industry yards away from my feet.

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My boots started getting saturated, so I dipped into my favorite Woods Coffee, which is perched right above the water and spend a couple of hours writing on my newest suspense/thriller.

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This next book, the sequel to Haven’s Flight, takes place right here, even though I don’t call the town by its actual name. The sea, the town, and the mountains surrounding the town are the perfect place for my next story to take place. I hope you agree. The book will come out in the fall, and I’ll be letting you know more about it when as the date for its release approaches.

Marji Clubine mentioned that she had traveled to the Northwest and thought it was beautiful, but she could never live here. Too many trees.

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How could there ever be too many trees?

But she loves the wide open spaces of Texas. I’ve been there, and I can say it is beautiful, too, in a different way.

I’ve gotten a couple of lovely reviews already for Haven’s Flight. If you’re curious, hop on over to my “published book” page for a quick read.

I’ve got my launch party coming up this Sunday, April 9th at the Fairhaven Public Library. It’s at 2:15. I’ll be signing books. Goodies will be present, too!

I’ll be sharing photos from that event later next week.

Gosh, I really appreciate my readers. Thank you all so much!

 

Yippee! My Book

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I just got my book in the mail!

Wow, what a feeling. To see my words transformed from a manuscript on my computer to an actual physical book.

I did not begin writing with a dream to make myself famous or to make money. Ha, ha! My goal was to make a story— which had been percolating in my mind for decades—take shape as words, and eventually, pages. And I hoped someone would read it and take something of value from the story.

Haven’s Flight began with an image that popped into my head when I was just a teen. An image that wouldn’t leave my head until I sketched it on a sheet of artist paper.

I had no concept yet, just the suspenseful drawing of a young woman standing alone in a snowy field, surrounded by dark forest, looking nervously over her shoulder.

Some of my readers have found similarities between my protagonist, Haven, and me, the author. That wasn’t my intent. But authors imbue their characters with things they feel and know, and have experienced. I knew Haven would have to be a musician because that’s what I have known intimately for nearly fifty years.

I also knew she had to have her adventure in the wet, rugged, and mysterious Cascade Mountains.

The book I’m confident you’re soon going to order from Amazon wasn’t even on my mental back-burner originally. (By the way, Haven’s Flight is discounted by forty percent if you order it before April 4th.) Book 2, coming out in the fall was the original story. But when I started to write it, I realized that story needed to begin with another story.

Haven’s Flight is a redemptive story about a young woman who has lost her faith, but comes to realize, after facing extreme danger and adventure in the Cascade Mountains, that God never leaves us or forsakes us. Don’t expect this Christian novel to be all sweetness and light. After all, Haven spends half the book hiding from a crazy guy!

I hope you love it.