Forgiveness: Letting Go of the Past

Forgiveness: Letting Go of the Past

  I heard a sermon on Sunday about forgiveness and only gave it half a listen. I had forgiven everyone who had ever wronged me. When I became a Christian at 17, I learned how important it was to forgive people quickly for a deep spiritual life. I didn’t think I was harboring a grudge or hanging on to past hurts and injustices. I’d forgiven all those who had wronged me long ago — hadn’t I? Then why couldn’t I shake the feeling that there were deep roots of bitterness in my heart? I wrote down all the things that I could think of that were long-standing wounds and scars. I went through the obvious: my divorce, the countless rejections of my creative work, the demise of important relationships, the injustice of hateful people succeeding, and the betrayal of friends. I’m a sensitive person and I had felt these wounds intently. Why was I even bringing up these old wounds? What purpose would it serve to pick at a scab or scar from long ago and recall the hurt? I went down my list and examined them. I was pleased to find that most were healed, the pain was gone and they held no sway on my life. But, a few–yes, a few– were angry, infected spots on my soul. They had remained after years of glossing over them with inadequate prayers (“please forgive X for being cruel to me” or “I forgive Y even though they ruined my life”). They had become taproots that went deep. There was no truth in my forgiveness; there was no love. My prayers meant...
Where Do Ideas Come From? (2/2)

Where Do Ideas Come From? (2/2)

I was asked where I get the ideas for my novels, which made me have to think about this part of the creative process. In this second installment of my two-part blog on Where Do Ideas Come From? I realized that the ideas come from just about everywhere. Most ideas come from just living my life, but some ideas come to me in unexpected ways. It can come from a conversation I overhear at a restaurant or when I’m standing in line at the post office. It can come from a quirky news story I read online or a throwaway blurb in a newspaper. It can be a story from my own life married to someone else’s story—a union of ideas. For instance, for my new book, Superstition Murder Club (available October, 2015), the idea came from my daily water aerobics class. Every weekday morning I meet with a group of ladies who are dedicated to keeping in shape, flexible and mentally alert through this activity. Although these ladies are much older than I am, they are just like me in so many ways–funny, observant, irreverent, intelligent, and wonderfully committed to a zest for life through friendship. Their dedication to this elixir of life gave me the idea of what would they do if they couldn’t do their daily exercises–say a murder occurred and a body is left in the pool, making it a crime scene and off-limits! DING! IDEA! My dirty little secret is that not every idea I have becomes a book. I have many, many half-baked ideas, half-written novels, failed opening chapters, and pages of dialog...
From Little Faith Comes Big Results

From Little Faith Comes Big Results

  When I was five, my mother gave me a necklace for my birthday. It was a round, clear acrylic ball that contained a single mustard seed suspended in its center. It hung on a thick silver chain. I wore it often throughout my childhood. When my mother gave me the necklace, she told me the parable of the mustard seed and that it meant that God would honor even the smallest faith. From that small seed, He could make a great tree grow. I loved that necklace. When I was afraid or low, I’d pop the ball in my mouth, roll it around my tongue, and dream that a giant tree of faith would grow, if I only believed. I would stare at the tiny seed in the center and marvel that something so small could become a great tree. When I was in my twenties, I lived by faith alone. It was an exciting life, and I never went without. I didn’t have “things,” but I had joy, peace, and anything that I needed. But as time went by, it got harder and harder to live that way. I put my faith in “things” and I acquired things, but I lost my joy, peace and what I really needed–a walk with God. Later, in my forties, acquiring “things” didn’t mean that much to me. Maybe because I had acquired all that I needed. Instead, I longed for joy, peace, and the love of God. Too bad it took me so long to figure out what I already knew at 20. I had no idea how to live...
Where Do Ideas Come From? (1/2)

Where Do Ideas Come From? (1/2)

Today I was asked where I come up with the ideas for my books. The answer did not come right away. I had to think about it. Where did my ideas come from? They’re in my head, swirling, twirling, dancing around until I lasso them and turn them into words. How did they become a part of me? How’d they get inside my head? I am a receptacle for the stories I hear every day. Everyone I meet has a story to tell. No one has lived the same life. Some stories are jaw-dropping like working undercover, others are as mundane as making egg-in-toast. The key is that I listen when people share their stories—actually listen—and then I ask questions. I can’t get enough of the details. When did this happen? How did you do it? Where did this happen? Who was with you? How hard was that for you? How did it begin? How did it end? If they are willing to tell me and don’t say ‘mind your own business’, I learn all kinds of things I never knew. Their story becomes a part of my extensive cerebral library. When I’m hunting for a new idea, I venture into that labyrinth and pull something out through the filter of my existence. It changes in the process and becomes something all my own.   Kaine Thompson is an author, editor, speaker, and book coach. She holds a Master’s degree in writing and serves as faculty at the University of Phoenix where she teaches writing and communication.  E-maginative Writing provides editorial services and private coaching for individuals, authors and entrepreneurs who want...
Writing All By Yourself

Writing All By Yourself

Writing is a lonely occupation, but if you’re a writer there is nothing more rewarding than sitting with your own thoughts and creating something out of nothing with the power of your words. It’s just you, your thoughts, and your implement of choice for capturing your words. No one can write for you. You have to write all by yourself. You may have taken courses, gone to conferences, learned from the best, but still—when you sit down to compose your thoughts, write your story, or tap into your creativity—you are alone. When I was a reporter, I had to write while surrounded by people. The newsroom was a noisy place—people shouting, laughing, talking about what they were working on and an editor shouting at someone about something they wrote. I had to produce three stories a day, including develop the story, interview people, check my facts and race back to the newsroom to file the stories before a 5 o’clock deadline. I became very fast at writing accurately and succinctly. Even though I had people around me, I learned how to block out the noise and let go of the distractions. I focused on the composition of my words. Everything just faded away as I put the story together. Every word I put down was mine. Every fact I laid out was a fact I had obtained. I was responsible for every perception and bias that found its way into my story, and I had to answer to a relentless editor. That is probably why when I write now, I need background noise—music, television, radio or environmental sounds. On...
The White Paper (8/8)

The White Paper (8/8)

  Writing a white paper is a great way for you as an entrepreneur to reach potential clients, expand your advertising reach and build greater credibility.  In this 8th and final installment of an 8-part series, we will cover the basic format of a white paper. Is It Finished Yet? Your white paper is written. You have an introduction, a “sweet spot” reveal, solutions to the reader’s problem, the benefits for those who follow up, and a great persuasive finish. Now what? Put your white paper aside for a week and then come back to it. Read it through and ask yourself, “Would I buy this?” “Am I convinced?” “Would I want to work with me?” Hopefully your answer is “Yes!” If it’s not, don’t be alarmed. Most white papers have to go through a process of editing to make it truly effective. It is not uncommon to have two to three drafts written before you are satisfied. Don’t be discouraged if you feel you have to edit your paper substantially. Writing is a process. When you read your paper, make a note of what areas seem weak and what areas are strong. You may want to add an example or find a statistic that will bolster your assertion. Depending on your audience, perhaps a funny story will be appropriate. Remember, you are the expert. You have the knowledge and you know what you want to say. Stay true to yourself. No one else can know what you know in the way you know it. You are the author. Now it’s time to format your white paper. How to Format Your White Paper Most...
The White Paper (7/8)

The White Paper (7/8)

Writing a white paper is a great way for you as an entrepreneur to reach potential clients, expand your advertising reach and build greater credibility.   In this 7th installment of an 8-part series, we will continue to cover the basics of organizing your white paper.   Organize Your White Paper   1. Introduction 2. The “Sweet Spot” 3. Demonstrate Your Solutions 4. What About Your Competitors? 5. Outline Your Benefits 6. What Is Your Market? 7. Offer A Case Study If you have a case study, you might want to include it in your white paper. A case study is an analysis of an individual or unit that has experienced your product, service or topic, and provides additional support to your argument. This is a great place to put success stories. Example: Mary ___ had acne so bad that it lowered her self-esteem to such a point she wanted to commit suicide. She came to me as her last hope. After six weeks of my skin care regimen, her acne completely disappeared, her face attained a healthy glow, which is made all the more attractive by her big smile. Today, Mary ___ is happy, engaged to a wonderful man, and a loyal customer of XYZ and my 5 steps to Skin Care. 8. Summarize Finish your white paper with a persuasive summary. Restate your main topic, your overall theme, and remind your audience of the important points you made in a creative way. 9. Create a Great Conclusion Many busy people will read the introduction and skip to the conclusion, so don’t underestimate the importance of a good conclusion. If you create a compelling conclusion, they...
The White Paper (6/8)

The White Paper (6/8)

  Writing a white paper is a great way for you as an entrepreneur to reach potential clients, expand your advertising reach and build greater credibility.   In this 6th installment of an 8-part series, we will continue to cover how to organize your white paper. Organize Your White Paper   1. Introduction 2. The “Sweet Spot” 3. Demonstrate Your Solutions Following your “sweet spot” revelation, write follow-up paragraphs that provide the “solution” to the reader’s interest in how to obtain that “sweet spot.” This may be the recommended actions they need to take, the products that are most effective, the investment they need to make, etc. You can use charts or graphic images at this point. This really creates momentum in your writing. However, I caution you to be sure you are not engaging in “selling” your product or service. Remember, your goal is to inform. 4. What About Your Competitors? As stated before, you do not want to appear biased. You also need to discuss opposing viewpoints. This is important in that if your white paper is one-sided it will lose credibility. Every subject has a counterpoint. It is best to address it and put it into perspective when comparing it to your product, service, or business. Of course, your view will be more persuasive, but you can only show this by contrasting it with other views. For example: There are many wonderful skin care products available to the consumer today. Fabulous Face has great success with improving the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.  Consumer Report shows a 90% satisfaction rate with this product among women, ages 35-60, with an annual income...
The White Paper (5/8)

The White Paper (5/8)

  Writing a white paper is a great way for you as an entrepreneur to reach potential clients, expand your advertising reach and build greater credibility.   In this 5th installment of an 8-part series, we will cover the basics of writing a white paper.   Organize Your White Paper Now you know who your audience is and what their needs are. You have narrowed your topic to one main idea and have researched it enough to know that you can support it. It’s time to organize your paper with an outline. The outline is simply a roadmap for getting from the beginning to the end. 1. Introduction The first section is your introduction and your intent should be to hook the reader’s attention right away and clearly state your main point – or your theme. Example: The largest organ of the human body is our skin and yet we spend less than 5% of our time caring for it. On average women will spend 20 minutes on makeup, 30 minutes on hair, and hours on shopping for clothes.  But how much time do you spend on your skin? As a certified aesthetician, I want to help you change that percentage and treat your skin with care. The following paragraphs should be your argument—to prove what you have stated in your introduction. There should be one paragraph for each supporting point with examples. These examples can be amusing anecdotes, which will keep the reader engaged. You can also use quotes from reliable and impressive experts whose words support the topic. It can be facts and statistics, graphs and tables, although use these...
The White Paper (4/8)

The White Paper (4/8)

  Writing a white paper is a great way for you as an entrepreneur to reach potential clients, expand your advertising reach and build greater credibility.   In this 4th installment of a 8-part series, we will cover the basics of writing a white paper.   What Do You Write About? What is the main idea behind your white paper? You will find there are several aspects of your product, service or business that you could write about. Be brave and select one overall theme and three to four main topic points. Be very focused in your main theme. All your topic points should relate back to your overall theme. For example, if your theme is Five Ways to Great Skin Care, don’t go into how to give your hair more volume. Stay focused on your five points and your overall theme, which is skin care. Find your strongest supporting points and decide which ones you will use in your white paper. Have facts available and examples for support. You might consider making a quick table of the pros and cons of your topic. It is always a good idea not to look too biased. You will want to present both sides, but of course, you will lean more towards your persuasive points. Avoid discussing other features that you offer, or functions that support those features or new products – unless that is the focus of your white paper. Don’t get mired in the details. Your white paper should be in wide strokes, conveying valuable information but not going into detail. White papers are to establish you as an expert and enhance...