Finding Hope In A Mysterious World

Category: Writing (Page 1 of 9)

November’s Reading and Mourning the Loss of Traditions

by Tim Suddeth

2020 is racing to an end. Most of us would be quick to say, “Good riddance.” Hopefully, prayerfully, 2021 will bring back more of a sense of normality, maybe with a dash of peace and compassion for others.

Let’s make that two dashes.

The COVID pandemic has burdened many of us with a new feeling this year, guilt. Probably not a new feeling for most of us, but COVID seems to have brought its own supply.

The holidays are here with their traditions and gatherings. Thanksgiving is the day each year that my family drives to the mountains to enjoy a whopping big dinner with cousins. My eighty-seven-year-old mother says that she did this when she was a child. I have gone every year, except for one or two because of health, for all my fifty-nine years.

This year it’s cancelled.

Family gatherings, musicals by churches or communities, parades, plays. Many of these are going to be cancelled or drastically cut back. Then you have to deal with either the guilt of going and risking exposing someone to the virus or the guilt of missing out on some of the holidays.

No matter how you choose, you still feel guilt.

Maybe, this will; be for just this year. A mere blip in the years of our lives.

But it has been a long time in the present.


Here are some of the books I’ve been reading.

Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves, by Larry Brooks, came out in 2019 and is his latest book of writing advice. In it, he gives benchmarks for writers to use in developing and improving their novels. He begins by helping us consider our idea and premise, then describes how to determine if they are meaty enough to last for a whole book. Then he walks us through the structure of a novel, how it is organically shaped. He tells what the reader expects at different points along the story and how we can meet and exceed their expectations.

The writing community has separated a battlefield between those who plot out their stories before they write and those who just jump in and trudge their way through to some type of an ending. In Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves, Brooks come down strongly on the plotting side, but agrees that both ways work.

I think most people are somewhere in the middle. When you start on a hike, or on a trip, you usually want to know where you are going, with maybe some stops along the way. That way you can be sure to get enough gas and pack any supplies you might need. Your destination may be a drive to the mountains, or to certain barbeque place in Black Mountain.

With my five books, each one has had its own process.

Like Brooks says, no one is going to care how you wrote your story, how many character sketches you used or how drafts you went through. They are only going to care if they were able to lose themselves inside your story.


The Power of Less, by Leo Babauta, is another book on the benefits of not flooding our lives with more; more stuff or more activities.

He talks about the importance of simplifying. That running faster and faster on a hamster wheel isn’t going to get you anywhere. Spending all of your energy to do more isn’t the best way to meet your goals. That takes focusing, planning, and goal setting.

His tips are pretty generic and commonly heard by all of the simplifying gurus out there. But this is a good reminder to watch out for all the extra things that are constantly sneaking onto our schedules and into our lives.



Over on my new blog, Opening a Mystery, you van find my review of the last mile. David Baldacci’s The Last Mile is his second in the Amos Decker series. It will be interesting to see where he takes this detective and whether he will continue to work with the FBI. One thing’s for sure, I’m glad he’s on our side. (You can get the link here.)

Hope you all are enjoying your reading. If you have a particular book you are reading you would like to recommend, leave me a note in the comments.
And happy holidays.

Getting Through Tough Times

Laugh when you can.
Cry when you like.
Seek a virtual shoulder when it threatens to be too much.
Be a virtual shoulder to whomever you can.

For many Americans this year, life is anything but normal, but it is becoming routine. The changes we have had to make the last few months are still not comfortable, but we are starting to settle in.

Yet, the virus continues to grow among us. Cases across the nation are at all-time highs. And now we begin getting ready for the holidays with all it’s hustle and bustle and the temptations of large gatherings.

How do we cope?

Over on The Write Conversation, I have a post on living during trying times. Even though it is written for writers, it is still practical for all of us.

You can see the link here.

And I want to thank you for visiting my blog. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment.


How To Fight Through The Pandemic

Is it safe to come out?

Is it safe to come out?

This pandemic has overturned many of our dreams. Whether you were making plans for a wedding, hunt for a new career, or work on your writing, the virus has made you either postpone or rethink your plans.

Americans first learned about the virus in March when the president came on TV and told her that our economy would be closing. New phrases have entered our everyday speech like social distancing, flattening the curve, and asymptomatic. We also had to rearrange our habits by wearing masks, not eating out, and doing school online.

Most areas in our lives have been impacted. And no one knows when we can get back to normal or even how normal that normal will look.

Yet, we are all going through this and we all have to be alert to keep from getting depressed. It is hard to be hopeful when you don’t know what to expect in the future. But that is exactly what we are called to do during this time.

One thing that helps is to remember as dark and final this feels, it is only for a season. Things will change. And each of us can make the best of the opportunities that will come.

Over on The Write Conversation, I offer some tips to help get through this dark period. (Link here.)There are still some things we can control.  We need to focus on them.

In the mean time, know we are all trying to get through this. Have grace on others and also yourself.

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