Thursday, January 30, 2014

@DeepakChopra Revolutionizes the World with His New Online Program #aging #healing #medicine

Open your eyes! 
He's Changing the World AGAIN!

     I was recently asked by siminars.com to give a review on their latest program written by Deepak Chopra. I was very honored to be selected to preview the program and give a review. I was even invited to meet Deepak Chopra in an online webinar just for the reviewers of his program. My husband and I have followed this genius healer for sometime now. I had so many great things to say about his new program I couldn't place it just one blog. I tried to highlight the parts that spoke to me the most. I would highly encourage you to check out his new program.

     
      Deepak Chopra has been inspiring and educating people worldwide with his alternative approach to overall wellbeing for over twenty years. His latest online program, Timeless You: The Biology of Youth & Wisdom of Experience challenges the participant to view aging from a different viewpoint in a way he has never done before.  Chopra’s program is an interactive online educational journey that you can progress through at your own pace. It includes videos, audio clips and more.  The program is simply to use and includes handouts you can print to remind you of key lessons you have learned.
Deepak Chopra opens his program with the argument we have been conditioned to believe aging means that will have a progressive decline. He further explains that this belief is a learned response to the conditioning that we first received as children. As an educator, with a background in cultural anthropology, the message Deepak Chopra teaches makes sense. Cultural groups throughout the world condition their population to believe and act in a way that identifies them as one of their own. Education is after all just a system a cultural group utilizes so their children will learn how their society wants then to conduct their daily lives and what to believe. Whenever someone goes against the established system that society will often consider him or her to be an outcast. That outcast gathers more supporters and eventually the outcast’s group changes the “normal” perception of how their society views a certain topic. Chopra introduces participates to the concept of Ayurveda which states what you see is what you become. Our perceptions of age, time and body must change if we are to reverse our aging process.
The participant is lead through a series of steps that help him or her to change the way they perceive aging and time. I enjoyed the activities in these sections and it really made me think about how I perceive my own life. I especially was drawn to the part of how we perceive our age.  My husband is thirteen years old than I am. For much of my marriage I tended to think like someone his age instead of my own because we normally associated with people around his age. So although I am only in my thirties most of the time I felt like I was in my late forties/early fifties. My body responded with those thoughts with a decline in health that would have normally been seen in a woman around that age not someone in her thirties! I have only recently begun to change my thinking back to my own chronological age and I have seen a dramatic difference.
I was also drawn to the section on how we perceive our overall body’s health affects the aging process. Chopra taught if we perceive our body decaying, as we grow older then it would. I have had many health problems in my life and continue to struggle on a daily basis with a variety of health concerns. I have found when I am so focused on how bad I feel my body feels worse. A few years ago I learned a new affirmation that I try to repeat whenever I feel negative thoughts or things go wrong. I tell myself I am healthy, wealthy and wise. Once I believed the words I was saying my thoughts become more positive and my overall health increases.
The mind and the body are connected. Our bodies are constantly changing throughout our lives. You don’t have to be defined by a hereditary condition. You can change your life for the better by changing the way you think and feel. I thoroughly enjoyed the section on how emotions affect the aging process. I have felt the affects of negative thinking habits on my body. When I began to change my thinking habits into a more positives ones my health become better. Negative thoughts have no place in your mind if you want to live a long, healthy life.
I highly recommend Deepak Chopra’s Timeless You: The Biology of Youth & Wisdom of Experience for anyone who wants to age gracefully. You don’t want to miss this online program on siminars.com. There is so many wonderful things to say about this online program I could write an entire book about it! Deepak Chopra’s online program will be available on siminars.com starting January 31, 2014 at  www.siminars.com/timelessyou 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

#FREE Books for #Valentine's Day


WIN A FREE BOOK!



I am so excited! Love is in there air and you have a chance to win either a copy of either Elsa, Calico or Reflections. The contest runs from Feb. 1 - 13. Winners will be announced on Feb. 14.


So how do you enter?

Each day I will start a short story with a character from one of my books. You will add to the story in the comments section. Be sure to read the story and any comments then add to the story. By the end of the day we would have created a new story. 

*Stories will not be published and will only appear on this blog*

Anyone who adds to the story in the comments section will automatically be entered in the contest. Be sure to check this blog daily. You may enter the contest more than once. Winners will be announced on Feb. 14th. 

Here are the books you could win. 

In the harsh northwestern frontier of Ohio and Kentucky, a prophecy has been told. A man whose heart appears pure shall deceive her. The power he holds over her will lead her to evil. She shall denounce the ways of Our Grandmother. Another man comes, whose pure heart beats for her alone, and who has a pure spirit devoted to the goddess, Our Grandmother. He shall defeat the evil and set her free. 

Calico Marie Turner, a white woman raised by the Shawnee and destined to become a great medicine woman, must trust the one man who hates her the most. How can she trust Chief Little Owl Quick as the Wind to save her from his best friend and village shaman, Hunting Bear?


All Elsa Garrett wants in life is to be Franklin’s wife. He’s asked her father for her hand and knows he has permission to ask her. Yet when and how would her boyfriend with Aspergers Syndrome ask the question? 

When Franklin has a diabetic seizure all hope seems lost once Elsa learns Franklin can no longer marry her due to an obscure law in Ohio relating to his seizure. With the help of Franklin’s parents, Elsa has a plan. But will it work? 

Lost in a society that doesn’t understand Franklin or why she would ever choose to be with him, Elsa comes face to face with death, destruction, and misfortune as she tries to clear her boyfriend’s name. With each step towards progress Elsa falls two steps behind. One simple task shifts her entire life towards a direction she could have never imagined. Alone, pregnant, and without her Franklin, is despair all she has to look forward to in her new life, or will fate finally bring them together? 


The waters of time never lie. Wisdom drifts down through the ages for all who dare to listen. History teaches us through honesty. Are you bold enough to hear the truth? 
Reflections: Poems and Essays wraps you in the untold stories of the past. Sit next to the waters of time and listen to the wisdom of the past. What if John Wilkes Booth hadn't been killed at Garret's barn? Who are the Shawnee? Why did the Cherokee accise Sequoyah of witchcraft? These stories and more await you within this inspiring book.



Monday, January 27, 2014

#Irish Culture: Handfasting


Handfasting: An Ancient Tradition


He stepped in front of her with a serious look. “Mary, you were present at their handfasting ceremony a year and a week ago.”
“So?”
“You were already at their wedding. This is just a formality. They have to approach the priest and when the priest asks if they object to the union, which you know they will not, then he will officially marry them. They’ve been living together for a year and a week. There’s nothing more for them to do than make themselves husband and wife before God tonight after taking their vows.”
                                                                  - Kathleen's Revenge by: Allison Bruning


Handfasting Marriage Photo
http://bit.ly/19X1MtY
We're tying the knot. 

I've given my hand.

You've heard those expressions before. Did you know they are derived from an ancient Celtic wedding tradition? No? Those sayings have ties back to the handfasting ceremony.

Handfasting? Never heard of it? It's not a word that we commonly hear nowadays. So what is handfasting and why in the passage above does the wedding couple have to participate in a church wedding when they already had a handfasting ceremony?

Handfasting was practiced in the British Isles for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence suggest it made it's first appearance in the isles when the Celts migrated from Europe to Britain around 7000 B.C. The custom spread as societies sprung up throughout Scotland, Ireland and England. You can learn more about the history of handfasting in the British Isles at this link.  http://www.handfastings.co.uk/history.php

The handfasting ceremony occurred with a couple came before a priest to declare their intentions. The couple would clasp hands and the priest would bind their wrists together with a specially made cloth. The ceremony was simple and was considered a social contract between the couple to be man and wife. Some couples chose to have a public handfasting ceremony so that their union was formally recognized by the public. This would include several witnesses who would stand by the couple. The only importance the public ceremony had was that it validated the union publically. In the eyes of the Irish and the Scottish, a couple who had the handfasting ceremony were man and wife, no matter if it was a public matter or not. 

The handfasting ceremony continued throughout the centuries in England, Ireland and Scotland yet the importance of the ceremony waned after the Christianity came to the isles. The Council of Trent in 1527 declared since marriage was considered to be a church sacrament then the church must conduct the ceremony. The Irish government, though, would not record marriages until the middle of the 19th century. Handfasting ceremonies were important to the rural areas because it could takes weeks or months for a clergy to arrive to a couples village. The couple would hold a public handfasting ceremony to declare their union. The union created by a handfasting ceremony was considered to be a "common law" marriage and was generally only practiced by the poor. To the Irish any couple who had a handfasting ceremony were recognized as being married, even if they married in an irregular way. In the 1700's England banned handfasting as a legal way to marry but Scotland did not. Although, it was not legally recognized there were Irish couples who secretly kept with the tradition as a way of maintaining their Celtic heritage. In their eyes, they were married but they still had to endure the long process of a church wedding.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Should I go Indie or with a publishing house? #IndiePubTip


Welcome back to my blog. This week I'm going pause in our series about prewriting and talk about something very important you need to consider once you have finished your book - Publishing.

It use to be if you wanted to publish you book all you had to do is get an agent and have him or her pitch your book to one of the Big 6. The Big 6 are the largest publishing houses in the United States. Amazon changed all that when they launched their self-publishing platform, BookSurge, in 2000. BookSurge was created by eight authors who wanted to offer a publishing platform where authors could have their work publish and still maintain their content rights and sales profits. The service offered on demand printing, online distribution and complete self-publishing. Publishing houses and authors used and benefited from the service. It was the first time a small publishing house could make an impact on the literary world. Amazon acquired BookSurge in 2005 and changed the name to Createpace in 2007.

Createspace isn't the only platform small publishing houses and independent authors can use to get their work out into the masses. Let's face it, you want your book on Amazon. Most readers will find your book through their system and now that they own Goodreads it makes it even easier for your book to be found in their system if you do the proper marketing. There are thousands upon thousands of books on Amazon. Just because your book is listed there doesn't mean your book will be found. Gone are the days when all an author has to do is sit back and relax after the book goes to print. We live in the world of social media. Readers want to interact with the authors. This means, as an author, I should be interacting with readers on all the social networks available to me, giving speeches, attending book signings and whatever else I need to do to get my brand out. What's my brand? It's not your book. It's your name.

Before you decide if you want to self-publish or go with a publisher here are some things you need to ask yourself......

1) HOW MUCH IS YOUR BOOK WORTH TO YOU?

Let's face it. Every book an author writers is their baby. You've birthed it and nursed it through the editing process. The characters are your best friend. Some new authors are so attached to their work that when a beta reader or editor makes constructive criticism about something in the book the author is hurt. That's their baby! How dare they find fault with their baby!

I'm just going to be blunt with you. If you have this kind of attitude about your book then you have no business working on the literary field. You will receive negative reviews on your work. Everyone does. Why? Because not everyone is going to LOVE your book as much as you do.

But if you still insist on publishing book then don't seek out a publishing house. Why? Because once you sign that contract you have given all your publishing rights over to the house. They have the final say in the production process. Which brings us to another point...............

2) HOW MUCH CONTROL DO YOU WANT IN THE PUBLISHING PROCESS?

This is a very important question to ask yourself. Most new authors think that the publishing process is something easy. You just pop a cover on it, load on Createspace and off it goes into the world. Seems like it should be easy, right? WRONG! There is so much that must go on behind the scenes before the book is released to the world.

The book needs to be edited by someone who knows your genre. This is so important because a romance reader doesn't want to read a book that sounds like sci-fi. Serial writers do not write the same
as a stand alone book. Some books cross into more than one genre. These are even trickier to edit because the editor has to be familiar with those different genres. For example, Calico would be considered historical fiction, paranormal and romance. If you don't know the differences between genres, sagas, series, and standalone you can't effectively produce something that will interest those different target markets. Publishing houses know all about target market and what readers are looking for. Editing costs anywhere from $1-$5 per page. It's the most expensive part of the publishing process.

The cover art needs to be something that attracts readers. You can't just simply place just any cover on your book. It has to be something that attracts your target market. There are certain colors that should and shouldn't be used. Designing a book cover is an art form. You need to know how to use Photoshop and not just put a few pictures together. Graphics can cost you. If you decide to go on your own you can hire a graphic designer to do you book covers. I wouldn't buy a pre-designed book cover because readers aren't stupid. They can tell when a book cover has been recycled or not. Readers do not like that. They want a book cover that is unique for the story. Book covers generally cost $50 or more, depending on the artist. If you decide to attempt the cover on your own then you will need to buy Photoshop and the stock photos. That means your book cover can cost you around $100 or more, depending on the images you use.

The formatting can be a bit tricky. Your book will need to be formatted for ebook and print. Those are completely two different kinds of formatting. If you are using Smashwords then you need a Smashwords version as well as your kindle version. Smashwords and Kindle don't always get along so it would be best to upload your book to Amazon on your own. Smashwords will distribute your book to other markets such as iTunes, Kobo, Sony and Barnes and Nobles. Formatting varies in price but can run between $50 - $200, depending on the formatter.

You will also need an ISBN for your project. The ISBN number tells who owns the rights publishing rights to the book. There is only one place you can buy an ISBN. You must buy the ISBN through www.isbn.org. You will need separate ISBN numbers for your ebook, paperback and hardback books. Createspace does allow you to publish your book with one of their ISBN's for free but if you do that they are considered your publishing house. ISBN's cost $125 each.

3) HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE?

There seems to be this myth about authors that has been floating around for years. All authors are rich. I'm just going to lay that one to rest. We are not rich. In fact, most American authors are middle class and if they are lucky, they can live off their royalties. Some publishing houses do offer advances to their authors. Which sounds all great and good, right? Wrong. If the house gives you and advance then you have to repay that amount to the house before you receive royalties. Your advance will come in two payments. The first is paid after you sign the contract and the rest is paid after you turn in the completed manuscript. Publishing houses also only pay twice a year. So you have to learn to budget very carefully. There is an excellent blog about this and other things you may not know about using a big publishing house found at this link. http://massimomarinoauthor.com/2014/01/average-traditionally-published-authors-pay/

Small houses will not pay their authors an advancement because they want their authors to start earning royalties right away. Small houses generally pay four times a year but some will pay once a month, depending on their distribution methods. Createspace and Kindle will pay once a month and Smashwords pays four times a year.

Let's talk about royalties. If you go through a publishing house the standard royalty rate is 70% house 30% author. You would be hard pressed to find a house who offers a better deal than that. Why? Because publishing houses are a business. They want to make money. I would stay away from any house that asks you to pay in order to publish your book even if you get to retain all your royalties. That's just a scam. Think about it. Why would I want to pay someone for something I don't even know will make me money. The publishing world is very tricky. You're not guarenteed to sell books. If a publishing house has offered you a contract then they are fronting their money to say "I believe in you and your book. I'm willing to bet my own money on that."

If you decide to self publish you won't earn all of the money from the sale. Smashwords, Createspace, Kindle, etc. all take a percentage of your sales. The money the publishing houses and self published authors receive is after those platforms take their cut.

You also need to consider how much your book is going to sell for. Most readers will not pay more than $5.99 on a new author's ebook. They want a great read. The more reviews you have the more attention your book will receive and the more likely you are to be able to sell your book at a higher rate. Don't make your book so expensive that no one will want to buy it.

4) IS THIS A CAREER OR A HOBBY?

This is a very important question because you are not going to get rich or well known just by one book. You may be saying, "But Allison what about Twilight?" Twilight wasn't the only book Stephanie Meyers had written. She had already written and marketed other books before her Twilight series hit the market.

You never know which of your books are going to attract attention that's why you need to have more than one, well written, well produced book out in the market. Readers are attracted to authors who have more than one book on their Amazon author page. If this is going to be a career for you then you need to do your research before you commit either publishing or self-publishing. Publishing houses want an author who is going to keep producing works. They will have a clause in their contracts that state they have the right of first refusal. This means you must present anything you want published to the house first before you take it anywhere else after you have signed your contract. It's good for the author because they can relax and focus on their writing instead of worrying if the book will be picked up by a publisher or not.

Things to think about before you decided which way you want to go. I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to leave any other tips or ask a question in the comments below. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's Illegal to be #Irish in Ireland

Don't you know......
It's Illegal to Irish in Ireland!

The Penal Laws of the 17th and 18th century formed much of the conflict that we still see today in Northern Ireland. Although the laws are gone they have left a devastating effect on the Irish people.  The Irish have always been a prideful, lively people. They should be. They have survived invasion after invasion of their lands. Yet the one invasion that had a more devastating effect on the Irish people were the English. The English passed a series of laws that would dehumanize the Irish and forced thousands of her people to abandon their home.

The Penal Laws were a series of laws created by the English government from 1691 to 1760 in order to persuade anyone who did not practice the Anglican faith to abandon their believes and become a member of the Anglican faith. Although we hear much about the Penal Laws of Ireland, they were not the only place where the laws were enforced. In face, England had passed Penal Laws against the Catholics in the American colonies, Scotland and in England during this timespan as well. The Anglicans feared the Catholics would join together and revolt agains them because they had experienced several uprisings the more they placed pressure against the Catholics. 


The Penal Laws has a deep psychological effect upon the native Irish Catholics. They were treated as second class citizens in their own country.  As the years went by more and more laws were passed to further suppress the Catholics. Some of these laws included:

Exclusion of Catholics from most public offices (since 1607), Presbyterians were also barred from public office from 1707.

  • Ban on intermarriage with Protestants; repealed 1778
  • Presbyterian marriages were not legally recognized by the state
  • Catholics barred from holding firearms or serving in the armed forces (rescinded by Militia Act of 1793)
  • Bar from membership in either the Parliament of Ireland or the Parliament of England from 1652; rescinded 1662–1691; renewed 1691–1829, applying to the successive parliaments of England (to 1707), Great Britain (1707 to 1800), and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1800 to 1829).
  • Disenfranchising Act 1728, exclusion from voting until 1793;
  • Exclusion from the legal professions and the judiciary; repealed (respectively) 1793 and 1829.
  • Education Act 1695 – ban on foreign education; repealed 1782.
  • Bar to Catholics and Protestant Dissenters entering Trinity College Dublin; repealed 1793.
  • On a death by a Catholic, his legatee could benefit by conversion to the Church of Ireland;
  • Popery Act – Catholic inheritances of land were to be equally subdivided between all an owner's sons with the exception that if the eldest son and heir converted to Protestantism that he would become the one and only tenant of estate and portions for other children not to exceed one third of the estate. This "Gavelkind" system had previously been abolished by 1600.
  • Ban on converting from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism on pain of Praemunire: forfeiting all property estates and legacy to the monarch of the time and remaining in prison at the monarch's pleasure. In addition, forfeiting the monarch's protection. No injury however atrocious could have any action brought against it or any reparation for such.
  • Ban on Catholics buying land under a lease of more than 31 years; repealed 1778.
  • Ban on custody of orphans being granted to Catholics on pain of 500 pounds that was to be donated to the Blue Coat hospital in Dublin.
  • Ban on Catholics inheriting Protestant land
  • Prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5 (to keep horses suitable for military activity out of the majority's hands)
  • Roman Catholic lay priests had to register to preach under the Registration Act 1704, but seminary priests and Bishops were not able to do so until 1778
  • When allowed, new Catholic churches were to be built from wood, not stone, and away from main roads.
  • 'No person of the popish religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm' upon pain of twenty pounds fine and three months in prison for every such offense. Repealed in 1782.
  • Any and all rewards not paid by the crown for alerting authorities of offenses to be levied upon the Catholic populace within parish and county.
The once noble, powerful, wealthy Catholic families was slowly subjected to a life of desolation and despair.  Although the laws seemed to be religious based they were actually an effort by the English to control Irish held lands and it worked. By 1778, only 5% of Ireland was controlled by Catholic families. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

William Booth: A Young Man with A New Outlook on Life. #SalvationArmy #Christian


General William Booth:
Restoration

The last time we visited upon General William Booth we learned he had hard childhood with a father who cared more about money and vanity than his own children. His father's constant struggle to maintain a lifestyle he could not afford came to end when William was thirteen years old. Forced from his education into an apprenticeship as a pawnbroker young William learned many valuable lessons that would lead him on a path to change the world. You can learn more about his childhood in this post. http://allisonbruning.blogspot.com/2013/12/william-booth-miserable-early-life.html.

William Booth had been born into poverty yet never had never seen what extreme poverty looked like until his apprenticeship. His apprenticeship began with a simple task: Sweep the floors and fold the bedding and clothes that people brought in to pawn. Mr. Eames, the man he apprenticed under, taught him how pawning works. A person needing cash would bring their items to the store. Mr. Eames would value the item and pay the customer only 60% of what the item was worth. Mr. Eames would hold the item for two weeks. If the person didn't return or pay the loan back he would keep the item and sell it at a higher cost than he bought it for. Mr. Eames showed William how to determine the value of something. William noticed people would bring all sort of items, items they would need for work or daily living. Most of the people who came to the pawnshop couldn't afford to buy their items back. It broke William's heart to see how desperate the poor were to pay their rent or put food on the table. He realized this was the kind of work his father would excel at and wanted him to employ. William hated the idea of taking advantage of the destitute just so you better your situation. He was disgusted at the thought of it and hated his apprenticeship. 

He stated of that time in his life: 

"I had scarcely any income as an apprentice, and was so hard up when my father died, that I could do next to nothing to assist my dear mother and sisters, which was the cause of no little humiliation and grief. The system of apprenticeship in those days generally bound a lad for six or seven years. During this time he received little or no wages, and was required to slave from early morning to late evening upon the supposition that he was 'being taught' the business, which, if he had a good master, was probably true. It was a severe but useful time of learning. My master was a Unitarian--that is, he did not believe Christ was the son of God and the Saviour of the world, but only the best of teachers; yet so little had he learnt of Him that his heaven consisted in making money, strutting about with his gay wife, and regaling himself with worldly amusements."

William's father, Samuel Booth, grew ill and died on September 23, 1842. His father seemed to have a change of heart as he laid dying. He was baptized on his deathbed. After baptism he dedicated his wife, Mary, and their four remaining children to God. The small family sung Rock of Ages as their patriarch died. 


A LOVING MOTHER


William didn't know how to feel about his sixty-five year old father's passing. He had always had a closer relationship with his mother than his father. His father had kept a distant relationship with him for most of his life. The only time Samuel gave him attention was when he was trying to push William to make shady deals or use other people to get ahead in the world. William had never felt comfortable using other people for personal gain. 

Shortly after her husband's death, Mary moved the family to Goosegate where she set up a tiny sewing shop. She and her three daughters sold sewing needles, thread, hatpins and anything else a woman might require. The small shop wasn't very far from the pawn shop where William apprenticed. Although times were hard for the widow and her children, Mary never abandoned them. She would constantly encourage her children, as she had done throughout their lives, by telling them things would get better. Whenever she could, Mary would walk to the pawn shop where her son worked and check in on him. Mary was the constant rock in William's life and he never forgot her.

William wrote these words about his mother in his book, All the World, published in 1893:

Mary Moss Booth  
"I had a good mother. So good she has ever appeared to me that I have often said that all I knew of her life seemed a striking contradiction of the doctrine of human depravity. In my youth I fully accepted that doctrine, and I do not deny it now; but my patient, self-sacrificing mother always appeared to be an exception to the rule.

"I loved my mother. From infancy to manhood I lived in her. Home was not home to me without her. I do not remember any single act of wilful disobedience to her wishes. When my father died I was so passionately attached to my mother that I can recollect that, deeply though I felt his loss, my grief was
all but forbidden by the thought that it was not my mother who had been taken from me. And yet one of the regrets that has followed me to the present hour is that I did not sufficiently value the treasure while I possessed it, and that I did not with sufficient tenderness and assiduity at the time, attempt the impossible task of repaying the immeasurable debt I owed to that mother's love.

She was certainly one of the most unselfish beings it has been my lot to come into contact with. 'Never mind me' was descriptive of her whole life at every time, in every place, and under every circumstance. To make others happy was the end of all her thoughts and aims with regard not only to her children but to her domestics, and indeed to all who came within her influence. To remove misery was her delight. No beggar went empty-handed from her door. The sorrows of any poor wretch were certain of her commiseration, and of a helping hand in their removal, so far as she had ability. The children of misfortune were sure of her pity, and the children of misconduct she pitied almost the more, because, for one reason, they were the cause of sorrow to those who had reason to mourn on their account.

For many years before she died, love, joy, and peace reigned in her heart, beamed from her countenance, and spoke in her words. Her faith was immovably fixed on Him who is able to save to the uttermost. It was a common expression of confidence with her that 'Jesus would go with her all the way through the journey of life--even to the end. He would not leave her. Her feet were on the Rock."

A NEW PURPOSE

Mary and her children faced the worst of their poverty after the death of her husband yet Mary refused to allow the negative situation of their lives destroy them. She kept encouraging their faith through prayer and taking them to Saint Stephen's Church to worship every Sunday. William was quite bored in church and disheartened at the way people were treated in church based on their social economical statues. The poor were forced to sit in seats behind the pulpit or on benches in broad aisles while the rich had reserved the right to sit in the perfect spot to see and hear the message. No one dared to sit in those areas of the church. William, his family and the rest of the poor were cast aside too poor for even Jesus to take notice of them. When the clergy preached their message to the "common people" he rarely looked at the poverty stricken and kept his eyes on the rich. William hated the dull, class discrimination message that the church taught and needed a change.

His chance for change came in the fifteenth year of his life when a Wesleyan couple invited him to their
church. The Methodist Movement had begun soon after the death of John Wesley. John Wesley had sought to change the Anglican Church yet against his dying wishes his followers started their own church, the Methodist Church. William attended Broad Street Chapel and fell in love with the preachers who visited upon the church to spread their messages. He heard messages from many outstanding preachers and would often reflect upon what he learned on his way back home. Two preachers especially affected young William, Reverend James Caughey form the United States and Isaac Marsden from Yorkshire. William enjoyed the lively singing, the preaching and the free-flow atmosphere during worship. Although he enjoyed his worship experience and learning about God he never settled upon matters of his own soul. The Methodist had taught him he needed to give his entire life over to God but that seemed too hard for William to do. How could he give his entire life?

William struggled with the idea of handing his all to God until one day his bible study teacher, Henry Carey, opened his lesson with these words, "A soul dies every minute." The words haunted William. I think it would be best to hear the rest of the story in William's own words:

"When as a giddy youth of fifteen I was led to attend Wesley Chapel, Nottingham, I cannot recollect that any individual pressed me in the direction of personal surrender to God. I was wrought upon quite independently of human effort by the Holy Ghost, who created within me a great thirst for a new life.
 I felt that I wanted, in place of the life of self-indulgence, to which I was yielding myself, a happy, conscious sense that I was pleasing God, living right, and spending all my powers to get others into such a life. I saw that all this ought to be, and I decided that it should be. It is wonderful that I should have reached this decision in view of all the influences then around me. My professedly Christian master never uttered a word to indicate that he believed in anything he could not see, and many of my companions were worldly and sensual, some of them even vicious.

Yet I had that instinctive belief in God which, in common with my fellow-creatures, I had brought into the world with me. I had no disposition to deny my instincts, which told me that if there was a God His laws ought to have my obedience and His interests my service.

I felt that it was better to live right than to live wrong, and as to caring for the interests of others instead of my own, the condition of the suffering people around me, people with whom I had been so long familiar, and whose agony seemed to reach its climax about this time, undoubtedly affected me very deeply.

There were children crying for bread to parents whose own distress was little less terrible to witness.
One feeling specially forced itself upon me, and I can recollect it as distinctly as though it had transpired only yesterday, and that was the sense of the folly of spending my life in doing things for which I knew I must either repent or be punished in the days to come.

In my anxiety to get into the right way, I joined the Methodist Church, and attended the Class Meetings, to sing and pray and speak with the rest." (A Class Meeting was the weekly muster of all members of the church, who were expected to tell their leader something of their soul's condition in answer to his inquiries.) "But all the time the inward Light revealed to me that I must not only renounce everything I knew to be sinful, but make restitution, so far as I had the ability, for any wrong I had done to others before I could find peace with God.

The entrance to the Heavenly Kingdom was closed against me by an evil act of the past which required restitution. In a boyish trading affair I had managed to make a profit out of my companions, whilst giving them to suppose that what I did was all in the way of a generous fellowship. As a testimonial of their gratitude they had given me a silver pencil-case. Merely to return their gift would have been comparatively easy, but to confess the deception I had practised upon them was a humiliation to which for some days I could not bring myself. I remember, as if it were but yesterday, the spot in the corner of a room under the chapel, the hour, the resolution to end the matter, the rising up and rushing forth, the finding of the young fellow I had chiefly wronged, the acknowledgment of my sin, the return of the pencil-case--the instant rolling away from my heart of the guilty burden, the peace that came in its place, and the going forth to serve my God and my generation from that hour.

"It was in the open street that this great change passed over me, and if I could only have possessed the flagstone on which I stood at that happy moment, the sight of it occasionally might have been as useful to me as the stones carried up long ago from the bed of the Jordan were to the Israelites who had passed over them dry-shod. Since that night, for it was near upon eleven o'clock when the happy change was realised, the business of my life has been not only to make a holy character but to live a life of loving activity in the service of God and man. I have ever felt that true religion consists not only in being holy myself, but in assisting my Crucified Lord in His work of saving men and women, making them into His Soldiers, keeping them faithful to death, and so getting them into Heaven."

William vowed, "God should have all there is of William Booth." William's life was about to change forever.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pre-Writing: The Story Arc #ISWG #Iamwriting #author




Welcome back to my blog. Today I want to continue the series I started last week titled "My Best Friends: Story Arc, Hero's Journey and Three Act Structure. We already discussed what a three act structure is and how to use it when writing your story. You can read that post at http://allisonbruning.blogspot.com/2014/01/my-best-friends-story-arc-heros-journey.html. Today I want to introduce you to the Story Arc and how I use it to create my novels.

A Story Arc is essential for every author to understand because without it you will lose your audience. You don't want that to happen. Readers are very picky. They know what they want and if you don't give it to them they will abandon your book for a different one. If you want to keep your audience then you need to develop your Story Arc before you lay one single word on the page.

What is a Story Arc?
Take a look at this worksheet that I found at http://snowdenenglish8.blogspot.com/. Although it is called a plot diagram it is the same thing as a Story Arc.


I usually start out by making two story arcs. One from the point of view of my antagonist and the other from the point of view of my protagonist. You need to understand point of view before you begin this stage of your pre-writing. It is essential because you have to understand what your characters motives and goals are and how it affects the story. The antagonist and protagonist goals must clash with one another. Also there can only be 1 protagonist and 1 antagonist. If you have more than one of each then you need to go back and work on your character development a bit more.

Print the above worksheet out and follow along with me. If you don't have a printer then just copy the arc down. You don't need the labels just the arch. You will need two worksheets or two lines because you will be doing two viewpoints, the antagonist and the protagonist. I'll walk you through the protagonist's story arc. You can do the antagonist later.

We will start with the left and work our way to the right.

Exposition
This is where you will introduce your character. It is the beginning of the story. Notice it doesn't take up a lot of space in the book. This is the everyday life of your character before the inciting incident occurs. Go ahead and place a few sentences there to remind you where your character is.

Here's an example of Calico's exposition:
White girl, raised by Shawnee, learning to be medicine woman, mid 1700's.

Conflict
What is your protagonist's goal? What do they want and how are they going to achieve that?

Is your character's struggle man vs man, man vs nature, etc? If you don't know what type of struggle your character is going to face you will need to do more research on types of conflict.

The conflict area on our worksheet is also know as the inciting incident. This is the place where the antagonist does something to your character that interrupts their life. The character will leave their old world behind and set off towards their goal.

So ask yourself.
What is the situation that started your protagonist's journey and what is his or her goal?

You may be able to thinks of several small things that led up to this point for your character and that is ok. Not every character will accept their calling when first presented with it. We'll talk more about this when we cover The Hero's Journey. For now, just pick the most significant event and place that on the line.

Rising Action
This is the longest part of your story and the hardest to construct. You really need to know how your antagonist and protagonist think before you do this section. What is the antagonist's goal? What is his or her motivation? Once you can answer those two questions this should be easier to construct.

Take a look at this diagram. You will need this in order to develop your rising action so feel free to print it off or make one of your own. You only need one.


Your protagonist will encounter a series of obstacles that will grow in difficulty as he or she progress towards their goals. These obstacles are the result of the antagonist confronting your character. Remember their two goals and motivations will conflict with each other thus their actions will cause conflict. Every time your character overcomes a situation, the antagonist will push even harder.

This area is a growing experience for your character. Think of it this way: You don't learn to ride a bike without a few falls. You eventually learn how to ride a bike through your experiences.  It's true for your character as well. Your character is going to change and grow with each struggle. When your character overcomes something it will often times lead to the next obstacle. Each new obstacle needs to be harder than the one before it until you come to the climax.

When you write your obstacle also write how the protagonist overcomes and how it affects the antagonist. Remember this is a tug of war between the two characters. You want to see the rising action between both point of views. It will make your story stronger and you will have a better understanding of where your story needs to go.

Climax
We've finally arrived to the big battle between the protagonist and antagonist. This is the place where there is the most tension between the two characters. It can be described as the point of no return for your character. Things are looking very grim for our hero. He or she must face their greatest challenge yet in order to achieve their goal. Make this struggle something that seems so hard for your character to overcome that your reader will wonder if the character will survive at all.  Your readers have an emotional connection with your protagonist and want him or her to succeed. This is the point where your protagonist finally defeats the antagonist.

Be careful when developing this area. You need to make the solution to this struggle something believable for the world you have created or you may loose your reader. Also if you are creating a series you may want to imprison the antagonist or banish the character unless you plan to raise him or her from the dead.

Falling Action
Your character has defeated his or her antagonist but the story isn't quite finished yet. Remember that goal you created for your hero? He or she will encounter two or three more obstacles that will decrease in tension before he or she meets their goal. This part of the story is the place where the reader is able to see how the experience has changed your character for the better. Since the antagonist has been defeated this is the perfect opportunity for some internal conflict or minor conflicts with the supporting characters.

Resolution
Your character has been through a great deal and has changed. This is the point where he or she reaches their goal but they are not the same person they were before they began their journey. This is the point of the story where the character begins a new life. You will want to show your audience what that new life looks like but not in so much detail that it takes several chapters to explain it all. Tie up your loose ends and if you plan to write a series leave something behind to tickle you reader's appetites for more.


Now that you have completed your story arch you're ready to lay it all down on a paradigm. Join me next week as I explain what that is and how it will enhance your writing.







Living in the Arctic: #Blizzard2014



Living in the Arctic: 
Blizzard 2014





Jack Frost went a bit crazy in Indiana a few days ago and I have been one of his victims. It has been so cold that the mayor had to shut down the entire city for three days. Think about that for a moment. I live in the 12th largest city in the United States, Indianapolis. Not even a McDonald's has been open for several days. Thankfully we were warned about the storm before it happened. Thousands, including my family and I, flocked to the stores to stock up on supplies. By the time the storm came the stores were empty.

It's storms like these that people from the Midwest remember. I was born during the Blizzard of '76 in Cleveland, Ohio. My mother once told me that my grandparents were stranded on the interstate from Marion to Cleveland because of the storm. They were on their way to see me. The winters were hard during the first few years of my life. Yet the most talked about of all winter storms during that season of my life is the Blizzard of 1978. You can read more about the Blizzard of 1978 here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/research/Blizzard1978/blizzard78.php
The pond in our backyard
after the New Years Day snowstorm.

Indianapolis had already experienced a snowstorm before the blizzard hit our city. Snow began falling
around 7pm on New Years Eve and the entire state was placed under a travel advisory. The snowstorm didn't let up until the following day leaving behind around 3 -5 inches of snow. Towards the end of the storm we were warned by the local news that a major snow event would occur in a few days. If your from the Midwest you don't have to be told to stock up on supplies. You just know to do it. I instantly went into action. Even though I had just gone to the grocery a few days before, I went to Walmart and got enough food to last us a week. You just never know what can happen in a snowstorm.

The pond after the January 5th snowstorm. 
The snowstorm came on Sunday, January 5 with whiteout conditions and dangerously high winds leaving behind 11 inches of snow in the part of Indianapolis where I live. That means there is 14 inches of snow on the ground. The danger wasn't over after the snowstorm left. The next day came the bitter Arctic temperatures caused by the Polar Vortex.

Blame the Polar Vortex

The Polar Vortex is a section of dense, cold air that forms at the North Pole at night after the clear skies allow heat to escape into space. Meteorologist Ryan Maue stated to the LA Times on January 6, "The polar vortex isn’t this entity like a hurricane or nor'easter that develops and goes away. It’s a normal feature that’s part of the polar climate. Day after day after day, these pools of air form. There's always cold air up there, if the Arctic is left to its own devices.”

So how did it end up in the Midwest?



The Arctic air hit Indianapolis hard. The entire city looks like a ghost town. Here's what our temperatures looked like this week.


 Mayor Ballard told everyone on Monday that all business need to remain close through Tuesday. One woman had told him her boss had told her that she would lose her job if she didn't come into work. He replied stating that no one needs to be at work during these temperatures and if someone absolutely feels they need their business open then they are only to take volunteer employees. He also told everyone to stay off the road. It was illegal to be on the road Monday morning. He lowered the travel warning to essential travel only by noon but stated that the roads are still too slick to travel on. The city has plowed the streets but it's been too cold for the salt to work so it's a sheet of ice on the roads. He highly advised everyone not to travel. Today the travel advisory has fallen once again but it's still slick out there. There are long lines on the roads and its a hard commute to work. Schools and some businesses remain close today as the arctic weather makes its way out of our area.


I can't wait until things get back to normal.











Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Best Friends: Story Arc, Hero's Journey and Three Act Structure #writingtips #writetip

Inspiring Writers Want to Know: 
I have so many story ideas. Where do I begin?


That is an excellent question. When I began my writing career I felt just like you do. In fact, I wrote 700 pages in two months the eventually became the Children of the Shawnee series. Over the years my story ideas have grew almost on a daily basis. I was fortunate enough to have some wonderful writing mentors who helped me to sort out my ideas but it wasn't until I was in graduate school did I ever learn the secrets to a successful writing career.

Meet my best friends:
Story Arc, Hero's Journey and Three Act Structure.

Why are they my best friends? Because without them my writing would be all over the place. I want you to be a successful author so I'm going to share all the secrets I learned about my best friends with you. I can't explain all there of them in a single post so today I will cover this pre-writing process through a series that will take place every Wednesday.

The first thing you need to be familiar with before you write the first word is the Three Act Structure. Have you ever wondered what make a great novel or movie? Why is that some of the best creative writing ideas flop when presented to the public? It all has to do with the Three Act Structure.

Humans are biologically geared to appreciating a story that has a solid Three Act Structure. So what is a Three Act Structure? I'm glad you asked.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) is often credited for the discovery of the Three Act Structure. A prolific writer, he declared "A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end" The ancient Greeks utilized the Three Act Structure when they wrote their tragedies. If you were to take inventory of every classic story, blockbuster movie and bestselling novel you would find that they all share one thing in common. They all have a solid Three Act Structure.

The Three Act Structure breaks down like this.

ACT I - THE SETUP
This section is called the set-up because it is the place where you will introduce your protagonist, the antagonist, and the setting. You want to introduce the protagonist form the first page of your manuscript. Remember you readers will judge your book based on the first few pages. This means you need to show and not tell the story. Don't add a lot of exposition. Your characters and setting need to be believable. You have been creating the characters and building their world for months but your readers have not. For example, here's the first paragraphs of my book, Calico.

Eight-year-old Calico ran quickly through the hilly, wooded countryside. Her long brown dress kept
her from going as fast as she wanted. She hated her French dress; its large layered skirt hindered her. She felt freer in her Shawnee leather leggings and linen shirt. A pair of strong arms grabbed her at the waist. She screamed loudly, kicked hard with her black shoes, and struggled to get away. She couldn’t let this man harm her. The mysterious warrior picked her up and carried her deeper into the woods, his thick hand covering her mouth. In a deep tone, he commanded, “Nooleewi-a!”

I have your attention with this paragraph. You know this is a historical fiction by the cover, that this is going to be about a white girl living with the Shawnee. You also know the location and date if you read the chapter heading but that is all you know. You have no idea why she is running in the woods. I have perked my reader's interest and they will want to continue reading.

ACT 1 is also the place where you protagonist's world will start to come apart as they are faced with a challenge. Your protagonist will have to face something. He or she will have a goal that they must strive to achieve throughout the book. You protagonist and antagonist goals will always clash thus creating conflict. Well talk about developing conflict in the next post.

ACT II - CONFLICT
This is the largest Act in the structure. It will encompass 80% of your novel but is split in half with a midpoint. The midpoint in a play is usually when the intermission happens. In a novel, it is generally the middle of your book. I like to describe this part of the book as an intense pin pong battle between the antagonist and protagonist. Every time your protagonist takes one step towards their goal your antagonist will do something to stop the protagonist. The battles between them will increase until the final battle occurs. We will talk more about developing conflict on the next post.

ACT III - RESOLUTION
The last 10% of your novel begins with the climax and descends to a new beginning for your protagonist. It is during this section you will tie up all the loose ends. Be very careful in this section. Readers do not like unanswered questions. If you have subplots you will need to tie those ends as well. What is a subplot? A subplot is the plots of your supporting character's stories. If they are developed well enough they will enrich your story but you have to be careful with supporting characters. Sometimes the subplots will lead you down the proverbial rabbit hole. You don't need that. Your subplots must either mirror your main plot or lead back to your protagonist's plot line. We will talk more about subplots in another post. You do not want to attempt developing and layering subplots if you are new to writing a novel. If an idea comes to you just write it on a piece of paper and leave it for another time.

What about series?
You can entice you reader to read the next book in your series by leaving a question at the end of your book but don't do this until all the loose ends have been tied up. We will talk about how to do this in another post.





Wednesday, January 1, 2014

#NewYears Writer's Resolutions #Iamwriting #author


Happy New Years, everyone! 
It's that time of year when we sit down and write our New Year's Resolutions.
 I've made mine. How about you?