Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Watch Your Language, for Jesus' Sake

I just closed the book I am reading to come write this article.
The author is one I’ve read before and liked. I’ve even heard her speak in person. She impressed me favorably. She’s a well-known ACFW member and author of a prodigious number of books—both fiction and non-fiction. Most of her work is published with CBA houses, including the one I’m reading. My guess is that she’s in her forties or early fifties. I would further surmise that her critique partners and editors are under fifty-five.
“What has age to do with it?” you might ask. Perhaps a lot. It might explain some naïveté on the part of younger writers.
It doesn’t take a lot of discernment to realize that slang words and phrases such as gosh, golly, jeez (or geez),  cripes, judas priest, and the like are actually euphemisms for God, Jesus, Christ, and Jesus Christ, and are therefore equally as profane as using the actual names of deity loosely and without reverence—in vain. Other words are fairly obvious: heck, shoot, darn, tarnation (a form of damnation), for example.
Then there are the words that have insinuated themselves into common usage, even among Christians, including the one that prompted this piece. Here’s where age comes into play. I’m over fifty-five; therefore, I remember the original words and their meaning. The enemy has done an excellent job of disguising some of that language—drop a letter here, change a letter there, you get the idea—so that people either really don’t know what they’re saying, have forgotten, or don’t give a hoot. (Did you catch that? Insidious, isn’t it?)
The word that sent me off and writing this is ragging. If you’re about my age, you may be blushing about now. Today it means nagging, giving a hard time, being downright hateful. As a woman might be when she’s on her cycle, which is, by the way, the original meaning. It was meant to be insulting, crass, and vulgar. Do I think for one minute this godly author would have used that word had she known what she was saying? Absolutely not! Further, it was the Christian main character who said it. Ms. Writerly simply didn’t know.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, any slang word beginning with the letter “f” –please don’t make me list them—probably is a euphemism for the great-great-granddaddy of “f” words. Do you really want that in your manuscript? (Side note: when a student would use that ancient word in my English classroom, I assigned them to do a thorough etymological study of the word. That deflated their sails quickly.)
My advice to writers would be this: If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit indwelling. Listen to Him. Listen for that still, small voice. He’s really good at waving red flags. Pay heed to those, and “if in doubt, CHECK IT OUT!” Though I don’t recommend it as recreational reading because it has plenty of extremely offensive content by nature of its purpose, is a good source.

“. . . keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings . . .”
 ~1 Timothy 6:20

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”  ~Psalm 19:14

Write on!
Because of Christ,
Sharon Kirk Clifton

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

About Debut Novel UP A RUTTED ROAD

Up a Rutted Road, is available for download through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, Apple, Diesel, Page Foundry, and Baker & Taylor. It is a middle-grade novel set in eastern Kentucky in 1950.

(Notice: Blogger is playing with the fonts again. I apologize for any reading issues that might cause.)

"I often wished I was a bird and could fly away south. I'd dream of running through tall pasture grass with Elsie Blue at my heels."
~Camie McCain, Chapter 1, "Up a Rutted Road"



"Uncle Glen had always told me dogs could smell fear. I wondered if roosters could, too." ~Camie, Chapter 2, "The Rooster"

"I hadn't noticed any bad smells coming from the old hermit. To me, he smelled like the woods—like dampness, old leaves, and fresh air. If he took only two baths a year, wouldn't he stink to high Heaven?" ~Camie, Chapter 3, "The Hermit"

Are the rumors about the old hermit true? Does he live in a barrel out in the woods? Does he bathe only once or twice a year? Are "all manner of vermin" swarming through his clothes and long beard, like Aunt Charlene says?

What ever made Claude become a hermit in the first place? Had some woman jilted him? Did someone hurt his feeling real bad? Had he escaped from jail and come to the mountains to hide out? What if he'd murdered somebody?

Can a channel catfish be taught to play catch ball?

What eternal lesson does Camie learn from a locust (cicada)?

How did Uncle Glen come to be such good friends with Claude?

What's it like to live in a wagon on top of a mountain and go to church three times a day every blessit day for a week?

Does God punish you if you pray the wrong way? Is there a "wrong way"? Can people die because of faulty prayers?

Read Up a Rutted Road for the answers to these and other burning questions. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Writerly Sisters

I love the final Friday of each month because that's when a handful of writerly sisters converge on my little writer's cave--usually bearing some yummy nibble. We rejoice in one another's triumphs, encourage through disappointments, chat about current projects, brainstorm through writer's roadblocks, and discuss various aspects of our craft.

Please don't get offended, but you're not invited. We decided early on we wanted to keep the group small enough for each writer to get her fair share of the spotlight. We rotate through a schedule of presenters, each month featuring a primary and a secondary writer, The primary has the floor for as long as she needs to share her work, teach a mini-workshop, or discuss some writing-related topic. If time remains, the secondary takes the floor. The next month, that secondary will be the primary, and so we proceed through the rotation. It works well.

Last night, there were four of us; one was out of town. Fifty percent of our number arrived bearing gifts--books, of course! Writerly books! Huzzah! I am now the very proud own of five more volumes: Writing for the Soul by Jerry Jenkins, The Writer's Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing, The Giblin Guide to Writing Children's Books by James Cross Giblin, Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and A Home in the Woods: Pioneer Life in Indiana by Howard Johnson. (Thank you, Kathi and Natalie!)

It was my turn at primary. We had a lively discussion about e-publishing vs. traditional publishing.

If you're a writer, I hope you're part of such a group. We'd love to hear about your experience.

Write on!
Because of Christ