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Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day and a Writerly Announcement

By On February 29, 2016
Hey everyone! Surprise! I'm posting a little late today, but that's because I wasn't going to post today. Until I saw a bunch of posts about Leap Day.

To be honest, I didn't even know today was Leap Day until I saw a post. And when I did, I was like...

"It's a holiday!! No school, right?"

Later. (Aka, after school.)

"Hmmm.... maybe I should do a post. I mean, it's Leap Day."

And so here I am.

What I'm Really Posting About

So, in all honesty, I really don't care very much about Leap Day. I mean, it's only once every four years, so make sure you enjoy it! But still.

I'm celebrating Leap Day by sharing some of my writing. Today, I'm announcing the publishing of a new page on my blog! (If you already saw it, good for you!) It's a page about my writing.

What You'll Find

Well, could just make you go to the page and find out what you'll find on your own. But, I've decided to be nice and give you a quick recap of the page.

Just so you know, it's kinda long. (What can I say? I like to write.)

But, you'll find summaries of novels I'm working on, an excerpt from one of the novels I'm working on, and even...

*dramatic music*

One of my poems! It's not a very well known fact that I write poetry. This is a NEVER BEFORE SEEN poem by ANYONE (except my twin, which DOES NOT count.), so consider yourselves privileged :P to be reading it.

So what are you waiting for? Go check out that page!


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Perspective in Evangelism

By On February 28, 2016
(Here's a devotional I wrote a while back that I thought would be good to share on a Sunday. Enjoy!)

Perspective. It's a word we're all familiar with, the window through which we see our worlds. How we interpret what we see is also related to our perspectives. Just as a library may hold an appeal for a book lover like me, someone who would prefer to play video games may view the collection of books as boring.

I Corinthians 1:18 says: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God."

As Christians, the cross should empower and motivate us. When we think of the love it took for Jesus to come to earth and shed his blood for us, it should ignite in us a passion to share that same love with others. Though the world may condemn us, we can be emboldened by the cross.

As we spread the gospel, our success may be limited. But even when we're feeling down or meeting difficulties, the cross remains a steadfast source of hope. Instead of dwelling on our own difficulties, we should focus on Christ's sacrifice.

But an unbeliever holds a vastly different perspective. When they think of the cross, they may know the story of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, but may dismiss it as religious nonsense. They have no steady, unfailing source of hope like Christians. And little do they know it, but they're drowning in their sins.

Their position can be compared to that of a man's trapped in a pit of quicksand. As it drags him down, he struggles to free himself. Then, someone tosses him a rope. What is he going to do? Will he ignore it and keep trying to free himself? Maybe he will be too focused on the swiftly sinking sand to notice it. Or, will he grab hold of it and let someone else pull him to safety?

Although the answer may seem obvious, many people today are trying to free themselves from their sins through their own strength. But folks, the cross has taken care of all your sins forever! You don't have to strive on your own to free yourself, because Christ already did.

People will still deny the power of the cross. But does someone's denial of the cross change the truth? No! As always, the truth of the Bible prevails. Just because the drowning man in the example doesn't see or choose to recognize the rope doesn't invalidate its existence. It is still within his reach, ready to save him, just as God's simple plan of redemption through Jesus Christ alone remains to those who except it. Our job as Christians is to alert unbelievers to the saving power of the rope, the cross.

And the more we as Christians keep the cross in our minds, the more motivated we will be to spread its message to the world.

And even though many unbelievers will still view the cross as foolishness despite your best efforts, perspective can change. Just think of Saul. He's the perfect example of the most hardened heart's perspective changing through the grace of God.

And I think that's why this verse is one of my favorite Bible verses. It's more than just a statement; it's a call. A call to rally Christians around the cross to achieve a common goal: being the change this world needs by spreading the power of the cross.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Guest Post: Emily Ann Putzke

By On February 26, 2016
Hey guys! I'm in italics today... because we have a guest post! *throws confetti everywhere* Today, I'm thrilled to share a post from Emily Ann Putzke, who has written three historical fiction novels. Today, she's sharing about her third, Resist, which released recently. If you couldn't tell from my last post, I'm super excited about the book, which I should be receiving in the mail today... *jumps up and down* And at the bottom of the page is a link for her giveaway. I tried to get the actual giveaway to appear on my blog, guys. But you'll just have to be satisfied with the link. :) Oh, and did I mention she's giving away a $50 Amazon gift card?

Anyways, without further ado, I present to you her post. *applause and cheering*
(All pictures Emily's)

Hi everyone! I’m Emily Ann Putzke, author of It Took a War, Ain’t We Got Fun, and my newest novel Resist which released this week. Resist, is based on the true story of Hans and Sophie Scholl, a German brother and sister who wrote and distributed anti-Nazi leaflets entitled The White Rose. These leaflets called out to the German people, begging them to not allow their consciences to become dormant, but to resist their tyrannical leader and corrupt government.

One question I get a lot is “How do you research your books?” The research for each book I write is a little different. For my Civil War novella, It Took a War, I made a research binder which worked great for that particular story. However, that didn’t work for Resist. Since Resist is based on a true story and real people it resulted in a different form of research.


I bought used books on Amazon so that I could highlight and dog ear them to my heart’s content. I took these books everywhere with me and kept them close while writing. Don’t be afraid to make notes in the margins of your research books (as long as you own it). Having the research books by my side at all times ensured I’d be less likely to mess up historical facts. Also, I love the bibliography pages in books. They are so helpful for finding other books on the topic you’re researching.


Since Resist is based on a true story, one of the most helpful resources I found was the book The Diaries and Letters of Hans and Sophie Scholl. Reading their words helped to bring the story to life and keep my interpretation of them as true to reality as possible. When I was writing dialogue, I knew what kind of words and phrases they used and had a better grasp on their personality. Every time I sat down to write, I would read part of this book to put myself in their shoes. I highly recommend finding the actual words of the person you're writing about.


Having the opportunity to talk with people who were actually in WWII was invaluable! I interviewed a waist gunner on a B-17, a soldier in U.S. 9th Army, a woman who grew up in Germany and whose brothers were in the Hitler Youth, a paratrooper from 101st Airborne Division, and my neighbor who served in the Engineers Battalion.

Obviously you can’t interview people from certain periods, such as the Civil War, so instead, you could go to historical talks, listen to podcasts, or see plays about the time period. Research historical societies in your area and see what events they’re planning. You might be pleasantly surprised!


I read poetry Hans and Sophie would have read, drawing on their love of the written word as quoted in their letters. I sprinkled some of these poets and great writers into Resist because literature was so important to Hans and Sophie. Finding out what authors and poets your character read can help you better understand them. The same goes for music. I immersed myself in German folk songs during the writing process.


I really love WWII reenacting. In Resist, my main character served on the Eastern Front. Through reenacting, I can get an idea of the sounds and smells that would have encompassed him. It’s not everyday that German soldiers march past you. My main character is a medic in the Wehrmacht, so seeing and interacting with reenactors portraying the German army is a unique experience that is really beneficial for a WWII writer! Many time periods are now being reenacted, from the Medieval era to the Vietnam War. Living history, whether you’re a reenactor or spectator, will help you with your historical writing.

Purchase your copy of Resist:

About the Author:

Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. You can learn more about Emily and her books on her blog, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


(And for my amazing followers: If this post appeared on your blogger dashboard Wednesday, I hope you weren't freaking out when it "could not be found." I just test-posted it to make sure the links were working before reverting it back to a draft because today was the scheduled post day. If you're going "What is he talking about?",  then don't worry about it.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Writing, Your Way: A Ramble

By On February 23, 2016
How do you write? Do you attack your ideas, throwing words onto a sheet of paper as inspiration strikes? Or maybe you're more inclined to plan carefully, selecting only the ideas you think best to incorporate into your story.

Everyone has a different method of writing. It's not just plotter or pantser. You may keep a notebook by your side at all times to jot down ideas that pop into your head, or maybe your brain won't stop whirling and you have to choose which ideas are good, and which are not so good. Do you have to grope for creativity, or are you naturally imaginative?

Like I said, everyone is different. I personally suffer from experience something I call "creative streaks." In other words, some days, I can't stop writing, and others, my brain simply won't work. TELL ME I'M NOT ALONE IN THIS!!

However, the key to conquering your writing is to find out what works for you. Do you need quiet in order to write? (I don't, thank Heaven. There's ten people in my house so...yeah.) Maybe there's a certain food (coffee, tea) or environment (outdoors, indoors) that engages your creative juices. Some people prefer writing with paper and pen, while others can't imagine life without their writing software (like me).

Writing is a great way Christians can bring glory to God, but that doesn't mean there's just one way to write. So the point of this ramble is, there's not a certain formula dictating your writing process. Find what works best for you, and then implement it when you write. :)

How do you write? I'd love to hear everyone's different methods! ;)

~ Jonathan

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Finding Motivation

By On February 18, 2016
What motivates you? Maybe it's the reassuring comments of others that inspire you to keep going. Maybe it's a deadline. Maybe it's the desire to finish and finish well.

Today, we're going to talk about what to do when you have no motivation. Those days when you wonder why you ever decided to be a writer. Because folks, when it comes down to it, writing is work. Granted, it may be enjoyable work, but it's work nonetheless. And some days, we just don't feel like writing.

Identifying the Cause

What is causing your motivation to drain away? If you can figure out what it is, then maybe you can eliminate it. For example, I am a talkative, extraverted individual. However, although I do love my social time, I find it to lessen my attention span when it comes to writing, and it makes me want to do something more stimulating. If you're an introvert, then you definitely won't have this issue. You may need more stimulation in order to write. But, whatever the cause may be, pinpoint it and try to remedy it.

Setting Goals

Goal setting is a big part of motivation, and resolving to set reasonable goals and keep them may help you. Some people (myself included) take great satisfaction in completing goals. And these goals don't have to be formal, signed resolutions! They can be as simple as a to-do list for the day.

Staying Busy

This one can be a bit confusing, but stick with me here. It's important that you stay busy. I know, I know, you're probably thinking "But if I'm busy, I'll have less time to write!" Exactly, my friends. When you have less time to write, your writing time becomes a privilege. You're always on the lookout for a chance to get down a few hundred more words. And before you know it, the less time you had to write, becomes more time spent writing!

The End Result

Think about what you're striving for. Is it a completed short story, or maybe a published novel? Now think of yourself, success at last in your reach. How do you feel? Keeping our thoughts on what we want our finished product to be can be very encouraging.

Staying motivated is an important part of writing. So next time you just don't feel like getting anything done, don't just sit around and wait for a better day when you're feeling more motivated. Strive to find that motivation now.


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Five Most Common Character Archetypes

By On February 15, 2016
What is one tool you can use to craft well-liked, relatable characters? It's something you probably already use subconsciously.

What is a character archetype, you ask?
First off, when you think archetype, don’t think stereotype. You can have an archetype without having a stereotype. This confused me when I was first learning about archetypes, because they do sound like stereotypes! Here’s a quick definition of the two:
  • Archetype: Simply put, an archetype is anything that recurs in literature, like settings, symbols, themes, or characters.
  • Stereotype:  is defined as “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.“
So think of it this way. An archetype is like a picture frame. It’s something that’s been tested over the years and is known to work. However, your job as the author is to give that frame a picture: your unique character.
Twisting the cliché.
Think of a mentor figure. What comes to mind? A grizzly old man or woman? CLICHÉ ALERT. I’m not saying an old man shouldn’t be your mentor, because in real life, mentors are typically older. More life experiences lend them more wisdom. I’m just saying you should probably carefully assess that character to make sure he’s not a clichéd character with no real depth or personality. Because everyone’s mentor is an old person. What distinguishes your character from others? If necessary, give him some quirks that will round out his character and make him more memorable.
But, what if your mentor isn’t an old person at all? Say you make your mentor… a cricket? (Pinnochio)) See, now you offer your readers something fresh, something new, while still using the tried and true foundation.
So here’s a few of the most common character archetypes. Since I just mentioned him, let’s talk about the mentor first.

The Mentor

The mentor is the one who gives our hero advice throughout the story. He typically trains and prepares the hero for the battle to come, especially in fantasy. Often, his only assistance to the hero is indirect (through training or advice and what-not), but in drastic circumstances he may intervene directly. Gandalf is a classic example, but also Yoda (Star Wars).

The Hero

Everybody knows this one. The hero is typically the protagonist (main character). He’s the one we want our readers to be rooting for throughout the story. The hero is pursuing a goal (or many goals) throughout the story, but there will be many obstacles in his way. The hero normally overcomes his obstacles and achieves his goal by the end of the story. You can probably name plenty of examples on your own, but a few are Beowulf (Beowulf), Louis Zamperini (Unbroken), and Hiro Hamada (Big Hero 6).

The Villain

Ah, yes. We can’t forget this very important character. The villain is our primary source of conflict; he strives against the hero as the hero tries to achieve the goal. Many times, the villain is the foil to the main character, meaning his primary flaw will mirror the hero’s primary attribute. Villains are often power-hungry, self-serving individuals. But your villain should be evil for a reason. What from his past made him who he is today? If you have no answer to this question, you may want to go back and give your villain some backstory.
Examples of villains abound. El Macho (Despicable Me 2), Charles Kemp (Beyond the Mask), and Captain Hook (Peter Pan)

The Everyman/Everywoman

These characters are exactly what they sound like. Normal, ordinary people you would bump into on the street. At some point, they face extraordinary circumstances and find themselves in situations they have no control over. Unless your hero is also an everyman/everywoman (mine is), then these characters are just trying to get through life’s difficulties. They have no moral obligations to complete a goal.
These guys aren’t nearly as easy to spot, but if you’re on the lookout, you’ll find them. One good example of a hero/everyman blend is Alladin (Alladin).

The Innocent

These characters are sweet, kind, and compassionate. They are pure in every way, incorrupt though surrounded by hard or dark circumstances. They often are child-like or children, which is great, because it gives you an opportunity to twist the cliché! What if you made your innocent a robot? (Walle-E) Or a teenage girl with a dream? (Tangled)

That’s not all, not in the least bit! Those are just the five most common ones. Here’s a list of a few others one  I found.
  • the lover
  • the outcast
  • the damsel in distress
  • the hotshot
  • the dumb brilliant blonde (Ahem. Ahem.)
  • the town drunk
  • the gentle giant
  • the town bully
Every character is different, and the options are boundless. So don’t let character planning be a boring, rushed-through sort of thing that you have to do before you can start writing. Have some fun with it, and twist those clichés!

(BTW it took me FOREVER to format all of that, so I hope you enjoyed! :P)


Friday, February 12, 2016

Why Every Writer Needs a Blog

By On February 12, 2016
Hey everyone and welcome to Fishing for Ideas! I’m so excited to get started! I know many blogs start with a “The Purpose of This Blog” post, or something along those lines, but I’m going to attack this from a different angle. Instead of telling the purpose of my blog , I’m going to give you some reasons about why I decided to start a blog.

So here goes:

  • It gives us a place to practice our writing.
Yep, that’s right! You actually get chances to practice writing on a blog. (who knew?)
  • It gives us the opportunity to connect with other writers.
I’m not sure about you folks, but I don’t know very many writers. (Personally, that is. Well, except for my brothers, which doesn’t count.) You guys may be in vastly different situations, but for me, this reason is legit. Having a blog is a great way to connect with other people who share your interests and can encourage you along the way.
  • It gives us a place to share our writing.
Yes, I know. This one can be HARD. Opening up to the world like that (because pretty much anyone can see your blog if it’s public) can leave us feeling vulnerable and exposed. But it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and SHARE THAT WRITING. Guess what? You may be surprised that your writing actually isn’t as horrible as you had thought. (And don’t tell me you have never thought your writing is horrible before. Trust me, we all have those phases.)
  • It gives us a valuable tool for improvement.
Once you get over the whole “My writing is awful no one will like it I can’t bring myself to share it with anyone” thing and actually share your writing, then guess what? Even if some people don’t like it (romances aren’t for everyone. Ahem, ahem.), others will.  And when people criticize, just use that as a springboard to improve your writing. Don’t let it get you down. Instead, show them you appreciate and consider their suggestions. Does this mean you have to take the suggestions of every single person who ever reads anything you write? Absolutely not! You’re the writer; it’s your choice. But considering the suggestions of others is a definite way to improve. Especially when the aforementioned “others” are potential publishers. (Or published authors. Envy, envy!)
  • It helps us stay motivated to keep on writing.
We all have those days. Those days when you feel like you can’t do anything but sit on the couch and eat. (Yes, eating is an important part of that.) But when you have a blog with followers who are expecting you to post, BOOM! Motivation level skyrockets. Now that you know you need to get something out there to satisfy those hungry followers, you’ll naturally be much more inclined to write- well, something.
  • It gives us an excuse to write in something other than our precious novels, or autobiographies, or novellas, or whatever you’re writing.
I know, I know. Your first reaction to that may be “My novel is amazing I would never want to write in anything else.” But let’s be real. We all get tired of writing in the same project over and over and over again. And while these projects still remain our primary focus, every once in a while, we long to write something new. A blog is a nice way to mix things up, and get more practice in more varieties of writing.
Like, not even kidding, nearly every author I can think of either has a blog or website or both. It’s a great way to get publicity and to tell about your book.
So, there’s my first post. Hope you all enjoyed!

~ Jonathan



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