In each of The Caden Chronicles the publisher includes questions about the case that Nick Caden, and readers, must answer. Before presenting the novel to your reader, ask what your child already knows about the subject. For example, in Dead Man’s Hand Nick must uncover the killer of an actor playing the roll of Billy the Kid.
After reading the first chapter, ask if the story makes sense; this is called “monitoring understanding,” — a fancy, term that means “the ability of understanding something.” In my day we called this comprehension. If chapter one lacks clarity to your reader, ask them to re-read and make notes of where they became confused.
Note any supporting details they found interesting.
Have them write down questions they may have about where the story is going, why a character reacted the way they did, any clues they believe the author included on purpose.
Ask them to read aloud.
Suggest they write down the chapter’s main ideas.
Ask them to list any problems characters overcame.
Ask them how a character changed in a chapter. Characters who change are putty people: external circumstances reshape putty characters. A character’s will and inner strength will often resist change. Ask them to note that struggle as well.
Ask them to describe what they think will happen in the next chapter.
Once they are several chapters into the story, ask them to predict how the story might end.
Ask your reader why the author describes settings the way he does, how he uses dialogue, humor, or suspense for effect.
What new words did your reader discover. What words might your reader have used instead of ones the author chose?
Have your child write down unfamiliar words on sticky notes and if the word’s definition is not made clear by the story, look them up later.
In the beginning God created (Genesis 1:1). That is who God is. This is what God does. God creates.
In the beginning the Word was with God. The Word was God. God created the heavens with spoken words. When we speak words some may listen. Even a smaller number may understand and appreciate what we say. Fewer still will think our words profound.
But when God speaks he creates. Things that were not, become real. What takes effort, months, years to create, for us only takes a word from God.
In the beginning before there was anything we know of as life, earth, stars, planets, single-cell whatevers that would, according to some, become cave men, there were different genres of stories.
The first type of story we find is fantasy — “world-building” stories where things are not yet come into existence. One reason fantasy is so popular among young adults and children is that they offer escapism from the pressures of school, to fit in, to be popular, the fear of what’s to come. By dropping into a different realms, readers escape worry of climate change, social change, cultural change, and that most dreaded change of all, locker room change for gym class.
When we create worlds and peoples in our head we tap into the creative Spirit of God. For some, for a good many, this be pure joy. Fantasy is a joy to read, a joy to write, and we could say that fantasy is the first genre we find in the Bible. Before the fantasy story there was nothing but a world-building creator.
Imagine you could go back in time to that moment before the earth came into being and watch the Creator at work.
“The earth (page) was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep (screen), and the Spirit of God (fingers of God) hovered over the waters (keyboard).” Genesis 1:1
This is the beginning for all writers. We start with a blank sheet, a blank screen. God began the same way, only with God, his work is effortless and perfect.
We do not know how many heavens God created. From our tiny perspective on land and sea we can only see the one heaven above us, but we know there are more “heavens,” possibly more worlds.
This blue ball we sail and walk upon is within a galaxy consisting of anywhere from 100 billion to 400 billion stars. If you wanted to sail across the earth’s “heaven”it would take you 100,000 light-years. That sounds like an enormously long passage on a sailboat, and it is, but it is small compared to other “heavens.” The galaxy next to ours, the Andromeda galaxy, is twice as wide: at least 220,000 light-years across. And another galaxy, IC 1101, is almost 4 million light-years across.
With fair winds and following seas a stout sailing vessel could possibly cover one light year in 75 million years. It would take a crew aboard such a ship “100,000” of these 75 million earth years to sail cross our “heaven.”
Somewhere far above us God lives in a space so wide and deep and big that we cannot imagine it: lives there and yet loves us so much he made all Creation for our enjoyment.
God loves you so much he created you in his image.
God loves you so much he breathed you into existence and made you a living character in his story.
God loves you so much that even when we, as characters in this story, refuse to believe he exists — refuse to believe there is an Author behind this story — he still loves us and seeks to “write” us back into the character we were meant to be.
Imagine you are writing a story and one or millions of your characters refuse to follow your will. In fact your characters “take on a life of their own” and run off in ways you had not envisioned. At first this might be fun and exciting but in time you realize your characters are ruining the story you envisioned for them.
How to fix this? you wonder. I know. I’ll write myself into the story. Then my characters will see my true nature and understand that I have only their best interest at heart.
So you, the author, become the “son of the author” in your story. Only, in order to save all your characters you must take the blame and punishment for every murder, theft, lie . . . slight every character has committed. We are a people who demand justice and cannot rest until justice is served. Only by taking the punishment for every character in the story will all the characters see how great is your love for them.
This is the story of mankind. This is the story of God.
God created a story, created characters, wrote himself into the story, died for his characters, rose from the dead — because as Author he has this power — and now he awaits to see which of his characters will recognize that their small life on earth is not nearly as insignificant as they once thought. In fact, they are immensely important in a story that spans galaxies, universes, and time itself.
If you are someone seeking answers, looking to make a difference, hoping for something more than what a short life of 80 years or less offers, turn to the Author of your story.
The Bible is God’s love letter to you. The words you read in the Bible are the very words of God. Men acted as scribes, but like any author, God served as final editor, author, and its inspiration. He is, after all, the Creator.
All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:2). You who have received the law that was given through angels (Acts 7:53). “The Lord gave me two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words” (Exodus 34:27).
Believe the story or call it pure fantasy, only think on this: before you came into existence someone conceived of you, perhaps planned for you, wondered how you might turn out.
For me to believe that I matter, my life matters, and my actions matter makes perfect sense. For me to believe that every person who has ever been born matters in God’s story makes perfect sense. For me to believe that you matter, regardless of how horrific the circumstances of your life, makes perfect sense. For me to believe that God created every man and woman who has ever lived in his image makes perfect sense.
But I know for most this is pure foolishness. I suppose in the end it comes down to this one question: do you wish to matter in the way God destined you to be, or simply exists as cosmic matter?
How you write the end of your story is up to you.
Email me if you wish to chat about any of this. I’m a member of North Raleigh United Methodist Church and attend worship services at Bayleaf Baptist. I minored in religion at Meredith College. (Yes, I know Meredith is a girls’ school. I was lucky in that way 🙂 I am a graduate of Bible Study Fellowship. In years past I have served as a Methodist Youth Fellowship counselor, middle grade, high school, and adult Sunday school teacher. I am co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries and founder of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Other than being an eighth grade boy stuck in an older man’s body I’m pretty normal 🙂
All authors of Christian fiction are welcome to enter. They do not have to be members of any set group. There are seven categories available: Long Contemporary, Short Contemporary, Long Historical, Short Historical, Women’s Fiction, Romantic Suspense, and Novella.
The FHLRCA is the only contest that is solely for Christian fiction and judged by readers of Christian fiction who are not involved in the writing industry. This is an excellent opportunity to get your author’s work in front of new readers who love to tell fellow readers about books they love.