Fighting Voices in My Head
There’s a current song by Lauren Daigle that has that line, and it has become an anthem with me. While, as a writer, I do have voices in my head (lots of them) there are some that aren’t as welcome. You see, some of those voices are characters, but others are the voices of doubt.
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’re an impostor.”
“You don’t put enough faith in your books to be worthwhile.”
“You’re not really reaching anyone.”
“You write fluff.”
It’s sure easy to listen to those voices. I’ve never figured out why get to be louder in my head than the positive ones, but such is life. I’ll read ten positive reviews and get heartwarming emails, telling me to keep going, and it’s a really good thing they do. I don’t know what I’d do without those when I reach people that my story wasn’t meant to touch. When they don’t like it, or you, or anything, it can ruin your day if you let it.
I think one thing to remember though is that you weren’t mean to touch every heart. Only Jesus can do that. You might only be meant to touch one heart, and that still makes the work of putting your heart out there worth it. The stories the Lord lays on your heart (or touches you with as a reader) aren’t meant for the world at large. Don’t believe me? Go find your favorite fiction title on your retailer of choice. If it’s been around for more than a year, chances are pretty good it has at least one negative review. If it’s a book by a bestselling author, it will have many negative reviews. Not everything you love will resonate with others and things that rub you wrong ten ways from Sunday will be someone else’s favorite book. God just works that way.
I am so thankful for the reviews—negative and positive—for my books. It means they touched someone enough for that reader to take an extra minute to write about it. Thank you to readers of all types for finding your favorites and for sharing them with others.
I’ve had so much fun with my launch team and it’s great to hear about their favorite parts of the story and their reactions to the plot twists.
Here’s some of their reviews so far for Polarized Love, launching Sept 1st.
“4 Things from Polarized Love by Lisa Renee”
1) When her mom died, Beth stepped into the role of mom for her family and pastor’s wife for her church.
2) U.S. Navy chaplain, Lachlan, stops in Australia for the weekend and connects with Beth on a deep level. But with two years left in his commitment with the navy, their relationship can’t go anywhere.
3) Quokkas. An adorable Australian marsupial on the brink of extinction.
4) He shook his head. He could scold her, but no point taming the Australian Female specimen. They were in a class of their own. Fiesty when they wanted to be.”
An epic Australian adventure that is fun and flirty but also deals with serious parts of life such as finding yourself and mental health.”
Naomi Craig, Author
“My first reaction when I met one of the men was No!!! It is important to know what God has called us to do and not to get burned out doing every “good” thing that comes along. In the same way, it is important for a girl to marry the right guy, even though both of her choices are Christians. Bipolar is something I don’t know much about, so I have learned some new things in the process. Very well done!!!”
Kelly, Goodreads review
“Polarized Love is a great book to read, about something that seems like an impossible love. Two people are very attracted to each other but it is wise to start a relationship. A lot is happening in this book, doubt, distance even another fiancé. But God has a wonderful plan for these two people, a great serving future together. A nice christian book.”
Ellen, from Holland
“Great book. So nice to read a Christian book that has Christian principles, ethics and morals. A must read for all Christian young adults. Well written with a surprising twist in the tale. I really enjoyed reading this book.”
“This contemporary romance will take you across the world and back – elicit laughter, tears, and probably every emotion in between. It’s a beautiful story of love, faith, and trust. Lachlan stole my heart from the moment I met him. I couldn’t get enough. I needed him and Beth to be a thing. He was – is – such a swoony hero. I fell hard. But of course, there wouldn’t be a story without obstacles. The journey that Beth and Lachlan had to endure in order to come back together left me riveted. I couldn’t put it down. Renee paints a heartbreaking story with tact, grace, and a unique voice and style. I haven’t read a book that forced so many different emotions through me in a long time.”
Sara Beth Williams, Selah Finalist
A tale of second chances, sweeping romance, and learning to follow God’s path, Polarized Love will take you on a romantic adventure that you must not miss. Tabitha Bouldin, author of Mishaps off the Mainland
Polarized Love begins with a fun, romantic encounter on the shores of Rottnest Island. An American Navy chaplain meets a feisty Australian journalist investigating the Quokka mystery.
Why are the rare marsupials dying on the Island? Will the handsome American, Lachlan Peters, help Bethany Michaels with her cause or distract her from her mission?
Beth has served her family and father’s church faithfully, and now it’s her turn to leave the nest and spread her wings. But does her dad push her into the arms of the right man to launch his daughter into her God-given destiny?
When an American sailor, Nick DeHann, arrives on the shores of the West Coast of Australia, Beth is swept away with the promise of high aspirations. As the rushed relationship unfolds, Beth finds herself torn between following someone else’s dream or settling for the comfort of home and all she’s ever known.
Lachlan Peters returns to San Diego from his time in the Navy and tries to gain his footing in a life that has passed him by. Will Lachlan realize what he’s missing out on before Beth commits to another man?
Chock-full of romantic comedy, fast-paced action, and inspirational romance, Polarized Love offers a life lesson you won’t soon forget.
First six chapters free here!
A Grandmother’s Love
Many of us have been blessed to have those special people in our lives that care for us, cuddle with us, and most importantly—they pray for us. Their unconditional love is what guided many of us thru our rebellious years. They took special care to invest in us when maybe others wouldn’t. These people are our grandmothers.
A grandmother’s heart is the most sacrificial heart on earth. She longs for nothing more than to see her grandchildren thrive and it will give whatever is necessary to achieve that. She will even invite you into her home to live, eat what little food she has, and will pay your bills. At least some will.
I had two special grandmothers like this. They both shared the same name—Wanda. Both lived through some of our nation’s most difficult years, and they both would give what they could for their families.
Grandma A was sassy and bold but if you needed food, she would tell you to come over and take what you needed from the pantry. She always had puzzles, toys, and coloring books for us to play with and the best cookies ever. Grandma M was quiet and prayerful. She and grandpa didn’t have much money but she gave her time, even when her heart wasn’t doing well.
There are two things I remember the most about these beautiful ladies. One, they let me snoop. I was a curious kid and I would love to go over and look through their jewelry boxes and bookshelves. I was always looking in cupboards and dresser drawers (creepy, I know, but I was little). I spent a lot of time with them before I went to school and I stayed with them when my parents went away on weekend getaways.
The other thing I remember is they would let me watch them cook. Grandma A made the best Mac and cheese with meat chunks of some kind. Grandma M could make the best fish ever and we always had it with cole slaw. They spent time in the kitchen preparing the simplest meals for their little charge and it forever impacted the way I saw cooking. With them, it wasn’t a chore. It was done with love. Maybe it is the reason I am not a baker, but I love to cook a good Harty meal like beef stew or a light fish dish like walleye and rice. It is an act of love for those around me like it was for them. It is only natural to carry on the tradition.
(Of course, there are a million other things that I remember about them, but for the sake of this piece, I’ll just talk about the cooking.)
These amazing women have inspired many more than they might have ever thought possible through their faithful and giving hearts. They are also the reason I love the character “Gram” in the Independence Island’s series. She is a combination of both of the most influential women in my life and she expresses her love and care for “Beth” in the kitchen.
Like “Gram” in the series, Grandma M is no longer with us and Grandma A’s health is faltering at the age of 98, but their stories, time, and love will live on through their children and grandchildren and those stories will always be told with a smile on their face.
The Importance of Notebooks
I have an embarrassing number of notebooks. Truly…it’s bad. I am a notebook hoarder. Don’t believe me? Check out my desk.
That’s three notebooks and two Yodas. (I had to flip the top notepad to a blank page so you wouldn’t see my really long to-do list)
And that over there is another notebook under my Bible.
I have four notebooks just on my desk! That isn’t counting the other notebooks stashed on the bookcase behind my desk, the journals in the cabinet in the corner, or the stack of legal pads I always keep nearby.
I am a paper monster.
I like to think it’s because I’m a writer and I’m just trying to be prepared for when the next great idea strikes. This is a valid defense because I do, in fact, have random notes of potential story ideas scratched out in many of these notebooks. There’s one that reads, “Chronicles of Narnia, but with trolls.” I’m still not sure what that means.
I think the real reason I have so many notebooks, journals, and legal pads, is because I am entranced by the beauty of the blank page. There is something ridiculously magical about a blank page. What is it going to become? What could I write here? What poems, songs, stories, or articles are waiting to go on this page?
Blank pages are full of possibility. They are full of opportunity. Every page is a chance to start again, to try something new, to step out in faith and take a risk.
Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Blank pages are like that. It is never too late for us. God’s mercies are new every morning. Every day is a blank page we get to write on, every day is a new opportunity to worship Him, serve Him, and glorify Him.
What is going to go on your blank page?
A Bigger View
I like going away on trips. My husband buys things. Bikes. Dishwashers. Tools. Flowers.
About a dozen years ago, I went on a writers retreat and came home to find a new Sony LED 46’ flat panel television with a Blue Ray player. I told you it was a while ago.
Our first “modern” TV. An upgrade from our old, tube-in-a-box, analog telly. How twentieth century. (Sigh.) The Blue Ray connected to Netflix and Amazon so movie night was a push of a button.
We were so wowed. Little did we know the Smart TV was coming. Anyway, as a bonus, the Blue Ray came with a set of Michael Jackson videos. (hee, hee) I tried to learn the Thriller dance.
The first Monday after the television purchase, I wandered half asleep to my office for a day of writing. Wait a minute. I turned back to the living room and the TV.
Big screen. Modern technology. I ran for my MacBook, wheeled out my desk chair and hooked up to the TV. Voila, I had a 46’ monitor.
One of my writer friends laughed at me. “Are your words six inches tall?”
Not quite. But I did have a bigger view of things. The screen real estate gave me options to view multiple programs. I could zoom in to 200% and still have a whole page on the screen.
I loved that bigger view.
At some point in most of our lives, we climb or ride to the top of a mountain. When I was a kid, my Dad took us to climb the fire towers in the Shawnee State Forest. As my gaze wandered over the peeks and valleys, the world became clearer. It seemed smaller. Life seemed obtainable.
Most of our life is lived in the weeds. You know, the day to day. Work, school, kids, family, chores, bills, you name it.
There’s drama. Then no drama. Anxiety and peace. Joy and mourning.
In the hard times, we may wonder if there is life above the weeds. If God actually sees us and cares for us.
Will our situation ever change. Is there a higher perch that lets us see the end of the journey? Is there a bend in the road?
In those moments, we want a bigger view.
God’s Word is our bigger view. The truths on those pages feed us, teach us, give us hope. Even the lyrical and metaphorical books like Daniel, Song of Solomon and Revelations provide a big beautiful view of God’s love and care for us. After all we are His bride.
He’s willing to let us hook up to a 46’ or in recent technology, 120’ TV monitor of His heart to obtain a wider, clearer view. All we have to do is ask, seek, knock.
About a year ago, I was being “attacked” at night with an irrational fear. I went to war through prayer, quoting scripture and worshipping. But the battle was intense.
One night, I woke up with this fear creeping over me and I moved to the couch so not disturb my husband. I put on some music and focused my prayers. Lord I need help! Irrational fears can really twist a girl up.
Eventually I fell asleep and had a dream where the Lord appeared and showed me what was going on. He relieved my fear by showing me a bigger view.
I woke in peace and that issue has not returned. See, the bigger view the Lord provided helped me see the situation. Suddenly what seemed so insurmountable was actually quite a lie!
The dream gave me the ole fire tower vantage point.
God takes us to the bigger view in many different ways. Through prayer, worship, the preaching of the Word and wise counsel. He speaks through dreams and visions, even the occasional angelic visitation.
“He who has an ear, let Him hear.”
Too often we are satisfied with the status quo, with worldly wisdom. We’re okay with what we’ve been doing for the past decade. We even okay with the struggle and some level of defeat.
We don’t mind living in last century’s spiritual insight or knowledge. We shrugged and confess we “just don’t hear God speak” to us like some people. And we’re satisfied with that confession.
But God speak to all His kids. We all need a bigger view. If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s how the world can change in a moment. I want a bigger view of what God is doing in the earth.
Let’s update our spiritual hunger and thirst to see God’s bigger view. It will bring us hope and peace.
Are you struggling? Ask God for a help. He’ll gives it to you. He’s willing. He’s able. (Psalm 62)
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
A Writing Journey
When I started writing in 2015, I was paranoid beyond belief. If my husband walked by the computer, I would minimize the screen so he couldn’t read any of my work. That went on for three years. For three years, day after day, I wrote stories and refused to let anyone see even a sentence.
Overcoming that fear was about like learning how to swim by being thrown in the water without a life jacket. Sink or swim. I had to decide how I would react to the rejections, because I knew there would be rejections. Oh, boy, were there rejections. I could choose to let them sink my dreams, or I could paddle hard and learn how to make it ashore.
I had to learn how to ask for help. (Yes, I have a terrible unwillingness to ask for help. Runs in the family. Ask my dad.) Most importantly, I had to listen and ask what God wanted of me and my writing. He is the one who gave me the desire to write. Learning the craft, honing skills, and building something worthwhile…that was on me, with His help though the sleepless nights and tiresome days.
Am I cured of my paralyzing fear? In a manner of speaking, yes. But also, no. You see, I can now send a manuscript to my critique group without becoming crippled by fear. But I’m still worried they’ll hate it. Every manuscript is a battle between my head and my heart. My heart says the story is a piece of me, a work of my talent, given by God. I should be proud of what I’ve done, and if they don’t enjoy the story, that doesn’t mean it’s a worthless tale. Meanwhile, my head incessantly pounds that I don’t know what I’m doing. I never should have written this book. No one will like it. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Why is it that doubts always seem to be given more credence than hope, faith, even?
I’m capable of writing some terrible stories. You just have to see one of those manuscripts from 2015 to know that (not that I would ever let you). But those stories still have merit. They can be fixed. And they will be fixed…one of these days…when I can open them and get past the first page without cringing and backing away. Or maybe I’ll take the bones of the story and start over using what I know now. Because ten complete manuscripts are a lot for a writer to give up when all they need is, well, many hours of time and attention.
Let’s halt that detour and get back on track.
What’s changed since I wrote that first book in 2015?
As Kevin McCallister in Home Alone says, “I’m not afraid anymore.” (Most of the time. Because there are moments when I want to run away screaming and never look back.)
For the most part, I know how to swim these literary waters. I’ll still flounder, and I’ll write complete garbage from time to time. I might even think I’m drowning. But I’m not afraid to ask for help, from God and from members of the author world. And I’m not afraid to learn how to better my craft.
If you’re struggling, whether with writing or some other aspect of your life, know that there is hope and peace ahead. It might not feel like it. You might be unable to see beyond the fear, or whatever is pulling you under, but we serve a God who walks on water. He always has a hand outstretched just for you.