Internal Conflict: Writers Weigh In

Conflict. It’s what makes readers keep turning pages late into the night, and what helps writers know what to put on the page next. Some conflicts are fairly obvious: blizzards, runaway trains, or moustache-twirling villains are pretty easy to identify as the enemy.

But what happens when your real enemy is . . . you?

That’s what writers call internal conflict, and it can be subtle.

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As I read this month’s releases from Bethany House, I noticed that all of the main characters had a great story arc involving internal conflict. Yes, things are happening outside of them: a mistaken identity, hostage negotiation, impending murder, and blackmail. But what really drew me into the story were the unique and nuanced issues that each character faced. Here, the authors and I talk about the characters’ internal conflicts.

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To learn more about Judith and her books, go to judithmccoymiller.com.

Andrea Wilson
From A Shining Light by Judith Miller

Judith’s Take: For several years Andrea Wilson faced the consequences of a bad choice. A choice that destroyed her trust. Now, unexpected events have thrust her into life among the Amana Colonists in Iowa. If she is to ever find the peace, safety, and love she desires, she must learn to trust God as well as the people who have given her shelter. When trust proves more difficult than she anticipated, she must decide if she will rely upon her own understanding or finally trust God.

Amy’s Take: Sometimes communities like Amana are so peaceful that they seem far away from the problems of the outside world. When Andrea brought some of those problems into Amana, I loved watching how the people there loved and protected her. Sometimes trust doesn’t come easily, and I appreciated the realistic way Andrea struggled with that. Continue reading

Our Authors’ New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2014, everyone! In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I sent to following question to several of our fiction authors:

If you had to pick one fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) to work on in 2014, which would it be?

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For me, of course, the answer was simple. I mean there’s . . . but also . . . and what about . . . hmm. Maybe all of them?

To help me narrow down my choices, I read what our authors had to say. Here is how they responded:

Janette Oke

Oke_Janette

All needed. All should be developing daily. I would love to see each one of them in my own life: plump, and rich in color, and ripened to the tastiness they were meant to be. To pick one—it would be love. Because love is needed for each of the others to develop to full potential. Delicious possibilities!

Siri Mitchell

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Patience. I think that as a fruit of the Spirit, it’s highly underrated. Mostly people just kind of skip over it for the more “righteous” gifts, but we live in such an impatient world. It’s easy to get caught up in the “right-now” culture, but really, impatience is making yourself and your needs more important than everyone else’s. So patience is what I’ll be working on this year.

Lisa Wingate

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This being the empty nest year of my life, I think mine would be joy. As a mom who always loved being a mom and loved all the routines that go with being a mom, I’m working on finding joy as life turns a corner. When one (dorm room) door closes, another door opens.

Kathryn Cushman

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Self-control. It’s a constant struggle in almost every area of my life. It’s the main reason my favorite verse is Psalm 9:10, “And those who know Your name put their trust in You. For You, O Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You.”

Laurel Oke Logan

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I tend to be a passion-driven person, so I would like to balance that with more self-control.

Melissa Tagg

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I think faithfulness—although, let’s be honest, I really could stand to use some work on patience and self-control, too. But I feel like in the past year or so, God has constantly been reminding me of His faithfulness . . . there is something so amazing about that constancy. It makes him dependable and trustworthy. I would like to be that way as much as possible in my own life: faithful, dependable, constant.

Leslie Gould

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I’d pick joy! We live in a broken world, but God’s redemption is evident everywhere. In nature. In humans. In art. In stories. I want to be aware of that redemptive work and rejoice in that beauty. I want to delight in creation and relationships and knowing God is ultimately in control.

Victoria Bylin

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Kindness, definitely. I work part-time in a doctor’s office. Every day I see people going through hard times. A little extra consideration—opening a door, getting someone a tissue—goes a long way to brightening that person’s day. It brightens my day too! We all need help now and then. It’s a fact of life.

Karen Witemeyer

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Self-control. That sweet tooth of mine just keeps insisting on having its own way, and I give in far too often.

Kate Breslin

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I could certainly work on them all, but I’ll choose faithfulness. As a new author, I’ve experienced a lot of “firsts” in publishing, both exciting and challenging; to keep my faith constant that all will work according to God’s plan is a blessing to strive for!

Lynn Austin

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Peace. I would like to get to the place where all of the disturbances in life, major and minor, don’t ruffle my composure or make me lose sleep.

Dani Pettrey

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Joy. It’s been a difficult couple of years with a lot of loss, but also with a ton of good. Isn’t it funny how God brings joy in the midst of heartache? This year, I’d love to dwell on the joy and praising God for it.

Melissa Jagears

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Love—I’m really busy at the moment and my kids and husband and other loved ones need to know that I love them. God too. And so I need to make sure I carve out enough time to show them in 2014.

Patrick Carr

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I’d choose them all! If I could only choose one, it would be self-control. This last year with work (I’m a teacher) has been such an eye-opener, and the change in perspective has been difficult but very worthwhile.

Anne Mateer

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Definitely joy. I have a tendency to get bogged down in all I have to do or things that are going on in my life and forget that the joy of the Lord isn’t dependent on my circumstances but on what He has done for and in me.

R. J. Larson

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I would choose love. I hope to reflect true and boundless love for everyone in this fallen world, even when some people challenge ideals I cherish, or threaten those who are vulnerable. Practicing and reflecting love also helps me as I pursue the other fruits of the Spirit.

Elizabeth Ludwig

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Patience. No doubt. I am not a patient person, and reminding me of that only makes me more impatient. Thank goodness the Lord does not grow weary with me. He’s got to shake his head every time I forget to put on the fruits of the Spirit.

How about you? Pick a fruit, and tell us a little bit about why you chose it.

The Joy of the Season: Elizabeth Ludwig

Christmas is a special time for my family. I love everything about it, from the music to the decorations—even the mad rush of finding the perfect presents. I especially love the holiday movies. There are a handful I watch every year, no matter what: A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version) and It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart. I also like While You Were Sleeping because it makes me laugh, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Bet I surprised you with that last one, huh? Still, it’s just not Christmas until Linus gives his famous speech.

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008

The past few years, however, have been quite different from my experience growing up in the wintery north. Since moving to Texas, we’ve traded snow days for hurricanes and Yule logs for bonfires held outdoors. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is the annual parade and lighting of the Christmas tree downtown. Afterward, my family and I pack up a thermos of hot chocolate—even if the weather is eighty degrees outside—and head out into the neighborhood to find the best lighting display of the season.

Christmas in Texas

Christmas in Texas

Of course Christmas isn’t just about lights. Many years ago, my husband and I started a tradition that has become one of my kids’ favorite things about the holiday. We noticed that after weeks of anticipation, Christmas morning came and went in a mad rush of shredded paper and gifts swiftly examined and tossed aside. To avoid this, we began opening presents the week before Christmas, one gift per day for the seven days leading up to Christmas morning. Instead of ripping open a present and tossing it aside, our kids savored each gift and shared them with their friends. One year my daughter wore a sweater she had received to go Christmas shopping. Later that night, we sat down as a family to enjoy a video my son received. It was our way of extending the joy of gift-giving but also teaching our children to appreciate the giver. It’s in that appreciation that our children learned to hold close to those important people in their lives. Continue reading