Martin Luther Had Pamphlets, You Have Manifestos

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Over the past few months, I’ve been studying reformation. The historical figures Martin Luther and John Knox. The not-so-distant Nazi opposers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and those involved in the White Rose Movement. They had one main thing in common: their reformation came through information. And that information was printed on pamphlets.

When the rebellious Benedictine monk acted on his righteous indignation over the travesties enacted by the Catholic Church, he nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Castle Church door.

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They were soon printed—along with many other works—on pamphlets distributed far in wide to the German masses.

The young people who headed up the White Rose Movement made their non-violent protests against the inhumane acts of the Nazi-powered Third Reich distributed their righteous beliefs in the form of leaflets.

These were short works, manifestos, expressing their beliefs, values, and guiding principles. When a reformation occurs, it often comes with manifestos that outline its belief system.

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Some not-so great examples are The Communist Manifesto, The Homosexual Manifesto, The Humanist Manifesto, and a worldwide “favourite,” Mein Kampf.

However, there are some other excellent, godly manifestos as well such as A Christian Manifesto  by the late Dr. Francis Schaffer as well as The Reformation Manifesto by Prophet Cindy Jacobs. (I own both of these and they are EXCELLENT, RIVETING reads!)

We may not all be reformers in the areas of religion and government, but maybe you are a thought leader in another area. Business, writing, dancing, whatever! God gives us all ideas for our spheres of influence. It’s our job to share those ideas and belief systems with the world.

With the advent of eBooks in iPad, Kindle, Nook, and PDF formats, it is now easier than ever to express these ideas through eBooks and manifestos.

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I won’t pretend to be Luther, Bonhoeffer, or Jacobs, but I do have the mind of Christ!

Write your manifesto today! Nail your theses to your walls on Facebook, tweet them on Twitter, pin them on Pinterest, and share them on Tumblr!

You have no excuse.

Get to writing!

P.S. Check out this Google Image search on manifestos and find what piques your manifesto-writing interest!

 

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Giving It Away–For Free

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You may consider this blog a sequel to “An Author’s #1 Enemy.

I remember when I first discovered Tyler Perry. DVDs of his plays would come into our house. Hopefully purchased *fingers crossed*, many borrowed, and we fell in love with Tyler Perry.

This was when the now movie mogul was doing the “chicken circuit” in the “black areas” of the South, East Coast, L.A. and the like. The only actors we recognized were the likes of Tamela Mann and any other who might have previously sung with Kirk Franklin and the Family (back when Kirk was still singing on his albums—a LONG time ago).

I wasn’t the only one who got introduced to Mr. Perry this way. Black folks across America did. Some of you reading this probably did.

Then, even in his humble beginnings, we became part of Tyler Perry’s tribe.

Now look at him! He’s just released a blockbuster hit,Temptation based on his stage play The Marriage Counselor. He’s got a new drama series (translation = soap opera) on OWN called The Haves and the Have Nots, is doing some Madea-Sophia collaborations with Oprah which is a stupidly brilliant idea, joining the Madea andThe Color Purple franchises the way they are, and that’s just this summer!

And guess what, he’s not just catering to black people now!

The man is literally creating a new, minority-friendly Hollywood in Atlanta and there’s no stopping him now.

You don’t have to like him, but you must respect the hustle.

But if you ask me, it all started with the bootleg DVDs.

Now pleeeease hear me, I am NOT supporting piracy. However, I AM promoting free, worthwhile gifts from your entity to the world.

If you are a writer, you can write an eBook or manifesto. (I’ll blog on manifestos next.)

If you are a singer, you can drop a mixtape.

If you are a choreographer, you can teach a free boot camp.

Whatever your specific niche is, you can discover a way to serve your gift for free.

(This is also a really great way to gather honest testimonials on your work.)

Here’s the key: what you give away must be of undeniable value to the recipients.

Think about it: if you give away your mixtape or eBook to 5; 50; 500; or 5,000 people, that’s 5; 50; 500; or 5,000 people who wouldn’t have been exposed to your work otherwise.

AND if your product is of value to those people, they’ll pass the word along—or the product itself—to those in their acquaintance. The possibilities are astronomical.

I’m not promising that you’ll become the next Tyler Perry, C.S. Lewis, or Laurieanne Gibson; however, I will promise what the Scripture promises: that if you are diligent, your gift will make room for you and bring you before influential individuals.

A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. (Proverbs 18:16)

He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. (Proverbs 10:4)

The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor. (Proverbs 12:24)

The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5)

Create something of value to give away today!!

An Author’s #1 Enemy

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Any publisher reading this post would blow of fuse from the content…here’s why.

Because I admonish you to give away your writing.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Don’t give away all of it, but give away something. You guys know I like to give away free PDFs of my work to my subscribers. There are also many other authors who do the same.

We do it for two reasons:

  1. We understand that serving our gift is the most important thing. (And who doesn’t like free gifts?!)
  2. We want as many people as possible to get their hands on our work. The people who think this method is insanity, don’t understand how the internet—and world—is presently set up.

They think if you give away something, you lose, but they’re wrong.

If you give away something, that means someone who previously wasn’t aware of you or your work now knows. And if they like it, they’ll pass it on.

Think about the last bootleg movie you saw. If you liked the movie, you bought it, or the sequel. If you liked the actor(s), you sought out other movies the actor(s) was in. And guess what, you told people about both.

Now this isn’t an advertisement for piracy, but it is a wake-up call that piracy isn’t death to an artist or art form. It’s life.

The enemy is not piracy, it’s obscurity. (Tim O’Reilly)

If people like your eBook, or your podcast, or your video, that they share it with people who share it with people who share it with more people, that’s not a bad thing. Not in the least. It’s amazing! Because now all of those people become your fans.

So now I ask you, what can you give away that would be of worth to someone else?

Check out this post and video of Michael Hyatt discussing this and more with Seth Godin!

We’ll Miss You Gilbert Blythe

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Most of you have likely heard the news: Jonathan Crombie, best known for his portrayal of Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables films, has died.

I screamed in shock and dismay when I first saw the post my sister tagged me in.

Utter heartbreak. And then the tears. O the tears!

“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.” (Anne Shirley/L.M. Montgomery)

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GilbertBlythe_DiamondSunburstsIf you never read the book series or watched the films, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea (you’re excused Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story), then you know why this news is a flabbergasting blow to Anne fans around the world. For most of us, “Gil” was our first love. Not actually, of course, but it felt like it. Gil was the standard for the man we wanted to marry. The one who would be sad they could not promise us any “diamond sunbursts and marble halls” to which we would simply, sweetly, and sincerely respond,

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Marilla would chide us, but I think we can all safely agree that we are most certainly “in the depths of despair.” And while, still disagreeing with Marilla, we are not, in fact, turning our backs on God, we are deeply saddened at this news.

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A brain hemorrhage, at 48! He was so young!

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I couldn’t tell you any other roles that “Gil” played. I’ve personally never seen him in a film other than the Anne Series. But he was the greatest actor in the world to me and many of you, I’m sure. But he never felt like an actor, he felt like friend. A dear, dear, bosom friend. A friend who taught us, while he taught Anne, that it was okay for a woman to think independently, for herself, even if those thoughts went against the grain and ruffled equally the sensible feathers of Marilla Cuthbert and gossipy feathers of Mrs. Rachel Lynde.

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Gil taught us that we too could be bold enough to pursue and sacrifice for our dreams and heart’s desires.

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Gil showed us that even while we may be quite taken with the Roy Gardners and Morgan Harrises of the world, the “tall, dark, and handsome” Doctor Blythe was more than enough for us.

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And even in the midst of friends that come and go, there would be one friend, one man, one love who would always remain.

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Before we were ever teased by a schoolboy and called the equivalent of “Carrots!” there was Gil. And before we ever fell in love and had our first kiss, there was Gil. And no matter how many times we read the books, Jonathan Crombie was always our mental rendering.

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In a word, he was perfection.

I know some of you fellas reading this may think I’ve lost it. Or perhaps your crying mothers, significant others, sisters, cousins, and friends have. But think of the first book you “fell in love with” as a boy. Think of the friends you made through those stories. That is what Anne and Gil have been to women around the world for over a hundred years, and so much more so since the making of the films.

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We had our scare when Gilbert caught Scarlet Fever from the hospital he interned at, but even though, technically, Gil Blythe lives on, on paper, his physical embodiment is gone forever.

We weep.

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A star has fallen from the heavens, never to be replaced.

We’ll miss you Gil.

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Make God Your Writing Partner

PartnershipWithGodYou are not in this alone.

Oh sure, you have your own brains, your own intellect, your own ideas and inspirations. But at some point, not to be a Negative Nelly, those will come to an end. And not even a permanent end necessarily, but a temporary end, a seasonal end.

And you know what? That’s okay.

God’s Word says that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). Therefore, that means that weakness is required for that perfect strength to make an appearance in our lives.

Lucky thing we have loads of weakness for Him to play with.

Sometimes, people ask me, “What do you do when you get writer’s block?” And much to their surprise, I tell them, “I don’t get writer’s block.” Seriously! I haven’t gotten it in years! Granted, I’m not in school or anything, but I am constantly writing. I’m never short on things to say, lol. But more importantly, when I do feel short on things to say, God isn’t. (Where do you think I get my long-windedness from? *smile*)

So when you’re lost and struggling, when you feel like you’re up against a brick wall or trapped beneath a glass ceiling, make God your Writing Partner.

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Some will encourage you to let your spirit guides lead you or let some ancestor, animal, or other otherworldly being give you inspiration. I say heeeeeeeeeeeeeck naw!!! I’m not about to sit here and lie to you and worse, encourage you to come into bondage to a demonic entity pretending to be your furry little familiar. We ain’t about that life, excuse the slang but not the sentiment.

Whether you believe in God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit is entirely up to you.

But if you’re looking for an AMAZING Writing Partner, One who will give you all the words and let you take all the credit (or at least 90% of the paycheck), then pick God. He’s the best possible choice you could make!

Check out the Bethel Media Film Workshop!

DIY Ombre Pen Pots

Ombre Pen Pots from Style Me Pretty | The Lovely Drawer

As you can see in addition to writing and reading, this gal LOVES her some pretty. Pretty everything. And if you’re like me, then you still appreciate the use of pen and paper over tablets and smartphones. So if you’re in need of a reading/writing break, here’s a fun DIY project from Style Me Pretty for you to try out this week-end!

What You’ll Need:

  • thick card (not corrugated)
  • toilet roll tube
  • strong glue
  • ruler
  • packing tape and double sided tape
  • scalpel and scissors
  • baking beads or stones
  • jug
  • plaster of paris
  • water
  • spray paint

Make It Happen:

Step 1: Decide how tall you want your pot and how wide you want each panel to be. I made mine 4cm wide and so measured out five panels 4cm x the height side by side, adding a thinner panel flap at the end. Cut the whole thing out with your scalpel and ruler and score down each line. Don’t press too hard.

Step 2: Cover the whole of the inside with packing tape, leaving no gaps apart from the extra flap. This will allow for the plaster shape to come away from the mould easily. I cut 4 cm strips of tape to try and fit within the panels and allow for a smoother finish on the outside.

Step 3: Then to be on the safe side I put a strip of double-sided tape along the thinner flap (taped side) with the strong glue and pulled the shape together to form a polygon. Fix the flap to the outside of the mould. Hold firmly together for a minute until stuck an then I added some packing tape to make sure the join was sealed.

Step 4: Tape the outside of the toilet roll tube in the same way and then draw round the bottom of both the toilet roll tube and your polygon pot and cut out.

Step 5: Then put some glue around the rim of each and attach to the bottom. Hold in place until they adhere. Then seal with packing tape to reinforce and cover any gaps. You can also do this on each fold of the polygon to protect the weak spots. I’d say go to town with tape on both the roll and your pot shape. It doesn’t need to look pretty right now. Attach tape (I used double sided as it’s so strong) to the inside of the toilet roll tube on either side, lower it into the pot and attach the tape strips to the sides. Go over this with packing tape too if you’d like. Fill the toilet roll tube with baking beads to weigh down.

Step 6: Then mix your plaster of paris and water according to the instructions on the packet. I did this in a jug to make pouring easier. Once mixed pour into the mould. You may need to hold the toilet roll tube down if it starts to bob up. Tape the mould on the table a few times to get rid of air bubbles. If any leaks occur just get your tape and try and patch it up but don’t move it around too much. Leave for at least 2 hours to set.

Step 7: Remove the baking beads. Cut the tape strips holding the tube and cut away your outer mould. Then pull out the tube roll. If you struggle as I did with one of mine, then start cutting strips into it and wiggle it out. Then in a well-ventilated area spray on your ombre effect. You can do this by holding the pot on its side and using the spray paint on its side as well. Do small bursts of paint from the bottom and move the can closer to make it go slightly further up the sides.

Step 8: Leave to dry and then you’re done! Time for this little pot to make a new home on your desk.

See the original post with more pictures at Style Me Pretty!

See also, The Lovely Drawer

Authors as Sub-Creators

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Most of us are aware of J.R.R. Tolkien’s great literary works most recently embodied in Peter Jackson’s silver screen adaptations of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as well as The Hobbit (Trilogy). I am personally a huge fanatic and I presume that many of you are as well. Yet as many of us may be aware of his literary works, I gather that a much smaller remnant are aware of—and actually implement—his theory of sub-creation.

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Created to Create

Tolkien’s theory of sub-creation involves the ability of the human being to create within our own realms of influence much in the same way that we ourselves were created. Now if you don’t actually believe that you yourself were created then, hopefully, as a writer, you can at least imagine that you were.

Think of it: an entire people created in the likeness (characteristics) and image (appearance) of their Creator; endowed with His abilities and powers, one of those powers being the ability to create. Well my friend, if you consider yourself a writer in any capacity, then you have this ability! So how are you implementing it?

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What Are You Creating??

The concept of sub-creation should be of particular importance to those who write stories. When you are a storyteller, you create your own world, your own rules, your own inhabitants and other creatures, etc. I have a little saying that I like to employ that states:

The story is true within the context of the writer.

In my book Faith and the Imagination, I open up addressing the issue that many parents—Christian or otherwise—are concerned with: are fairytales evil? In short, the answer is yes and no. Why? Because what is written reflects the character and nature of the writer. Look at the works of C.S. Lewis and his friend Tolkien: they’re works were good because the authors themselves were good men. Similarly, if you find yourself reading something by a deranged author, the work itself is likely to show hints (at the very least) of that deranged-ness.

As the author, you have the power to create whatever you want and allow your heart, your intellect, your morals, and your particular giftings to shine through. It is an amazing power! So what are you creating? What are you pouring yourself into?

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My Business is to Create

In one of my favourite movies P.S. I Love You, Hilary Swank’s character “Holly” is in Ireland, at her dead husband’s (Gerry) parents’ home. She is reading one of Gerry’s letters and through it, she reminisces on how they first met. The movie then takes you to that to the endearing encounter wherein Holly is convincing her new friend Gerry that she knows poetry. She does not. She then, sadly, yet hilariously, butchers William Blake’s quote. The actual quote is as follows:

Again I ask: what are you creating? Too many of us are busy being “enslaved by another man’s will.” Others still are lost in reasoning and comparing themselves to others and it is not beneficial. When your business is to create, you compare yourself with where you were to where you are now, and more importantly, where you are now, to where you desire to be. You spend your time creating something beneficial, good, and relevant that helps to meet the need of another as well as to “have a little part of you outside of yourself so you know a little more about yourself.”

I will not ask you again what you are creating. Yet I will charge you to go out and create. Do it today! And if you are already creating, don’t stop there! Become better! Improve yourself in every way! You have the opportunity to make this year your own, to wipe the slate clean from last year’s mistakes, and to do better and more importantly be better than you ever were before. If you make this your purpose, what you do create will be just that much more amazing. Sub-create today!

We the Sub-Creators

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The following is an excerpt from my book, Faith and the Imagination! Be sure to get your own copy if you haven’t already!

My favourite author of all time (tied with his long-time friend, C.S. Lewis), Jonathan Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien, developed a theory that was true at the world’s inception and will remain so until its appointed end. That theory is Sub-Creation. Tolkien’s theory, simply put, is the ability of humanity to sub-create in the image and likeness of their Creator. I believe in the truth of this theory and if embraced, the many possibilities and potentialities that can come from it.

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Sub-Creators by Nature

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”…. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26, 27)

This is the original purpose of man: to look and act like God on earth. Therefore, by nature, we are gods. Please hear me out before you burn me for a heretic! When the physician-apostle Luke listed the genealogy of Christ for Theophilus, he listed Christ’s bloodline all the way up to Adam, then God.

Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:38)

This is not the “Son of God” in the sense that Jesus is, rather the “son of God” as the angels are: glorious created beings with the breath of God in us. We are the sons of God and thus, little gods just as the early Christians were called “little Christs”; not Christ themselves, but presumably, the image and likeness of Christ in the earth.

Furthermore, the Psalmist backs this claim up.

I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.” (Psalm 82:6)

He, prophetically, equates the children of the Most High (humans) with gods themselves. We do not reside on Olympus, neither are we demi-gods (half-gods), but again, we are the offspring of God. Therefore, as the “children of the Most High,” “son(s) of God,” are we not then expected and required to reflect our Source of life in our own spheres of influence? The answer is absolutely yes.

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Sub-Creators by Mandate

When King David described humans as “gods” he goes on to say this:

I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.  But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” (Psalm 82:6-7)

He declares man’s divinely royal heritage and in the same breath, their eternal doom.  But why does he do this? Excellent question.

Just the other “sons of God,” the angels, left their “former estate” in Jude 1:6, we too forget and leave our former estates (mandates, positions) when we fail to -create in the world.

When God created us, it was a sovereign act of His unfathomable dominion. He created the universe and beyond to rule, yet as the Ultimate Father, gifted us with the rule of Earth.

The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men. (Psalm 115:16)

In His first and eternal mandate to humanity, God entrusted us with the dominion and authority to rule over the earth and thus, sub-create.

Then God said…”Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  ….Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)

In our spheres of influence, we are to look and act like God: we are to have dominion over everything on the earth accept human beings themselves. And we are to not only have dominion over it, but to “be fruitful and multiply” it. Enter sub-creation.

Sub-Creators by Gift & Ability

Sub-creation, fruitfulness, multiplication—whatever term you like—is not merely procreation. It certainly includes that, yet it is so much more! God created us with the seed(s) of creativity already inside of us to beget not only biological children, but to conceive and beget spiritual children, dynamic inventions, ways to deal with and manage the psyche and emotions, business models, and much, much more (Genesis 1:29-30).

It’s like a Maple Tree: when the seed germinates and grows in the earth it doesn’t just produce roots; it produces the bark to cover the tree trunk, that grows limbs from the trunk, that grows leaves from the limbs, that has sap flowing through it’s veins that winds up as the nectar we smother our waffles and flapjacks with and all of it has the seed to produce millions upon millions of Maple Trees inside itself. Like Maple Trees, we too must flourish and reproduce in the arenas God has planted us in.

A more contemporary example is that of Tolkien himself. The arena God planted this particular man in was language and literature. He flourished and sub-created numerous books, namely The Hobbit and its sequel The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) along with several other accessory novels. Those “accessory novels” encompass The History of Middle-Earth which he also sub-created (Middle-Earth) in the LOTR series. He then sub-created five bona fide languages as a product of those books. And, years later, Peter Jackson, sub-created from Tolkien’s sub-creation the wildly popular LOTR movies series as well as the much-anticipated Hobbit movies in theaters. Movie guides and analyses have been further sub-created by many to serve as accessories and explanations of the movie series.

Sub-creation is something we are not only encouraged to do in life, but made and meant to do. And although it is best executed and appreciated when done from a Christian perspective, the abilities and imagination of God is still very evident in those who may not yet know Him because it is in their nature and because they have managed to connect with their mandate as a human being. So now I ask you: What has God created you to sub-create in the earth? You will never be fulfilled without the completion of that godly mandate.

What’s In a Name?

The following is an excerpt from my book How to Write Fiction That Doesn’t Suck, Chapter 2. You can get your own copy of the full book here

I am extremely particular about the names that I choose for my characters as well as the people groups, geographical places, etc. that show up throughout my stories. It’s actually an ancient, biblical concept to name a thing on purpose because there is a destiny attached to the name.

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The Importance of Naming a Thing

In my book Faith and the Imagination, I recount a story of my best friend Jessica coming to visit me. She had never been to my home before (we met in college and currently live in separate states). While looking around my bedroom, she saw a name plate that I’ve had since I was a little girl. My parents bought one for all three of us children. The plate reads as follows:

  • Name: Desiree
  • Root: Desitee
  • French: “longed for.”
  • Expression: a woman who is friendly with all she meets
  • Personality: a girl who has a strong fortitude
  • Natural: someone who enjoys being witty and carefree
  • Emotional: an individual who has a lot of compassion
  • Character: she provides comforting relief and sustenance
  • Physical: daring, dashing, creative, and inspiring
  • Mental: her family calls her the wise one
  • Motivation: is defiant and fearless in pursuit of her goals

When Jessica read the plate she said: “Dez! This thing describes you to a ‘T!’” And she was right!

I remember years ago when I would look at it and wonder when I would be those things that the name plate said I was or would be. And now in the latter part of my twenties, I can see that I really have grown into the phenomenal woman described on that name plate! I’m not perfect, but this name plate is pretty darn accurate indeed!

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In the Bible, you see that a person’s character was defined by what they were named; the destiny was shaped by what they answered to. Here are some biblical examples of “what’s in a name”:

  • Abram to Abraham: When God wanted to transform Abram into “a father of many nations” he changed his name to Abraham.
  • Jacob to Israel: When God wanted to change Jacob from a trickster into a prince, He changed his name.
  • Naomi to Mara: When Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, was heartbroken over the death of her husband and two sons, she changed her name to “Mara” which means bitter.
  • Simon to Peter: When Jesus wanted to form the “rock” upon which He would build His church, He changed his disciple’s name from “Simon” which mean “reed” to “Peter” which means “rock.”
  • Saul to Paul: When God wanted to change a zealous persecutor into an apostolic (pioneering) powerhouse, He changed his name.

Place names in the Bible were also named for particular circumstances, promises, and more:

  • The Tower of Babel: We’ve all heard about the Tower of Babel in Ancient Babylon where God confused the languages of all the peoples of the earth; they couldn’t understand each other so it sounded like a bunch of “babble.”
  • Luz to Bethel: When Jacob awoke from the place where he saw a vision of the stairway to heaven, he renamed the place “Bethel” which means “House of God.”

There are countless more examples that I could think of:

  • Eber had his son right after the earth currently in “Pangaea form” (all one continent; a supercontinent) broke up and started to separate into the seven continents we now know. Therefore, his son was named “Peleg” which means “divided.”
  • The various wells Isaac dug in Canaan were named after the various situations he experienced whilst digging them
  • Rachel named her second born “Ben-Oni’ which meant “son of my sorrow” because she was dying in childbirth, yet Jacob changed his new son’s name to “Benjamin” which means “son of my right hand” and is an honoured name.
  • Jabez prayed for God to give him a new name because his mother, for whatever reason, had given him a name that meant “pain.”

You may wonder why I am going into such depth over this particular topic. It’s because one name could make—or break!—your entire story.

L.M. Montgomery’s wildly popular character Anne Shirley rebutted Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet speech “What’s in a name?” by saying this:

Well, I don’t know….I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage. (Anne of Green Gables)

Anne, throughout the entire Anne Series, had a habit of renaming people, place names, and anything else she could. Ms. Montgomery created her endearing character with the most amazing imagination, yet I highly doubt that the series would have been half so successful if she’d named her heroine “Ethel.” (I’m sorry Auntie Ethel!) So hopefully now that you understand the importance of naming a person or a thing, we’ll delve into how we come up with the names.

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The Perfect Name

When searching for “the perfect name,” you can allow a character trait to lead you as in 1) a character trait that a person has or 2) a character trait that you want them to have.

Example: If you have a male character that has a fiery nature, then you could name him “Aiden” because in Irish, “Aiden” means “little fire” (Babynames.com).

The number one way I like to find character names is through baby name searches. My family has a book that has logs of male, female, and surnames with their origins, meanings, and variants that I used to look through frequently for inspiration.

I also like searching the internet for various baby naming sites. Babynames.com is a site I like to use that is chocked full of thousands of names from numerous backgrounds that are divided into alphabetical, gender, and origin categories. Here are two examples.

  • William: English for “strong-willed warrior.”
  • Alexandra: Greek for “defender of the people”; see also Alejandra, Alessandra, Alixandra, Aleksandra; Alexander, and Alexzander; see also Alexandria and Alexandrea (Greek for “city of Alexander”).

There are also various ways you can search for a name. Here are some that I employ.

  • Search by Origin (i.e. Celtic, Latin, Teutonic, French, etc.)
  • Search by Meaning (i.e. a name that means “hope,” “pain,” “friendly,” “protector”, etc.)
  • Search by People Group or Occupation (i.e. names related to Elves such as “Elf-friend”, “Elf-warrior,” or “Elf-Prince,” or a name that means “farmer,” “baker,” “miller,” etc.)

You may employ these name search strategies similarly when you are looking for geographical names as well (i.e. place names, river names, mountain range names, city names, etc.).

Another way you can name your characters is based off of people you know or even those that you would have liked to know. This includes you. Here are a couple demonstrations.

  • A Play on My Name: There was a short story I wrote once and I knew it was loosely based off of a real relationship I had. Therefore, I wanted the main female character to reflect me so I gave her a name that started with a “D” like my own real name. Thus, I became “Delandra.” It fit the character and it fit the story.
  • The Name that Wrote a Story: In the story alluded to above, my ex’s middle name was just so perfect that I had to use it for his counterpart in the story. It wasn’t something I set out to do; it just happened. I was walking through the hallways of my university and all the sudden the title, given life through my ex’s name, Othniel, Warrior King, popped into my head.
  • My Late, Mysterious, Paternal Grandmother: My father’s mother died when he was about eleven years old. He barely knew her. So by the time I came around, I really didn’t know much about the woman she was. I’ve seen exactly one picture of her and I know her name. Yet this was enough to cause her to begin appearing in various roles through my own stories. My late Irish Grandmother Rosemary became the old Irish grandmotherly maid set in the 1920s also named “Rosemary” in Tumble into Faerie. She then morphed into the sweet middle-aged, mid-Victorian Era French mother “Rosemarie” in my story Pere Noel, the Christmas Faerie, and Petite Christelle. I’m sure she’ll continue to pop up in my work as I continue to write. It’s my way of getting to know the her that I imagine she was or would be.

Naming places can also be just as exciting as naming people. In the aforementioned story Pere Noel, the Christmas Faerie, and Petite Christelle, a major theme is the loss and regaining of hope and faith. I wanted the town’s name to reflect that since it is one of the major settings of the story. So here was my creative logic:

  1. I need a town name that denotes “hope.”
  2. I remember in the book The House on Mango Street there was a character whose name was “Esperanza.” “Esperanza” means “hope” en Espanol.
  3. I can’t use a Spanish name, so I’ll tweak it to sound French and name the town “Esperance.”

And just that quickly, I’d found the name for my dear little town. Places can also be named after a person such as a patron or the original pioneer who founded the town (another common biblical practice). They can be named after a circumstance, after a people group, after its physical location, and more. Be creative!

People groups are similar to the previously mentioned naming categories. Here’s a popular example that you may be familiar with.

Example: In Tolkien’s Silmarillion, it discusses the birth of the Elven peoples. The Elves are known as the “Eldar.” Why? Because they were the first or “eldest” among the Elves, men, and dwarves to be created.

It may be tricky for you, yet you can, again, pull out that old King James Bible (or whatever translation you have, including the Torah) and start researching those people names. Peoples in the Bible were usually named after the forefather that they descended from such as:

  • Moab: This was the son of Lot by his elder daughter; the Moabites descended from him. They dwelt in Moab.
  • Ben-Ammi: This was the son of Lot by his younger daughter; the Ammonites descended from him. They dwelt in Ammon.
  • Esau a.k.a Edom: This was the brother of Jacob/Israel from whom the Edomites descended; the name “Edom” means “red” because Esau was a red, hairy man. Also, his name was changed to Edom after he ate red pottage (stew of some kind).  They dwelt in Edom.
  • Amalek: This was the grandson of Esau/Edom who was the forefather of the infamous Amalekites from whom the even more infamous Hamaan of the Book of Esther descended.
  • Jacob a.k.a Israel: The Israelites were the descendants of Jacob/Israel’s twelve sons. “Israel” means “Prince of God.” To this day that vast majority of the Israelites dwell in Israel.

The name of a people group, as demonstrated by the above examples of the Edomites and Israelites, can denote a particular characteristic.

There is also another example found with the Jewish people. These Ancient Israelis from the lineage of Abraham have also been given the name “Jew” and to many this has sadly become an indicator of a person or people that will swindle or “jew” you because they have historically been extremely blessed in the area of finances (Rabbi Daniel Lapin).

However, I see the Jewish people and their financial blessings in a different light: if I connect, collaborate, or go into business with them, I am likely to be blessed because of their adeptness with money and their position in God’s eyes. Both concepts are two sides of the same coin; it just depends on how you see them and what you allow to influence your thoughts about them.

LOTR_SwordsandNames2

LOTR_SwordsandNames1

Going back to my example of Tolkien’s Eldar, you can also see certain traits with these people groups. The Eldar or Elves are intuitively wise, prophetic, discerning, and overall otherworldly in nature. This trait can be enhanced and supported by the fact that they were the firstborn of creation—they’ve been around the longest so naturally, they would be the wisest. They are also extremely skilled musicians and artisans as can be seen in their creation of items such as mithril (ethereal Elvish chainmail); Elven swords such as “Sting,” “Glamdring,” and “Narsil” later reforged and renamed as “Andúril”; circlets (crowns), and much more.

I highly suggest that you find a way to keep a log of all the names for the various characters, peoples, and places somewhere so you can pull it out, add to it, and refer to it whenever necessary.

All of these names, meanings, and definitions also make great material for your book’s appendix.

The Name Denotes the Destiny

I have said before that the name of a thing shapes its destiny. You could see this illustrated in the examples of my own name as well as the examples given with the Eldar. I have yet another example of this for you.

In one of my favourite shows Merlin, the young servant of the equally young King Arthur is secretly a dragon lord. His father was a dragon lord and transferred his powers to his only son upon his death.

On one particular occasion, Merlin was able to rescue the last existing dragon egg. Arthur’s father, Uther, had done his utmost to rid the land of Albion (Britain) of its fiery flying reptiles and only one living dragon remained. When Merlin found the egg, he brought it to the wise old dragon and asked him when it would hatch. The dragon told Merlin that the dragon lord had to name the dragon and only then would it hatch from its shell. So that’s what he did.

Merlin spoke the name “Aithusa” and the little white dragon emerged. The old dragon was pleased and prophesied that white dragons were a rare occurrence, yet he believed that Aithusa was a good omen for Merlin, Arthur, and the future of Camelot.

In this illustration, you see two principles:

  • Choosing a Name is a Responsibility, Not a Whim: Merlin needed to discern that name of the dragon hatchling because the name would prophesy the future of the creature and all those connected to it.
  • Speaking the Name Ignites the Destiny: As soon as the dragon was named, the dragon was hatched. When you believe in and name a thing, it initiates the commencement of the course of that thing, person, or people.

These naming pointers are not just for fiction, they’re for life. Yet since you are sub-creating your own world in your own stories, you set the rules, boundaries, and destinies of your world and all that is in it.

If you want to read a great series about what interacting with your characters and actually living in your own sub-created world could be like, I highly recommend Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart Trilogy: Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath.