Monthly Archives: October 2017

Southern Sands Newsletter

Big news for this month, Matt Damon followed me on Twitter, and I don’t need you to tell me it’s not the real Matt Damon. I’m happy living in denial; however, I also experienced a Twitter hater. Yikes! More about that later but still waiting on Prince Harry to follow me.

As October comes to an end, hopefully, it is starting to feel like autumn where you live. My family traveled to Athens for a UGA football game, but alas not so much fall there either. However, winter came to Jacksonville overnight this weekend. I guess we will just skip fall this year.

I am excited to share updates on my writing journey with you. In November, I will have my second flash fiction piece published in Spark magazine. It is titled Waterford Crystal Dreams. Carlton and I visited the Waterford factory on our trip to Ireland in 2016, so it was fun to revisit it as I wrote this story. If you would like to read Waterford Crystal Daydream, click on this link: Spark Magazine

You know you’ve arrived when you get your first hateful comment on Twitter. This happened to me last month over a re-tweet from Proverbs 31 ministry on prayer. I was stunned, but I figured I must be doing something right to get this kind of response. Are you on Twitter? If you are, I would love to have you follow me and say nice things to combat the bad. Leslie’s Twitter Profile

As I meet more authors and learn more about the publishing industry, I am learning how important good book reviews are for success. Hundreds of books launch every month, so a new author needs help to get noticed. If you read a book and enjoy it, I encourage you to leave a quick review on Amazon and Good Reads. It can be one sentence or just a couple of words. It won’t take you long, but it will pay dividends to the author. (By the way, if you didn’t like the book, it would probably be best to follow the time-honored advice: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.)

Lastly, I want to say thank you to Amy and Joey Baldwin, owners of Boulevard Café and my mother Tina Kirby for hosting wonderful parties for my friend and mentor Lindsey Brackett author of Still Waters. It was a lovely day on St. Simons Island visiting with old and new friends. Also, thank you to my friends who read Lindsey’s book and came to our first book club meeting. It was such a treat to have Lindsey here to talk about her story.

My next newsletter won’t come out until January, so please follow me on social media for more updates on life and writing and please share things you find interesting with your friends.

Faith in Seasons of Waiting by Lauren Luckhart

Lately, it seems, my life moves from one season of waiting to another. I would be willing to bet, too, that most people would share that sentiment. Maybe it’s because there are deep-seeded longings in my heart that are still at arm’s length, or maybe because I’ve reached the age where big milestones are spread farther apart, but I am keenly aware of the waiting seasons in my life right now.

Full confession? Learning to surrender my timeline has been hard. Really hard. I’m a work in progress. We live in a world of instant gratification and self-entitlement and I’m often guilty of impatience. There’s an old saying that says something to the tune of, “While your waiting for an open door, praise God in the hallway.” Waiting is difficult, especially when what we’re waiting for is a desire so deep we can think of little else. But the greater dependence on God that waiting creates is something I’m learning to be grateful for. When I realize there is nothing I can do but pray and trust God in a situation I can’t control, it draws me closer to Him, and renews my spirit to the truth of His provision and goodness.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is James. If you’ve never read through James, I encourage you to take 20 minutes and read it today. James 1:2-4 is a life verse for me. It says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV) In this verse, we are challenged to view our trials with joy. Waiting can so often be a trial. Yet when we rest in the truth that God meets us in those trials, equips us to stand, and supplies our every need, our faith grows.

Can waiting be a testing of your faith?  Absolutely! But let’s refocus our prayers from seeking what we want, to seeking God’s will, no matter what. We must be careful not to let our desires become idols. If God places something in our hearts, and His word teaches that, “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NIV), then we must believe that even if His answer is different than our desired outcome, it’s for our good. That takes big faith, friend, and surrender. God moves in His timing and for His glory, and as I look back and trace His hand in my life, I’m grateful for His perfect leading.

What are you currently waiting and praying for while you’re standing in the hallway? Is there a job you’ve been working toward and you’re praying for an interview and offer? Is your raw and aching heart praying for that pregnancy test to finally read positive? Have you put everything within you into the manuscript that’s now in the hands of an agent, editor, or publishing house, and you’re waiting for the email that could change the course of your writing journey? You’re not alone. I’m in the hallway with you, praying for you, and hoping this season reveals to you in new and mighty ways, how good and loving our Father is.

Author Bio:

Lauren Luckhart is an aspiring Christian author of Historical Romance. Having been born in the South but raised in the North, she now calls Chattanooga, TN home and is loving every minute of Southern exposure.

An avid history and movie buff, she can be found regularly geeking out over historical facts and blockbuster films. In addition to spending time with her close-knit family, Lauren is a coffee and travel enthusiast, crochet hobbyist, graduate of Bryan College with a B.S. degree in Business Administration, hair stylist of eight years, and loves to connect with others on social media.

Social Media Handles:

Facebook: @authorlaurenluckhart

Instagram: @authorlaurenluckhart

Website: laurenluckhart.com

 

Research Makes a Good Story Great

In the South, when we invite you to a barbecue, the only meat being served will be slow smoked pork, so if you’re expecting hot dogs or hamburgers, you’d better head to a cook-out. What does this have to do with writing fiction? Everything because nothing is more distracting in a story than when an author gets the facts wrong.

When I started writing fiction, I never dreamed I would spend so much time researching, but accuracy is important. I just finished reading a book that is supposed to be set in coastal Georgia less than two hours from where I was born and raised. I’m already a little irritated that the characters have yet to utter a “y’all”, but then they say they are looking forward to the barbeque, and I’m expecting pulled pork sandwiches or ribs. But no, they are eating hot dogs and hamburgers. It is so wrong. It would be fine if they were somewhere else in the country, but barbecue is an important part of Southern culture. You just can’t get something like that wrong. And now that I think about it, those characters haven’t once eaten grits or pecan pie.

Lately, I have spent hours learning about helicopter pilots. So much so, my daughter asked me if I was going to become a helicopter pilot. Did you know a helicopter can cost over $300,000.00? I didn’t, but it changed the plot of my next book. This girl wasn’t going to be able to afford to buy her own helicopter, so I needed to figure out how I was going to make the story work. When I wrote my flash fiction piece, Waterford Crystal Daydream, I wrote lists of Irish slang and watched videos of glass blowing, taking copious notes. I probably spent more time researching than I did writing the seven-hundred-word story, but I loved it. (And now for a shameless plug, if you want to read Waterford Crystal Daydream, go to www.splickety.com and register for a free subscription. Spark will arrive in your inbox next month with my story. Yes, I said free.)

Of course, all this research is good news for me because I love it. I did spend several years as a research attorney. Although sometimes, I probably go a little overboard, going down rabbit holes or getting bogged down with an insignificant detail. Like the day I spent two hours trying to figure out what kind of flowers are at the beginning of My Fair Lady. I had my answer in five minutes after I put the video on Facebook.

Research for fiction writing isn’t just about an online search. It is about experiencing all aspects of your characters’ world, and it can be a lot of fun. For example, when my heroine wanted to learn to stand-up paddleboard, I bought a paddle board and learned how. That being said, I have been on a helicopter, and it resulted in terrible motion sickness, so I won’t be experiencing that again, but won’t it be funny when my big, strong firefighter finds himself trying to keep down his breakfast while impressing the female pilot. Oh, I can’t wait to write that scene.

Research is also great for brainstorming, not to mention, it’s a legitimate way to procrastinate. It can supply material for new scenes or even new stories. You might find an interesting blog post to share on social media. As writers, we spend a lot of time in front of a computer, but research takes us out into the world, engaging with God’s creation in all its forms, so we can share it with our readers.

What factual errors irate you the most when you’re reading fiction? What are some fun things you have gotten to do in the name of research?

A Work in Progress

Some days I feel like such a fraud—as a writer, as a mother, as a Christian. How about you? I remember the first time I thought this. I was listening to a speaker at a Christian writers’ conference. A lot of people there thought I must be successful because I’d won a few awards and had an agent, and I played along like I was the confident person they believed I was. Meanwhile, all I could think about was the rejection from an editor and the likelihood of my award-winning novel ever being published slipping away.

Last weekend, I spent two scorching days melting in the oppressive heat and humidity of Orlando, Florida, watching my youngest son play in a soccer tournament. I’m telling you if you ever want to see me lose my religion in a flash, come to a soccer game. If it’s not the referee making a bad call, it’s the rude parents from the other team or the kid that keeps shoving my son. Before I know it, I’m confessing my behavior to our long-suffering Father and begging for forgiveness.  But then, of course, we have to get on the interstate and drive home, and well, you know the drill.

How can I call myself a Christian? What kind of example am I to my children? Sure, I lead two small groups and teach Sunday school to teenagers, and I have started calling bad drivers, “sweetheart and princess.” But what would the church crowd think if they saw me at my worst? More importantly, what will the new Christian think or the unbeliever? I say I’m faithful, and yet, I doubt and worry. I think judgmental thoughts with a self-righteous attitude. Gracious, by the time, I finish this post, y’all will think I’m an awful person, and I might lose my Sunday School teacher position, but I think it is important, to be honest—to be real. (And since most people are afraid of twenty high school students in close-quarters, I don’t have to worry about being fired quite yet.)

It is not enough to ask for forgiveness, so I pray every day to be a blessing to others, and God is working on me. We all have our issues. We all sin. We all make mistakes because like I tell my children, there was only one perfect person, and his name was Jesus. Yes, dear friends, we are all frauds at some point, but hear the good news: with Jesus, there is hope for transformation. The Holy Spirit can change us and our thoughts. We have to give it all to Him and seek His direction. We must earnestly repent, and then pray for those people who cut us off in traffic.

In First Corinthians 1:27-31, Paul writes encouraging words for all of us less than perfect people. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

God gives us the strength and wisdom, and when we succeed, we give him all the glory. Surely, we understand that it is only through His power and love that great things happen. Friends, if you don’t know about this love, this power, this grace, and this freedom, please know it is a gift from God and all you need say is yes.

How has God used your weaknesses to do his work? How has God taken something small in your life and made it something great? Let’s share. I’d love to hear your stories.

Flash Fiction: A Surprise in Seat Two

 

Happy Fall, Y’all. Now, if the weather could get the message.  Since this is the first week of the month, I have posted a flash fiction piece on the website. The title is A Surprise in Seat Two. It takes place in the summer, as Cammie works with her Nana giving tours on the antique wooden trolley. Just as boredom sets in, Cammie is surprised by someone from her past. I hope you enjoy it. Please follow the orange link below.

A Surprise in Seat Two