Hello. My blogs are mostly about my work as a writer of Speculative Fiction, my faith as a Christ follower, and my childhood in mid-century England. My hope is that something I say will put a smile on your face today and encourage you in your journey.
Your characters have a backstory, a personal history that will shape their life in your novel. They have childhoods, education, loves, conflicts, careers. All of these must be present in your character building for you to see where you need to foreshadow an event. When the event happens, your reader should be able to look back and think, “Oh ya, I kinda saw that coming”, but still be blown away when it happens.
Keeping Track of Where Your Characters Have Been
To keep track of the timeline in your novel use a paper calendar with large squares, create one online using excel or an app, or use sticky notes. If you have room, put these on your office wall. If something epic happens to Lucy on Friday, you need to leave ‘Easter Eggs’ (metaphorically) or have Lucy experience something similar before the epic event. Put a few ‘Easter Eggs’ in the days, months or years leading up to the event. This gets the reader anticipating something and committed to turning the page.
Examples of Foreshadowing
It doesn’t matter that your protagonist was a ballerina as a child unless she’s a ballerina when we meet her in the story as an adult, or there was a traumatic dancing accident which will haunt her throughout her life and shape her future. The foreshadow leads to an event or a realization in her life later.
One of my favourite old movies is Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? A nasty crotchety old woman is just plain mean to everyone. You have to know there’s something in her past that made her change from the beautiful little girl she used to be. As the story progresses, we see her relationship with her sister whom she lives with and cares for. It’s in the dialogue and flashbacks that we learn what happened to Baby Jane.
By far one of the best movies of foreshadowing is Sixth Sense written by M. Night Shyamalan. The entire movie is leading the viewer creepily towards a shocking truth. I didn’t see it coming until near the end. I believed everything until then and was blown away by the ending. I had to go back and watch it again to get all the clues that were left like tiny breadcrumbs. Now that’s foreshadowing at its best!
Where do you need to add a breadcrumb of information that will have your reader saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming! Wait – yes I did!”
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.
On the following pages, you’ll find the Spiritual Gifts Evaluation. Complete it to find out which Spiritual Gifts God may have given to you.
As you willingly accept your gifts from God, ask Him to reveal to you how He wants to use them to accomplish the special assignments He has for you to fulfil your purpose for His Kingdom on Earth.
Legal Stuff you need to know –
You may print out this evaluation for your own personal use or in a group setting but the evaluation is copyrighted as it’s been published in a book, so please don’t use it for any monetary gain such as asking a fee from others to use it or copying it into another book for publishing purposes. If you’re unsure if you can use it for a purpose other than those, please send me a short comment on my website and I’ll be happy to help. (Helps – one of my gifts!)
Are you ready to unwrap your Spiritual Gifts?
Let’s begin –
How much do you agree with each statement? Be totally honest as you are right now, not as you want to be. God can use you right now for His Kingdom, so start where you are now in your life – warts and all! Hold on to the person you want to be – that person will emerge as you seek God with all your heart and trust His leadership. You may see other gifts unwrap as you grow in your faith. Put your answer beside each statement. And don’t be shy – if you know you fit the statement – say it with confidence in the realization that it’s not anything you’ve done, but what God has done through you. Give Him all the glory!
Score as 0 = Not at all. 1 = Sometimes. 2 = Often. 3 = Usually. 4 = Almost always.
__ Q1. I effectively organize people and projects to reach goals in ministry and work.
__ Q2. I have specific plans for reaching defined goals.
__ Q3. I easily delegate tasks in order to make things run more smoothly.
__ Q4. I seek out opportunities to make decisions.
__ Q5. I understand what must be done to accomplish a goal.
__ Q6. I feel driven to start new projects for God.
__ Q7. I enjoy new challenges and taking risks.
__ Q8. I enjoy making a difference in other peoples’ lives.
__ Q9. I would like to work as Christ’s ambassador.
__ Q10. I am willing to work hard to see churches reach their full potential.
__ Q11. I can usually tell right away what a person’s character and abilities are.
__ Q12. I usually know if something is from God, Satan or human.
__ Q13. I recognize inconsistencies in people.
__ Q14. I realize peoples’ true motives for doing something.
__ Q15. I perceive when something is twisted in communication.
__ Q16. I am driven to impact other peoples’ lives for Christ.
__ Q17. I rejoice with people who have put their trust in the Lord in difficult times.
__ Q18. I seek out opportunities to help people reach their full potential for Christ.
__ Q19. I like to be able to inspire people and encourage them.
__ Q20. I rejoice at other people’s success.
__ Q21. I seek out opportunities to bridge the gap between myself and people not of my faith.
__ Q22. I sense when a person is open to the message of salvation.
__ Q23. I have helped many people come to faith in Christ.
__ Q24. I believe love, not logic, wins people to Christ.
__ Q25. I’m deeply burdened for those who don’t know Christ.
__ Q26. I welcome taking risks for God.
__ Q27. I get excited by overcoming obstacles by faith.
__ Q28. I readily accept a challenge that seems like a ‘mission impossible’.
__ Q29. I have a passionate prayer life.
__ Q30. I have a great sense that God is in control of all things.
__ Q31. I eagerly give more than the ten percent tithe in my offering.
__ Q32. I usually give anonymously when I can.
__ Q33. I look for ways I can increase my income in order to give more to the church.
__ Q34. I see my resources as belonging to God so I give beyond what is asked of me.
__ Q35. I know everything belongs to God and I am a steward of His bounty.
__ Q36. I firmly believe that people can be healed supernaturally.
__ Q37. I pray specifically to be used by God to heal people.
__ Q38. I believe healing occurs only by God’s will.
__ Q39. I view medical science as a means God sometimes uses to heal people.
__ Q40. I give God all the glory when He uses me to bring healing to someone.
__ Q41. I like to serve behind the scenes.
__ Q42. I rejoice in the success of others.
__ Q43. I like attention to detail.
__ Q44. I seek out ways to assist others in their tasks.
__ Q45. I don’t need recognition for work I do.
__ Q46. I’m known for making people feel welcome and comfortable.
__ Q47. I seek out people who are alone in a crowd.
__ Q48. I have a strong desire to make people feel loved and accepted.
__ Q49. I see my home as belonging to God and welcome visitors in His name.
__ Q50. I try to promote fellowship in believers when I can.
__ Q51. I have a clear understanding of what the speaker is saying, even if the language is unknown to me.
__ Q52. I can translate messages in a way that edifies and exhorts believers.
__Q53. I am able to convey the meaning of words spoken by other believers to glorify God.
__ Q54. I am able to interpret messages when given by a speaker in a language unknown to the audience.
__ Q55. I am eager to interpret when someone starts speaking in an unknown language.
__ Q56. I devote much of my time to reading scripture.
__ Q57. I love to share biblical insights.
__ Q58. I love to help others understand God’s Word.
__ Q59. I feel strong benefits from studying the Bible.
__ Q60. I delight in answering difficult questions about scripture to glorify God.
__ Q61. I motivate others to work towards accomplishing visions for the future of the church.
__ Q62. I am naturally drawn into leadership roles.
__ Q63. I find it easy to inspire people to work together for the benefit of God’s kingdom.
__ Q64. I easily see the vision for the church.
__ Q65. I am happy to release responsibility to others who are qualified.
__ Q66. I am drawn to meeting the practical needs of others.
__ Q67. I devote much prayer time for the sake of others.
__ Q68. I grieve with those who grieve.
__ Q69. I generally place the needs of others above my own needs.
__ Q70. I feel fulfilled when I visit the sick, homeless, orphans or those in nursing homes.
__ Q71. I recognize prayer as a supernatural way God acts in the lives of people.
__ Q72. I give credit to God alone for supernatural works.
__ Q73. I fully understand it is by God’s will only that miracles happen.
__ Q74. I believe I am an instrument for God’s work on Earth.
__ Q75. When I encounter an impossible situation, I pray and look to God for His will.
__ Q76. I feel driven to help others reach their full potential in Christ.
__ Q77. I look for opportunities to serve others.
__ Q78. I enjoy developing a trusting relationship with a small group of people.
__ Q79. I am happy to give my time to help people with their spiritual needs.
__ Q80. I believe people take precedence over projects.
__ Q81. I am known for communicating God’s Word.
__ Q82. I enjoy sharing my strong biblical convictions with others.
__ Q83. I view myself as an instrument to be used by the Holy Spirit to change lives.
__ Q84. I find it easy to confront others’ motives if they don’t live up to biblical standards.
__ Q85. I frequently receive and share messages from God which comfort and challenge His people.
__ Q86. I spend many hours studying scripture in order to apply the truth.
__ Q87. I enjoy explaining God’s Word to others.
__ Q88. I seek out opportunities to speak biblical truth and principles into situations.
__ Q89. I enjoy helping people learn to study scripture.
__ Q90. I believe God’s Word can be effectively taught by several means.
__ Q91. I believe God prompts me to convey His messages through a language I don’t know.
__ Q92. I often pray for others in utterances using an unknown language.
__ Q93. I desire opportunities to pray for the church in an unknown language which I believe glorifies God.
__ Q94. I share words and messages given to me by God, using an unknown language.
__ Q95. I often comfort or encourage others using an unknown language inspired by God.
__ Q96. I enjoy speaking biblical insights into life situations.
__ Q97. I am often sought out by others for advice or wisdom.
__ Q98. I take great pleasure in counselling others.
__ Q99. I am known for making correct decisions and judgements.
__ Q100. I recognize God as the primary source of all wisdom.
Now tally your results:
Qs 1-5 =
Qs 6-10 =
Qs 11-15 =
Qs 16-20 =
Qs 21-25 =
Qs 26-30 =
Qs 31-35 =
Qs 36-40 =
Qs 41-45 =
Qs 46-50 =
Qs 51-55 =
Qs 56-60 =
Qs 61-65 =
Qs 66-70 =
Qs 71-75 =
Qs 76-80 =
Qs 81-85 =
Qs 86-90 =
Qs 91-95 =
Qs 96-100 =
Now record your highest marks and discover which Gifts God may have blessed you with.
Record your highest three scores. Your supportive scores are listed as your fourth, fifth and sixth.
If you score the same on more than one Gift, write them on the same line then go to the next score.
If you scored the highest on Qs 1-5 it means you likely have the Spiritual Gift of Administration, and so on;
Administration is the Gift which serves and strengthens the body of Christ by effectively organizing resources and people in order to efficiently reach ministry goals.
Apostleship is the Gift which God uses to launch and lead new ministries to expand His kingdom.
Discernment recognizes truth or error within a message, person or event.
Encouragement helps others to live a godly life through inspiration, counselling, and empowerment.
Evangelism is the Gift that enables believers who are blessed to share the love of Christ in a way which draws people to accept the gift of salvation.
Faith helps those who have this Gift to see God’s purposes accomplished; trusting God to overcome all obstacles.
Giving encourages people to joyfully offer more than the usual tithe to further God’s kingdom.
Healing restores health beyond traditional and natural means, to those who are sick and suffering.
Helping offers assistance to others in reaching their goals that glorify God, without thought for their own gratification.
Hospitality provides others with a welcoming environment for fellowship and comfort.
Interpretation is the Gift which understands a message from God spoken in a language unknown to them or others in attendance.
Knowledge is the ability to communicate God’s truth to others for the purpose of promoting justice, honesty, and understanding.
Leadership is given to believers to relay visions of God’s will for spiritual growth and achieving specific goals.
Mercy is the ability to minister to those who suffer physically, emotionally, spiritually, or relationally. Their acts are characterized by their love, compassion, and kindness.
Miracles are supernatural acts that bring validity to God and His power.
Pastoring is the responsibility taken for a group of believers to equip them in Christ-centered living.
Prophecy offers messages from God that comfort, encourage, warn, and reveal truths that lead to repentance and spiritual growth.
Teaching is imparting sound doctrine in relevant ways, empowering people to grow in their faith.
Tongues communicates God’s message in a special language unknown to the speaker.
Wisdom is making wise decisions and counselling others with sound advice in accordance with God’s will.
Now you have an idea of the Spiritual Gifts God may have given you, pray for His will and guidance to use your gifts for His glory and to serve others, as you minister to them in love that flows from Christ.
How Do We Use Our Spiritual Gifts?
If you try out a gift and it doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ go on to your next gift and pray for clarity.
It will help you most if you have, or can find, a local church or one online which preaches the full gospel of our Lord Jesus. Together we build up each other, love and care for one another with the love of Jesus, and minister to the local and global community in His name. If you’re unable to find a local church, leave me a comment and I’ll send you the link to an online church.
A more comprehensive look at Spiritual Gifts and how we can use them to further God’s kingdom can be found in my book THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE KING –
Before we begin the Spiritual Gifts evaluation, we’ll need to understand what Spiritual Gifts are. These passages from scripture help us see how wonderful our Heavenly Father is, that He would give all His children such special gifts!
What Spiritual Gifts Are
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 New International Version (NIV)
4.” There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity.
What Spiritual Gifts Are Not
Because Spiritual Gifts are freely given by God, they cannot be earned or merited. Though working through individuals, they operate and are manifestations of the Holy Spirit, not of the gifted person. They are to be used for the benefit of others and are given to the church as a whole not given solely to individuals. There is diversity in their distribution because the purpose of a Spiritual Gift is to edify (build up), exhort (encourage), and comfort the church by each person using their gifts to glorify God and further His work on earth.
The Difference Between Spiritual Gifts, Natural Gifts and Acquired Talents
Natural gifts (abilities) are innately given by God to all mankind at birth through creation. Everyone has natural gifts even if they don’t recognize them or use them.
Acquired gifts are talents learned through education, training and experience. Most people have access to these at some point in their life.
Spiritual Gifts are given by God through His Spirit and are for the purpose of ministry. They can be developed over time to enable believers to make a unique contribution to the kingdom of God.
Who Gets Spiritual Gifts?
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 New International Version (NIV)
8 “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”
Every believer, at the moment they accept Christ into their heart, receives at least one Spiritual Gift.
Do We All Get The Same Spiritual Gifts?
Romans 12:6-8 New International Version (NIV)
6 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Why Do We Get Spiritual Gifts?
Ephesians 4:11-13 New International Version (NIV)
11 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Do We Get More Than One Spiritual Gift?
Everyone receives at least one Spiritual Gift at the moment they receive Christ. Some may receive more than one. In this evaluation, we look at receiving multiple gifts and how they may be used together for God’s glory. If you think you only received one gift, ask other believers who know you what they’ve seen in your life since you met Christ. Be patient. You may only need one gift right now and possibly others will follow later.
What Do We Use Spiritual Gifts For?
1 Peter 4:9-11 New International Version (NIV)
9 “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
How Do Spiritual Gifts Differ From The Fruit Of The Spirit?
All believers are called to bear the ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22).
Spiritual Gifts are about ‘doing’ while the ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit are about our character.
How Do We Unwrap Our Spiritual Gifts?
In my next blog post, you’ll find the Spiritual Gifts Evaluation. Complete it to find out which Spiritual Gifts God may have given to you.
Are you or someone you know raising a child with Autism? I recently published the second edition of my autobiography as a mother of an autistic child. My son, Benjamin, was non-verbal as a small child and was later identified as having High-Functioning Autism.
(Click the book to link to Amazon and find out more about our story.)
Here are some excerpts from the book —
“Benjamin continued to bring home daily reports day after day throughout the six months. Comments of “Benjamin does not co-operate” filled each activity page. He would come home from school so despondent every day and head straight to his room. There he played alone for the first two hours after school until he felt ready to join the family. It took my seven-year-old son that long to unwind after the stress of school. My heart ached for his struggle to just feel like a good boy…”
“He had drawn a picture of his teachers and classmates fighting, with guns. Some of them were headless, falling off tall buildings, most of them spurting blood! I was horrified when he showed me the picture. I asked him who the people were and why they were fighting. He still didn’t connect with his emotions well at this age, so I didn’t get a clear understanding of what the problem was. I just knew it was serious. This was not the heart of my little boy…”
Here are some Benjamin quotes from the book —
“I’m very good at delivering a punch line at the time it will be funniest. The problem is that I haven’t yet learned to keep my mouth shut when someone is eating or drinking.” – Benjamin
“It is because of me, but it is not my fault.” – Benjamin
Update on Benjamin
Benjamin is now a published author and speaks at churches and schools about his experience growing up with Autism. You can book him here.
In my last blog, I wrote about the value of creating a playlist as you write and for your reader’s enjoyment as they read your books. I said I would share with you my playlist for ‘The Fellowship Of The King – a Christian Geek’s Guide to Kingdom Purpose’. Well, here it is. If you’d like to buy the book to go along with it you can get it from Amazon.
The book is a guide to discovering what your purpose may be for God’s kingdom while you’re here on earth; your royal assignment and quests, what God has laid on your heart to do for others, and the personality, experiences and natural abilities He gave you to accomplish those quests. Quizzes and note pages are included.
‘The Fellowship Of The King’
The first few songs are for the introduction to Kingdom Purpose as we go about our daily lives. Axe or Sword starts the second part of the book which takes you on a journey to discover who you may be in a fantasy realm and what the king there would ask you to do as a Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Nord or Imperial (with leeway to choose any other race you’re familiar with).
The book has note pages to write down what you discover and blank pages for your artistic talent to shine as you imagine yourself in another world. If you would like some inspiration for that, check out my Pinterest board on The Fellowship Of The King.
PLAYLIST titles and artists
Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies) – by Chris Tomlin
There and Back Again – by Chris Daughtry
Bring Me to Life – by Evanescence
These Dreams – by Heart
The Kingdom – by Starfield
Desert Song – by Hillsong
Only King Forever – by Elevation Worship
Mighty Warrior – by Elevation Worship
Axe or Sword? – from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Ring Goes South – from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The White Tree – from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Medallion Calls – from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Concerning Hobbits – from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(For Mountain Dwarves)
Durin’s Folk – from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
(For Deep Dwarves)
The Bridge of Khazad Dum – from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(For High Elves)
Evenstar – from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
(For Wood Elves)
Vox – by Sarah McLachlan
(For Grey Elves)
Breath of Life – from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Minas Tirith – from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
No Quarter – by Led Zeppelin
I managed to find videos to go along with these by simply googling the title+video, but because of copyright laws, I can’t add them here. Those of you who are tech savvy will hopefully be able to create a playlist on your device.
If you think any other songs would fit the playlist, you’re welcome to add them in the comments. Enjoy!
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image with an imagination that invites you to take a step beyond.
I find it helpful to have a playlist as I write my stories and I choose songs that fit with the genre I’m writing in. I learned this from another author and I’m very thankful to him for suggesting this. My playlists are collections of various artists in various music styles, even some instrumental, and follow the course of the story.
For instance, if I’m writing an epic battle scene I’ll usually listen to an instrumental with loud drums and clashing symbols. If my protagonist is departing on an epic adventure and happens to be a halfling, I’ll play all the scores from the entire collection of LOTR, if my protagonist is in the mood for romance — well, you get the idea.
Benjamin T. Collier is the one to thank for this playlists idea. Here, he talks about why he uses playlists to inspire him when writing and as added enjoyment for his reader.
“… Each song referenced in ‘Singularity’ is mentioned by title and musical artist, so readers can find each song online as it comes up in the story. In case some of my readers want to have the songs all lined up already before they start reading, I’ve written out the playlist below, which I played often in the background as I was writing…” Read Ben’s full blog post about his Singularity Playlist by Benjamin T. Collier
How A Playlist Helps Your Reader
Do you find yourself enjoying a show more when there’s relevant music playing in the background of a scene or as a filler? I faithfully watch reruns of Heartbeat, a British show about the people of a small town close to where I was born. The background music takes me back to that era. I may even sing along. Do you enjoy a movie more when the music actually becomes part of the story as in Guardians Of The Galaxy when Quill plays tunes from the 80’s?
Music can enhance your reader’s experience with your story. Give it a try. Maybe I’ll create one for my readers of The Fellowship Of The King and share it in my next blog.
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.
The answer to this question will play an important role in the tone of your entire novel. We listen to other people probably every day in one form or another, in personal conversations, a lecture at school, a boss or characters on a TV show. Notice how the tone of their voice influences you. What tone do you want to convey in a particular scene or throughout the entire story?
The characters telling the story have their own unique voice and, depending on that voice, will tell a scene in a specific way.
8 Points To Ponder For Point Of View
Have you thought about what tense you’ll write in? Will your story read better in past tense or present tense? Past Tense – “Suzie shopped at the mall”.
Present Tense – “Suzie is shopping at the mall”.
When you sit to write each scene, who do you hear talking in your mind?
First Person – “I love doughnuts”.
Second Person – “You love doughnuts”.
Third Person – “Suzie loves doughnuts”.
Omniscient (aka, all-knowing) – “Suzie loves doughnuts but she doesn’t realize they’re laced with a powerful hallucinogenic”. Use this voice sparingly, as when none of the characters knows something but your reader needs to know it.
Choose Your Narrators
Just like in a movie audition, test your characters’ voices to see which point of view sounds best for each scene. You may want to do several viewpoints throughout your story, but remember to not switch viewpoints in the middle of a scene or chapter unless you make a specific break in the narrative. It confuses the heck out of the reader. If you’re new to writing fantasy/fiction keep it simple and write one POV for each scene. You may feel like you want to write the entire story from one POV, but test other voices to see if you can spice things up, add some humour or simply add a different perspective to delight the reader.
Voice Test for POV
Write a paragraph from the author’s POV. This means you just write out the paragraph as it happens, without emotion or opinion. Then write it out in all the voices of your characters who are in that scene. Let them say what they feel and what they’re thinking.
Who sounds good for this particular scene?
Who has an emotional investment in what’s happening?
Who will it influence later in the story as your plot unfolds?
Who sees something no one else does?
“Suzie went to the mall again. I hope she’s not spending all her money. She still has two weeks before her next paycheck”.
“She went to the mall again. Who does she think she is, buying all those fancy expensive clothes? They look ridiculous on her anyway.”
“Suzie went to the mall this morning. She needed to choose a dress for her grandmother’s funeral”.
Do you see how each character changes the tone of the scene? What were they thinking and feeling? Ask them why. Draw the scene out from your chosen character’s point of view.
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.
Resources to check out
Back To The Future – where the twists are revealed by other people’s POV and by the main character.