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Month: July 2022

A SHORT STORY: Enemy of the Soul by Lorilyn Roberts

The aging woman drew the window blinds even tighter. “No light,” she declared. “Light hurts my eyes. I mustn’t let in the light.”

She stuffed towels between the blinds and the glass window and taped the blinds to the windowsill. She lived alone, locked in self-imposed solitary confinement with little human contact. She wanted nothing—not love, not pity, not even comfort. Those emotions were for humans who still felt human, but she had become a fragment of humanness long ago. She didn’t want to feel. She only lived to conquer the terror that welled up in her heart during the day and the predator that invaded her room at night.

“Why did they construct windows in this room?” she lamented. “I could keep ‘it’ out if it weren’t for the windows.”

Tap-tap-tap. The knocking on the door alerted her that her meal had arrived. She grabbed some cash from her cash jar and opened the door for the delivery man.

“Keep the change,” she said, which was hardly a tip, but enough to keep him coming back the next day.

She wasn’t going to eat right away, but the smell of chicken and rice soon filled the room. She relented. Pulling up a chair, she sat beside the covered window—an obsession that filled her with dread, but her weak-willed spirit held her in bondage.

“I will conquer ‘it’ tonight,” she mumbled. “I won’t let ‘it’ into the room.”

Night came earlier in the winter months, and soon shadows filled the room, etching strange patterns on the walls. She heard whispers through the window, the rattling of the blinds, and the lisping tree branches scraping the window. The screen had long ago been mutilated by “it.”

“No,” she cried out. “You can’t come in.” She tried to hold “it” back, the monster that wanted her. All night she fought it—with every ounce of physical and emotional strength she possessed. But “it” always won. She would fall asleep exhausted when “it” left at the first ray of sunlight. “It” hated the light—more than “it” hated her.

“If only I could be set free of my misery,” she wrote on a piece of paper. “I don’t want anything except to get rid of ‘it.’”

Her husband had abandoned her, and her children had cut her off long ago. Somewhere on those streets below the window, they lived. “I must tame the window. I must keep ‘it’ out. I must conquer the enemy of my soul.”

She didn’t need love. She didn’t need anything; she was quite capable of taking care of herself. If only she could destroy “it.”

Then one day, she heard a different kind of knock. “Who could that be?” she muttered. Months had passed since anyone had come to see her. She timidly approached the door.

“Who is it?” she asked.

“I have a package for you, Ma’am,” the voice said.

“A package?” she asked.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

The woman unbolted the door, and a postman who held a small brown envelope greeted her. “Can you sign here, Ma’am?”

The woman initialed the package receipt and closed the door. As she strolled toward the unkempt bed, she read the name, “U.C. Little.” Her heart skipped. She hadn’t read that name in years—her ex-husband. Why would anyone be sending his package to her? She tore open the envelope to discover government papers inside.

Her ex-husband would need these papers, but she wouldn’t send them to him. He should have taken care of this a long time ago. “Am I my ex-husband’s keeper,” she smirked.

She took great delight in tossing the papers aside. “Another chance for me to get back at him. He took away my dreams. He doesn’t deserve anything from me.”

That night, the darkness grew fiercer, and nightmares invaded her mind. The intensity of the spiritual attack made it difficult to tell the natural world from the unseen realm.

The next morning, feeling tired and disheartened, she fixated her eyes on the covered window. “I can’t keep ‘it’ out. I’m lost,” and her defeatism brought her to her knees.

“It” is winning,” she admitted. “I’m dying.”

“If only…I could do things all over again.” She turned to the table where the government documents lay discarded.

Weeks passed as she lamented her inability to defeat “it.” With her strength diminishing, she was ready to give up. Living only to beat “it” was futile. She wanted to die, but that would mean “it” had conquered her. Never!

One morning, she heard a knock on the door. She recognized it as the knock she’d heard once before. “Another package?” she mused. “Surely not.”

She went to the door, and indeed, the same postman stood there with another brown envelope.

“Can you sign here, Ma’am?”

The woman complied and shut the door. But this time, she didn’t tear the package open and dump the contents on the table. Instead, she sat by the covered window with the envelope on her lap. Did she want to spend the rest of her life cut off from the world, from her children, from everything?

“What a waste,” she heard a voice say. Startled, she glanced around the room, but no one was there.

She stood and walked to the dresser, pulling out a pen and envelope. Where did her ex-husband live? She returned to the window chair and peeled back some tape from the window blind. Eclipsed sunshine peeked through the open crack. Dull from darkness, her eyes flinched at the intense brightness.

What would U.C. Little think about the package when he received it? She attached a note—unthinkable a few weeks earlier.

She smiled, delighted that she could see the light—bright, unrelenting light. It didn’t matter what U.C. Little thought—she could see the light.

Jeremiah 9:21 (KJV):  “For death is come up into our windows, [and] is entered into our palaces…”

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The Art of Conflict in Writing Conflict

 

I should be an expert in writing conflict. After all, I was on the debate team in high school, and a seventh-grade boy wrote in my yearbook, “You would argue with a signpost if you could.” I’ve had my share of personal conflict—family problems, ex-husband, relationship disappointments, and yes, my own report card of failures.

As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve had a first-class seat to some of the most spectacular conflicts on the planet. I worked for twenty years as a court reporter. The adversarial nature of the job left me exhausted. I would sit at my stenograph machine for long hours each day, between attorneys and hostile witnesses, recording the barrage of questions about lost reputations, cheating husbands, financial ruin, and hearts broken–high-powered lawyers bent on winning at all cost.

The conflict raged within me as I hated being at the center of it all. The louder they argued, the more nervous I became. Please don’t ask me to read this back. It’s hard to write well when everyone is yelling at each other. If I could count the number of strokes hit on my stenograph machine, the amount would not be measurable. Conflict abounds and sometimes borders on murder in a courtroom, where truth isn’t always the ultimate goal. Because experience and memories shape our worldview, to this day I cringe at the thought of going back to that life–please God, never again. I don’t want that conflict.

Today I work as a broadcast captioner for television and write as little news as possible. Very few upbeat stories get reported and I have grown weary of captioning sensational beats about kidnapped children, victims of abuse, Washington bureaucracy, and a world at war–at the gas pump, in the Middle East, and a host of ideologies that scare me. I cherish my freedom and don’t want it taken from me. (Yes, I do feel much of what I love about my country is eroding). But most of all, I hate captioning tragedies that could have been avoided. Life can be very depressing and steeped in conflict.

As much as I hate conflict, as an author, how do I use it in fiction? Or do I even want to create a painful conflict for my protagonist? Do I shy away from building a story that needs high-stakes conflict to create a fabulous, climatic ending? Or can I use conflict to remind me of a nobler purpose in God’s eternal plan?

Put into the context of life, is there a reason behind the conflict which we encounter every single waking moment of our lives? Is it not the result of the stinking sin in myself and others? How do I resolve this paradox in my writing?

Fortunately, as writers, we have the freedom to go where our heart and art takes us. Unless I write poetry, however, I won’t have a story without conflict. Acknowledging that the dénouement is what makes a story remarkable, I can set the scene for redemption before I begin the first page.

In the 1990s, Hollywood released a lot of box-office films that had downer endings; the bad guy won, the problem wasn’t resolved the way I wanted, or the main character died. I quit going to the movies.

My mantra now is I refuse to write, read, or see movies where there is no redemption. If I feel stuck without a good moral choice in life, I will search for it. God can bring redemption out of the worst possible circumstance. There is good in the world if we look for it.

In writing a great book, there should be something in the dénouement that causes the reader to grapple with the story’s action-idea. The unraveling of the conflict must result in a satisfying conclusion.  I don’t want the reader to feel as though he has been cheated by mediocre creativity or immorality that wins.

While our stories imitate life, the climax needs to reach a higher level of “being.” When I read a story, give me more. Give me excitement worth remembering, knowledge extraordinaire, and thought-provoking ideas. I want to relate to a protagonist that overcomes incredible odds and wins. Beauty, love, peace–we are not sufficiently redeemed to appreciate this trilogy of goodness in all its meaning, but because writing imitates life, we can catch glimpses of it in a redemptive ending.

As an author, my passion is to bring a “taste of heaven” to this earthly kingdom inhabited by kings and peasants, and all of us in between. That means what I write must linger. I must create meaningful connections in the reader’s mind after his eyes have read the last page. I wield incredible power–to bless or curse. As a Christian, I want to captivate the reader with words that are uplifting, powerful, thought-provoking, and life-changing. That might seem impossible, but the greatest stories ever written have those qualities; unique characters engaged in mortal conflict, either internal, physical, or both.

I write where my heart takes me, digging into my past, and seeing what God stirs up from within. I write for myself first and then for others. It’s up to each of us to decide how we use the “rules of writing,” acknowledging that those words will live on long after we are gone–for good or evil. History is replete with both.

I can’t dilute the plot to avoid conflict. I want redemption to reign supreme in the last chapter. I must weave the nature of fallen man into the story through conflict, knowing that I have the answers that a sinful world craves. I can do it subtly or not so subtly, but if I compromise on either, I will weaken the story that God has given me. Great conflict deserves great redemption.

How does conflict work in writing? The conflict must propel the story forward and relate in some way to the protagonist’s nearly unreachable goal. There must be clear turning points (three-act structure works well), and there should be the main goal and at least one minor goal. Often the minor goal relates to character development (so the protagonist can reach his main goal).

With “up” endings, the protagonist wildly succeeds and goes through a metamorphosis in the process. He is not the same at the end as he was in the beginning. Despite his character flaws and numerous obstacles, he overcomes the odds and achieves his dream or even something better. Surprise endings are always the best

I have wondered if there is a higher standard for writing novels than the Aristotle tradition of dealing with conflict, but for a different reason. I want to write great stories in heaven, and in heaven, there is no conflict. What shall I write? Maybe I will become a poet. If you are one of those saints, pursue your calling with passion; keep writing those beautiful sonnets and songs. When my world becomes steeped in shadows, I turn to the Psalms and relish those soothing words of comfort and security.

In the Bible, Jesus knew the evil tentacles of life would strangle his listeners if they succumbed to their base nature, so he told amazing, redemptive stories, steeped in conflict, to reveal profound truths. If I follow that example, perhaps I can conquer my inner conflict of wanting to avoid conflict and write a great redemptive story–which must abound in conflict to end in perfect redemption

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A LOOK BACK: Seventh Dimension – The King: A Young Adult Fantasy, Wins Gold

 

Literary Classics is pleased to announce that Seventh Dimension – The King has been selected to receive the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. The CLC Seal of Approval is a designation reserved for those books which uphold the rigorous criteria set forth by the Literary Classics review committee, a team comprised of individuals with backgrounds in publishing, editing, writing, illustration, and graphic design.

Seventh Dimension – The King, by Lorilyn Roberts, is the highly engaging story of Daniel, a young boy who aspires to become a doctor. His family is Jewish, but they do not practice their faith. In fact, Daniel is not sure if he even believes in God. When he unexpectedly finds himself transported in time to the days of Jesus, he is granted a front-row seat to events that actually took place in the Bible. He meets John the Baptist, Pontius Pilate, and is witness to the spectacle of a mute whose speech is miraculously restored.

As a result of this wildly adventurous experience, Daniel seeks discernment to unravel the mysteries of Jesus and his relevance to the Jewish faith as it applies to himself and to others.

Author Lorilyn Roberts has skillfully incorporated fantasy, time travel, history, and religion into a book that is entertaining, educational, and inspirational.

The King is the second book in the series but reads well as a stand-alone. The religious components are such that they are not likely to be off-putting to those who might not otherwise appreciate that element. But history and religion buffs are sure to appreciate the depth provided in this book which makes it all the more engaging to read.

Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth while encouraging positive values in the impressionable minds of future generations. To learn more about Literary Classics, you may visit their website at www.clcawards.org or www.childrensliteraryclassics.com

 

Share with your friends, family, church, and cohorts.

To learn more about Seventh Dimension – The King: A Young Adult Fantasy, book 2, click here.

 

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