Save the Cat! Writes a Novel Book Review

This book review of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody is for all the novel writers out there who might need a little extra help with plotting their novels.

Save the Cat! breaks down the essential plot points, or beats, of writing a novel in an easy to understand and follow way. Jessica looks at popular novels from all genres, dissects them, and explains what make them work so writers can use the elements in their own novels.

Reading Save the Cat! is like having a conversation with a friend who understands the struggles of plotting a novel, and wants to pass on what she’s learned to help you. This is not a dry, boring how-to book. It is a hey, we’re in this together, let me help you book.

The fifteen chapters cover:

  • Creating the story-worthy hero
  • The end of all your plotting problems
  • Ten genres to fit any story
  • Detectives, deception, and the dark side
  • When life gets in the way
  • Join ’em, leave ’em, or take ’em down
  • Being extraordinary in an ordinary world
  • Surviving the ultimate test
  • Victory of the underdog
  • The transformative power of love (or friendship)
  • A little bit of magic goes a long way
  • Road trips and Quests and Heists, oh my
  • More than just a scary story
  • How to write killer loglines and Dazzling Synopeses
  • You got problems, I got solutions

Something for everyone.

The section I appreciate most is Save the Cat! Beat Sheets in the plotting section. Jessica showed how writing is divided into three acts and further divided into fifteen total beats or plot points. She detailed each beat with examples of how they worked in popular novels. Additionally, she showed how to break the beats into a workable storyboard.

Although Save the Cat! is an easy read, it is not a book to rush through. Not if you want to absorb all the book offers. It is a book to take your time reading, highlight, cogitate on, apply to your writing, and read all over again. At least is was for me.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for the W.O.W. blog tour.

You can find my May Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Answers to Our Prayers

A devotion in Streams in the Desert is the basis for today’s post. The first line says, “Often it is simply the answers to our prayers that cause many of the difficulties in the Christian life.”

Think about that statement for a moment, won’t you?

After considering the thought, do you agree? On the surface, it might make us question praying at all if praying leads to difficulties.

However, looking at the statement closer, it really makes sense.

If our goal is to become more and more like Christ, then the things in us which aren’t Christ-like need to be removed. I don’t know about you, but it has been my experience that this removal process often causes discomfort.

We pray for patience…God sends situations into our lives that push us to our limit.

We pray to be unselfish…God presents opportunities to sacrifice for others.

We pray for humility…and as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12, God sends a “messenger from Satan” to beat us up and keep us from becoming too proud.

We pray for increased faith…God tests our faith and dependence on him to the point of breaking.

We pray for gentleness…God sends situations which make us want to respond harshly.

We pray for a loving spirit…God sends the most annoying people ever into our lives.

We pray for peace…God sends storms which threaten to pull us under.

When we pray, we can be assured nothing reaches us our Loving Father didn’t plan or permit. And in the planning and permitting, God desires our best in his answers to our prayers.

Even when he answers in ways which are difficult.

I believe this poem by Annie Johnson Flint sums it all up.

Better Than My Best

Annie Johnson Flint

I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;
But while I swayed, weak, trembling, and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.

I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;
But while I sat in shadow, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.

I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber drugged from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;
But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and perfect peace I knew.

I thank Thee, Lord, Thou wert too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought,
Since these rich gifts Thy bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;
Giver of good, so answer each request
With Thine own giving, better than my best.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:25-28 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks.

You can find my May Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

By the Rivers of Babylon

To me, Psalm 137 is one of the saddest psalms written. It speaks of Judah’s captivity for seventy years in the land of Babylon.

The psalm uses words like weeping beside willow trees. Hanging stringed instruments on branches because the joy to sing no longer existed. Whether they felt like singing or not, their captors, their tormentors, required the captives to sing them happy songs of Zion.

How could they sing happy songs in this foreign land away from all they knew? All they held dear? Apart from the temple? How could they sing joyfully when their hearts broke?

The captives pleaded with Jehovah not to forget to repay those who razed Jerusalem and burned it to the ground when Babylon, that evil beast, entered their city.

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet warned Judah time and time again to turn from their wicked ways of idolatry and follow God’s commands. The people refused. Jeremiah warned them if they didn’t repent and turn back to God, God would send his servant, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to the city. God promised when that happened, all of Judah would become a desolate wasteland. For seventy years after that, the people would be forced to serve the king of Babylon.

Like the prophet Habakkuk, I often wondered why God used the Babylonians to conquer his people. As Habakkuk said, “We are wicked, but they far more! Will you, who cannot allow sin in any form, stand idly by while they swallow us up?” (Habakkuk 1:13 TLB)

As LeVar Burton said on Reading Rainbow, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.” I suggest you read Jeremiah and Habakkuk to see what happened.

Anyway…the Israelites’ captivity was a consequence of their choices and activities. Although the people refused to turn back to God, God never turned away from them. He never stopped loving his people.

Between the lament at the beginning of the psalm and the fiery passion against his tormentors at the end, the psalmist declared if the day ever came when he forgot Jerusalem and God’s covenant with his people, may he also forget his musical skill. If he failed to love Jerusalem and God more than his highest joy, may he also never sing again.

As God promised, seventy years after the people of Judah were taken into captivity, Persia destroyed Babylon. The once mighty conquering nation was conquered. The land became an everlasting desolation, and God’s people were allowed to return to Jerusalem.

In our life there may be times we find our self weeping beside the rivers of Babylon. We hang up our harps. We can no longer sing a happy song. Life is just too hard. Our tormentors require us to sing, but we can’t. Not now. And we wonder if we ever will again.

Yet, with the conviction of the psalmist, we can remember everything our Lord has brought us through. We can remain convinced we will sing again in the land God promised us after our captivity ends.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Weeping, we sat beside the rivers of Babylon thinking of Jerusalem. We have put away our lyres, hanging them upon the branches of the willow trees, for how can we sing? Yet our captors, our tormentors, demand that we sing for them the happy songs of Zion! Psalm 137:1-4 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks.

You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Guest Post – I Am Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Today’s guest post, I Am Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, written by Dave Peever first appeared on Live 4 Him.

That’s a lot of people inside my head but don’t worry because the title is a little misleading. A more accurate title for this post would be, I Wish I Was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. For those not familiar with my “I Am _____” series, this is usually the part where I add the disclaimer about me knowing that my name is really Dave followed by something that eludes to the fact that while I may be Dave I am still  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or whomever the title suggests I might be. This time is different. This time I can only wish I was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

I am Peter more than I am Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

If you know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you know that they were faced with certain death if they did not bow to the gods of the land. Their willingness to go against the king even if it meant death is already a character trait that makes me says, “I wish I was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” I would like to think I would be willing to give up my life in this way but when faced with death I am more likely to be the Peter at Jesus’ trial than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

There is a certainty in what they said that I wish was part of my faith.

It isn’t just that they were willing to die, that makes me want to be Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It isn’t just that they went against the king’s order even though they were threatened with death. I wish I was like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because of what they said.  “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. Daniel 3:16-17 (NIV)

This is what the comic books call a crossover.

Their strong faith that God not only could but that God would do the miraculous is what is often missing from my prayers and public declarations. The promise that the Holy S***** (a bad word in many people’s churches) would clothe us with power, the promise that signs and wonders would follow those who believe and the promise that we can ask in Jesus’ name and receive is all but gone from my faith walk. As I have said before, it could be based on my fear of being let down or the watered down teachings about a God who has a plan and anything I pray is irrelevant. It really doesn’t matter why I believe that God will not act, that the Holy Sp**** will not perform miraculous works that point toward the creator of the universe, all that matters is that I am unable to speak with the same boldness that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did.

I know there is more.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego continued, “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:18 (NIV) It is so easy to use this last part to support my often watered down doctrines. I can cling to the idea that God most likely won’t step in when I pray. I can say this story was a rare display of God’s power and that even they knew that it most likely wouldn’t happen even though it did. This becomes an excuse to weaken my prayers and my faith that God will act.

They were convinced that God would save them.

I was not there and I am not Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego but I do believe that the final statement they made, “But even if he does not…” was not them hedging their bets. I do not believe that they were laying out their beliefs with an exit strategy just in case God did not act. I will go out on a limb, take a chance that great biblical scholars will correct me. I will add my interpretation to this part of scripture fully aware that I may have it wrong.

Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego added the line “But even if he does not…” to show that their faith was not based on the fact that God would save them but rather their faith was placed in God no matter what, not a god but The God.

Holy Spi*** is power for those who believe.

The Holy Spir** promised by God, God’s Spiri*, has the same power to do the miraculous that was exhibited when the three did not die in the fiery furnace. The prayers we pray have power and the answers God gives are perfection in the same way. We can count on the Holy Spirit being treated as a bad word and the belief that God still performs miracles through that same Spirit being ignored because it is easier to not take the chance that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did and say God will act.

I believe, the God we serve is able to deliver, and He will deliver us. Even if He doesn’t, I still believe because He is God.

Who is Dave Peever? I am a follower of Jesus the Christ. My specific call is to creatively present various aspects of life as a Christ follower and as a member of a collective of Christ followers I use my background as an actor, director and playwright/writer as well as my music, preaching and leadership skills to assist churches in transition (between pastors) with their desire to be more effective. I have been married for 31 years. We have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren all who currently reside in central Ontario Canada. I have been in ministry for 22 years.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Gluten-free Eggplant Casserole Recipe

Pilot created this easy gluten-free Eggplant Casserole the other night. All I can say is, Delicious!

  • 1 eggplant peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 thinly sliced green pepper
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 14 oz fire roasted pizza sauce
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 1/2 oz crumbled Feta cheese

Saute first five ingredients. Pour pizza sauce over vegetables. Stir until heated through.

Pour into 8 X 8 casserole dish. Cover with Feta cheese.

Bake 350 degrees F until bubbly. About 20 minutes.

Serve with roasted potatoes or rice.

Enjoy!

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.