Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you

We at Novel Matters want to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and blessed New Year. Thank you for all you've contributed to Novel Matters this year, either by commenting on posts, by taking the time to read them, or both. You mean so much to us.

"My mind is on Jesus in this Christmas season in a new way to me: with a new December grandson in the family, our family rejoices in his birth, and in His"  ~  Latayne

"He's as close and personal as the baby in a womb. He is Emanuel, God with us. God with you. Merry Christmas"  ~  Katy

"Jesus, the thrill of hope who came and will come again. Love to all. Blessed Christmas"  ~  Patti

"Look for the gifts given to you this season -- we are sustained moment by moment by God's gifts. Wishing you a season of wonder at His continued, encompassing provision and care. Peace, health, happiness to you in 2015"  ~  Bonnie

"This year brought numerous changes to my life when my husband and I moved from California -- where we've always lived -- to Georgia, leaving family and friends behind. It's been a difficult adjustment, and I continue to pray the move is temporary. But it has made me more aware than ever what is important in life. Being near loved ones and enjoying friends who know you inside and out . . . those things are truly priceless. Not to mention knowing how to get to all the places you wish to go. Change is never easy, and starting over at 62 is no fun. But even through my tears I trust the Lord has a purpose in this. I hope you are able to spend this Christmas season with those you love, and that you enjoy them like never before"  ~  Sharon
God bless you and keep you and hold you close this holiday season and always. ~ Debbie

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Poem: The Birth


The throbbings begin---
The stretching, vague pain,
Then panic and wonder are mixed
Like gall and wine.
I wait, with Mary,
As eternity invades my heart
And the two millennia between us
Efface like the thinning tissues
That frighten her young-girl body.
She gasps, and I do, too;
But for much different reasons:
She is breathless with pain,
I with awe.
The rhythmic pulsings increase for her
And I, too, ride them like a tidal wave;
Anxious for what will break
Upon the shore of eternity
Anxious for Him
To be born again

In my heart

Copyright Latayne C. Scott
image courtesy of

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


The glitter on the creche
Seduces me from how inglorious His comings and goings were.
His feet filthy from offal paths until someone thought to wash them,
His hands unwashed, as the Pharisees noted.
No beauty to behold except in a peek on a peak.
His sandal soles dragging up dirt and fronds, muleback,
A towel around His waist in a shanghaied room,
A lone figure squatting over a breakfast fire.
Loaned food, found tax, borrowed burial.

Inglorious, yes, His going:
The Savior on a stake;

Bookends His coming:

A God in a trough.

copyright Latayne C. Scott
Image courtesy of

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christ, Come Softly

(acrostic poem)

Christ, come softly: the uneven way
Has been prepared. Though angels
Rampant crowd the skies, each one
In his own way praising Thee-- Softly,
Softly come. Through tribulation and joy,
This night whispers hope.

(In exultation, my heart's own voice
Sings! And even the voiceless and deaf rejoice!)

But silvered silence sighs. The skies are emptied now, and
Only for now, this Logos-Child speaks not.
Remembering vows, and veils, and the cup to come, He
Now sleeps. Softly, softly: Christ.

Copyright Latayne C. Scott

image courtesy of

Friday, December 5, 2014



Two days ago was the coming of the great light
The coming of herders
The coming of angels
The coming of the Child
In ratcheting pain,
In water and blood,
In relief and peace.

Above, the star still blasts the stable roof
A white hot light
That has bleached out all the others

She stirs in the shadows cast
By starlight through ceiling slits
Everyone snores, even the cattle
Exhausted with exulting

All is still
All is bright

This, then
Is the fullness of time:
An unwitting world does not know it has waited,
A baby moves tiny lips and does not know He hungers.

This, then
Is the fullness of breasts:
A young girl wonders,
And aches with milk that has not yet let down

(c) copyright Latayne C. Scott
photo courtesy of

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Endings are Hard

After I published my last novel, I received one (yep, only one) FB message asking if I'd forgotten to include all of the pages in the Kindle edition. 


I'd given away 11,000 copies of the book. Were they all defective? Were readers left wondering what happened to the hero? This could explain the poor sales.

I investigated. The ending was there as written, but it evidently wasn't strong enough for this reader. Also, I suspect that her eReaders caught her unaware. Perhaps the ending was perfectly fine, but without the physicality of the book and its diminishing pages to clue her in, the ending fell into her lap. (This has happened to me.)

To determine if I'd written a strong enough ending, I revisited my hero's desires and needs. Did she satisfy her desire, a goal she can achieve within the scope of the story? Yes, her family is intact. As to her needs, does she resolve the thing that is hampering her from leading a good life? Yes, she is able to forgive herself and trust others. 

So far, so good.

Does the ending evoke an emotional response in the reader?

I thought so.

The hero not only has her family, but she reconnects with a love interest. She has a future, not explicitly spelled out but definitely pointing in the right direction. She turns her pain around to accept and love the imperfect. She's taking a huge risk, for crying out loud! 

It's the kind of ending I like. The important points are resolved, and the hero is set in motion toward a promising future with the requisite challenges. There are minor things left unresolved for the reader to play with. 

But some readers aren't as comfortable with ambiguity. They would have us sit our characters around a table to report their plans for the future.


Actually, I'm struggling with the ending--the denouement--of my WIP. Technically, this is where things get resolved. But structurally I'm wondering if this isn't where the character arc for our hero reaches the pot of gold. This is where we show his or her growth. 


Books on writing are strangely silent on endings. They use vague words like "satisfying," if they say anything at all. 

Can we discuss this?

Wait, I'm supposed to finish my post...

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Heavenly Christmas in Hometown

Following is an excerpt from Sharon K. Souza's Christmas novella, A Heavenly Christmas in Hometown. We hope you enjoy our launch of the Christmas season.

Rehearsals were a frantic affair with Christmas Eve just a week off. Tim worked with the choir, while Bev directed the drama. Everyone worked on the props, including Eustace and Spencer.

It was awfully cold that December, everyone said so, and poor Spencer just couldn't adapt. "You don't suppose it was like this when Jesus was born, do you?" he asked, wrapping a muffler around his neck. He remained in a constant shiver, and had to set his jaw to keep his teeth from chattering.

"No, I don't think so, Spence," said Eustace, "but He was born in Bethlehem, not Hometown, you know."

"Is it very different?"

"Quite. I doubt Bethlehem has seen a flake of snow from that day to this."

"It sounds like an inviting place." He looked out a window at the white mounds. "It's nice to look at, but it's so unpleasant in every other respect."

"Many folks would disagree. Really, they would. Look at the children. They enjoy it immensely. If Heavenly Chalet were completed, you'd see just how recreational winter can be."


"What's the matter, Spence? Getting a little homesick?"

"A lot homesick, actually. I can hardly remember what it's like to be warm."
"I expect you'll find out before long."

"Do you think so?"

Eustace nodded. "Yes, I do."

"I've given the choir a twenty minute break," said Tim, joining his friends. "Thought I'd come see how the stable's progressing."

"If it looks half as good as the choir sounds I'd say we're doing well."

"Thanks, Spencer. Wow! It's amazing what can be done with a little cardboard and paint. You two have a talent for this. It's the most authentic stable we've ever had."

"It was Eustace's design," Spencer said.

"I just made a few little changes on the old one. If you don't mind, I'd like to make an adjustment or two on the manger. It looks more like a cradle on legs than a feeding trough."

"Be my guest," Tim said. "You're doing a great job." He left them to check on costumes.

"What's a feeding troth?" Misty asked.

"I thought you were outside throwing snowballs at your brother," Eustace said. He hadn't seen her come in with Tim.

"I was, but he threw some back and I got cold."

"Oh." Spencer knelt down beside her. "I can certainly sympathize."

She took off her wet mittens, blew into her hands, then rubbed them together. "What's a feeding troth?" she asked again.

"It's a feeding trough," Eustace corrected, "and it's a wooden box where hay and other feed was placed for the animals in the stable. Joseph and Mary used the trough as a bed for baby Jesus."

"Mama said they put baby Jesus in a manger."

"And your mama's right. Manger is another word for feeding trough. It just sounds a little nicer."

"Why did they put baby Jesus in there and not in a cradle? I had a cradle and so did Raymond. Mama lets me use it for my dolls now."

"I'm afraid they didn't have a cradle."

"But Joseph was a carpenter. Why didn't he make one?"

"Well now, Misty, that's a very good question. I think Joseph probably did make a cradle for baby Jesus, but they had traveled a long way from where they lived in Nazareth to Bethlehem where Jesus was born."

"I've heard of Nazareth," she said.

"They couldn't carry much on that trip, certainly nothing so big as a cradle, and I think they both were hoping they'd get back home before the baby was born. But it had to happen just the way it did, for a prophet -- do you know what a prophet is?" When Misty nodded Eustace continued. "For a prophet named Micah had foretold that baby Jesus would be born in Bethlehem long before it happened."

"How did he know?"

"God told him."

"God knows everything, doesn't He?"

"He certainly does."

"Then why didn't He put a cradle in the stable so that baby Jesus would have a bed?"

Spencer and Misty both looked to Eustace for an answer, but he was obviously stumped. "Well, now. I'll have to work on that one," he said, and returned to the task at hand.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A Heavenly Christmas in Hometown is a lovely little hardback with dust jacket that can easily be read in a few sittings and enjoyed by the whole family. For ordering information, contact Sharon at

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Wild

Although I've lived most of my life in one city or another, I've always thought of my life as being surrounded by tall, dark forest.

The perimeter of my life left wild.

In childhood, the wild forest was freedom, a place to run where the tether of safety and security trailed lightly behind me. A beloved place whose dark corners held only enchantment, promise, secrets to be ferreted.

As a young adult, the wild forest became overgrown. Childhood tether cut, now thorns rose up, drawing blood when I reached into the darkness. In fear, I counselled myself clear from the wild edges and drew a tighter circle in order to be protected from my childish illusions. Taught myself that terrible things happen in wild places.

In my striped down adult years, life didn't venture past the new thin line I'd drawn so far in from the dark wild. Quiet. Dutiful. Faithful. Safe.

And yet.

In the barren of my tiny circle the wild came for me.

Took me up.

Shook all that could be shaken.

It was then I made myself look the dark forest in the eye. Fearsome wild stared into me. It spoke:

Come back.


Come back.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oh Bother.

I came home a black little rain cloud today.

It was not the worst kind of a day, but it was a hard day, and perhaps the difference between a bad day and a worst day is how long it will take you to find your way back.

"I ought to say," explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, "that it isn't just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it's a Boat, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It all depends."
"Depends on what?"
"On whether I'm on the top of it or underneath it.” 

I've had days that kept me lost for months, several of them. And one or two that kept me lost for years.

“I'm not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.”

This time, I may find my way back tomorrow. It was only a bad day. And one of my ways of finding my way back is to listen to music. Can you guess what song caught my ear tonight?

Another way is to write to you from The House at Pooh Corner, about the things that point back home.

Like people who love me.

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?” 

Like simple, lovely things to eat, such as omelettes and toast with jam.

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today," said Pooh.
"There there," said Piglet. "I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.” 

Yes, like a cup of tea.

Things like that can carry us a ways back. A little ways.

“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” 

Longer distances require a sense of mystery, of things we don't know how to name. And while conversing with this mystery will gain you a hand to guide the way, it is possible to over-think.

“Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully."Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever.""And he has Brain.""Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."There was a long silence."I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything.” 

Ah well, but I seldom understand much.

“I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten.” 


“It's not much of a tail, but I'm sort of attached to it.” 

Tra-la-la, tra-la-la,Rum-tum-tiddle-um...

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Mockingjay Interviews

In honor of the release of The Mockingjay, the third movie in the Hunger Games saga, here are some interviews we thought you'd enjoy, first with Suzanne Collins, author of the wildly popular trilogy. Then with Jennifer Lawrence who plays Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the books. And with Jennifer and fellow cast members, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson.

I don't know if you're a fan or not. I am a HUGE fan and can't wait to see this latest installment. A nasty cough as a result of bronchitis was the only thing that kept me out of the theater this weekend. I've read each book in the trilogy three times, and will read them again before the fourth movie comes out next year at this time.

What about you? Fan or not a fan? If not a fan, can you tell us why?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Take Time to Dig

If you're looking for the perfect gift for your writer friend this Christmas, here it is - Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass.  Definitely.  I can't say enough good things about this book.

Stick a copy in your own stocking, too.

My copy is highlighted in a rainbow of colors with notes crammed in, underlinings, starred passages, and corners dog-eared.  At the end of each chapter, the author lists soul-searching questions to break through the crusty surface and let you peek into your character's psyche and motivations.  (And by association, your own.)  I worked through the book slowly, forcing myself to take the time to dig deeply and squeeze all the juice out of the story.

One of the exercises that proved the most satisfying was to write down 20 things that only my protagonist would notice.  Until then, I had no idea that the house sucks in its breath when the housekeeper turns the key in the lock each morning and exhales when she leaves at night, or that my protagonist's husband talks in his sleep about his dead wife.

The author made one particular statement that I'm still mulling over:  "The fact is that everything that your conscious mind has yet to discover about your characters and story is already fully formed in your unconscious mind.  It's been there since the moment the first hint of the story surfaced."

I'm not sure how I feel about that. Do I create or does the character dictate to me?

In order to see the story and the characters fully formed, I need

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tram Ride

This thin thin wire
Sways in generous bulging arcs
From breeze to breeze
Like a child's jumprope
Or the rippling undulations
Of a lustrous serpent
Moving through thick waters.

We are suspended under
This snakerope
And we are pulled along
By it. There is no escape:
The mountain floor beneath us
Is frighteningly distant.
The trees are miniature layered fans
And its boulders a pebbled mosaic.

A ridge rises before us.
Our eyes tells us there is no
Way over it, and yet
The cable passes through a crevice.

This, then, is faith:
We know we must follow where the cable has
Gone, and let our hearts
Finish the ride,
Finish the ride.

copyrighted poem
Image courtesy of