Monthly Archives: September 2006

Personality Types

Just last week I took a personality test in connection with my day job. The test was given on the front end of a day-long seminar hosted by an outside corporate coach. There were four main types (the boss, socialite, stable/conservative/easy going, task orientated/ picky/analytical). It was fascinating to see the results of my co-workers and how similar they were to their actual personalities. Knowing which combination you were, the coach would then guess at the type of car you drive, what you would do on your vacation, how you arrive at certain decisions, who you were compatible with, how you prefer to structure your day, etc.

It was incredible. But where the rubber met the road was how you could apply this knowledge to your daily work situation. Of course, I began to think about the possibilities this would have for my writing. Understanding which personality combinations were not compatible with each other, I could create characters that weren’t compatible with other characters in order to build more tension and conflict. This information was very useful.

A couple years back I had bought the book titled Type Talk by Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen on recommendation by Angela Hunt. The book broke down the 16 personality types based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It gave fantastic detail as to how certain personality types would react to certain situations and how they would relate to others (particularly in the parent/child and husband/wife areas). I’ll now assign one of the sixteen to each of my characters. I would highly recommend this book as a starter.

If I can really understand my characters, I’ll be in a better position to make them more distinct and believable. I find it more fun too. Kicking around personality types can be very revealing. But that is a double-edged sword. You may end up arguing with your spouse about who you really are and which type you fit into. Worse yet, you might discover that your spouse knows you better than you know yourself!

One page at a time,


Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing

Pam’s Interview

We have dial up; so I didn’t get to hear Pam’s interview. I know it was great. Would someone who heard it please tell the rest of us what was said?
Samuel. I like your name. Not only is it a Bible name, my late father was named Sam.

1 Comment

Filed under On Writing

Words of Blessing

Wow! You would think after reading Sam’s post that the two of us talked on the phone this morning and chose our topic together. With much regret I haven’t spoken to Sam since the ICRS convention in Denver. (Sam, did you get a lot of bargains that last day? Jodie, Ralph, & I did great though I cut myself off after only one handbag.)

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I need to report I had a great writing week last week, pumping out an impressive 25,000 words. If I managed that on a consistent basis, I could write a hefty first draft in 30 days. I know other writers do this without breaking a sweat. They must. Don’t you wonder how Nora Roberts and Debbie MacComber have several hundred books between them? Not me. But I keep a close eye on my numbers. I try to make myself accountable for a certain word count. If not, I wouldn’t get anything done. My housework would interfere. The weeds in the garden. My grandkids–three at last count. Doctor and hair appointments, and everything else that rob us of our time.

Sam, I happen to be one of those blessed few who does not work outside the home. My husband works third shift at a printing factory to keep me in the lap of luxury. I don’t have kids at home any longer so my days are basically mine to do with what I choose. So why don’t I have more 25,000 word weeks?

Discipline, that’s why–or should I say, the lack thereof. I allow the distractions of life to keep me from sitting at my computer and staying there until I reach my word count goal. I think it’s precisely because I have so much time that I think, “I’ll get to it later.” or “I didn’t have a good day today, so I’ll make up for it tomorrow.”

Alas, you can’t make up for lost time. Didn’t our parents tell us that a thousand times?

Don’t write to me and tell me I need to manage my time better. I know that. I know I need to get control of life’s distractions instead of letting them control me. It’s like losing weight. We all know the dynamics. Expend more calories than you take in. Simple, huh? So why is the world paying billions of dollars for books and diet aids and surgeries if all it takes is putting in less than you take out?

I’m obviously not the only one who doesn’t do what she knows to do.

“Oh, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” the apostle Paul, Romans 7:24

A good writing week last week has made me determined to repeat it this week. I love watching those numbers go up and the feeling that I have accomplished something of great worth. More than an impressive word count, more than discipline, more than financial gain or personal gratification, I want my writing to mean something. After reading one of my books, I want the reader to feel that he/she has grown by spending three days inside the world my book created. During my devotional time last week, I came across something that reminded me of that point.

Whether writers or educators or parents or insurance salesmen, we will have an impact on others, even if it is only indirectly. How will the words out of our mouths or those we write touch the person who hears/reads them? Do we uplift or tear down? Do our words make whole or sew doubt? Are my words, words of blessing or words of cursing?

While determined to write another 25K words this week, more importantly, I want those 25K to edify and inspire. Be blessed and have a great week.


Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing

Paying Bills and Writing Thrills

by Samuel J Alibrando

Hey Molly, your name will be easy for me. As the eldest grandchild my grandmother felt she was too young to be called grandma so her first 4 or 5 grandkids called her “Molly”. “Molly” is special to me.

I am late on this blog. I was in Chicago on insurance business [my day job] since Wednesday and this is a nice segue into talking about the artist and the provider.

I suppose if one is a wife of a man who is amply providing money for bills and expenses, she can write and market, etc.full time. However, for the majority of writers out there, you may be a single woman, a single mom, a bachelor, a husband, a father or even a spouse who needs to contribute to the family income, this is about that balance.

Remember, I too am a student in life and this new thing called “published author”. I honestly believed my first book “Nature Never Stops Talking-The Wonderful Ingenuity of Nature” was not only good enough, but that the timing was God-given and in a matter of 18 months combined with my whole-hearted and savvy contributions to marketing, I would earn more than ever before in my life. I genuinely believed that. I almost sold my insurance business but couldn’t get the terms I wanted. Instead, I drew from a credit line when I was short since I literally went full time into the book work and marketing temporarily.

By the ninth month I realized the big numbers were not materializing. I was told there were 30,000 new book titles released monthly. Frankly, I do not know many book authors in person before becoming an author. I also received the flattering responses from strangers learning I was being published. But when I walk into a big bookstore it seems like everyone is writing books. One of the partners in a firm interested in buying my insurance business approached me with a smiling glazed look saying “I never met an author before” and shook my hand. He had to be in his 60’s. Flattery is one thing. Realizing my carefully considered financial plan was based on inexperience and spreadsheet hypotheticals, I turned more energy toward my insurance business once more. Personally, I have never been able to bring myself to announce to my dependents “I am a great artist and so we shall live in the car and you must become serious dumpster divers. Don’t worry though, in 3, 5, 10 or 20 years I believe my hard work and talent will be discovered in a big way.”
So it’s off to work I go.

I do have the privilege of residual income in my business so if I miss a month of work, I still have money coming in but it isn’t quite enough. And now I owe more than last year. Without getting into politics I will state only the obvious that when I do make more money I owe more taxes which means I have to earn more than I need in order to net the amount that I need. OK, isn’t everyone trying to make more money? Whenever someone wants to change the status quo, there is a learning curve which means more time to make observations, corrections and experimentation. Mentally and hourly, this is much more consuming than the regular work routine. The apostle Paul was kind of a part time apostle. He made tents for income and kind of bragged about it saying he was entitled to contributions but chose not to go that route. We must ALWAYS do the right thing. As Christians the WRITE thing doesn’t override the RIGHT thing.

Truthfully, I do not feel shortchanged but honored to be published and still writing. I am doubly blessed to have a 2nd book out. I am grateful to have work for income too. I am grateful to be American. Let’s admit it, none of us selected what family or nation to be born into, we just found ourselves born into our time and situation. To provide for my family and now, just my wife and myself, is a terrific honor also. We are safe in our home. We eat well and have most of the comforts Americans enjoy. My burden is the shortness of the day and my limited energy. I still write.

I have never been disciplined but have accomplished most of what I do from great zeal. I compose and play music. I journal and write and keep a log of ideas and new quotes. My writing is something of a reaction to my life and the world I live in. Writing is expression for me; an outlet.

If you pray to God to be a writer you must show Him the sincerity of that prayer with your actions. My conduct is also a prayer in every way. My behavior reveals what I really want –

So my challenge is this: Your life and choices reap a destiny. Is your life headed the direction you want? Is your daily behavior showing God the power of a quest He can bless?

Test question: Is your life filled with integrity and only lacking fulfillment due to circumstances; OR is your life lacking integrity and fulfillment due to your choices? God can change circumstances, but it is we who must change our character through choices trusting His help.

This is what I must examine often in my own life and as Psalm 90 [the only Psalm I know of by Moses] pleads “Teach us to number our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing

Thought for Today

Dear Everyone,
The weatherman says we should expect a clear sky today and a lot of wind. I am looking out my window in front of my computer, and the leaves on the tree outside are barely moving. A week ago clear skys were also predicted. It rained and rained.
Predictions can be wrong. So can the weatherman. But God’s Word is always true.
May your days be filled with showers of blessings–whether it is raining or the sky is clear.
Molly Noble Bull

Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing

Shameless Self Promotion

I’m going to take this opportunity to formally announce the release of my latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Darcy Carter. This is my first romance, and I am truly excited about it. The book is already receiving favorable reviews and positive feedback from readers.

Midwest Book Review said, “Very highly recommended, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking reading…” For the complete review, click here.

The past two weeks have been filled with promo and marketing, and I haven’t gotten much done with the rest of my writing. Hopefully now that the book is out, I can get back in front of the computer where I belong and do some more creating. I look forward to hearing what your projects are this week.

Happy Monday to all. Here’s to a productive week.

1 Comment

Filed under On Writing

American Christian Fiction Writers

Thanks for making me feel so welcome. But my name is Molly, not Mary. Molly Noble Bull.
I am a member of a wonderful organization of about 9,000 members called American Christian Fiction Writers, and we meet at a national conference every September. I won’t be able to attend the one this year, but God willing, I will attend in September 2007 in Dallas. However, for those interested, it might not be too late to attend this year’s conference in Dallas. Here is the address.
Even if you don’t write fiction, you will gain a lot just being at the conference because agents, editors and book publishers are everywhere — as well as writers — published and unpublished. Since Sam met me at a book signing in Denver, he must have attended the ACFW conference held in Denver a few years back. Hello, again.
It only costs about $40.00 a year to join ACFW, and for your money, you are allowed to become a member of their e-mail web loop where you will hear from famous Christian authors and writing experts every single day. Since there are so many writers on the loop, I would suggest that you ask to be put on Digest. That way, will receive 25 message at a time instead of 25 to 50 private e-mails — one message at a time.
If you visit the ACFW website, let me know. I would like to know what you think.

Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing

Writing Endorphins

by Samuel J Alibrando

First, I wish to publicly welcome Mary Noble Bull to our ranks and look forward to getting to know you better Mary. I only briefly met Mary in Denver at a book signing.

Also, thanks Christopher for tips on posting our photos [Chris helps alot in this type of area and he is new to Tsaba House as well].

Writing has been such an organized way for me to consciously view realities versus the things in my head. So many times what I thought was overwhelming turned out to be just a few things. In my head it was an infinite, relentless loop but once captured on paper it became obvious that it was limited problems that could be solved. I once considered doing seminars on writing for self therapy to help others maybe calling it “Build Your Life with Writing”.

I don’t think my wife will ever truly understand all the many different things I accomplish with writing. Journaling is emotional release but lets pressure off from my head to paper [or a word processor]. I practice both thinking and groping for words. In working with seniors on their Medical insurance and drug plans, I have compiled more than one piece to hand out to simplify what is often considered complicated to them. Whatever I write helps clarify how I think about things too. The net result of clearer thinking is more solutions and the ability to tackle bigger questions that would never have appeared in the fog of confusion.
Thoughtful, conscious living is great practice for any writer. Granted, I don’t know how I would manage without a dictionary or Thesaurus but once a person begins channeling their experiences into something meaningful energy abounds and once useless suffering suddenly can become a source of inspiration.

Certainly I have lived vicariously through characters in movies and rated any movie high if I was tense with confrontations on the screen. I “lived more” because of the story. I deeply desire to find that ability through my own writing. My craving far exceeds my craft but if I begin focusing more of my daily need to think and communicate into creating fiction … I am hoping for results.
Maybe we authors at Tsaba House could start praying for one another and our work. I’ll try some of that tonight.


Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing

A New Tsaba House Author

My name is Molly Noble Bull. I am a native Texan, a wife and mother of three grown sons and a published author, and I will soon be a Tsaba House author as well. Sanctuary, my upcoming novel, is about the Huguenots and will be published by Tsaba House in September 2007.
To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website.

Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing

The Power of Stories

Yesterday I sat down with two men at a breakfast appointment. Among other things, one of the questions they asked me was, “Why did you write Rise of The Dibor?”

I talked about the jounrey of writing the book, both as something the Lord put on my heart to do, as well as fulfilling one of the innate qualities the Lord put in me: being a producer.

But when people really press me, I usually end up talking about one of the most personal experiences I had in writing the book…

…the day I almost hit the “delete” key.

Tsaba House had actually called me and offered me a contract over the phone. I prayed about it and then said yes. They said it would be in the mail shortly.

Little did I know they were finishing four books and the mailing of my contract got sidelined. For them, they were swamped. For me, I thought I was forgotten. And in that moment the enemy began whispering to me.

“You’re not really supposed to write fiction.”

“You should really be writing some deep theological works.”

“You are wasting your time.”

Those lies were small at first. Bust as time went on and I didn’t hear back from the publisher, I began to make the worst assumption possible: the voice was the Lord’s.

I kept everything to myself and became so disheartened about my work that one day I opened up the file and my finger hovered over the “delete” key. It was then I heard the Lord…the real Voice…

“Christopher, I love fiction…I used it all the time.”

Truth be told, I broke down, and I didn’t delete the book that day. In that moment I realized that every parable Jesus ever told was fiction. And then it dawned on me how powerful His parables were; they were a highlight of His ministry on earth.

Of course it was the very next day that the CEO of Tsaba House called me personally and apologized for not sending the contract sooner. But honestly, it was all timed by the Lord. The contract arrived by FedEx two days later and I was signed. But I was signed now knowing that it was OK with the Lord that I write fiction.

Now, fast forward to three days ago. Sunday afternoon, right after church, Jennifer and I stopped in to our favorite coffee shop here in town. Standing right in line ahead of us was a very famous movie actor who I have been specifically praying for to meet Jesus, for nearly two years now. After striking up a casual conversation I went out to my truck and brought in a book and some of our CDs. I gave them to him as a “thank you” for the investment of his own art. We talked some more, ministered to him a little, and then said goodbye. I left the place pretty stoked and grateful to the Lord.

It wasn’t until later that night that the Lord spoke to me in the shower (always in the shower)…

“Christopher, he wouldn’t have taken a theological book from you. But he took a story.”

As always, I was in awe.

“Wow,” I said to myself, “God, you’re right!”

And all at once I was so grateful for that day Jesus told me fiction was OK to write. My prayer is that my little parable about Jesus will touch that actor’s heart and bring him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, sometimes as only stories can.

My hope is that this little story would help someone reading who may be struggling with the same thing I was.

So I say to you…

Jesus really likes fiction.

Thanks for reading,


Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing