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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

“Editing” Life

by Tamera Alexander, @tameraalexander

I'm currently heavy into writing the first full-length Carnton novel (title yet TBD). Each day when I begin writing, I reread what I’ve written the day before. It’s part of my routine. It helps me to get back into the flow of things, plus I have a pretty wicked editor inside me that I have a tough time shutting down.

I tweak here and there. Remove sentences. Move things around. Delete information that either the character—or perhaps the reader—ended up not needing to know at that point in the story.

Perhaps a paragraph slowed the pace or simply wasn’t crucial to the scene. So, it has to go. I move that portion of text to my Carnton 1 Excerpt file. (I’ve learned not to permanently delete it lest I find I do need it down the line.)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do that kind of editing with life?

Simply review life and decide, “Um, no. Let’s not do that there. Let’s move that here.” Or… “This event would be much better if I knew this first, then that happened.” Or “Doing it this way will fit much better with my schedule and will accommodatefill-in-the-blank much better then.” Then there’s the “Gracious! Let’s not let that happen at all!”

But as we all know, life doesn’t work that way.

Life simply comes. Sometimes in sputters, sometimes in a gentle flow, and sometimes in torrents. And we deal with things as they come with God’s strength. While, in His masterful grace, He helps us maintain our eternal perspective.

But you know, in the midst of everything––the highs and lows of life, the “troughs and peaks” as C.S. Lewis phrases it in The Screwtape Letters––it’s definitely the thinner times of life, the troughs, that draw me closer to God. That make me more dependent on the Holy Spirit. And that, frankly, make me more like Christ.

The Screwtape Letters is a “life book” for me. A forever book. Do you have those? Books you’ll read again and again? That have become a part of you? That you’ll carry with you into eternity?

Chapter 8 is a favorite. Back in college, I memorized most of that chapter (on troughs and peaks), and though my memory isn’t what it used to be (#understatement) the following portion of that chapter is still tucked inside me. Still resonates.

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

My first copy of this book—held together by a rubber band now—is dear to me. Its words still instruct me after all these years. And more than ever, I firmly believe that nothing happens to a follower of Christ that doesn’t first filter through the loving hands of their Heavenly Father. Nothing.

So, I’ll leave the “life editing” safely with the Master Storyteller. God writes with a point of view I simply do not—cannot—have. But it’s a point of view I trust implicitly—even when life is at its most difficult.

What about you? Do you have “life books” (other than the Bible, of course) that you’ve read and reread? Are there certain passages from books that resonate long after? I'd love to know!


To Wager Her Heart

With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society's expectations must work together to achieve their dreams—provided the truth doesn't tear them apart first.

Seeking justice . . .

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father's name. One man holds the key to Sy's success—General William Giles Harding of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks. Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville's society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he's found his tutor. Only, he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra Jamison's fiancé—and has broken her heart.

Struggling to restore honor . . .

Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen's university in the United States. But family—and Nashville society—do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both.

Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for? And when Sy's roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility and honor?

Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn't count on is having to wager her heart to do it. 

Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling novelist and one of today's most beloved authors of Christian historical romance. Her works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, among them the Christy Award, the RITA Award, the Carol Award, Library Journal's top honors, and have earned the distinction of Publisher's Weekly Starred Reviews. Her deeply drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide.

Tamera and her husband reside in Nashville, Tennessee, where they live a short distance from Nashville's Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation , the setting of Tamera’s #1 CBA bestselling Southern series. Her upcoming series, the Carnton Novels , launches in fall 2017 with Christmas at Carnton (October 3, 2017), a Christmas story, which is set at Franklin, Tennessee's historic Carnton Plantation.


  1. Powerful reminder, Tamera, and one I think many may need during these days and the ones to come. Thank you.

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