January 30, 2012

Writing Goals - Susan Barclay

I have about a dozen writing goals for 2012, but my top three are:
  • participating in 12 x 12, the challenge issued by blogger Julie Hedlund to write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months,
  • completing my adult novel, and
  • writing a new Christmas-themed short story for adult readers
Why these three? Well, they're all possible, for one thing. Twelve picture books may sound like a lot (or perhaps not so many, if you're among those who think writing such books is a snap), but we're talking drafts  here, not fully polished beauties :)  As for the novel, I'm in the home stretch, and started it about eight years ago, so it's definitely time to wrap it up. I wonder, if as Ernest Hemingway postulated, I'm so close to the end that it's almost scary to write it. But write it I must. I don't feel I can start any of the new novels that are churning in my brain until this one is complete. The Christmas-themed short story already has a publisher, involves characters I already know and that readers have asked for more of, so it would be stupid not to do it.

I've found a new tool, too, for goal-setting and tracking. It's called Pick Four and is an updated, simplified version of Zig Ziglar's Performance Planner. I've done the preliminary work now, and had planned to start tracking my goals today, but I've come down with a cold that's sidelining me for the time being. Once I get my health and energy back - which hopefully will be soon - I'll let you know how it's working for me.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are tackling your goals with great success, and are popping your vitamin C with regularity!

[For more of my writing, check out my website and my writing/general interest blog.]

January 29, 2012

10 Reasons I Write - Ruth L. Snyder

Every once in a while it is healthy for us to stop and evaluate why we are doing what we do. Some people hate New Year's resolutions. I appreciate the opportunity to review the past year, evaluate what I have been doing, and make goals for the next year. Writing the goals in a notebook helps me track progress and challenges me to be serious about my writing. However, if I don't know WHY I'm writing, it is hard to set goals. Here are ten reasons I write:
  1. I enjoy writing. Some people enjoy sports, others gardening or cooking. I enjoy the challenge of clearly communicating thoughts using words.
  2. Writing forces me to learn new things. In order to share information, I need to process it and understand it myself. In order to share my writing I have learned how to use Twitter, Blogger, and Wordpress. I am currently learning about inbound marketing.
  3. Writing allows me to encourage people. When I was in high school I had a teacher who never smiled. I made it my goal to put a smile on his face every time I saw him. There are many people who need something to smile about. Writing is a tool I can use to encourage others.
  4. Writing is good therapy. Some people find it therapeutic to talk through their problems. I would rather write out my thoughts and process my struggles personally.
  5. I have a unique perspective. I know I'm not the only writer in the world, or necessarily the best writer in the world. However, I have experienced many things others have not experienced and may never be able to experience. I can share my unique perspective through writing to encourage, inspire, and motivate others.
  6. Poor writing frustrates me. Most writers are avid readers. I am no exception. Sometimes when I read material that is poorly written, it motivates me to write well.
  7. Writing is a gift that must be polished. People are born with varying abilities. Those of us who have the ability to communicate through words need to hone and polish our God-given gift. We can read examples of great writing, take classes, listen to webinars, join a critique group, and join groups like Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship, but most of all WRITE!
  8. Writing helps me communicate information. One of my tasks as a school board trustee is to communicate with the people who live in the Bonnyville area of Alberta. Writing is one way I can pass information on to them. Technology allows people access to this information 24/7. 
  9. Writing helps me remember. I learn best by writing while I'm listening. Taking notes also allows me to review what I heard months or years later and remember.
  10. I have to write. People who do not write may not understand this point. However, I write because I have to write. If I don't write, I find myself frustrated and antsy.
These are reasons I write. How about you? I look forward to hearing why you write.

January 28, 2012

WordPerfect and the Perfect Word -- Bruce Atchison

Acquaintances periodically ask, "How can you write when you can't see well?" This question is easily answered, though it does take a bit of explaining.

I use a screen reader, a program that converts the text on the computer monitor, as well as the keystrokes the user types, into synthetic speech. Thirty years ago, various developers made voice synthesizer hardware that either plugged into a serial port on the computer or fitted into one of its expansion slots. Modern screen reader programs use the computer's sound card and speakers to inform the user of what is happening on the screen.

I was introduced to the world of synthetic speech and screen readers in January of 1993. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), paid for three-quarters of the expensive hardware/software package, allowing me to use a computer for writing my articles and music reviews.

WordPerfect 5.1, difficult though it was to learn, opened the way to my future writing career. With it, I could write, edit, and overcome my chronic spelling problem. This MS DOS program gave me the additional ability to format my writing in an acceptable way for editors and readers alike.

I still use WordPerfect 5.1 today because it works reliably . With obsolete computers (which I choose to use), I wrote a variety of freelance articles, beginning in 1996, as well as two books. I have written a third one but it's only in manuscript form. By the grace of God, I hope to have it published this year.

Though I have done a fair amount of secular writing, my heart's desire is to glorify our heavenly Father through my craft. Having always had the desire to tell stories, I believe the Lord gave me the talent for communicating ideas. With his help, I hope to bring him glory through my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir. I also post excerpts of my books and relevant stories about them on my blog. My books can also be purchased there.

January 27, 2012

Pathway of Faith - Denise M. Ford

I just completed an exercise for my current Bible study course. I had to create a timeline of a period in my life depicting my journey with Christ. I had to particularly note how faithful and intentional God has been toward me.

I decided to have a look over the 53 years of my life from as far back as I can recall. Now someone with a different personality probably would have taken out a ruler, drawn a straight line, marked off carefully measured spots to indicate the number of years that passed between each significant event. I admire anyone who might have decided to portray a lifeline like this. However, when I immersed myself in this activity I found my drawing became a winding, curving, descending, rising stroke of my pen. Happily I look at it now and see that it naturally followed a lovely loop upwards to show where I am at present. There, that’s me sort of wobbling back and forth on top of a high point, contemplating the future, pondering the past.

Perhaps some of you remember playing a game called Mr. Tip It. I assume it would be considered an antique by now since it’s well over 40 some years since I played it. At that time, I rated games by whether or not I could play them by myself if a friend or family member wasn’t around to keep me company. Mr. Tip It ranked as one of my favourites as I easily set up an imaginary group of players to join me. I moved those discs carefully from stack to stack, watching as the figure of Mr. Tip It swayed above on his precarious point. Would he or wouldn’t he tip over? How could I keep him balanced and continue to play?

As I review my journey with Christ over the years I am so thankful for the ways in which He met me even as I made mistakes, even as I toppled, even as I didn’t think it was the right time to try a writing plan.

As I set forth a plan for writing goals for this year, I’m feeling a bit like Mr. Tip It, waiting for the next turn to find out if I will be able to balance everything I want to do, or believe I am supposed to do. Will each item on my list slide carefully into place or will I find myself reconsidering whether or not I should attempt to add another challenge to my life.

Gotta love Mr. Tip It. He just swings around up there oblivious to his plight, letting those rings pull him one-way or the other. He has no idea when he’s going to fall or if he’s going to be picked up and given another chance to gain a steady position. Thankfully I do.

In the new updated 2012 version of my Mrs. Tip It game, I’m up there sitting on a solid rock, looking over my choices of what to do next. As I close my eyes I remind myself that on my travels I have gained strength and courage to continue by relying on the way prayer, trust and faith have always slid constantly into place throughout my life. As I consider which pathway to follow I know it won’t matter if I tumble down a dead-end, or crumble into a curve. I know I will be met with a loving hand that reaches out to me with a firm grasp, places me upright, waits for me to find my balance, and nods for me to take another turn.

Just as God has done to me, it is now time for me to meet Him on that Pathway of Faith, intentionally honoring Him with the talents and skills He has granted me. May I find my way on a trail that loops around and about, ever moving forward.

To read Denise's personal blog and writing website go to: www.walkingwithDustyandDee.com

January 26, 2012

A Plan in Place - Karen Toews

Five months ago I launched my blog.

That was following months of picking my way along a steep technical challenge and building up the courage to commit to a long term journey. Surprise, surprise - that was one of my best writing decisions ever. I have:
  • a self-directed weekly deadline
  • a readership
  • readers' comments to encourage me to develop content pertinent to them and to my blog's theme.
  • a writing process that's giving me clarity and confidence for the online, and person-to-person, aspect of building my business.
Can you sense my satisfaction-thanksgiving?

I thank God for:
  • helping me make a difference
  • the anticipation of things to come
My heart's desire is to expand the whole-life, nutrition message (online and in person) to Christian women: to en-courage them in being the complete, whole-hearted person God has meant them to be, that:
  • we have influence over healthy food and exercise choices for our families and circles beyond
  • it's okay (crucial) to take time for your soul-care
  • the rewards of having courage to "swim upstream" can bring new life and energy - for you and others
How can this next step take shape?
  • continue writing blog posts - for the readership that's already there and growing
  • seek out/connect with other Christian health and fitness blog writers
  • contact Christian "markets" e.g. local womens' church groups
And in the day-to-day practicality - how am I going to make enough computer-working time available?
  • organization=less paperwork on my desk: more sort and file, less shuffle
  • less emails out=less emails received (that's what I've heard!)
  • saying "no" to requests and options, so I can say "yes" to what I want to do, that contributes to reaching my goals (I'm not referring to "me and my selfish agenda" - you get my drift...)
Oh yes, there are days when:
  • my brain can't wrap around one more technical thing
  • my creativity meter has bottomed out
  • this work I love to do has stacked up to the tipping point
Where does my help come from?
It feels great to have a plan.

It's wonderful to be well - body, soul and spirit - to make it work.

January 24, 2012

Ponder, Print and Pass It On — Lynda Schultz

It's an obscure passage. Most people couldn't find Habakkuk in their Bibles if their lives depended on it. I'm not even sure how I ran across it though it could have been while I was hunting online for Christian wallpaper to use on the desktop of my computer. In any case, there it was, Habakkuk 2:2. It was an "aha" moment.

I've tried my hand at several genres but I always end up going back to the kind of writing that will never make me rich or famous—not that either of those is high on my priority list. The verse from Habakkuk summed things up rather nicely.

"Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it" (NIV).

Write the Word down, explain it so that people understand, and make it useable so that someone else can share it.

It's that simple and that complicated. I love the hunt, the research, the wrestling with ways to explain the meaning of Scripture. I look for the dots that need connecting, the "aha" moments when something I've read a hundred times finally comes to life as it has never lived for me before. I need to write it down, first of all for myself because I have such a poor memory, and then for others. Nothing gets me more excited than to share God's Word in a classroom with others. And there is no greater satisfaction than handing what I've learned to them in a sheaf of papers—their memories are probably just as short as mine. And maybe, just maybe, they'll pass on some of the knowledge they've gained to someone else.

That's it. That's all. That's lots.

January 23, 2012

Staying on Track - Dorothy Bentley

It's one thing to have a well-thought out plan. It's quiet another to hit a road block, only to discover later that God put it there.

God gives; God takes away.

I mentioned over the last couple of months how I lost my column when a new editor wanted to mix things up and cancel the columns of conservative family-friendly writers. Though it was a painful 'taking away' time, I hadn't gone more than about a month before the opportunity to begin a church newsletter fell into my lap. At first, it seemed like I was going back twenty years to the start of my public writing career, when I used to write for church newsletters. I reluctantly went ahead.

I didn't do much besides pray and wait to see who God would bring to help me. I spoke with each person God laid on my heart. Each one contributed something-- a story, a column, a photo, many hours of editing, and many-many hours of graphic design.

What I could have produced on my own would have been something that looked like I'd produced it twenty years ago!  What we ended up with instead, is a wonderful, quite professional looking magazine.

There is no way I could have done it alone!

And the best part gradually began happening at our meetings, as we informally discussed writing in general, ideas, and encouraged each other to keep at it. I now, most surprisingly, have a writing group. And more than one editor to help me refine my writing. I feel blessed beyond measure.

The other wonderful thing that has happened, is a sense that I need prayer support, and then doing something about it.

I've read in more than one book for writers that we all need that sort of spiritual support and cover. So because I'm not Francine Rivers, I decided the best way to get prayer support was to ask friends to pray for me, and I would, in return, support them in prayer daily, too. In addition, I offered to send them a weekly update on what is happening in my writing life, as well as a few personal items for prayer.

Since then, I have not felt like I am trying to walk through quick-sand in mukluks.

What a blessing God has brought about in my life!

Losing that column, which kept me busy writing each week, allowed me to write new things, with a new focus, for a new audience. It's now all about God, for God's people. I still don't know where all this is headed, but I am simply going to obey God and allow Him to lead the way.

His work is laying out the track for me.

My work is to stay on His track.

Here's the magazine, in case you'd like to have a look. It's in printing layout, so the pages are a little confusing.

I'm amazed by God's work in this!

Body Builder

January 21, 2012

Early Entries of My Writer's Journal - Sulo Moorthy

“ I want to go on living after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me.”

----Anne Frank

When thirteen –year –old Anne sat in her dark and damp hiding place and wrote in her red-checkered diary the daily events in 1942, she never envisioned her entries to turn out into a book published in countless languages and editions or be adapted for the stage and screen years later around the world. She simply wrote to pass the time and to keep her sanity in that tension stricken surroundings.

Many of us have our old journals stacked up in some shelf in the corner of a room or stuffed inside bottom drawers or a box under the bed. Though rarely we dream of something great turning out of our daily entries like Anne Frank’s , we can take pride in knowing that some of what we’ve written in our journals had somehow found their way to appear in publications with our names on them. From time to time, I like to amuse myself by going through some of my old journals.

Just last week, I flipped through the pages of my journal titled Writer’s Journal, and found my first entry to be "My First Christian Writers’ Conference."  Dated 29/09/2000 and covered in ten full pages, the entry gave a detail account of the ICWF Fall conference 2000 I attended.

Starting with my 6:00 am Greyhound bus ride from Saskatoon to Edmonton, it went onto say how appalled I was to meet with writers for the first time, and to learn from great authors  like Janet Oke, Linda Hall, Maxine Hancock and Phil Callaway. 

The following pages which went on to describe my state of mind on seeing Our Family magazine with my poem, "Am I A Christian?" on the display table, signing up for poetry reading and fidgeting about it minutes later,  the nerve-wrecking experience of reading out my poems in front of 200-300 established writers at  the Peanut Butter and Jam Session, and then hearing Linda Hall compliment me from the podium at the next day session made me to retrace and relive those unforgettable moments.

On 20/03/2001, I wrote, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!!! ……I couldn’t believe what I saw when I tore open the yellow manila envelope with the Inscribe stamp. Under the heading, Special Assignment Winner, my name flashed back in bright black letters. Never, never did I dream of winning the assignment, and when I finally did, I couldn't find enough words to express my thanks to my Lord. It’s another milestone in my writing path and God in His mercy has helped me to achieve it. I desperately needed that $30 and now God has granted my wish to get it.” -A Page From My Journal gave me the win, and got published in Fellowscript in early 2001.

On 06/06/2001 I wrote, “ Never expected to see an e-mail in my inbox when I clicked on the laptop today. I didn’t even have my glasses on when I punched the keys. So, when I saw an e-mail in my inbox addressed, “ Dear Sulochana,” I had no clue what that was about because the writing on the screen looked so blurry. So, I dashed upstairs in a few steps and ran back and looked up again, now with my glasses on.

I could hear my heart going thodum-thudum; my hands were getting sweaty and shaky. Finally when I found out what was the e-mail about I couldn’t breathe for a second or two. It was as if I’ve won a lottery ticket. To get my article accepted by the Edmonton Journal for the page, "Offering," was a great leap for me. More than getting published, I was overjoyed by the thought that my message was getting out into the world. Becoming too busy for the Lord, even in the church is very sad and that’s what my article was about. Well, I’ve reached another milestone in my writing path at a moment when I’ was getting doubtful about my writing skill."

My article was published in Edmonton Journal on June 23, 2001 with the title Frantic pace Prevents a Closer Walk with God.

On July 21, 2004 around 6:00, I wrote, “When I saw Elsie’s e-mail on the listserv on May 5th,stating that Martha Anderson had decided to take a break from writing the devotional columns and Inscribe is on the look-out for another Devotional Columnist for Fellowscript, something started to stir within me. A deep yearning from somewhere gripped me with an iron fist and wouldn’t let go of my heart until I decided to apply for the assignment. Elsie has beautifully ended her e-mail saying that she knows that someone out there is Lord’s choice for the posting and as such to consider it prayerfully and to submit a couple of sample writings.”

Despite my inner critic’s hissing of the fact.  I could never fill the shoes of a veteran Inscriber like Martha Anderson, I submitted my sample devotional on June 6th and awaited impatiently. Three weeks later, I received a congratulating note from Elsie to say that Inscribe had chosen me to be the columnist.

It surprises  me today, why I had omitted recording any of my rejections. Probably the sting of rejection may have been too disheartening that I chose not to revisit them again.  I found a page with written goals instead. Because I’m not good at either goal setting or goal keeping, I rarely put down my goals on black and white. Seeing my goals neatly written down on a page in 2000, put a smile on my face. The page read as follows:

22/10/2000 “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Main goal:     To be a great author using my talents for His glory.

Small goals:   Writing an article per month; writing fillers-poems, greeting card; At least
                        6-7 publications before the next Fall conference
Future goals:    Five years from now: One book publication.

10 yrs from now:     Four to five books publication-

Twelve years had swift by since I wrote down my first entry in my Writer's Journal, and its pages give me a glimpse of my growth spurt in writing skill and the opportunities ICWF had given me to gain confidence and to fledge my wings. Goal keeping may not be my strength, but obeying God is. So, I keep writing.

January 17, 2012

SIN HIDES by Bryan Norford

She had two. One was strong, the other weak. She kicked the weak one away when it tried to feed, and it died. She mothered the strong one and it lived.

Another had three. They were all small, one was weak. She mothered all three and they survived. Three healthy lambs.

Are sheep so like humans? Some callous, some compassionate? Or are we like them, losing our way by making up our own rules of life? So clearly said: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray.” 

Humanity’s goodness masks humanity’s innate sinfulness, our tendency to go astray. As we observe the waywardness of sheep, so God sees our sin. In quiet moments He reveals it to us.

In those quiet moments, will we acknowledge our waywardness and be restored to the shepherd of our souls? Or will we hide, losing those moments of fellowship with Him.

The offer is His, the choice ours. What will it be?

January 16, 2012

A Light for the Narrow Path - Janice Keats

Jesus himself offered the message of hope and light when He commanded the demon possessed man to go home to tell his family what the Lord had done. (Mark 5:19). Sharing the light to the dark world is high on God’s wish list. It ought to be our aim to share what the Lord has done for us to those in our homes and neighbourhoods.

The Gospel message is clear to the believer, but to the unbeliever, the Word of God has yet to be heeded, understood or known. The Bible clearly states that the message of God is foolishness to those who are perishing as it is written in, 1 Corinthians 1:18, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.” How foolish God’s plan of abundant life must seem to the blinded eye. The believer has the power to demonstrate God’s love in a way that is attractive and sound.

We can seek wise counsel from the Master. Time spent with God will help set the pace for the journey. We may not always know the path in which God will lead us but as we trust in Him we know that our steps are His directions. As long as we follow our true guide, the true light will lead us. Jesus declared in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

As examples of Christ’s followers, we can demonstrate God’s love by living as God commands us. Not only do we have the light to lead the way, we have God’s promises of assurance. The Holy Spirit is our guide and is available to enable any dark alley to shine.

As we spread the light from home to home, or place to place, we can leave behind a spray of love of God knowing that we have pleased the Lord. When our land is fully illuminated we can declare a job well done for the Lord. May we heed Paul’s instructions in Colossians 4:7, “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” As we enter into this new year with goals and aspirations may we remember to continue to share the Good News!

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

Janice Keats

January 15, 2012

Living Life On Purpose - Tracy Krauss

'One word' seems to be all the rage this year, as people all over the web choose a word that exemplifies their goals for the year. Not to be left behind, I chose the word PURPOSE as my signature word for 2012. Here are some reasons why:

1. I'm tired of life's time wasters. You know what I'm talking about: TV, FB, sleeping in, too much time surfing the web ... unless these activities serve a purpose, I'm trying to avoid them.

2. I spend a lot of time marketing, promoting and trying to build my author's platform. I want to take stock of my activities and see what activities are actually yielding results. (Book sales, increased followers etc.) If it isn't serving a purpose, it's time to go!

3. I've asked myself about the purpose of my writing. Who is my audience? Am I trying to entertain or minister to people? Why do I write in the first place?  I believe there is a purpose for this obsession and I want to be more purposeful in pursuing it. :)

4. What is the greater purpose for my life? I'm re-reading Rick Warren's classic THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE and trying to refocus on the bigger picture. We all have a God given purpose, which is first and foremost to glorify Him.

5. Perhaps the fact that I will be reaching a milestone birthday this year has made me more introspective. I'm beginning to feel the acceleration of time with increasing intensity. I want to look back at 2012 and say, "This year had purpose!"

I hope that you will also find the coming year to be one of purpose and promise as you pursue Him.

January 14, 2012

She is my Sister - Pamela Mytroen

I fall asleep to the petty whine
of a full refrigerator
while my sister’s heart hammers
to the relentless rhythm
of staccato gun-fire and crescendo sirens
Screaming closer.

She draws her knees to her chest
beneath fear-soaked cotton
while her babies cry for a lullaby.

Oh Singer! She is my sister.
Would you wrap your melody-shawl
around her shoulders
and rock her gently in the poem of your love?
And when at last her lashes brush her cheeks in sleep
would you chase the dirge from her darkness;
breathe quiet into her night?
And peace?

She is my sister, though I don’t know her name.

May her dreams hum with harmony until at last her ancient troubles
Drum the new day,
And then as despair meets dawn,
even then, would you trace the phrase of her stretch-yawn-stretch
with your smile?
and would your hope-kissed lyrics linger the morn
on her lips?

For she is my sister,
and You know her name.

~ by Pamela Mytroen

January 13, 2012

Telling Your Story - T. L. Wiens

I'm part of His Imprint Christian Writer's Group. Every year we host a conference. It's the only Christian writers conference I know of in Saskatchewan. We decided to add a writing contest to coincide with the day. This year, the submissions are essays to theme and our theme is "Telling Your Story."

It's got me thinking about where I began this journey with Jesus Christ. I don't get to share my story often. It's dramatic and for many, unbelievable. But I lived it and I know it happened. The people who knew me before and after know it happened.

It makes me sad that I can't share some of these very special and God glorifying events with fellow believers. It makes me wonder how many others can't tell the world how incredible and amazing God is!

I hope we get a lot of stories--in all different shapes and sizes. I wish we had time to read each one aloud at the conference to share the work God has done in lives. Maybe some of the entrants will allow us to publish their stories in our newsletter. That would be nice but most of all, I hope we will all share the good things God has done and praise Him even when the story might defy our logic.

If you're interested in entering the His Imprint Contest, you can see details at http://hisimprint.wordpress.com/writing-contest/

January 12, 2012

The tale of a tale - Violet Nesdoly

2012 will see me doing one of the most challenging and exciting things I've done since setting out on my writing journey. You see, in November of 2011 I signed a contract with Word Alive Press to publish a novel. And so this year I'll be entering the self-published writer's strategizing-networking-publicizing-marketing fray—a place I promised myself I'd never be in.

That my first book (not counting poetry) would be fiction is another surprise. I have never thought of myself as a fiction writer. I don't daydream in stories. I never invented imaginary friends. I didn't entertain my school buddies with stories of Jim and Ann, like my best friend did, or invent imaginary animal tales to tell my kids.

And yet over the years certain characters have come to life for me. It seems to happen most often with historical figures. When I researched the life of John Bunyan, for example, I was charmed by his shy but plucky wife Elizabeth. Similarly I have written short stories about biblical characters like the little girl who was Naaman's maid, Rahab, Achan, and the shepherds that visited baby Jesus.

Another Bible character who has fascinated me for years is Bezalel, that craftsman of whom Moses said, "See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel ... and He has filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom and understanding in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze..." (Exodus 35:30-34).  Bezalel ended up being in charge of constructing the tabernacle and its furniture.

Who was this young man whom God filled with His Spirit for the arts, I wondered? What was his youth like? Did he train under Pharaoh's craftsmen? Did he have any sense that he was special? I'd like to write about him and find out, I often thought, as his back-story began to form in my imagination. Only, I knew that his tale would be more than a few thousand words.

Over the years when I would come to the end of a project and pray, God, what next? I would often think about that story. I knew I wanted to write it, should write it. Yet the project seemed too big, the research too overwhelming. And so I kept shoving it aside. Until November of 2009.

That year, I decided to take the plunge and make the writing of Bezalel's story my NaNoWriMo project. With the help of  Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method, I did some pre-planning. Once the month began the writing flowed and I reached the end of my narrative (and passed my 50,000-word goal) several days before the end of November.

Then—nothing. The manuscript mouldered in my files for the next year or so, even though my prayers for other writing assignments repeatedly brought me face to face with this one, still unfinished. Early last year I finally realized I would have no peace until I completed it.

The Word Alive Publishing Contest deadline of June 30, 2011 gave me a concrete date to work toward. And so most weekdays of March to May last year I set my timer for 99 minutes, 59 seconds (the max it would register) and worked at the sucker.

I declared it finished two weeks before the contest deadline and on June 15th gleefully drove my stack of papers to the neighborhood UPS depot (we were in the middle of a mail strike right then), and sent my baby into the world.

No one was more surprised than I to find, in late September, that Destiny's Hands had made the list of contest finalists. Thanks to the support and encouragement of the people at Word Alive Press I am now in the process of tweaking it one more time before sending it off to them for more editing and all the other things they will do to make it into a book.

If there is anything about this lengthy process that gives me courage for the daunting job ahead, it is the sense that God has been with me this whole time, helping me put this story together, keeping me interested, bugging me to finish it. I just hope my efforts won't have let Him down.

© 2011 by Violet Nesdoly

January 10, 2012

Comparative Literature - Bonnie Way

Classes started for me last week and I had my first short story due yesterday.  As I sat at my computer trying to work on it, I found myself struggling.  Not because I didn't have any ideas; I did have an idea that I'd been mulling over for most of our Christmas holidays.  Rather, I found myself struggling because I had seen all the work submitted by my classmates last semester.  I'd read the first stories three of them had submitted this year.  And I found myself comparing my work to theirs.

My plot isn't as good as hers.  My characters aren't as interesting as his.  My descriptions don't leap off the page like his.  These little whispers crept around inside my head, telling me I was just a mediocre writer.  I didn't belong in this class, with these students who were clearly far more gifted than I was.  Why did I think I could write literary fiction?  They would all laugh at this story when I handed it in!

Finally, I stopped those whispers, telling myself that I am not in a comparative literature class but rather a creative writing class.  I know these students and they know me.  I can't write like Mallory or Vincent, but they can't write like I can either.  Each of us has stories to tell that only we can tell.  Each of us has unique life experiences, unique ways of looking at the world, unique relationships with other people, that affect our writing.  I need to tell the stories that God has given me to tell and not compare my stories to those He's given to other writers.

One of the first stories in the Bible is the story of a man comparing his work to that of his brother.  You probably know the story: "Some time later, Cain presented an offering to the LORD from the land’s crops while Abel presented his flock’s oldest offspring with their fat. The LORD looked favorably on Abel and his sacrifice but didn’t look favorably on Cain and his sacrifice. Cain became very angry and looked resentful" (Genesis 4:3-5 CEB).  Instead of looking at his own offering, Cain compared it to Abel's and grew angry.  Both had given to God from their talents; Cain worked the land, Abel worked with sheep.  For whatever reason, Abel's was more favourable to God than Cain's, but instead of seeking God's will about his work, Cain choose to get rid of the competition.

One of the things I love about Inscribe is the way we support each other.  Among us, there are published writers and others just starting out; there are novelists, playwrights, devotional writers, short story writers, journalists, poets, children's story writers.  We all have a place in God's plan, a story that He wants us to tell.  As a writer, I can learn from other writers, absorbing from them tips and techniques that will make my writing better, but I cannot compare myself to them.  And so I silence the voices in my head that tell me to stop writing, and I keep on because I know God has given me this desire to write and I must write the stories He's given me to write.
"If anyone thinks they are important when they aren’t, they’re fooling themselves.  Each person should test their own work and be happy with doing a good job and not compare themselves with others.  Each person will have to carry their own load." Galatians 6:3-5 CEB
 ~ Bonnie Way (http://thekoalabearwriter.blogspot.com)

January 09, 2012

The Flowing Ink - Shirley S. Tye

Sometimes the words flow easily onto the paper, recreating the mini movie that dances through my mind. Changing a word is like focusing a lens; slowly the image becomes sharper and the characters take on a life of their own. It's exciting when others read the words I've written and see the same image. Even more exciting is when a reader or a listener responds with the emotion I hoped the words would invoke. But then add that excitement to the exhilaration of a published story that is paid...wow! I'm soaring above the clouds. What a feeling! What a high! It's that feeling that keeps me addicted to writing.

Do I get weary or discouraged with writing? No. However, I do get frustrated when I have difficulty formulating my thoughts onto paper. But I've had enough highs to keep me captivated and determined to reach that high again; to learn more; and to write a better story, a better devotional, a better article, a better whatever. I simply must write. And I must stay connected with other writers to hear about their successes and their dreams. They too keep me motivated.

Do I have writing goals for this year? Of, course! Are they realistic reachable goals? Who knows until I try? And try I will! I'll put my best pen forward so-to-speak and write a play for amateur theatre and ask a director, who I know, to read it and give me feedback. I enjoy live theatre. In 2011, I acted in a play and it helped me see what works and what doesn't work for amateur theatre. I'll finish writing the first draft of my adult novel and finish the last little bit of tweaking on my children's novel before sending it out to publishing houses. Somewhere there's a publisher interested in the story.

There are many other plans but for a few months most things are on hold while I finish writing a thesis for a BA in Christian Education/Counseling.

I'm excited about where God is leading me with the writing and this new career.

May you be blessed as you let the ink flow for the Lord.

January 07, 2012

January 7, 2022 – Ramona Heikel

Calgary Herald Entertainment Section

“Children Meet Favorite Writer”

“We stopped by Fish Creek Library today and found a crowd of children gathered. When we asked one of them why they were there, she said, ‘To see one of my favorite authors, Ramona Heikel.’ We asked nine-year-old Laurie what she liked so much about the author’s books, and she smiled and said, ‘She makes me laugh, and I feel like she’s my close friend.’

‘When everything gets tough at school or my friend is mad at me, I pick up her book and I smile and everything is okay,’ eight-year-old Jacob said. ‘Christopher [a character in the book] is just like me, and he learned about faith. Now I know for sure that no matter what my friends say, God is real and he loves me. My future will be good.’

Jacob’s mother added, ‘In 2012 I was terrified because people said the Mayan calendar proved that the world was going to end, but I read an article she wrote that gave me a different perspective, so I started reading her books. Her books always made me feel good about myself, and good about life. Now I give her books to my kids to read. They are timeless, cheerful, realistic and optimistic, which is hard to do these days without being PollyAnna-ish. They helped me understand what Christianity really is.’

Ms. Heikel explained that throughout her life, books have been one of her biggest joys, inspirations and comforts, and she wanted to make others’ lives better in the same way. She says it was hard to keep going in such a competitive field after so many rejections, but she figured she’d just keep writing as long as she had things to say that might help people know God, understand themselves and other people, and bring peace and direction in a world of trouble. She loves kids, and loves to have fun, so writing children’s books was natural.

‘She seems to be able to read our minds,’ another boy said. ‘She understands how we think and knows how to help us live our lives. I can’t wait to read her new book because I know it’ll be fun and exciting. She writes about some serious things but you don’t get depressed.’ Twelve-year-old Blake added, ‘Her stories have changed me. I used to be nervous about all the things going on in my family and in the world. But I’m not now.’

Ramona Heikel used to live in Calgary, and will be speaking all this week at Calgary’s public libraries before continuing on her tour and returning home to San Diego, California.”

[Ramona’s note: This was inspired by our pastor who suggested that we clarify our goals by writing our eulogy. I decided I’d rather write a future news article!]

Posted by Ramona


January 05, 2012

Why Do I Write?

                                                             by Glynis M. Belec

1.  Why do I get up each morning? 

Some days are diamonds some days are stone

Some time the hard times won’t leave me alone...The wonderful part about daybreak is that I know not what awaits me once I poke my head out of the covers. Most mornings my wonderful hubby wakes me up with a steaming cup of Tetley's. I then mentally review my to-do list and then remind myself that my day depends on my attitude - I can make it or break it. I get up each morning because I haven't finished yet...

2.  Why do I write?
      I always loved composition in school. I wrote songs with my sisters when we lived in Scotland. My teacher told me I should always do my very best in English. It would help me in everything. Thanks Mrs. McLeod.

3.  What motivates me?
      My hubby has worked hard all his life. He often took on extra jobs to help cover the cost of being who we were. We homeschooled our wonderful kiddos and laughed more than we cried. We had more than a few challenges and hiccups but God was with us every dance step of the way. I told my happy hubby that one day he could retire and I will follow my dream to write...write...write...fulltime [and make some money, too.]

4.  Why do I write?

      Words are like gossamer silk. Every thread delicately intertwines to create a web of words. As I write from my heart, I pray I will touch the hearts of others and my desire is that my soul words please the heart of God.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Phillipians 4:8

5.  What is life? Life might very well be defined as the absence of death. But it is so much more. When I see my little grandbabies discover their world; when I hear the infectious laughter of an infant; when I realize the gifts God has bestowed upon His people and then see His people use those gifts for His glory; when I see medical miracles; learn that we are having another grandchild; hear the laughter of children; hear the laughter of adults; see the compassion of individuals; see and experience family; watch a frustrated student have an 'aha' moment; when I feel a hug; hear a kind word; have an opportunity to share what I have; realize the responsibility of being a parent, a grandparent, a wife, a friend...then I start to know what life is!

6. Why do I write?
     When I write what I know the words flow. The obsession to fill a page with words consumes my mind and soul. When writing opportunities are absent, my mind stays on God trusting Him to guide me into perfect timing to share my heart.

7.  What discourages me?
     Watching televised news exemplifies the sinful, fallen world. I wonder why we do to each other that which denegrates, maligns, defames and destroys? Rejection; amber alerts for stolen children; cruel words; misuse of power; greed for that which we are not entitled; carelessness of heart. Thankfully, the tiny Babe was sent to remind us of why we exist; to deliver; to offer hope; to save.

8.  Why do I write?
     My idea file overflows. There are ideas for articles, books, devotions, stories floating around in my mind constantly. I am overwhelmed with what to do with these words. So I write.
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

9.  What is my favourite Scripture?
      Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

10.  Why do I write?
       The act of writing causes my brain to settle and focus. If my writing is all task and focussed solely on deadline, I can tell. If my writing flows because I have acknowledged God as the giver of all gifts and then taken the time to be still, I sense a better connection and a calmness in my soul.

11. Why am I thankful?

      All I need do is look around. All I need do is remind myself Who is beautifully in control. All I need do is think back to times of turmoil and distress; joy and celebration...and then I remember.

12. Why do I write?
      I always believed in God. The God of my past was there for my convenience, though - when I was sad, troubled, upset. Then my heart became hungry for something greater than my own words. God led me to a place and showed me the Light. My soul was stirred.  I found ways to express myself via the written word.

13.  What will I do with the rest of my life?
        What is the rest of my life? There's a country song "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw.  I'm not too sure about the skydiving, the rocky mountain climbing or going two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chew. But I do like the part about loving deeper,  speaking sweeter  and giving forgiveness I'd been denyin'...
We might think we have the inside scoop on our days but I never felt those tumours growing.

14.  Why do I write?
        There's  nothing like walking a mile in someone's sandals, they say. When I extract both the toxins and the precious jewels from my life I find people who say they understand why I write. They can relate; they want to hear my stories; I want to hear theirs.   

15.  What scares me?

      What if I lose my way? What if I lose my mind? What if I lose my salvation?

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

16. Why do I write?
      There is something particularly calming and thrilling when I get to spend significant hours partaking in the art of writing. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I get to dig out my ancient ledger and enter - by hand - the latest project. I tried keeping track of my submissions on the computer and everyone tells me that that is the correct thing to do. I do have a program or two that I can use but for some silly reason I keep going back to my oversize forest green ledger. It feels like a reward when I write by hand in this great book.

17.  How do I measure success?
       Sure I want to be a successful writer. I guess the key is defining successful? Perhaps credibility will be determined if I make x number of dollars or sell x number of copies. But true success for me will be measured by a degree of satisfaction gleaned from knowing someone has been encouraged, educated, confronted, consoled, motivated, entertained, challenged, inspired, comforted, cheered, stirred by my stories.

18.  Why do I write? 
       Every time I teach the alphabet to my students, my mind boggles. How can 26 little letters come together to create over 600,000 words? We are quick to teach the alphabet to our charges but are we equally as quick to teach them how to love and respect words?
       Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

19.   Should I dance like no one is watching?
       Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen? ~Friedrich Nietzsche

20.  Why do I write?
       Just as my heart beats in perfect harmony within the rhythm section of God's orchestra, my passion for the craft pulsates perfectly as I wait upon the Lord for inspiration.  

Love, is why I write...