August 29, 2012

5 Reasons Writers Should Use Twitter - Ruth L. Snyder

Several years ago I was encouraged to open a Twitter account. I knew I didn't have time to blog regularly and I decided to use Twitter as my "mini" blog. With a bit of trial and error, I learned how to use Twitter. Today I consider Twitter to be part of my professional development. Here are five reasons I think writers should use Twitter.

1. Use Twitter to expand your network - Twitter is an easy way to "meet" people with like interests. Find people who are writers by typing #writer into the search bar at the top. You can then read tweets of people who use the hashtag (#) "writer" and decide who you would like to follow. Usually if you follow someone, they will follow you back. People also tend to follow those who share helpful content, so share links to information that you as a writer find interesting. Twitter is all about building "relationships". This takes time. I've been on Twitter for over three years and have about 2,000 people who follow me.

2. Use Twitter to find information and resources - I find that searching on Twitter often yields more useful results than searching on Google or another search engine. Most people with Twitter accounts use hashtags like #amwriting to provide an easy way to "index" or file their tweets and to find tweets on the same subject. Here's a list of helpful hashtags for writers. You may also wish to research specific topics you are writing about. You can type anything into the search feature. If you type something with a hashtag, all the tweets which contain that particular hashtag will come up. All tweets that have a specific word or phrase will come up if you enter it without a hashtag.

3. Use Twitter to share information - If you find a link that is useful to you as a writer, share it with other writers. Perhaps you were inspired by a famous #quote. Others will probably enjoy it too. If someone else tweets something you find helpful, use the "retweet" function to share the information.

4. Use Twitter to build excitement about your next book - The ideas are as limited as your imagination. You can share short snippets from the plot. (Remember that you are only allowed to share 144 characters at a time.) Perhaps you want to introduce readers to your main character and give them some backstory. Tweet when you've finished the next chapter.

5. Use Twitter to build your platform - Michael Hyatt shares why you can't succeed without a platform. If you don't care about having people read what you write, building a platform is not important. However, most of us want to share what we write. You will note that Twitter is only ONE way to build your platform, along with blogging, Facebook, newsletters, and podcasts.

What have your experiences with Twitter been? Have you found it helpful as a writer? I look forward to hearing from you.

Ruth L. Snyder
www.trusteesnyder.blogspot.com (Education information)
www.ruthlsnyder.com (Ruth's writing and family life) 
www.earlyyearssuccess.com (Information for caregivers of children ages 0-5)

Follow Ruth on Twitter:www.twitter.com/@wwjdr

August 28, 2012

HEALING WOUNDED LAMBS -- Bruce Atchison

Acts 20:28-30 (KJV) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Throughout the Bible, Satan has corrupted and suppressed the truth. He continues today to use people, even professing Christians, to prey upon the flock of Christ. Disguised as shepherds, these phony leaders mislead and abuse their flocks to the point where many sincere sheep turn away from the Good Shepherd.

I was one of many who wound up in a cultic house church. Nobody discipled me when I gave my life to Christ in 1969 at a vacation Bible school. Consequently, I had no discernment skills. The World Tomorrow radio program became my mentor until a friend invited me to his church in the basement of a house.

The self-proclaimed teacher captivated my imagination with his stories and twisted scriptures. As a result, I believed that God lead me to a spiritually-advanced church that knew deep teachings which mainstream churches didn't.

One of these so-called secrets was the naming of Christ's name to cast out demons and heal people. Particularly appealing to me was the idea that I could be healed of my poor eyesight. I could prove to the skeptics that God was real and he still performed miracles through his apostles and prophets. Visions of TV appearances and speaking tours filled my mind as I imagined myself fully healed.

The wolfish side of those false shepherds soon reared its ugly head. Whenever my eyes weren't healed after the laying on of hands, they accused me of having hidden sin, lacking faith, or having un confessed ancestral sins. For more than fifteen years, I struggled to build up my faith and crush all doubts. Nothing I did triggered God's healing power. Because of all the criticism and harsh judgements made against me, I stormed out of that church one June Sunday and turned my back on God for nine years.

I came to my senses when I realized the Lord wasn't at fault. I had been lied to by folks who I thought knew the scriptures better than I. Bible-believing churches and the sound doctrines of biblically-literate radio preachers steadily deprogrammed me of the lies I learned as a young Christian. I now realize that God is sovereign and nothing I could ever do would gain me better sight.

John 9:3 is now my life verse. Through my upcoming How I Was Razed: And How I Found Authentic Christianity memoir, I hope to comfort those wounded sheep who left the Good Shepherd as I did. I want them to know the real Lord, not the signs-and-wonders idol that I once worshipped. May the works of God be manifest in me as in the blind man Christ healed.

For more information on my writing, visit the Bruce Atchison's Books link.

August 27, 2012

Designing a Deadline - Denise M. Ford


When I wrote for a local newspaper I always knew my deadline as the Friday before the Tuesday printing.  Obviously my news for the small town column I wrote didn’t always include up-to-the-minute newsflashes.  Still I appreciated the sense that I had a weekly timeframe to organize my thoughts and ideas.  I fell quickly into a pattern of assembling information, collecting snippets on what shouldn’t be missed for the current week, and obtaining notices of upcoming events.  After placing these in order of importance I would then determine what might be an interesting lead-in to these more mundane items.

Sometimes I would delve into the town’s past history or touch on local legends that could highlight pending festivals.  As such I enjoyed creating ways to enlighten the citizens of my little town and to encourage conversation amongst them beyond the everyday talk about weather, happenings, and calendar announcements.

I thought about this as I began to worry about an upcoming deadline.  I wish this word and its connotations didn’t hold so much power over me, or rather that I wouldn’t allow it to wield control of my days.  How can I begin to let it slide into the sidelines of my thoughts instead of hovering helplessly above me like a huge pail of water balancing on a tightrope, splashing and spitting its contents onto my head. 

Because I am not in the mood for a dousing of cold water, I need to refocus and print another deadline image into my mind.  So I revisit the days when I experienced my first deadlines.  I remember the unequivocal excitement, the careful chosen copy, the enthusiasm expended to entertain.  I specifically recall picturing in my mind the faces of people I knew who would read my column.  I imagined their smiles and nodding heads as they spent a little time rolling my ideas around in their minds.

Fellow writers, I need to reframe the idea of a deadline so that it doesn’t continue to threaten to crash on top of me when I least expect it.  I need to follow a few simple steps that initially kept me focused on the freedom that writing allows; the sheer delight of choosing words to unlock moments of thought in other people’s minds.  I forgot that a deadline isn’t literal.  After our selection of printed copy finds its way onto a page or screen, it hasn’t died.  Every time someone reads it, it comes “alive” in a new way. 

Maybe those drops of water falling from above will begin to cascade on a cooler current, transposing into intricate patterns pushing forth toward perfection.  Ideas freely forming into phrases, sentences, paragraphs, articles, stories, shared thoughts.  Words that will be picked up, presented to and partaken by persons I can only hope to perceive.


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

August 24, 2012

Love the Wounded -- Lynn Dove

I suppose it was only fitting that I wrote the last chapter of my book, "Love the Wounded" on Valentine's Day.  I suppose that had to be a "God thing". It was the last book in the "Wounded Trilogy".

As I punched out the last few lines and pressed the "saved" button, I just slumped in my chair and whispered "Done!" My husband and kids were long since in bed, but I was on a roll and just couldn't stop the flow of words. I was so close to finishing, so I plugged on and that's why at just before midnight I celebrated quietly alone in the dark by my keyboard after I had typed the last word of my story. I guess after such a long labour, pouring my heart into a project that started with my first book in the "Wounded" series nearly four years ago, to the completion of the manuscript for the final book, I couldn't help feeling a bit contemplative about it all.

God led me on this writing journey and to tell the honest truth I had no idea then how many curves in the road there would be and what varied adventures waited for me around every corner.

My writer's life has been for the most part a solitary one. It's basically me parked in front of a computer screen, tapping out a plotline that is only imagined in my mind and then brought to "life" on paper. It's a weird process really. It's even more weird when I consider all the other bizarre imagery and thoughts also rattling around in my head at the same time that I could have just as easily regurgitated to life and then instantly regretted. Silly, stupid, and basically messed up things that really should NEVER be put to paper. Fire yes,...paper...no!

James 3:1 says that "not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."

I dare say that a writer in many ways is a teacher, especially those of us who are called by God to write. Our words may teach, empower, embolden, condemn, accuse, uplift, benefit and reprimand. Look at history. Mein Kampf caused an entire nation to embrace the ideology of a madman. The book, 1984 by George Orwell coined the phrase "Big Brother is watching you." - a phrase that takes on new meaning today in this world of interconnectedness on the internet. The word "Twilight" will no longer be just a time in the day to sit and watch the sun go down, but now will be forever associated with vampires and werewolves. Even a simple journal, found after a young girl's death, has become a symbol of racial persecution, something the young Anne Frank likely never would have imagined as she wrote her private thoughts into her diary.

Books have the ability to change lives, change history, change the world. It is no wonder that when we writers put pen to paper, or in this day and age, PDF's to Kindle, we must be constantly aware that we will be held accountable one day for what we write.

Now I would be incredibly egotistical to think that my little books will someday "change the world"...Whoa! Still, whenever one person picks up and reads one of my books, whatever I have written will likely elicit a response...good, bad or indifferent in that person. No doubt when I look at my reviews later I will be able to determine what the ultimate response has been...heeheehee :)

So as I "birth" another book I hope you will allow me the artistic license this one time to change the wording in James slightly to keep me ever mindful as a writer Whose I am:

"Not many of you should presume to be (writers),...because you know that we who (write) will be judged more strictly."



August 22, 2012

My Comment An Answered Prayer -- Brenda Leyland

A fellow blogging friend emailed me to say that I was the answer to a prayer she'd prayed one morning!


Interesting thing about it all, I thought I was just minding my own business, for I had no idea that I'd stumbled into the stream of someone's earnest request to God when I decided to visit her blog and catch up on a few posts.

Knowing from my own experience just how important it is to find feedback in one's comment box, I took the time to not only read several posts, but to share some thoughts about how they had touched me in some way.

A very short time later, I found an e-mail from S~ saying that I couldn't have any idea what my comments meant to her that day. For that very morning, as she got up from bed, she asked the Lord to please have someone leave a comment so she could know for sure that somebody out there was reading her posts....

"What did I see... your e-mail with the comments -- an answer to my prayer as a confirmation. What more proof do we need to believe God hears our prayers? Aren't we so blessed to have such an awesome God who cares about even minute things like page-viewing!"

I felt blessed and honoured to have been a part of the Lord's answer to my friend's heart cry. I'm so glad I heeded the little nudge -- I could so easily have postponed or ignored it. It's also a good reminder for anyone who blogs that it really is worth the time it takes to leave comments and share a little feedback on the posts you read on other writers' blogs.

© Brenda C Leyland





August 21, 2012

Power of Encouragement--Sulo Moorthy

“ Leaving comments is a great way to support your fellow writers,” read Brenda Leyland’s e-mail on the listserv a few weeks ago. I cannot agree more. We, writers, whether we acknowledge it or not, thrive on compliments, applauds or any kind of encouragement. If not for the comments left on our postings, the nod of approval at the writers’ group, the sound of clapping at the book reading or the hopeful foot-note of the editor on our returned manuscript, some of us would have given up writing a long time ago.

You cannot fathom the empowerment of such words, whether written in a line as a comment or said in a few sentences. Especially if the compliment comes to a beginner or a struggling writer from an accomplished fellow writer, a well known author or an editor, it becomes the wind beneath the wings to propel the recipient to another height.

It’s going to be twelve years since I had the privilege of getting the compliment from the mouth of Linda Hall, a well known author, and the guest speaker at the 2000 ICWF Fall Conference. The previous evening she had heard me read my poems at the poetry reading session.

Being new to writing, and not having met any writer before, I was clueless as to what to expect at the Writers’ Conference when I arrived. In case I was asked to read some of my work, I had brought with me the three poems I had ever written, and traveled all the way from Saskatoon by bus.

Although I never intended to read my poems , no sooner had I spotted the Our Family magazine on the display table with my poem, Am I A Christian? , I braved enough to put down my name for the poetry reading that evening. Little did I realize at that time that the poetry session titled Peanut Butter and Jam was meant for light, funny and laughter- provoking readings, rather than the serious and spiritual ones like mine. Only when I sat and listened to others' poems and the holler of laughter following the readings, did I realize my mistake. But it was too late for me to withdraw or to exit from the packed auditorium without being noticed. So, left with no option, I went and read out my poems when my name was called out.

The next morning, when I heard Linda Hall on the stage mention about one of my poems and say how much she was inspired by it, I felt as if I was suddenly airlifted to heaven. For a beginner like me to hear a compliment publicly from a great author like Linda Hall was beyond my expectation. She need not have bothered to take a few moments out of her speaking time to compliment an unknown writer like me. But she did. It surely reflected something great about her, other than her writing. There's no doubt, Hall would have forgotten about it no sooner she got down from the stage on that morning. But I haven’t. It’s still fresh in my mind as if it happened only a week ago.

The author's compliment as well as what I learned at the conference from other writers energized me to write and submit an article to Fellowscript as soon as I returned home. Result-“ Never Do” Wisdom for Budding Writers was published with my byline in Fellowscript in the following Spring.

Even though, it's not advisable to rely on others' approval and appreciation for our success, encouraging words do play a key role in keeping us on course. Blogging may be the only kind of writing some maybe doing at this season of their writing. As Brenda suggested, leaving comments is a great way to support our fellow writers. It does take time and effort. But, it’s within our power to do it, whether we are well known authors or unpublished ones.

“Do not withhold good from those whom it is due, when it is in power of your hand to do so.” Proverbs 3:27.


August 20, 2012

Knapping a Nap -- Brenda J. Wood

Did you know that ‘knapping’ means to chisel or hammer something such as a stone so that it breaks into flakes?

That’s what we do with our words. We take big chunks of thought and break/ brake them into memorable sentences, like the following ones (authors unknown.)

To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles .... UCLA.

The professor’s earthquake theory stood on shaky ground.

After her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

If a piano falls down a mineshaft, it produces A-flat miner.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.

Take a laptop computer for a run and jog your memory.

And what about these aphorisms?

(Aphorism -- succinct statement expressing an opinion or general truth).

The nicest thing about the future is that it starts tomorrow.
Seat belts are less restrictive than wheelchairs.
Keep your mouth shut when you're in deep water.

Happy hour after age 60 is called naptime.

Oh, now we are back where I started!

Napping may be a period of short light sleep, especially during the day.

OR small soft fibres sticking up from the surface of a fabric like velvet. OR to be inattentive or off guard

OR even a pre-treatment for Agent Orange.

Consider how our writing would leap into the new and exciting if we twirled our words a bit. What about adding something like this to your romance novel?

His nap didn’t lie all in the same direction.

OR Her nap left her feeling like she’d been doused in Agent Orange
OR He caught her napping over the bank statement.

Strange and unusual wording makes the difference between us and the other guys. However, our words must be easily understood by readers. That’s why John Grisham sells millions of books while Boxford Blunt’s “Scuttlebutt on Mrs. Murgle’s Knowgensia” lies in a desk drawer.

Here is good advice from an expert writer who knew how to write an interesting and easily understood phrase. His classics continue to sell around the world.

2 Corinthians 1:13-For we write you nothing else but simply what you can read and understand [there is no double meaning to what we say], and I hope that you will become thoroughly acquainted [with divine things] and know and understand [them] accurately and well to the end (AMP)

After all that, just stop napping, take up your pen and just keep writing. After all, a straight (vertical) pen sure beats out a horizontal one.



Brenda Wood, author & speaker

Meeting Myself, Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind
The Big Red Chair-storybook for grieving children
Heartfelt-366 Devotions for Common Sense Living
God, Gluttony & You, the Bible Study
http://heartfeltdevotionals.com
www.facebook.com/brendawoodspeaker





August 19, 2012

Dark Passage - Linda Aleta Tame

I AM Here
It seemed impossible.  A strong, active believer faltering in her faith?  I knew it could never happen to me, and doubted it could happen to anyone who was genuinely filled with the Holy Spirit.  How would anyone ever part with the beauty of His presence, the incredible joy of intimacy with Him?  Certainly it would never happen by choice.

Now I know it can and does happen.  It's a subtle seduction, more often the result of many smaller choices than of one specific choice.

Proverbs 4:23 says,  "Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it."

1 Corinthians 16:13 says, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong."

These verses make clear the necessity of guarding our hearts and standing firm.  They should give us cause to realize that it's entirely possible to block the flow of the Spirit in our lives, simply by neglecting to guard our hearts.  Of course He never leaves us, but our ability to sense His presence is diminished.  When this happened to me, I felt lost and alone; so opposite from found and together with Him.

As difficult as it was, my dark passage was a significant spiritual process.  I regret I didn't handle it  by trusting.  I didn't guard my heart or stand firm in my faith.  I began making choices that I would never otherwise make, choices that only deepened the shadows.  Everything seemed bleak, dark and cold.  Where was the Holy Spirit?

He was there all the time, waiting for me to come into the revelation I needed to have.  I now realize the necessity of "the dark passage."  I have come through, and I see now that my faith needed strengthening.  I know too, that as much as I trust my heavenly Father, I need to take the responsibility of guarding my heart and standing firm in my faith. 

It took Mary and Joseph one day to discover Jesus wasn't with them, but it took three days to find him.  It didn't take long for me to discover the perceived absence of the Spirit in my life, but the journey to restoration has taken time. It was a hard lesson, and a long one.  Six years, but I'm grateful.












August 15, 2012

The Reluctant Evangelist - Tracy Krauss


I am not an evangelist. Oh, I know - we're all supposed to be witnessing to others and sharing our faith, but I am not the kind of person to blatantly go up to someone and say, "You need Jesus!" I know people like this and it often works for them. Even if it doesn't, they just seem to have this inner need to 'tell the world'. They are evangelists. 

I guess this is what Paul was talking about when he said there are many spiritual gifts. Not everyone is comfortable in that evangelistic role, just as not everyone is comfortable as a teacher, apostle, prophet ... 

I'm a teacher by profession, from a long line of teachers (four generations) so I know how to do this. And, frankly, I'm good at it. I'm also a story-teller, which is a branch of teaching. (I'm basing this very simplistic categorization on Jesus' example. He told parables and was often called 'Teacher'. Smile.)

For me this is a much more effective way of sharing my faith. The obvious example is through my writing. So far, all of my novels have a strong redemptive theme. On a more personal level, however, I am much more prone to what was once called 'friendship evangelism', where you just make friends with people and then, during your day to day contact with them, they see your life an an example of Christ. You might even get the chance to 'tell your own story', or testimony, although I try not to contrive opportunities for this. 

Some might consider this a cop-out, but that's okay. I used to beat myself up about it because I felt like I wasn't doing my job to fulfill the great commission. Especially when I'd hear a sermon or a TV evangelist asking, "How many souls have YOU led to Christ?" Talk about a guilt trip. Now, I don't try to measure my success as a believer in how many people I have personally prayed with or led to the Lord. If someone wants to talk about faith, religion, or related topics, I am more than willing. If someone asks me for advice, I'll give it and maybe ask them if they'd like to pray. Usually, people say, "Yes." 

I often feel uncomfortable around 'in your face' Christians. (And I'm a pastor' s wife!)  However, I know lots of people who have come to Jesus as a result of the 'hard sell'. I don't mean to sound condescending when I describe it this way, because that's not my intent. People have come to Christ through TV, radio, camp meetings, waking up in a jail cell, in a hospital, from a door-to-door visit ... The list is endless, because the variety of people in this world is endless and God knows that in order to reach them, He must use a variety of methods. What works for some will turn off others and vice-versa. 

Which brings me back to my point. Even though I don't consider myself very good evangelist material, I'm still presenting the gospel in my own way. So I suppose, when all is said and done, even we 'non-evangelistic' types are actually fulfilling the great commission.


August 13, 2012

Writer's Block -- T. L. Wiens

I decided to take the Long Ridge Writer's Group's course on novel writing. I had already completed another course they offered and thoroughly enjoyed it. And that was out of my genre. Novel writing should be a breeze.

"Should be" and "are" are two proving to be distant islands without a view of one another. The problem is that my instructor has a very definite idea of what this book should be about and he is refusing to read what I put on the page beyond that context. That's where my writer's block comes into play. I want to pass the course but not at the expense of writing a manuscript that I hate. So I sit frozen in front of the computer clicking to my favorite websites, wasting my writing time.

As I dare to enter this post--this is about the most writing I've done in a month--I realize how similar my writer's block is to times when I've experienced spiritual blocks. I want to be a witness for Christ but somehow I just remain frozen.

What is the cure? I know for my spiritual walk it's Bible study and prayer. Making sure I'm focused on the right things. And maybe that's the cure for writer's block as well. Remembering why I write--to proclaim the Kingdom of God, who  I want to glorify--Jesus Christ and the purpose for writing-- to spread the gospel is the key to making sure I stay on track and the words keep flowing. The grades will have to take a backseat.

August 12, 2012

When writing feels like walking on water - Violet Nesdoly

"To me the story lacks drama. I think it needs more conflict, more suspense, more changes in pace and more growth in Bezalel himself."

These were the words I read about a quarter of the way through a one-page document titled "Critique of Destiny's Hands" on January 3, 2012. They were the considered opinion of a wise and astute writer friend whom I had contacted, just before Christmas, to give me feedback on my book-length story.

My first reaction on reading her whole critique was panic. What have I done? I asked myself, as I thought of my signature, newly dry on the publishing contract I had already signed, and the people at the publishing house, eager to get on with the job. My friend's words conjured up a hefty rewrite that could take weeks, maybe months to complete. Could I even make this story work?

There was another problem. Hubby and I were one week away from a much anticipated vacation to Hawaii. So I wouldn't be able to tackle this for at least three weeks as I wasn't about to wreck our dream holiday with writing work.

You know the command, "Pray without ceasing"? Right about then, that's what I began to do.

Also about then, I kept bumping into advertisements of James Scott Bell's Elements of Fiction Writing - Conflict and Suspense. Ping! Wasn't that the very thing my critiquer said my story lacked? And so the night before leaving on our trip, I downloaded it onto my Kindle, along with his Revision and Self-Editing. I might not be able to work on my story, but at least I could read about how to salvage it.

In hindsight the timing couldn't have been better. The break gave me distance and an objectivity that I needed. I started playing with the ideas my friend had thrown out and getting new ones—all executed, in my imagination, with the techniques and finesse that JSB explained and demonstrated so well. By the time I returned from our warm January break, I was eager to get on with the job.

Of course, working out those things in real time was another matter entirely.  It took six gruelling weeks of concentrated effort with many ups and downs and  sleepless nights before I emailed my publisher the revised document, hoping that I had hit the mark. The words of my editor at Word Alive Press: "...let me tell you how much I enjoyed your manuscript. I found this to be utterly captivating and well-written. Well done!" brought a huge sigh of relief. 

Looking back on this whole experience, I'm quite sure of one thing: the way this happened was no accident. For if I had known the amount of work still needed on the book, I would not have contracted to publish it, and it would not be around today.

All that to say, when you find yourself walking on water, push aside the panic with prayer. Get help. Work really hard. Keep looking at Jesus' face instead of the waves. And one of these days you'll be scrambling back into the boat with a stronger faith, and maybe you'll be a better writer too. 

- Violet Nesdoly
******************


Need a break from the 21st century rat-race? Travel to a different time and place via Destiny's Hands, a new novel recently released by Word Alive Press.

Experience Egyptian slavery, the exodus, crossing the Red Sea. Meet Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Hur, and Bezalel.  Eat quail and manna. Drink water from rocks. Live the temptations and questions of wilderness wandering.

Find out what readers are saying and where to purchase HERE.

Website: www.violetnesdoly.com

August 10, 2012

What Concerns Me? -- Sharon Espeseth

James of the New Testament says, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."I can identify with that, because right now my life seems to be flying at warp speed and I do feel a bit "misty" about that. Writing to the newly converted Jew, James writes about practical Christianity. But like the rest of God's word, the messages James writes apply equally well today.

As writers, we set goals, make commitments, and accept assignments with deadlines. That is the nature of our work, but some things always, at least often, attempt to throw us off our course. Right now I am going through one of these periods when there are time demands on many fronts.

Commitments have been made, so I will have to juggle my priorities again and maybe gear down on my expectations of what I can do or how well I can do it. Perfections is my old nemesis. Our friend's family history may not read like a Dicken's novel, but it will get done. I will attend my husband's medical appointments. When the kids and grandkids arrive shortly, accomodation and meals will be less than standards at The Ritz, but there will be plenty to eat. I may only get one entry ready for the Inscribe Fall Contest, but one is better than none.

Yes, I'll be short on attaining all my goals and some may be done to a lesser standard, but I will do my best. I will pray for peace of mind, patience, and understanding--of others, even of myself. Thankfully, the love I feel for my family will never be in short supply.






I may be a mist passing briefly through this life, but I still need to do the best I can with the time and talents I have. Crises of time remind me what matters most.

James addresses all Christians when he says, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." To that he adds, "Why, you don't even know what will happen tomorrow." I agree with James totally, but that doesn't excuse me from procrastinating, getting side-tracked, being undisciplined, or wasting precious moments while the mist that is my life evaporates.

If I didn't feel called and gifted to write, I would have given this up long ago. I am passionate about my faith and I try to live as God calls me to live. Through my human frailty, I learn. I grow. If I openly and honestly share my experience with others when I write, I may help them to see how God cares for all of us and watches over us.

When rushed and stressed by pressures, I do more foolish things than normal. Recently I lost my glasses when we were hurrying to an appointment. I thought I had left them at home, but they weren't there. I returned to where we had parked our vehicle in case my specs had fallen off my lap. They weren't there either.

I prayed about it. I asked St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things, to help me find my specs. Next morning, I went back to the spot once more, and there, sparkling with dew were my expensive, trifocal glasses that I really need. I offered a grateful prayer of thanks and praise.

If God calls me to share my experiences with others, I will do that. Speaking of practical Christianity,
James says, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

Instead of boasting about the goals I will accomplish next month or next year, I will remind myself of James's admonition to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." Putting this verse in writer-ease, I will say, "If it is the Lord's will, I will get this or that written, this or that published."

David the Psalmist said, "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; . . . do not abandon the work of my hands."

Readings from James 4:13 -- 17 and Psalm 138.8




August 09, 2012

Called to Encourage - Shirley S. Tye

Several years ago, I felt the unmistakable calling from God to become an encourager. At first, I thought that to be an odd idea because I’m easily discouraged; in fact, I had struggled through a three-year depression in the late 1990’s. But then it occurred to me that who else would be better suited to give encouragement than someone who knows the pains of discouragement and the loneliness of depression.

My ministry of encouragement began with blank greeting cards in which I’d write a short message of cheer.

Then in 2004, it expanded into storytelling. December 2004, I wrote and told my first “Aunt Shirley” story for my home church. After that, invitations to speak started coming in from other churches, nursing homes, seniors’ homes, ladies church groups and retreats, and even an invitation by a small charity to speak to children in Mexico.

A couple of years ago, I felt God calling me to take another step and further my ministry of encouragement by becoming a counsellor. What a huge step! But I dived into courses to up-grade my Lay Pastoral Counsellor’s certificate.

It’s been one learning step after the other toward growth and experience. There have been many days that I’ve wondered what am I doing; I’m in over my head with these courses. But I know that when God calls, He’ll provide all that is needed to carry out His calling. He has placed in my heart a desire to lift up the discouraged and downtrodden; to walk beside those who are walking through the shadow of the valley of death. I’ve been called to encourage.


August 07, 2012

The Longing to Belong - Ramona Heikel


Forgiveness and belonging.  I’ve noticed these two recurring themes in my writing over the years.  Of everything I’ve written, my three (unpublished) novels show these themes most obviously, I think because I put my heart into my fiction more than anything else I write.

I want my stories, devotions and blog posts to say please join us, feel welcome, we like you, different is okay, you are the same as me, you are forgiven and acceptable , we are not better than you.  As I stop to analyze why it’s so important to me that readers get this message, I remember the words of one of my favorite authors, Francine Rivers, in a response to a letter I wrote to her.  “Write what you need to read,” she said.

I haven’t intentionally set out to do that, but I’m sure that sub-consciously I’ve ended up writing what I need to read, and maybe more so writing what I need to hear coming from the lips of others.  I have probably felt this way all my life, but recently more than ever, I sense a longing to belong.


Just yesterday I finished reading a novel that’s been on my shelf for a long time, A Delirious Summer, by Ray Blackston.  I couldn’t always relate to the escapades of the twenty-something characters, but I found myself envying their little summer community.  When there was a crisis with two of their missionary friends, several in the group even formed an emergency short-term mission.  So whether vacationing at a beach, or facing the challenges of the jungle, they still had their “peeps” surrounding them and providing support.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t remember growing up with a focus on group activities like I see in my kids’ friends and my young co-workers.  Maybe I’ve always been too determined to be independent.  But now I’m starting to gravitate in the direction of community and belonging, and I notice other people who feel that same need.

I hope that my writing will help some of the people in the world who may feel  ignored, unimportant or left behind to see how valuable they are, and also know that they can belong to the always-accessible family of believers.  I cherish the blessing at the end of Francine Rivers’ letter:

“May the Lord use you in bringing light and love to others.”

Posted by Ramona

August 06, 2012

Addicted to Speed - Glynis M. Belec


Don't get me wrong. I love keeping up with the Olympics. I am fascinated by the dedication of the participants and inspired by many of their stories.

I caught the tale end of one of the commentators last evening. He was sharing his thoughts on people's obsession with speed as he excitedly spoke about Canada's potential for a medal.
 It's true. We do fixate on fast, faster, fastest. We push and push our Olympic competitors to go faster, do better, to not [really] be content with a bronze medal. Go for the Gold!  Be disappointed if you don't make it to the top of the podium.

Yes, it is a thrill to see these dedicated souls strive for perfection in their sport, but I do sometimes worry that that becomes the be all and end all of what life is all about. Speed. Hurry. Fast is the focus. Be a lightning bolt.


If a runner or a soccer player or even a writer puts her heart into the task at hand, it is still a reason to rejoice. Sometimes we forget that and if we don't come up with a gold best-seller or a silver Christie Book award winner or bronze Governor General's prize we feel less accomplished; a failure at the craft; a bit of a phoney.

Over the many years I have been a writer, I have never had the opportunity to write full time. I longed to write hundreds of children's books and go to schools to read and share and witness the awe on the children's faces as they journeyed with me in my words. I have visited some schools and shared some stories and heard from some children, so I have had a taste. There was a time when I viewed those 'some' times as not measuring up; not fulfilling what I was supposed to as a writer. I admit feeling that I wasn't doing what real writers do.

 Then God gave me a wake-up call that came in the form of a health issue a few years ago. I was forced to be still and know...I had no choice but to contemplate Who was really in control...I came to the realization that every breath is a blessing and every opportunity to share my soul via the written word is His plan, as long as I am training.

Each word I write is like training and the practise equips me to become a better writer. I hone my skills  and study the craft. I enter contests. I submit articles. I edit. I get edited. I attend conferences and workshops. I read. I listen. I write short stories, devotions, Sunday School material. Books. I speak about writing. I speak about God's will for my life. I read what others say and write. The more I think about it that is not being a failure at my craft. I may not write as much as I wish, but God has other plans for me right now - like caring for my elderly poppa and teaching my beautiful students.

Yesterday I received a gold medal of sorts. It came not because of a sparkling manuscript or an excellent story that I wrote. It came in the form of a Facebook comment. I had been asking for a little feedback to a column that I had written in a local newspaper for 11 years. I had long since given that up but recently had thought about starting it up again. I had plenty of comments from some interested locals but two of the most heart warming came from two young people who are now in their early 30s. I hadn't seen either for years so to have them pop up on my Facebook page was a treat in itself. I had spoken at their school when they were youngsters. And they remembered.

Jenn wrote:
I remember a creative writing workshop you did at the school. I was in grade 1 at the time, but I still remember it being the coolest part of my elementary school experience.


Kevin Wrote:

What was it..... Fabian the Fearless? The frog that preened himself to perfection prior to getting it handed to him by a lawn mower? You indeed embedded yourself in our memories Glynis.


So that was surely my gold. Hearing that sort of feedback so many years later, brings joy to my soul and reminds me why I write.
I will continue to watch the Olympics and will cheer our competitors on, but I will also look at those who do not make the podium and I will pray that each will be content with the journey.
I have more to be thankful for...Being still and knowing He is God is probably a good place to start; a good place to pause and reflect upon the past, the present, the future and then to realize that achieving gold is for a fleeting moment. Fulfilling God's plan is pure everlasting gold...





August 03, 2012

Are You A Writer? YES -- Janis Cox


I am reading a book on my Kindle called "You are a Writer - so Start Acting Like One" by Jeff Goins.



There is no hard copy but I would love to be able to flip back through the pages; put notes in the margins; highlight in yellow or pink and generally use it as a reference book.

Instead I did use the highlight function on my Kindle (my Kindle is first generation - so highlighting is not easily done). Some passages spoke to me and I want to share those with you today.

  1. "Believe you already are what you want to be. And then start acting like it." (110-117)
  2.  He compared writing to running a marathon. He asked himself where did the discipline to train come from. The answer, "It happened from doing the work, creating habits and building momentum... If you do anything long enough, it becomes habitual." (208-216)
  3. "Multitasking is a myth. You can either create or react. But you can't do both. Choose wisely." (252-260)
  4. "Here is the truth: There is no wrong thing. Just begin. Once you learn how to finish, you'll be able to start again. (267-274)
  5. Jeff gave three important things we need to have as writers:
        1. A PLATFORM - "Be a resource to others. Do favors. Be selfless."
        2. A BRAND
        3. CHANNELS (345-348) (You need to read the book to expand on these)
Then Jeff continued with concrete examples:
  1. RESOURCES: You need resources to start your own self-hosted blog:
        1. outstandingsetup.com
        2. yourdigitalbook.com
        3. problogger.net
  2. Three Important Relationships:
        1. FANS - those who admire your work
        2. FRIENDS - peers to help you get better
        3. PATRONS - people of influence - mentors (594-601)

And the pattern in all of this is "serving people" without an agenda. Relationships are important.

I finished Jeff's book this morning. I highly recommend it. The last couple of chapters really inspired me but you will have to read for yourself.

My friend, Janet Sketchley, wrote today about being a writer called Writer, Who are you Really?

To all my writer friends - I have stepped out and have taken the challenge.





Tadeo (TAD-ay-OH) Turtle


Tadeo Turtle should be published sometime in September by Word Alive. Tadeo Turtle is a story for children about a little turtle who longs to be someone different. In this adventure he learns to accept how God has created him. 






Janis Cox


Janis, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement.

She has published a couple of devotionals and a number of articles. Her Bible study is available in PDF.

As owner of Under the Cover of Prayer and A Better Way, she writes often.

Her children's book, Tadeo Turtle, is scheduled for release in September. Email her at Janis or visit her at www. janiscox.com.


August 02, 2012

No Turning Back - Marcia Laycock




Another blank page stares me in the face; or a chapter needs to be edited and made more concise; or an article that's only half a page needs to be four. The challenge of writing - you climb to the top of a mountain and discover there is another obstacle waiting. 

It reminds me of a riding trip I did once, into Alberta's Rocky Mountains. I was with an experienced guide and our first few rides had been great. Then on the third evening he proposed a challenge. "I'd like to go up to the highest peak tomorrow," he said, "but it's a long ride, six hours at least, so who's up for it?"

Four of us headed out right after breakfast. As we approached a fast-flowing river our guide cautioned about not staring at the swirling water and what to do if we fell off. I was relieved when my horse lunged up the far bank with me still on his back. Then we began to climb. I looked up and thought, wow, that's one big mountain and we're only just starting; then, hmm, we're almost half way up; then we were leading our horses up the last steep incline to the very top. It was exhilarating to look out at that 360 degree view. But our guide told us there was a decision to make.

“We can go back the way we came up," he said, "or we can follow this ridge to the other side of that mountain.” I followed his arm as he pointed. The ridge was long and narrow and the mountain looked far away. But we were all still a bit "high" from making the first climb, so we opted for the more adventurous route.

The strip of dirt we advanced across was just wide enough for the animals to plant their feet. Both sides fell away steeply. We were half way across when I felt my horse kicking out at the horse-flies that had appeared out of no-where. Our guide glanced back and warned us that if we felt our horses begin to slide off the narrow path, we should "get off fast. There's nothing to stop them if they start to go and you'll find yourself under 1000 pounds of horseflesh before you know it." Right, I thought. And why did I say yes to this, again? But there was no turning back now.

I was relieved, again, when we stepped off the ridge and began making our way around the second mountain. Then the trail disappeared and everywhere we turned deadfall blocked our way. After more than an hour trying to find a tail that would take us down we headed back up and around the mountain, then down the other side, "bushwhacking" through a dense growth of pine and spruce until we reached the river valley.

But another obstacle became obvious. The river before us was in full flood and the place where our guide had thought we could cross was too swampy for the horses to tromp through. So we headed upriver, looking for another spot to ford. Two hours later we decided to risk sloshing through the muskeg and into the river. 

We all emerged drenched and shivering on the other side, but glad to be at last on open ground where we could make some time getting back to the campsite. We had been gone for almost twelve hours and we knew our friends and family would be worried. When we finally climbed out of the saddles we were tired and hungry, not to mention sore, but exhilarated. We had stories to tell and memories to cherish about the journey.

As I face those blank pages, chapters to be edited and articles to be fleshed out, I remember that trek on horseback and I keep going. I think of all the famous books that were rejected time and again but eventually became best sellers. I think of friends who keep sending out their work and learning their craft even though the rejection slips pile up. And I remember that when you're half way across a high ridge or fast flowing river, there's no turning back. I know it won't be easy - there will be obstacles and barriers that seem insurmountable, but there will also be memories to cherish about the journey and an exhilarating view when I reach the top.

"and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" Hebrews 12:1b.


****
Marcia Laycock is the winner of the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone, has just been released. To find our more about Marcia's writing go to her website


August 01, 2012

Enter Our Book Giveaway....Winners Announced!

 
 (click photo for more info)

Excerpt from Book Description on Amazon.com: By New York Times' best-selling author and international speaker Cecil Murphey: The "must-have" resource for every writer. The perfect "retreat in a book" for writers' events, discussions, and conferences. Who You Are Determines What You Write. You have unique stories to tell the world, teachings and words that will inspire and encourage others. So what are you waiting for?

"We need to continue improving our writing skills, but in the process, we can't forget who we are. If we do, our voices become lifeless. The words may sound beautiful, but they won't express our true selves."~  Cec Murphey.

 
August 8th
CONTEST WINNERS!

A BIG thank you to everyone
who entered our Book Giveaway.

Congratulations to:

Carolyn Wilker
Kimberley Payne

Please contact Brenda with your mailing info
and we'll get your book in the mail!


For those of you who didn't win your free copy,
you can still own a copy by purchasing it
from our InScribe website - $15 CAN.



Two Copies to be Given Away!

 Here's how you can enter the Book Giveaway
for your chance to win one of these copies:
1. Leave a comment below indicating your interest in entering the contest, and your name is entered once.
2. Follow Us (sign in either with Google Friend or NetWorkedBlogs in the sidebar).  Let us know you've joined (or are already a Friend) and this gets your name entered again.

3. Sign up with 'Follow Us By E-Mail' and get new postings sent directly to your inbox -- and your name is entered a third time.

4. Post about the Giveaway on your own blog... tell us you've posted and leave us a link (we'll come visit)... and there's your fourth entry!

5.  Post about it on Facebook or Twitter and you've got five chances to win!  (Remember to tell us that you've posted there).
DRAW WILL BE ON
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2012
Check back then for the two winners!





 Photo source:  Amazon.com