June 30, 2014

Great on Paper by Susan Barclay

My love of words and stories began early. My grandparents first took me to the library when I was three and I was introduced to books and story times. From then on, you couldn't keep me away from libraries and books. I was at almost every library program offered, and devoured books voraciously.

Some of my first memories are of me sitting on our family's front porch and making up songs. I wrote quite a bit of bad poetry, but I'm still not sorry my mother kept it for me in binders that I can go back and re-read today. It makes me smile to see those budding efforts and to know how far I've come.

Not so great on paper (sample from grade 3)

In school, English and creative writing were my favourite subjects, and I excelled in them. My grade two teacher can still quote the closing line to a story I wrote for her class (okay, it must have been better than the grade 3 sample above). In upper elementary years I remember writing about subjects like Hernan Cortez for Social Studies and the colourful mandrill for Science. Later I fell in love with the pun and titled one junior high story Steph's Sweet, Swede Dreams (a play on 'sweet, sweet dreams' in case you don't get it). The plot was of a romantic nature and my protagonist in love with a Swede.

In high school I had an amazing English teacher, Mrs. Perle Michna. You either loved or hated her (she could be strict), and I adored her. Her passion for literature only served to heighten the flames of my own, although I was a bit jealous that she called my best friend her 'Miranda' (a character from Shakespeare's The Tempest) when that wasn't even her name! I aspired to be like Mrs. Michna so much that when it came time to choose my college affiliation at the University of Toronto, I chose Victoria, her alma mater. Imagine my dismay when she told me I was mistaken; her alma mater had been University College!

I enjoyed my years at U of T and Vic nonetheless. I had the good fortune to take a Shakespeare course with the illustrious Northrop Frye, although I confess I don't remember a single word he said (I do still have my notes!). I only remember feeling extremely self-conscious riding the elevator with him one day. Word had it that he had no patience for small talk. I don't know if that was true or not, but I certainly was too intimidated to initiate a more meaningful conversation with the great man.

After completing my undergraduate degree, I went on to get my Master of Library and Information Science. From there I began a career in public libraries. A parallel life to the one I wanted as a writer. I don't recall writing for pleasure or publication for the first six years of my career. Monthly reports explaining how I'd spent my work time and Youth Advisory Group newsletters were about as creative as I got.

Okay, that's a lie, albeit unintentional. I just remembered that I also dated during those years and there were some poems, letters and cards of a romantic nature. You'd call those writing for pleasure, no? Some pieces I still have access to; others were probably disposed of by the receiver when the relationship ended badly. Ah well, what's a writer to do but learn to back up her back-up?

When I had children it seemed that the desire to write returned, along with ideas. I started with picture book texts and 'graduated' to short stories and personal essays for adults, as well as an adult novel.

I'm currently pressing forward with revisions to the novel and it's going well. Apart from a period of a few years where I was 'blocked' from completing it, I can't say I've had a hate relationship with words. When the novel writing wasn't working, I still was, just on other things.

Sorry - a bit misleading there on the relationship with words. I have a pretty great relationship with words in my head and words on paper. What's more challenging is getting the right words out of my mouth. I'm definitely not one for off-the-cuff presentations and sometimes my attempts to communicate with others in person - especially when it comes to conflict or problem-solving - don't go too well. I'm misunderstood or don't quite say things the way I intend. And me with a background in English and Psychology. It can be exasperating to say the least!

Does anyone else here struggle with this issue? Great on paper, less great in 'real' life? Please share and end the feeling of aloneness :)

For more of my writing, please visit www.susan-barclay.ca

June 28, 2014

My Electronic Doorway To The World Of Writing - Bruce Atchison

Though I've always loved making up stories and telling people about what I discovered, converting those ideas into print was a tedious process for me. My vision is so poor that I have to write with my nose almost touching the page. Typing was also labourious since I couldn't see what I had typed. Worse yet, my mind tends to race ahead of my fingers so that I often end up typing letters of the next word instead of those I had begun to write. My spelling was terrible too. English has so many illogical conventions regarding the way words are spelled  so it was no wonder I made mistakes.

I found the solution to these problems in 1993. Personal computers had been around for a decade but they couldn't read the screen text aloud to me without special, and expensive, equipment. Those green CRT monitors were very hard for me to read as well, even with a strong magnifying glass. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) awarded me a screen reader program and voice synthesizer module so that I could now hear what I typed and make corrections. Though I had to pay one quarter of the price of the equipment, it was well worth it. I still have the voice synthesizer, though the software won't work on PCs newer than the 486 series.

Now that I had a screen reader, I bought a second-hand IBM clone for $700.00 and WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS. What a world of writing those tools opened for me. I could type, edit, and format my work without straining to see the typewriter paper or the dim text on a monitor. The spell check function saved me from many embarrassing typos, though homophones still tripped me up. Additionally, I could listen to what I'd typed and hear grammatical mistakes.

The electronic door opened even wider for me in 1995. I took a business writing course from Athabasca University and learned to use bulletin board services. I also accessed the local public library and researched assignment topics with it.

By the end of that year, I joined the growing crowd of Internet users. News groups, web sites, and e-mail all helped me to research freelance writing opportunities. Additionally, I made many good friends online.

Though technology moved ahead, I felt reluctant to give up my 386SX computer and WordPerfect 5.1. When I bought a new computer in 2000, I still used my old faithful PC for writing articles. That lasted until the autumn of 2005 when it finally died on me. Having acquired second hand computers, I continued to use my old software on them. My three paperbacks were written with WordPerfect 5.1, as were most of my freelance articles.

My first two books are featured on the Bruce Atchison's books page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity (My most recent memoir) is distributed through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

June 25, 2014

My Relationship With Writing By Vickie Stam

Proverbs 16: 24
Gracious words are the honeycomb,
sweet  to the soul and healing to the bones. 

For the first time I did something I had never done since high school. I began to write. Some time alone, daily reflections, a decent pen, and a journal. Whether it was in bed under the warm glow of a nearby lamp or curled up in a comfy chair; all I needed was a quiet place.

Whenever time afforded me the opportunity to write, I embraced it. The words inside my head sounded clear and concise. What was unclear to me -- was why? Why did I feel the sudden urge to write?

The first time appealed to me at the end of a trying day. The words spilled onto the pages without any hesitation. With my pen in hand I cried when I stared at the strokes that suddenly marred the crisp white pages. I wasn't prepared for my knack of setting all my emotions into words. My honesty stung. Still, I couldn't stop nor did I want to.

My writing seemed to flourish under the perception I was free to pen whatever I wanted. How liberating! On the other hand there were times when I imagined someone leafing through the pages that were the windows into my life. I marveled at the very thought of them creeping into the room having waited for just the right moment to pull my journal from it's hiding place and slowly peel back the pages. Each one exposed a layer of my life. I could conceive something so silly because I was certain it was never going to happen. An army would never find the book that held my heart between its cover. My thoughts were safe with me.

Time after time I found myself logging in to the story of my life. My fears, worries, hurts, laughter, desires, likes and dislikes. I wrote.

When I turned the last page it occurred to me, my writing evoked tremendous healing. It revealed the joy I thought I'd lost. And something else was also clear.....only God could have given me the remarkable power to transform everything I felt into words all the while showing me where to safely tuck them. Isn't it just like God to provide a way when we are faced with so many ups and downs. He didn't exempt me from any circumstances, good or bad. He simply provided a path.

What started out as a journey towards healing moved on to contentment.

Colours paint the world. A smile illustrates joy. Tears
express pain. Moments are defined as happy or
sad. Love binds two hearts. Forgiveness heals the broken.
Resilient depicts a person.

Words are my friends. Writing is my passion.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... a time to embrace and a time to refrain... a time to be silent and a time to speak. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5, 7 NIV

June 21, 2014

June Bugs by Jocelyn Faire

And the writer went forth to write .... some words fell on rocks, some on paper, some scissored, many words borrowed, few invented, but they were strung together in a new line, for she already knew the ancient declaration that there was—nothing new under the sun—only a twist in how to line up the words.

Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug.

And this morning she was the bugged.

The two dollar girl had a four dollar complaint about the service in the McDonald's drive-through. It was so slow, her hair greyed faster than her order ... she tried to maintain a positive outlook as the five cars ahead stood still. Didn't they know she had places to go, things to do?

After speaking her order into the box: coffee, double cream and muffin, she turned the car off and opened her book ... moved ahead, turned off, moved ahead, paid the $2, foot on brake, half page read.

She practiced words/lines as to how she could gently and firmly let them know how slow the drive through was, and make kind suggestions for improvements—as opposed to just grumbling about how S-L-O-W they were. Should they be reminded of a former policy If it's not ready in 2/3 minutes it's free? As her car finally inched to the second window a paper bag(muffin) and paper cup(coffee) shot out as well as the young server's smile and words, “Nice short hair, it takes talent to do that.”

Complaints died on her tongue, a genuine thank-you said, and with grin on face she sped away, and marveled at the young woman's words, which had transformed her attitude.

And she removed her shoes at the garden, for it was on holy ground she stood, thankful that she was kept from speaking a feeble complaint ... thankful to be given a second chance to be a better person than the grumpster that wanted to burst forth.

It's only words and words are all I have to take your heart away. (Beegees song)

And I continue to be amazed, at the power of words, the way they have potential to connect or disconnect us. I examine my words and my purpose for them. When I take the time to write, I intend my words for encouragement ... when they flip off my tongue, they are not always as well thought before released. Catch and release works for fishing, Release and (then try to) catch does not work well in conversation.

I used to dread the editing process, felt it was much more creative to be “creating” and writing new words and ideas down. In a recent course taken, I came to realize that editing is a very creative part of the process .... did I choose the best words? (Thesaurus-I love you) Can I do a little research to enhance the ideas? (Google I like you) How can I express thoughts in a clearer way, draw the reader in to spiritual ideas without being a three point preacher? With a new enthusiasm, I look forward to working on some of my many little bits, to spit and polish them for greater value.

Some days I'm the windshield, some days I'm the bug ...

Ah, yes the June bugs are out in full force, mosquitos and wasps buzzing, but it's kind of like editing, learn to figure out what works and have fun in the process! Summer is still glorious, and I have a fender full of bugs to tidy up!

Jocelyn Faire - http://whoistalking.wordpress.com

June 18, 2014

Like Food, Like Love, Like God by Dayna E. Mazzuca

Romancing with Words

A mile away, words matter. If I see a sign, a billboard, an advert or a call-out in words “creatively spelled” or “enhanced with seductive images” I have an almost allergic reaction. I divert my children’s attention much like my ultra-health-conscious friends shy their children away from the processed meat aisle. I want my words, images, messages and overall intellectual intake to be as healthy and robust as my super-slim girlfriends want their vitamins and organic goodies on a daily basis. For me, words are to the soul as food is to the body.

Up close, words matter. I can’t imagine hugging my husband on his way out the door and whispering sweet nothings about not forgetting to return the “fast-views” library DVDs. Rather, it's the sweet meaningless words that have a powerful effect. They can make us feel a thousand times better than any well-crafted speech, $6 Hallmark card, or front-page National Post article we strongly agree with. Up-close words are for loving. They shelter us from the needs and greeds of the outside world. They fortify us. Especially when combined with a loving touch or a longer-than-usual look of deep acceptance. Bon mots are to the heart what a hug is to my marriage.

And then there’s what we put on paper, or the screen, or into a book, a story… there are the words we write. Talk about romance! Commitment, devotion and loyalty! Writers seem more wed to their words-of-choice than any married couple I know. The Bible talks quite a bit about not being double-minded; being wholly devoted, consecrated and even “set aside” to the purposes of God. I am convinced the writer’s gift is of a spiritual nature when I see how our spiritual walk parallels our walk as writers. We are wholly unsatisfied with the “wrong” word choice or an “unconvincing” story line or “flat” characters. We want what is real, strong, and even holy to appear and be made manifest through our otherwise rather humble creations of words arranged on paper. Why else would we care so much, unless it was God who was at work within us, helping us hone our craft and discern our particular calling—all to his glory. Single-mindedness is to the spirit what a perfect page of prose is to the writer.

There’s this deep desire in a writer to dovetail what’s going on inside with what’s being consumed, uttered or written on the “outside.” Writers are creatures of high ideals. They crave purity, constancy, protection, affirmation, strength, commitment, achievement and engagement. They look for this on a cultural, driving-by level. They look for this in their relationships. And they look for this in their God-given work.

The good news is the Bible says he who seeks—finds!

June 17, 2014

Behind the Words by Bryan Norford

I’ve always been fascinated by the ability to use language to express an idea in various ways. Before I became interested in writing as an author, I was involved in preparing technical and professional documents. I found language could be used to produce authentic sounding documents (whether or not they were authentic!) by the use of words that had not only a dictionary meaning, but also carried inferences understood by the culture—professional or communal.

A couple of examples come to mind. The expression “that’s unacceptable,” seems to carry authority beyond personal opinion. Also the word “discriminate” has lost its discriminatory ability because advocacy groups for human rights commandeered it to connote their agenda. I’m sure you can think of others.

Obviously, this has implications for both fiction and non-fiction writers. Authentic writing depends not only use of the right word and ruthless deletion of unnecessary words, but also on word order. Strunk and White admirably demonstrate this by rearranging Thomas Paine’s sentence: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Other arrangements they suggest don’t carry the same emotional impact, but the reason is hard to define:

Times like these try men’s’ souls.
How trying it is to live in these times.
These are trying times for men’s souls
Soulwise, these are trying times.

This is where craftsmanship and art combine in the classics that we admire, but which deflate our own confidence. We doubt we will ever reach such sublime heights, yet we are continually constrained to try. Such is the nature of writing. Like life, perfection is seductive; its empty promise will never stop us trying, but always leaves us lamenting our poverty.

But we are fortunate to write in English. English and the other Germanic languages are descendants of Greek (recall the expression: “The Greeks had a word for it”?). So English has a wealth of words few other languages on earth can boast, providing every nuance necessary for effective, accurate writing. Would my passion for writing have been as dynamic without the English language? Possibly not.

However, the biblical languages have certainly enhanced it. A common response to even an elementary knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, is that it opens up the Scriptures afresh. In the Old Testament, for instance, the Hebrew faith formed part of the everyday Hebrew language. Thus, it was not possible to differentiate physical life from the spiritual. The connotations of God’s love and faithfulness were in every expression of love and faithfulness between humans.

In the New Testament, the Greek language had every word necessary to transmit the Christian faith. What is even more remarkable, the Holy Spirit used the “Dick and Jane” Greek of John’s Gospel to communicate sublime truths of the faith as effectively as the classic Greek used by the author of Hebrews. Furthermore, Paul took words from the Greek language and infused them with Christian truth providing “crossover” meanings to aid evangelism in his day.

If I have understood the depth of God’s love and actions for me in procuring salvation, it has been the meaning built in to various words critical to the Christian faith. The Australian theologian, Leon Morris, in his book, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, researched the words: redemption, covenant, blood, propitiation, reconciliation and justification from the original languages. His work gave me a depth of understanding that drew me into a clearer and deeper permanency of my relationship to Jesus Christ, and greater assurance of my eternal security in God’s provision.

It is no accident that God has communicated to us by the written word. Not only does it provide a permanent record of God’s care for His people, it does so in a way that is relevant to every generation. His gift of writing for me and those He called into this ministry is simply an extension of His desire to communicate His love beyond ourselves.

June 15, 2014

'If' and 'Only' - Tracy Krauss

Sometimes it feels like I’m in a relationship with words. I think about writing when I’m supposed to be doing something else. I imagine the characters, the plot, the setting, the dialogue. Writing fills my thoughts, my dreams, and my imaginings.

The reality once sitting with my computer screen in front of me is often quite different. That wonderful story that has been occupying my thoughts doesn’t translate quite as fluidly once I start trying to write it down. Sometimes I get bogged down when trying to move from scene to scene and the story drags. I just want to skip ahead to the ‘fun’ part. (And sometimes I do and then come back to the troublesome scene later.)

My eventual goal is to write full time. Surely, if I could spend the main part of my day writing, I could get so much more done. I could focus more on the promotional end of things, too, and maybe start seeing some payoff… ‘If only’…

‘If’ and ‘only’ are two words that should be banished from a writer’s vocabulary. Rather than bemoan the time I don’t have to write, I need to see the allotted time I do have as a gift from God. He is the one who has given me the desire and the ability in the first place, so who am I to question Him? "Yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn't come, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the 'present'."

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published author living and working in Tumbler Ridge, BC. Visit her website for all her titles: http://tracykrauss.com

June 14, 2014

For the Love of a Note by Pamela Mytroen

Box 591. I will never forget that number. It was my box number in College, you know, the student boxes in the academic building you checked every day along with a crush of students, looking for personal notes from friends, and if we were lucky, a love note.

It was this box in the middle of a hallway that magnified my love for words. Those golden words enriched my life immediately and for eternity. The moment I saw the edge of a card angled in my box I knew it would be a treasure. I would pull the other mail from my box – schedules and account information – and read it quickly while letting the anticipation of the personal note build. Who was it from? What little gems would I glean from it? Finally I would allow myself to indulge in the luxury of the personal, handwritten words. Then it would be tucked into my binder to be read again between classes or in the library for a pick-me-up during research. Reading it again before bed was the sweetest. These were notes that encouraged me to hang in there, notes that said thank you for a kindness expressed, that shared a bible verse, a prayer or a hope for a dream come true.

The notes that set my fingers shaking were from my boyfriend. It didn’t take long and I recognized the small loopy script. Though it was only a loose-leaf plucked from his binder it may as well have been written on rose-petals. My heart would thump sideways before I even finished unfolding the simple sheet of paper. The words, whether a simple “How’s your day going?” or an invitation to an evening out, always covered me in goose bumps and made even the most boring moments in class feel like a Broadway musical.

I took great care in concocting just the right phrases and sentiments when I wrote notes to my friends. When I got a response, I knew I had connected and that made it so worthwhile. I wrote notes of encouragement when a friend was lonely, scared, sick, exhausted, or just needed a little boost. Sometimes I wrote anonymous notes to send my friends on a mystery journey, intended to bring a laugh at the end when they discovered the truth. One time I wrote a note intending to be funny but my friend found it very hurtful. I realized then that words have power – for building or tearing down – and we must be careful how we use them.

We have lost a powerful sense of touch through our dependence on electronics. Social media is quick and convenient but there is something about tugging a note from a box, smoothing it out, and tucking it away to enjoy later. The sense of anticipation and reward is heightened along with the physical connection to your friend. Also, seeing their own handwriting identifies them and gives them a voice that sets them apart from the generic font of an email or text.

I wonder who uses Box 591 now. Are they rewarded as they reach into their box? Are they challenged and encouraged? I would like my writing to be as a note peeking from that box, a note that jump-starts a heart, a note that will be treasured and hidden away to be enjoyed again and again. Today I will write a note for Box 591.

June 11, 2014

The "Romanced Path" by Connie Inglis

The more I get to know each of you, the more I've come to realize that I'm not the only one with a love/hate relationship with writing. Your honesty encourages me and keeps me writing. For me, when the writing flows, it is pure joy. But then there are days, weeks and months when writing is pure struggle. In those times, it is good for me to ponder the answers to the following two questions:

1. When did you realize you were romanced by words, language and writing?

I was romanced by writing when I was nine. (See pic--I'm the one in the pink dress.) That year I started my first book. It was a science fiction that was more inspired by my enjoyment of drawing aliens than anything else. I kept my on-going manuscript a secret--hidden in a brown manila envelope inside the closet of the bedroom I shared with two of my sisters. One day I sought out that treasured envelope only to discover that my mom had cleaned out the closet and had thrown out a lot of junk, my envelope included. I sensed that nobody seemed to care but I was devastated. It took me years before I started writing again just for the pure joy of it all.

However, I was still romanced by the nuances of words and the uniqueness of languages, even the whys and hows of English grammar fascinated me. Long story short, it was this God-instilled passion that led me to study linguistics and then join Wycliffe Bible Translators. I cannot count how many languages I've had the opportunity to "taste," whether for an assignment or for survival, and I have never tired of the uniqueness of each one. I just get to keep falling in love with words and language over and over again. (The photo below shows the Shatikha language of Myanmar.)

Here's a poem I recently wrote about this God-instilled passion:                                 
LOGOLEPSY--by Connie Inglis

I'm calling it a day
a year
a lifetime
with this terminal

I lie in bed--defining
conjugating                                                               Thai language. "Hello"    verbs and nouns, unable to

"Call it a day," I whisper
I state
I explete--but
my mind refuses

My partner linguist says enjoy                                 
appreciate this
awe-full disease--

2. How does Jesus the Bridegroom romance you with His words to you?

The answer to this question brings me back to how I returned to writing. As a young mom, I started to journal but found little time to do it faithfully which was often more of a frustration than a joy. Mostly I wrote because it helped me process life.

Then there was a time when I even stopped journaling. It was when we first moved to Thailand. Our daughter, who was only ten, went through a time of intense spiritual attack. She could physically see a demon in her bedroom at night, laughing malevolently at her. No matter how much we prayed, nothing seemed to get rid of it. I won't go into more detail than that (that story is for another time) except to say that it did end. However, it was a dark time for me spiritually. I was angry at God and I questioned what He was doing.

Then, when that same daughter was in grade 12, I joined a Bible study with a group of moms that all had children in grade 12. We studied the book, Age of Opportunity, by Paul David Tripp. It was through this book and this wonderful group of ladies that Jesus wooed me back to Himself. He was gentle and tender and loving and kind to me when I was bedraggled and closed-off. I was a slow learner but He was patient. He reminded me of His relentless love for me over and over again, often through vivid word pictures. And as I learned to trust in His love, I learned to write again.

With each step I took closer to Him, I discovered other authors that took me deeper: John Eldredge, Brennan Manning, Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp. Worship music as well took on a whole new meaning. It's been an amazing and beautiful ride. I have found such a freedom in His love--freedom to write songs and poetry and stories. Even freedom to paint again (that too is another story).

One of the verses that He gave me along the way is Song of Solomon 7:10--"I am my Beloved's and His desire is for me." (ESV) The Bridegroom is so in love with His Bride that His sole desire is for her. That word picture can bring me to tears because He's talking about His love for ME!

I am so thankful that He has never given up on me--that my relationship with Him is a romance. I realize too that His relationship with the world is a romance and that it is this romance that He calls me, calls all of us, to write about.

June 10, 2014

God's Grace Is Sufficient by Sharon Espeseth

My husband and I are seriously downsizing. Both Hank and I have come from humble, homesteader beginnings. I could show you the houses we each lived in when we were young, but it would take time to find and scan the right photos. Since time is in short supply, I will forgo the images and let you imagine our little houses on the prairie. No yard light, because we had no electricity. You will see the outdoor toilet in the background.

We both worked hard during our single and married years. I was a teacher and Hank was a business man plus a Hank of all trades. We raised three kids. Then in 2000, just before the grandchildren started coming, we designed and contracted for the building of our dream home. Lovingly, we chose the colours, flooring, cupboards, and if I do say so myself, it turned out well. Ours is a comfortable place, a good place for entertaining family and friends. 

During this past fourteen years, our two daughters were married and our six grandchildren were born. This is the only house our young ones know as Papa and Nana's house. Hank and I decided some months ago that it would be better for us to give up some of our earthly possessions and find a smaller place to live. I'll spare you the details, but those of you who've downsized will understand that it's an operation easier said than executed.
Treasures: Papa and Lacey

Discouragement enters the picture and we sometimes ask, "What were we thinking?" But we both know we've gone too far to turn back, and we also know that the new owners wouldn't appreciate our staying here, so we forge ahead. We've packed up antiques for a sale. Our kids will get some of the furniture and family treasures they are attached to. Life will go on.

Last night I agonized over some of my family and teaching treasures--cards and letters from students and parents--and special e-mails from loved ones. A serious amount of this had to go. Today I'll tackle my writing files, another tough job. I may need to reread Marcia Laycock's devotional, "A Pack-rat's Epiphany," from her book Abundant Rain. Here she laughs at herself for keeping a hand-written, musty-smelling, mouse-chewed draft of her first book-length manuscript. Marcia also quotes the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21 where he reminds us to store up our treasures in heaven rather than on earth, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

In the midst of my muddle, I was following the renewed debate on abortion laws, or the lack thereof, in Canada, and I felt called to write on this topic. I asked a few friends, including a few InScribers for prayer support as I grappled with the topic. God granted me the grace and focus to research and write on this vital topic, even though I was limited to short time frames. It's gone to a publisher, but I need to follow up today. Would you please pray that I find a suitable publishing home for this story?

With apologies, I admit I've had to cut out reading and commenting on InScribe blogs this month. I miss this part of my day, so I will definitely get back to reading all of you when we get more settled. 

Togetherness in tough times and in good times
I am thankful that our downsizing has not been due to a financial crisis, an earthquake, or flood. It is a decision we made ourselves. We've put our hand to the plow and we cannot look back, but we know God's grace is sufficient for us. We are also fortunate that we as a couple can accomplish this feat together.

June 09, 2014

A Wordy Love Affair - Shirley S. Tye

Words! Yuck! It certainly wasn’t love at first sight. In elementary school, writing was difficult because I was a poor speller. Reading was difficult because I didn’t know how to pronounce many words. Speaking? Well, I didn’t know how to express myself; wasn’t encouraged to do so at home; in school we had to remain quiet; and I was shy.

At the age of nine, my Sunday School teacher gave the whole class Christmas gifts. Each student received a copy of “The Bible” – King James. So there I was at the age of nine trying my best to read and understand that Bible which I was sure was written in some heavenly language – something God spoke.

In grade four, I struggled with English lessons; grammar, spelling, phonetics, syllables. The worst one for me was phonetics. Confusing! And slicing words into syllables – well, my pencil always hacked the poor words into the wrong portions. It stressed me terribly. I thought I was doomed to remain in grade four forever.

But I must have grasped the English lessons somewhere along the way because by grade seven I enjoyed diving into novels so deeply that I’d forget all about my surroundings, difficulties, and loneliness. I felt I was walking with the characters; living the same life as they. At the end of the novel I was always sad that the story had ended. The only cure for that kind of sadness was to get another library book.

By college, my writing and reading skills had greatly improved. I scored A’s with ease.

Then one day, the idea of being a writer popped into my head. I took a correspondence writing course and a course at the local library taught by the writer-in-residence. My teachers saw potential in me and encouraged me which spurred me on. Now I enjoy reading even more and writing stories is a thrill – not always easy but none-the-less an enjoyable learning experience. It’s awesome to see how a sentence can become stronger or an idea clearer by simply changing a word or two or re-working sentences. There’s always something new to learn in the world of writing. A dictionary and a thesaurus are my valuable tools. Oh, yes indeed, it has become a sweet love affair!

I finally did grasp the old English in the King James Bible. Although I’ve read and own copies of other Bible versions, the King James is the most interesting and inspiring one for me. Some passages I still find confusing but nevertheless interesting. The Bible is a fascinating book; in fact, it is more than fascinating, it is God speaking to us, shedding His holy light unto our path. It has stood strong for many years and will continue standing unlike my words which will fade away.

June 08, 2014

Romancing the Word(s) — Janelle M. Baldwin

We are pleased to have Janelle Baldwin, InScribe's webmaster, join us once again as our Guest Blogger.

Words stir in me a vigorous passion to learn, explore, feel, and inspire. Books are among my dearest friends, glad to take me on whichever adventure I choose. I can run with Anne in Prince Edward Island, dive into justice issues with Atticus Finch, explore a Pet Sematary, or investigate the boundaries of lands that do not exist (but should)—like Middle Earth, Narnia and Og. I appreciate story in all its forms, whether it’s expressed through music, art, poetry, theatre or books. Story exposes us to worlds that we may not see otherwise.

I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember, concocting stories of my own long before I could print them on paper. I’d line up dolls and stuffed animals and speak my tales to them. When my little sister couldn’t sleep at night, I’d put socks on my hands, turning them into a pair of striped Brontosaurus who would spin a cheerful yarn until she fell asleep.

I was hardly more than a baby when I first discovered my love of words. One of the first books my mother read to me was a book about birds. She read it to me everyday. By the time I was two years old, I was identifying birds like the blue heron at the Calgary Zoo, much to the surprise of the other patrons. Fiction books, like The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Scuffy the Tugboat and the Poky Little Puppy soon captured my imagination, further developing my delight with the written word. I was fortunate, my mother read to me a lot. Soon I took over the reins myself, exploring fanciful fables about Frog and Toad, Dorrie the little witch, a curious monkey named George, a magical chocolate factory, a giant peach, and a pig with a friend named Charlotte.

When I was a little older, I discovered stories that incorporated faith and the works of God. I read heartbreaking tales of prostitutes and addicts who were given a second chance, through the grace of God and the Walter Hoving Home in upstate New York. I experienced the power of redemption in Nicky Cruz’s Run Baby Run and pastor David Wilkerson’s The Cross and the Switchblade. I was entranced by the warm love that flowed through Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series and captivated by His presence in Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. I met my Father through story and now, as I write my own books, I choose to serve Him the same way.

Writing takes me up magnificent mountain peaks, so high I feel like I could embrace the sun, and through dark vales so shadowy and deep that the light nearly becomes a memory. Through it all, He is with me, encouraging me to take another step when I think I can go no further. His Words are the inspiration for so many of mine. In His book, He reveals the truth of His presence and His great and abiding love. He tells us that He rejoices over us with singing. He says He is coming, and reminds us to keep our lamp lit and not hide it under a bushel. I wish to do the same in my books, revealing His light and love to readers that I may never personally meet. I give thanks to my Father for His many blessings, and for placing in me a love for words—especially His. He’s the greatest Author of them all. And the perfecter of our faith.

June 07, 2014

Words to Draw Us Closer – Ramona Heikel

I often look at the sky and thank God for making it default to blue, my favorite color. He could have made it orange, or brown, or he could have made our world black and white. But he made it colorful—an understatement!—in the most aesthetically pleasing way.

The same is true with the different ways that God communicates. He could have used primarily natural phenomena like earthquakes, or angels with trumpets as messengers. But having loved words from a young age, I am grateful that one of his most accessible, constant, clear methods of speaking to us is his written Word, the Bible.

To pull us closer, he makes written affirmations of his love, forgiveness, power, wisdom and faithfulness.

Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.

In the words of scripture, God honors us by helping us know him, understand the people around us, interpret history, see his kingdom on earth, have hope no matter what our circumstances, and understand his plans for the future. Somehow, just as a love letter from a human sweetheart, his words never get old or stale. The more I read and study the Bible, the more I believe in his love. The more I study God’s word, the more I know him, and have peace of mind.

Not only do I appreciate this form of communication from God, I enjoy the language. Beautiful words are energizing to my soul, and the tender poetic sections are a balm after a day spent hearing the world’s words. Consider Mary’s Song from Luke:

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

The stories in the Bible grab my attention. Many include fully developed protagonists with well-defined goals and motivations, a formidable antagonist, suspenseful plots of political intrigue, mystery, romance, and family chronicles. Rich dialogue brings these stories alive. How much more engaging these messages are from the Almighty, compared to having nothing but a list of do’s and don’ts and proverbs.

The author of the scriptures is a gentleman. I don’t have to be on my guard against crude or offensive language, graphic violence, depressing plots and philosophies, or vulgarity, but instead can meditate on his invitation, Be still and know that I am God, and look forward to his promise: In my father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may be also.

References: Jeremiah 31:3, Hosea 11:4, Psalms 46:10, John 14: 2-3

Posted by Ramona

June 06, 2014

Writing. How Do I Love Thee? by Glynis M. Belec

Let me count the ways. I have always loved words. I remember fancying myself a writer as a child and creating some peculiar poems – they always had to be funny . Then there were those (according to me at the time) pretty hip songs.

An example of a poetry beginning that I remember:

How to Get Rid of Aunt Martha
by Glynis Latham Belec
Her kisses are squashy
Her lipstick is red
Her perfume is strong
Her hugs I do dread.
She pinches my cheeks
And says that I’m cute
And she always reminds me
To eat all my fruit. . .
(There’s more. I can’t remember it. Poor Aunt Martha was scared by Frederick the mouse and such, if I remember correctly!)

Sometimes I like being a pack-rat. Here is an
old report card of mine from (yikes!) 1967
In school I always did well in English. The words on my report card when I was ten years old encouraged me aplenty to do something with composition.  So I did. I wrote little things in my own diaries and in my jotters.  I wrote short stories and plays in my mind. No one would know about them or see them except me and God.  I was pretty shy about who I would show my writing to and at the time I sure didn’t have much confidence in my efforts.

I would absorb the classics, especially Black Beauty, Beautiful Joe, Little Women and more. Mom and Dad had bought us (my two sisters, my brother and I) subscriptions to a weekly comic. Mine was called DIANA. Every Christmas our parents would buy us the Annuals for the magazines. They were all prettily packaged under the Christmas tree. I could hardly wait to open and read my annual. It was like a very thick DIANA magazine with a hard cover. I loved that yearly gift and I am wishing now that I never got rid of my collection.

I always did a decent job in school with my writing and when I went into nursing school years later, I had to write an essay on safety. I got an A and the prof told me that I had a knack for the written word. No one had quite said it in those terms. I remembered that and when I had an opportunity to enter a writing contest many years, a husband and two children later and won first prize, something started to stir in my soul.

In 1986 I met Jesus face to face.  Shortly after that, I
realized that my passion was not something to hide. My passion was actually a gift. And how quickly I realized that if I didn’t accept and use that gift from God, I was surely missing out. Plus I was not being obedient to the Father.

By no means have I hit the big times in my writing 
career.  Although I still feel like success is a state of mind and not the thickness of the wallet. (Mind you a trial run of a thick wallet because of my writing would be something worth considering. I digress).

Just like so many of my beautiful writer friends, though, I keep slogging and praying and giving thanks for the open doors (and sometimes the closed ones). I long to write full time, but, the time isn’t quite right for that.
Jesus continues to open my eyes and continues to be the motivation for my passion.  For that I am so very grateful.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. NIV Psalm 45:1


June 03, 2014

What is the One Essential Tool for Writers? by Janis Cox

Thanks to Free Digital Photos.net

As Christian writers we are up against a formidable foe - Satan. That sneaky, sly fox uses everything at his disposal to pull us away from what God designs.

Taking a look at the writers I have met I can see writers who are:

  • indecisive
  • feeling unworthy
  • too busy
  • easily distracted
  • burned out
  • feeling frustrated, or angry 
  • complaining
  • judging others
  • mistrustful
  • living in disarray
  • feeling helpless

But wait? Why do these Christians feels this way? Jesus has all ready won the battle with Satan.

Satan NO longer holds power over us.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33, NIV).
And by Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension we now have a straight clear access to the Father.


Yes there is an "if". We need to pray. 

Prayer is the essential tool in a writer's toolbox.

If you haven't made prayer a priority in your life, may I encourage you to learn more.

Let's be so intimate with Jesus that we live our lives full of prayer.

Join me at Under the Cover of Prayer  (#UTCOP) where we learn, practice and expand our communication with God.

This is will my last post for Inscribe as I am joining Kimberley Payne to write about prayer on her blog once a month. I also write about my relationship with God on my own blog called Under the Cover of Prayer. Each Sunday I post #SundayStillness where I have a place to link your posts. Join our community.


O Lord, help us as Christian writers to seek You every minute of the day, for every detail of our lives. Bless us as we expand our territories and as we write to glorify You and to spread the Good News. Thank you for bringing us together as Sisters and Brothers in Christ. Help us to encourage and pray for on another. We pray this in Your Name, Jesus. Amen.

May I pray for you? Send personal email requests to Under the Cover of Prayer.

A Scripture for the week:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthen in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Col. 2:6-7, NIV).

A thought for this week:

Knees were made for bending. When did you last use them in prayer?


Janis Cox - Author and Illustrator
Janis Cox
Janis, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. A writer since 2003, Janis co-ordinates a group blog called Under the Cover of Prayer. She is also a contributor to a group blog called Family and Faith Matters.
Janis is the author of the award winning children's book, Tadeo Turtle, published by Word Alive Press. She is the author and watercolour illustrator. For more information visit Janis on her website He Cares for You. She is a member of The Word Guild and Inscribe Writers Fellowship.

June 01, 2014

Romancing the Words by Sandi Somers

June is the traditional month for weddings. How appropriate, then, that our prompts focus our thoughts on Romancing the Words.

When did you realize you were romanced by words, language and writing? 
Did you, like Madeleine L’Engle, write your first stories at age five? (Her mother saved those stories for a time, but they’ve thankfully disappeared. She acknowledged, “we don’t write immortal prose at five.”)

Has your writing been a joy?
You may feel like Annie Proulx, who said that writing is “a joyous task. It’s hard, but it’s joyous.”

Or do you sometimes have a love/hate relationship with writing?
Maybe you are like John Muir, the 19th Century naturalist. "This business of writing books is a long, tiresome, endless job," he said while writing his memoirs. Others said he groaned over his work, and he wrote and rewrote, not once, but twenty times trying to polish to perfection.

How does Jesus the Bridegroom romance you with His Words to you?
How is Jesus encouraging you, spurring you on, loving you with His presence as you write?

Romancing Toward My Goals

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!"
~ Henry David Thoreau

My first publication came when I was about twelve and entered a writing competition for a children’s’ magazine. I wrote the article on a snowy cold day when school was cancelled. I don’t remember much of the content, but I looked out at that frigid sunny day and used sunshine in the story (a technique writers are advised to use).

I won first prize, my first success in becoming a writer.

After that time, my writing became like a seesaw: sometimes I wrote for publication, sometimes I couldn’t write formally, as when I moved into my first home. Some of my articles were published, others were rejected. Some drafts developed into well-written articles, others remained a disorganized miasma.

Meanwhile, I continued journaling significant moments of my life: two years living in Colombia, South America and other travels; work with immigrants and refugees of many cultures; rich spiritual experiences. And I wrote initial drafts of many articles.

Now I’m writing more intentionally, bringing to life my dreams of writing.

How is it going? you may ask. And here’s the challenge.

Being patient when I can’t find the key that unlocks the potential of an idea. Sitting staring at my computer folders full of UFOs--unfinished objects, enough to take me through the next twenty years. Or taking time to discover what relates to my readers.

On the other hand, I recognize that endorphin lift when I encapsulate a good idea or finish a well-developed article. Joy comes when my words speak to others.

Jesus is encouraging me with Maya Angelou’s words—Maya, who passed away this week: "The desire to reach hearts is wise and most possible."

And Jesus encourages me this Paul’s words: “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:14 NLT).

Now it’s your turn. What thoughts come to mind as you romance the words?