September 30, 2016

Good Intentions, Better Outcomes by Susan Barclay

This was the year I was supposed to be more intentional. I started off by reading The Twelve Week Year and was inspired to follow its principles and practices. Indeed this would have meant reviewing my goals at various points along the way and hopefully resulted in greater productivity.

What happened?

It’s not that I got lazy. At least I don’t think so. I think what  happened was that I discovered intentionality was too broad a term to cover my 2016, what I actually needed was to be more intentional in prayer. And while I didn’t create a new game plan around this action, I did increase the regularity and frequency of my prayers, as well as their quality. I also read a few books on prayer, most notably those by Jim Cymbala, long-time pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, and I've come to realize the absolute priority and importance of this Christian ‘discipline.’ My eyes have opened to the neglect of prayer in the church and in individual lives, including mine, and to the absolute power of prayer when one engages in it. I’ve seen prayers answered, which inspires me to pray even more.

But back to goals. They're good to have. If we don’t shoot for a target, we’re not apt to hit one. As far as my writing goals go, I’m still hoping to finish my novel this year. Now that my ‘children’ are both young adults, one living in residence, the other moving in with a friend next month, I should have a lot more time to write and to stay on top of other areas of my life like laundry, dishes and regular housekeeping. Things may stay cleaner and tidier for longer periods of time – hallelujah! It may be easier to reach personal attainable goals and to track and tweak them. I plan to read The Twelve Week Year again, or books similarly themed, and to aim for the most productive life I can have, prayer- and other-wise.

Is there a book on productivity you would recommend, one that has really set you on a good path? If so, please name it in the comments below!

September 29, 2016

How To Make Your Days Count As A Writer by Bob Jones

They say time flies because you’re having fun or aging. I must be having a fun time growing old because, Mr. Scott, it feels like the year is flying by at warp speed.

You can’t slow down time but you can make the best of your time. Setting goals is one of the best ways I’ve found to make my life count for something great. Reviewing my goals regularly is a way of making my goals count.


I’ve been setting professional and personal goals for over thirty-five years. Only in the past two years have I set writing goals. December is typically my goal-setting time. I dream my goals up, pray my goals in, write my goals down and start living in the direction of fulfilling them.

Every day is my goal watching time. Every single day.

Typically, I don’t share my writing goals with other people. So the rest of this post is a bit of a risky departure for me.

Will people think my goals are too small? Too audacious? Not audacious enough? Inspiring? Boring?

My new behavioral goal is vulnerability so here goes.

My Goals For 2016:

#1 Write two blog posts/week every week of the year.
#2 Reach an average of 1,000 views/day on my blogsite by December 31st.
#3 Publish six articles in my denomination’s national magazine.
#4 Publish one article in a national Christian magazine.
#5 Publish one article in a national newspaper.
#6 Publish sixteen articles in local papers.
#7 Enter my book, “Ornament” in the Word Guild’s Writers Contest.
#8 Sell the rest of the copies of my book.
#9 Read six books on writing in the year.

Reviewing my goals daily in January is done with a lot of optimism.  Reviewing them daily in April is a combo of thrill, chill and anxiety. 

Reviewing them in September is a reality check.

So, how am I doing?

#1 – On track.  Check
#2 – No where close. The one day I had 1760 views was a guest post.
#3 – 3 articles published so far.
#4 – Zero articles submitted.
#5 – Zero articles accepted.
#6 – Ten articles published so far with four months to go.
#7 – “Ornament” was awarded “Best Life Story in 2016” WOW!
#8 – Sold 2630 with 870 to go.
#9 – I’ve read two books to date. “Bird by Bird” A. Lamott and “The Writing Life” by A. Dillard

What are your goals for the rest of this year?

Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.

September 28, 2016

Must We Set Goals? - Bruce Atchison

This month's theme makes me feel guilty. Why? Because I've not even begun to meet my goal of writing my manuscript of You Think You're Going to Heaven? My New Year's resolution has fallen by the wayside, just as have the autumn leaves.

But should I feel guilty? Look at what James 4:13-16 (BBE) says. "How foolish it is to say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into this town, and be there for a year and do business there and get wealth:' When you are not certain what will take place tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist, which is seen for a little time and then is gone. But the right thing to say would be, 'If it is the Lord's pleasure and if we are still living, we will do this and that.' But now you go on glorying in your pride: and all such glorying is evil.

While it's folly to assume that we will accomplish something, it's still important to plan. I blew it when I resolved to write an entire manuscript this year. Even so, I have been blogging on the topic of who the Bible says will go to heaven.

I still plan on writing my book, even though I've been distracted from actually writing the entire manuscript. In the dark days of winter, I plan on expanding on my blog posts so that I can include them in my next book.

September 27, 2016

Your Event Here!

Did you now that the 27th of each month is set aside for promotion here on the 'Inscribe Writers' Online' blog? There was a lot of activity leading up to fall conference, but now that the conference has ended, we are looking for items to fill this slot.

If you have a book event, a book launch, or some other book-ish event that you would like to share, make sure you contact the blog moderator in time to get it on the blog. (tracy[dot]krauss[at]gmail[dot]com)

In the mean time here are some pictures from Inscribe's 2016 conference.

Janette Oake presenting the new award begun in her honour

Janice Dick - the first recipient of the Janette Oake award

VIP day's guest speaker Carolyne Aarsen (and Tracy Krauss)

Bobbi junior receives the 'Leadership' award

Barnabas award winner Eleanor Berton (right)

Tools for Authors panel

September 26, 2016

One Of Those Years by Marnie Pohlmann

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. 
(Proverbs 16:9 NLT)
Have you ever had a time when nothing goes as planned?
Checking my writing goals for this year shows 2016 is one of those years for me.

I did not set specific goals this year, as I explained in my Missing Pieces post last January, but I did still make a list of writing items I hoped to accomplish.
  •     Continue contributing to this Inscribe Writers Online blog once each month.
  •   Set up my own blog and post once each week.
  •    Go through my old diaries and journals to glean anything that could be helpful to others.
  •    Write my Circus book.
  •    Complete a Christian Literature Survey course.
  •    Participate in writing contests.
  •    Attend Inscribe’s Fall Conference.

So how am I doing?
Epic fail!

I have made small progress on some items, but overall, life has interrupted my writing.

For months I have been struggling with a tsunami of situations that bring mental, emotional, physical and spiritual waves of distress. There is seemingly endless upheaval within my family’s life.

I am not alone. Others, too, have had a year of stretching their faith – health, housing, finances, friendships. The very joys that make up life are also the trials of fire each of us must walk through.

Am I stressed by it all? Of course! Yet there is also peace in the midst of this chaos, and even laughter.

I have not succeeded at my writing goals, but I am still able to write words, and even better - I am living the Word!

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 4:2-5 NLT)

I am learning to trust that God has the details under control. He is present in the midst of our storms.  I am learning to hold my plans loosely so God can direct my path.

I don’t know how the story of 2016 will end, but I know "The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights" (Habakkuk 3:19 NLT)

September 25, 2016

Goals by Vickie Stam

A lot of people I know have goals. Some even call it their, "bucket list." It all sounds exciting to me and l long to hear all the details of how or even if they reached their goals.

I must admit that my writing goals haven't really been reached so far this year. I would say it's a combination of the twists and turns of life these past nine months and my lack of enthusiasm. I've let too many other things get in the way. Building a new house has stole some the thunder for me as I'm more focused on that project right now.

Needless to say in the middle of all the chaos, when I least expected myself to shift back into writer's mode I decided to take a writing class. What was I thinking? A question I've asked myself more than once since I registered for the class  in August. Even so, when I'm not writing, I'm always thinking about what I should be writing.   

My class begins next month. Once a week I'll be making the hour trek to get there. It will be my first attempt at an intensive writing class. "Not for beginners." Those words both enticed and frightened me.

The eight week course will have me writing or expanding on four pieces of writing whether they are four separate pieces or ones that are tied to each other by way of a novel. First thing that came to mind was all the memoir's that I have written and the goal I once had of putting them together. The book I dream of writing. 

This could be the first step in reaching that goal. I've also been thinking about some stand alone pieces that have been collecting dust in my closet. As you can see, I'm sitting on the fence with that right now. A little undecided but gearing up for my new challenge.

I look forward to what the next couple of months have in store for me. I know God has a plan and I will be praying and listening for his direction.  



September 24, 2016

Goals or Wishes? by Tandy Balson

I must admit this month’s topic made me a little uncomfortable.  Setting goals has never been one of my strengths.

Several years ago I set a goal to post twice a week on my blog. This has now become a commitment that I refuse to break so longer consider it a goal.  The same holds true for my monthly Inscribe blog post.

The only yearly goal I ever set and kept was to read the Bible from cover to cover in a year.  For that I followed a plan that someone else had drawn up.  By sticking to the plan, I had no trouble accomplishing my goal.

This was something I hadn’t thought about until I tried to figure out what I could contribute to the topic this month.  If I make and stick to a plan, my goals will have a better chance of being achieved. It makes perfect sense but I’ve never spent the time or effort required to do so.

Now I know why my dreams and wishes are not being realized. They need to be turned into realistic goals. Next I need to figure out the steps required to move forward. 

To inspire me I looked for quotes on goals.  I’m going to share some of my favourites.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.  A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan.  A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” Greg S. Reid

“The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting and achieving goals.” Og Mandino

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins

“Big dreams are just big goals with step by step action.  Anything is possible given enough time, passion, persistence and dedication.” Brooke Griffin.

It is always a challenge to start something new.  Goal setting is new for me but if I want to reap the benefits I need to set goals and plan the steps to achieve them.  I think I’ll start small.  Each success will encourage me to set a bigger goal.  My first step will be to pray about the plan God has for me.

September 23, 2016

Why the WHY? By Lynn J Simpson

When teaching a goal workshop, the first questions I directed my attendees to ask themselves were:
1    1. How juicy is the goal for you? Is it juicy like a freshly picked Cuban mango, or is it dry like a grocery store green banana? If it’s not ‘juicy’ enough, or you do not understand your ‘why’ behind your goal, you may quit when you hit those obstacles, or the ‘murky middle’ when everything seems at a stand-still.

2.    2.  Do your goals line up with your core values? For example, if having dinner nightly with your family is a core value, however your goal impedes on this time, can you adjust the goal to work in those dinners? A goal that does not line-up with core values can result in physical and/or emotional burn out, and regret (from abandonment by your family for example).  

Let’s camp-out on the ‘why’ for a moment. Not the why of making goals, but the ‘why’ behind our goals. The ‘why’ of writing that blog week after week when you’re not even sure it is being read. The ‘why’ that is behind those 5am mornings when you drag yourself out of bed to write those first quiet hours of your day before kids, work, school, all those other activities of ‘real life.’ The ‘why’ when that rejection letter comes, that review that leaves you trembling, or that grammatical error you notice after you submitted to that magazine you’ve been trying to break into for awhile, and finally got the nerve to hit the ‘send’ button in your browser. Or even the ‘why’ when we take our breaks to rejuvenate, rest, and wait for God’s timing and direction to take that next step. Sometimes this waiting can be so much harder than the doing!

Oh, my goodness! Why do we do this to ourselves?

This is the time, my friends, why I believe it is so important to have our ‘why’ written down whether in a Life Plan we created, guided by books such as Living Forward by Michael Hyatt, Intentional Living by John C Maxwell, or my personal favourite, Storybrand-Creating Your Life Plan by Donald Millar.  

Your ‘why’ too can be just one statement answering the question, “Why do I write?” My answer to,“Why do I write?” 

I write stories to help me understand life, to show others that they are not alone in their struggles, and to inspire hope through a new perspective.

It’s a statement that I am constantly tweaking as I gain more life experience and my faith life grows deeper.  Our Life Plan may be written down, however there is always a new piece of paper, a pen and pencil, tools we can use to edit and change our goals. Often I’ve been challenged by statements such as ‘goals and intentions do not leave room for God in your day.’

I must admit I am still prayerfully asking God to guide me to answer this question!

However, I do believe this is also where question number two becomes prevalent. Our goals must line-up to our core values. And then intentionally we will live out those core values through our goals. I believe that our God is a trustworthy God. When in Him, He will set our paths straight.  There is no need to be afraid to set goals and take a step. He is our guide and will pivot us, or prune away the vine that is not producing fruit if the direction we take is not of Him. So why be afraid to set a goal, to be intentional about your day?

God is good and His ways will prevail. We just have to willing to move so He can work out His plan for us.

I hope you are chomping down on a big, juicy, sweet mango today!

 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
John 15: 5-8, The Message

September 22, 2016

To Review Or Not To Review by Alan Anderson

The prompt for this month’s blog is timely and needful for me.

Thank you to Tracy for the motivation to review more.  I’m writing this post from a lounge in the cruise ship my wife and I are travelling on.  We are enjoying the experience of Alaska!  I am a bit distracted trying to write this blog. My apologies if the post is not up to standard.  Anyway, I digress.

Life review is an important and useful part of my work in spiritual care.  It offers people an opportunity to consider the worth of their lives.  It may hopefully be an encouragement to them that their lives matter.  Doing a life review may cause people emotional pain.  They look back and see their mistakes.  They may also take stock of the fact they accomplished a lot of good things.

Reviewing goals of my writing is something I am working on.  I consider them like a life review for my writing.  Just like me, my goals are a work in progress.  A review will give me an honest consideration of where I want to go with my writing.  It can also help me see if I am on track.

I am currently reading You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins.  This book is helpful to me.  One of the most recent things I am paying attention to is to complete projects before beginning new ones.  After reading a particular chapter in Jeff’s book I realize I have a number of stories started.  I am now concentrating more on completing than beginning.  It feels good to complete something!

Here is some counsel from Jeff Goins that has helped me.  “Cancel all backup plans, pick a project, and move forward.  It doesn’t matter what you pick.  Maybe it’s a book, and article or whatever.  Write it.  And finish it.  Because once you learn how to finish, you’ll be able to start again.  You’ll start another great project and finish it.  And another.  And another.”

I probably have five or six stories started.  I am slowly concentrating on finishing them one by one.  I am currently working on a book with some great writers.  I will finish my stories for the book before going on to other projects.

My mind is constantly caught up in developing new stories.  Does anyone else experience such strokes of genius in your mind?  I might be sitting in a coffee shop and a story comes across my brain.  I may be sitting with friends yet my mind is concentrating on how to revise something I am writing.  Some people may think I am super quiet at a gathering or even aloof.  The reality is I am often thinking over a story.  Does this happen to you?

Life is indeed full of all kinds of responsibilities.  I’m a husband, a dad, a grandfather; I have a job and I am also the chair of the elder’s team of my church.    In addition is my love of writing and goals that come with this passion.  A regular or at least yearly review of my goals seems like a good habit to adopt.  My writing deserves it.


September 21, 2016

Higher Standards ... by Jocelyn Faire

to Be someone's first love is great great, but to be their last is beyond perfect

The Lord has done great things ...

This is my day for posting, and I wanted to write in to apologize for not posting ... instead I decided to share the good news that has happened in my life over this summer. After being on my own for a decade the Lord has brought someone special into my life to adventure the journey with.

Last evening my family gathered around us to celebrate our engagement. My mother who is in mid stages of dementia sat at the end of the table. I shared how she would often ask me, in our weekly phone calls (I lives two provinces away) if I was dating anyone. I might tell her if I'd gone out for coffee with a male, but that it was nothing serious. Then she might ask “well what's wrong?” I told her there was nothing wrong, it was just that I had not met anyone who met my standards. She did not hesitate in her response ...
Well, maybe you should lower your standards.”
A large pause, and then we both laughed across the miles. She realized what she had said, and added
that's not good advice.”
Last evening I could tell her that I had not had to lower my standards, Harold has met and exceeded the bar. Both he and I have experienced significant loss in our lives, and we have been given a second chance at love. More than a chance, we have been given a gift of joy, a gift of new beginnings. It sounds cliche to say God's timing is perfect, because I felt five years ago that would have been perfect as well ...
His daughters asked if he bought me a ring ... I said, “No, but he bought me a kayak paddle.” He understands me well.
To quote my daughter in my grief book-"Mom, the story of your life is not finished." And now I am beginning a new chapter of life, to be co-authored by the most wonderful man.
Happy fall to everyone, the colours are beautiful. Everything seems more beautiful with love. Today I celebrate the beauty of love, today I encourage you to see the beauty in your own story, and if it is in a dark place ... keep trusting ... we never walk alone. That is the greatest gift.
Verses that have been given to me by the spirit this summer ... from Isaiah 49 in The Message:

When the time’s ripe, I answer you.
    When victory’s due, I help you ...
God has comforted his people.
    He has tenderly nursed his beaten-up, beaten-down people .
14 But Zion said, “I don’t get it. God has left me.
    My Master has forgotten I even exist.”

15-18 “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast,
    walk away from the baby she bore?
But even if mothers forget,
    I’d never forget you—never.
Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.
The walls you’re rebuilding are never out of my sight.
Your builders are faster than your wreckers.

    The demolition crews are gone for good.

Look up, look around, look well!
    See them all gathering, coming to you?
As sure as I am the living God”—
God’s Decree—
    “you’re going to put them on like so much jewelry,
    you’re going to use them to dress up like a bride.

Jocelyn is author of Who is Talking out of My Head?  Grief as an out of body experience