September 30, 2012

Growing as a Writer - by Susan Barclay

I've been writing in some form or other ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil. So hopefully I've grown quite a bit as a writer over the years. Many things have helped - teachers, books, conferences, courses, other writers...

While I've had a lot of positive feedback on my writing, to grow I've had to gain, and apply, knowledge. To this end, I've taken classes at the community college level; completed The Institute of Children's Literature's "Special Publishing" course; attended conferences like Write! Canada, Packaging Your Imagination, etc.; and participated in one-off workshops like Donald Maass' The Fire in Fiction.  I've done a lot of reading - the 'for pleasure' (and learning by osmosis) kind, and books that are on writing.  The writers in my collective are a huge help as well, providing honest critique.

The key, though, I believe, is practice, practice, practice. If a tree falls in the forest, does it still make a sound? If a writer doesn't write, is s/he still a writer? And so I strive to make writing a habit.  I blog; I prepare for writers' group meetings; I work on children's picture books, short stories for adults, and on my adult novel. Sometimes I even write poetry. I'll be the first to admit that if you graphed my attempts at disciplined writing, they'd resemble stock performances since 1934. But still I strive, and the overall movement is upward. The overall trend is growth and improvement.

I'll take it. How about you?

Please visit my website at

September 29, 2012

For God, in the World, With our Art - Ruth L. Snyder

Yesterday, September 28th, was the first day of the ICWF Fall Conference. Nancy Rue challenged us to consider what kind of writers we are:

  • The Monk - Comes to a conference teeming with ideas, with nothing written. Praying lots. Her interior monastery (Pustinia) pulses with life, but she can't get a reading on actual production.
  • The Blue Collar (Hard Hat) - Comes to conference with a perfectly formatted manuscript and knows all the marketing routine. Writing schedule. Works hard, but no soul.
  • Balance Beam Gymnist - Totally gets the importance of both a connection with God and writing. Comes to conference hoping for a magic formula.

Nancy went on to share how she sets goals every year on her birthday. This year it was like God asked her, "Why don't you pray first and then set your goals?"

She challenged us to pray, "God, please show me what goals YOU have for me and how to accomplish them."

She encouraged us to continue to discover and celebrate our strengths as writers.

At conferences, and throughout the year we should:

  1. Be a good steward of our time. This looks different every day! Rather than trying to cram in everything you can or just kicking back and relaxing, pray and ask God, "What do I really need to do here?"
  2. Focus on the work God has shown us 
  3. Be part of our spiritual community. Writing is a solitary profession. When we have an opportunity to commune with fellow writers, we need to enjoy it!
  4. Listen to God through the place we''re in - Get outside and enjoy nature etc. God is always saying something! Are we listening?

Remember: This is your chance to allow God to establish His rhythm in you.

This morning I had the opportunity to prepare for my day by taking a walk, enjoying the scenery, and talking with God. I'm looking forward to what God is going to teach me today.

What about you?

September 28, 2012

The Course That Changes My Course - Bruce Atchison

Before 2004, I never thought I could write a whole book. Though I had attempted it in the past, I became intimidated at the prospect.

An ad in Writers Weekly, an e-mail newsletter, caught my attention one morning. Among the courses advertised was a tutorial on writing an autobiography. Since freelance writing hadn't worked out for me, I thought I might give that course a try.

After studying hard and passing the autobiography writing test, I set to work on my life's story. Imagine my surprise when it grew far longer than I had believed it could.

One point stressed in the lessons I took was to focus on a theme. Instead of an autobiography, I wrote a memoir of my life with house rabbits. The first print run of When a Man Loves a Rabbit sold out so I ordered two more. Even better, I received many heart-felt complements on my debut paperback.

Encouraged by that success, I wrote my second memoir. It concerned the six painful years I spent in a school for blind and partially-sighted children in Vancouver. Being five-hundred miles from home for months at a time had a traumatic effect upon my character. But the bullying and lack of empathy from supervisors, as well as from my parents, hurt worse. Writing those painful memories down and handing the pain over to Christ had a therapeutic effect. Much of the emotional pain left me and even the nightmares don't come as often these days.

Though my Deliverance from Jericho paperback sold only a dozen copies, I decided to risk one more memoir attempt. How I Was Razed is the story of how I became enamored with a cultic house church for fifteen years and how I eventually discovered what biblical Christianity is all about. I hope to have this journey from cultism to Christianity published this year.

Because of the Writers Weekly course, I succeeded in a field of writing that once seemed daunting to me. I'd like to try short fiction stories next. Having written a few in the past, and enjoying the creative process involved in inventing them, I believe I'll concentrate on writing more once I've finished promoting How I Was Razed.

By the way, you can visit the Bruce Atchison's books page to check out my memoirs and book excerpts.

September 25, 2012

InScribers Review: Unlease the Writer Within

Author: Cecil Murphey
Publisher: OakTara
ISBN-13: 978-1602903074

Reviewed by:  Kimberley Payne

I had won a copy of Cec Murphey’s book through the Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship blog. Excited when the package arrived in the mail, I ripped into it and read the book cover to cover immediately.

However, it’s not a book to be read so quickly. Instead it’s a book to ponder, think about, and mull over. It’s a book to be worked through and revisited often.

I loved the way Mr. Murphey challenged me to make friends with my inner critic and writer’s block. Each chapter asked complex questions to reflect on and respond to.

Mr. Murphey writes in an endearing and inspiring tone. He makes you feel as if he’s sitting in the chair right next to you. I’m encouraged to write with a voice that is as transparent and likeable as his.

I recommend this to all my writer friends.

September 24, 2012

Writing Resources - Lynn Dove

As a writer, "seasoned" or otherwise, we are always on the look out for great resources.  I compiled a list on my blog Word Salt to some very helpful websites that offer a variety of information from marketing, promotion to how to write better.

Here are a few of the helpful links to websites, blogs etc.  For the complete list I invite you to go to the Word Salt blog. 

Agent Query - great resource for finding an agent, writing query letters etc.

Authors on the Net—online community of authors with resources and information on promotion

The Book Club Network Inc. – finding Hope in reading groups

Christian Authors Network – marketing strategies etc.

Coffee Break for Writers—monthly newsletter offering news, markets, interviews, and more

Doing It Write—weekly e-zine for writers from writer, editor, and book consultant Helen Ginger – opportunities to post your own articles and get articles for your blog or website

John 3:16 Marketing Network – promote book launches and encouragement for writers and authors

Michael – Informative blog by Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers

Rachelle – blog about books, marketing, etc.

The Vessel Project - web design, book reviews, marketing, promotion

The Word Guild – connecting, developing and promoting Canadian writers and editors who are Christian

Word Salt – author interviews, writer’s tips, book reviews – for those called by God to write, and for those who love to read the Word.

Writer’s Write—information about books, writing, and publishing

Writer’s Write Journal – writing life stories for the inspirational or religious markets

September 21, 2012

InScribers Review- An Introduction to Christian Writing by Ethel Herr-Sulo Moorthy

When I started the Writers' group in San Diego two years ago, I took the suggestion of one of the women in my group and chose a book on writing as a guiding tool to use at our meetings. Because the gals in the group were mostly novice writers, and I hadn't led a writers' group before, I thought it was a great idea to follow a book.

 Luckily I didn't need to shop around to find a suitable book, for within my reach and at my eye level stood on my bookshelf a tall and glossy covered one with a perfect title- An Introduction to Christian Writing-An In -Depth Companion to the Complete Writing Experience. Little did I guess at that time that the book, which I purchased on some years back and had remained untouched until then would become a valuable teaching tool for my writers' group.

Although the author's name was not familiar to me then,  Ethel Herr had authored several books including Chosen Women of the Bible, Bible Study for Busy Women and the historical trilogy-The Seekers and had been a well known speaker at writers' conferences. It's said that when Herr's friends asked her to help them how to write, she tried to ask herself the question- What do I wish someone had taught me in the beginning? and wrote them down in a eleven-lesson course which later got published in 1983 with this title. " Destined to become a classic text for beginning writers," read a blurb on its back cover, and as it predicted the book had become an effective teaching guide not only for beginning writers, but also an excellent reference book for writers at  any level in the last 30 years.

What I like best about the book is the fact that before it gets into the technicality of the writing business, the author prepares the writer to see her/his work as an art of worship and ministry. In her own words, "We are God's manuscripts-eternal, unique, precious to our Creator. Each piece we write comprises, on our part, an act of worship offered to the God of the universe. From God's point of view, it functions as one more step in the process of producing His works of art in us-perfect, flawless reflectors of His image."

What an awesome perspective to have as Christian writers, when we set foot on this arena of writing and play with words, paint pictures and splash colorful reflection of His love and craft stories to relate and minister to our readers!

Out in the Writers' Market, you could find books on writing written by secular as well as Christian authors telling us how to write well and sell well. But this book,along with the funtion of schooling in the craft of writing, it help the writer to keep the focus straight and unhindered by market trends, it also stresses the importance of writing faithfully what we are called to write even if it's for the audience of One. Isn't that what's Christian writing is about? Probably that may be the reason the book has been sold successfully  for the last quarter century and had remained a favorite at writers' conferences.

The book is divided into two sections-The Textbook and the Appendices. The textbook consists of 11 two-part lessons.  In Part One of each lessons, the author addresses questions like- What is a Christian Writer? What are Christian Writers Opportunities? Am I Qualified to be a Writer? Can I Stick with it ? What are my responsibilities? How do I plan my work area and Equipment? How do I get ready to write?

In Part Two, Herr gets into the nuts and bolts of actual writing process and takes the writer by the hand and guide through steps to write effective sentences, strong paragraphs, do a market study, and to find ideas and craft personal experience stories. At the end of each lesson, she provides examples and assignments to motivate and keep the writing going. By working through these eleven lessons and assignments, the writer is well trained  to write, rewrite,  polish and submit a manuscript for publication

In The Appendices, the author includes  a glossary of Writer's Terms, Sample Articles,  Valuable Resources for Writers, Information about How to Organize a Writer's Group, Checklists for Critiquing , Turning Teaching/Speaking into Manuscripts, Writer's files and additional assignments. She ends the book by addressing the question,-Should I Write A Book?

Because the book was first published in 1983 and I hold its 2nd edition published in 1999, I need to admit that the book lacks the current social media networking information. If you are looking for help on blogging, twittering, Webinars, or launching your book online, this book may not be resourceful. But it's a great resource to both the beginning and the experience writer to keep it as reference book and as a teaching tool.

In Susan Titus Osborn's words-" An Introduction to Christian Writing is an excellent resource for the beginning or experienced writer. It thoroughly covers the different aspects of writing, and I have used it as an effective tool in both college courses and adult education classes."

" If you can afford only one writing book, this is the one to get." Les Stobbe, Writer, Editor and an Agent.

September 20, 2012

In the Language of E -- Brenda J Wood

Are you frustrated with the gurgle of ebook trivia buzzing around your head, demanding the use of some of your 'little gray cells"-(Agatha Christie's Hercules Poirot)? Before you jump into the fray and start the painful crawl toward an ebook, read this.

It is said that author Alexander Dumas loved melons so much that he donated hundreds of his works to the town of Cavaillons, the melon capitol of its day, in exchange for twelve melons a year for life. Writing time wasted? Only the author can say for sure. Think of 'eBooking' as 'energy into book' and decide how you want to spend yours.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I have a major writing work in progress?
2. Am I basically computer illiterate?
3. Can I in all conscience take the time and effort required to cultivate this new skill?
4. Will ebooking frustrate me beyond measure?
5. Is this something I will use on a regular basis?
6. Is ebooking a waste of my writing time?
7. Do I struggle to find enough writing time already?
8. Can someone else do it for me at a reasonable price?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, do not waste your time eBooking.

I currently have three books in E form (Meeting Myself, Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind, The Big Red Chair, and Heartfelt-366 devotions for Common Sense Living). God Gluttony and You will soon follow. I took the easy way out because I am not a computer techie and I don't care to be. I do not care to spend my time in droll, dull (at least to me!) cutting, pasting or whatever. Still, I confess that I felt somewhat guilty until I read Lorilyn Roberts recent interview with James Scott Bell.

LORILYN:"The single most challenging issue for writers is technology - how to set up and manage Twitter and Facebook, how to create a landing page for book launches, how to resize jpegs and format files into eBooks, just to name a few. Writers quickly get discouraged, daunted by the amount of time it takes to learn it all, not counting the actual process once you master the basics. Do you have any practical ideas on how to tackle the seemingly endless changing landscape of I.T. and balancing that with the creative side of writing?"

JAMES SCOTT BELL: "The nice thing is that these functions can be farmed out at a reasonable price. Simply pay for those things you are not comfortable doing. Especially when it comes to editing, cover design and formatting. You can find an almost unlimited number of freelancers in each area. Get recommendations, check portfolios and client comments. Do a little homework.)"

Aha! Vindicated! And I said a grateful little prayer of thanks for my ebook go-to-guy, Rik Hall.

Still determined to eBook your self?

Rik offers some common sense advice:  "The most important thing to remember when preparing a work for publishing as an ebook is that ebooks are not print books. If you try to make your ebook look like a paper book you will only frustrate yourself. With print books, you control everything. The font type, the font size, the justification, the page count, but with ebooks the ebook readers all of that is gone. The person using the eReader has full control of that. There are no page numbers per se because each screen is a different size and while one person might like a tiny font size, another might like it big. As well, the reader may be reading your work on a computer, one of many Kindles, a Kobo, a Nook, a Blackberry, an iPad or even an iPhone. Keep it simple. Simple is good." Rik Hall

I don't eBook for the same reasons I do not cut my own lawn. I'm simply not good at it. I don't have the equipment, the time or the inclination to do it. I do what I do well and I hire the rest.

In Exodus 31:1-11 (MSG), God says things like this:

"See what I've done; I've personally chosen Bezalel, I've filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him skill and know-how and expertise in every kind of craft he's an all-around craftsman. And to all who have an aptitude for crafts I've given the skills to make all the things I've commanded you. They'll make everything just the way I've commanded you."

My skill is writing. Rik's (and others like him) do technical stuff. It is a fine partnership.

Brenda J 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

September 17, 2012

WOE IS ME IF . . . by Bryan Norford

I have read the blogs for this month on writing tips, and I feel like my mental inbox is overloaded. Like Tracy, I wonder what I can add to the list from my inadequate experience. Does anyone else feel like me, that technology has grown faster than I have, leaving me behind?

I marvel at the ability of many of you to use so much online networking, and yet still have time to write! My head spins with all the excellent advice offered; I feel I’m in the kindergarten class listening to college graduates.

I risk sounding lazy and unwilling to do spadework necessary for an accomplished writer, but perhaps I can share some ideas from a different point of view. They might sound primitive, and you have probably already thought them through. After all, soul-searching is part of our Christian stock-in-trade, isn’t it?

Reading this month’s blogs, I become fearful that by not investigating all the resources available I will fail. It constantly leads me to the question: what constitutes a “successful” writer? Which raises the more fundamental question: why do I write?

I find a few answers quickly. I enjoy it. I am able to express my joys about life and concerns about the world. Above all, I can express my deepest passion for the Gospel and its effect on life on earth. I write what I cannot speak so easily.

But why write or speak if there is no audience? It’s my greatest fear, and, it seems—as I peruse the means for gaining one—it is for many of us. But, of course, there is always an audience of at least one—the One we write for.

Well, that’s a cop out if ever I heard one. I’m not a monastery of one debating with God; others need to know about Him. But whether I know it or not, or even I like it or not, everything I do impinges on someone else.

Oh! So there’s an audience out there after all! Not necessarily one of my making, but a ready-made audience provided just by living. That also may be a cop out for others, but for me, perhaps it’s sufficient. The pleasure of writing is back, the pressure of seeking that audience is lessened, if not avoided.

All this doesn’t mean I don’t do research necessary to improve my writing. I have Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and The Little Brown Handbook—a very comprehensive big green book!—and a dozen or so other references and web-based resources. But I am comforted by a quote from Strunk and White:

Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living.

September 15, 2012

In Praise of Timely Tips - Tracy Krauss

There have been so many great resources and tips this month - and I mean SO MANY, that I almost wondered if I had anything new to share. For instance, Violet Nesdoly's post on taking control of your social networking was practical and very useful. I'm checking out both of her suggestions in hopes of using them in the near future.

As well, Ruth Snyder's post entitled, "5 Reasons Why Writers Should Use Twitter' demystified this social networking powerhouse and put it in its place - as a useful tool. Thanks Ruth!

I loved what Brenda Leyland had to say recently, (I'm not sure if it was here or in an email) when she encouraged people to subscribe to this blog via email. I try not to get too many blogs coming through my email, because I've got too much stuff going there as it is, but I took this small piece of advice and am I ever glad I did. I haven't missed a post all month and there have been so many great tips and articles that I might have missed otherwise.

Lest I become like one of my junior high English students wondering if I've reached my prescribed 'word count' for this post, I will post a few tips of my own before signing off for another month.

1. Make it easy for people to follow you. One thing I like about 'Blogger' is the 'Follow' widget, rather than having to sign up to follow a blog. (Although I just praised the email option a moment ago.) This should be near the top of the page and clearly visible. The same goes for links to your facebook page or twitter. I visit a lot of other people's sites and try to follow or like as many as possible, but if I have to go searching to do so, I probably won't.

2. Make it easy for people to share. I use a widget called 'Add this" and again, it should be in a spot where it can be easily found. Some people have sharing options at the end of each post, and on blogger there is the 'Share' at the top of the page. Still, widgets like 'Add this' make it possible for people to share on a whole host of sites. I use this myself every time I post, sharing my latest blog post on several of my other social networking sites. It takes just five minutes a day or less!

3. Make your own life easier by automating as much as possible. Make sure your blog is set up to automatically share new posts to facebook and twitter and anywhere else that allows. I also have the RSS feed set to share my blog everywhere I see this option: my Amazon author page; all of my 'ning' networks; goodreads ... As well, my goodreads account is linked to my facebook; my ning networks, linkedin and myspace are linked to twitter ... It's like a giant 'web'. Link as many things together as possible and you will save time in posting to each individually.

We are all pressed for time these days. The key is to find simple ways to make your online tasks easier and more efficient. Hope you find these tips helpful and easy to implement!

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published author and playwright. Check out her website for details.

September 14, 2012

Free Writing Resources by Pam Mytroen

Depending on whether I'm writing non-fiction or fiction, I use different online resources to help me. Here’s a few of my favourites that you might like to try out, too. They’re all free:

NON-FICTION RESOURCES: (This is also a fiction resource)

Their free online newsletter has tons of writing suggestions. It also lists books for sale, good online workshops you can take to improve your writing, (I’ve taken two), upcoming conferences, contests, and markets. If you’re not interested in all the paid resources, just read the free columns. They’re always brief and very up to date.


Jim is a Christian author, columnist, speaker, and teacher. I check out his blog occasionally called I like to write in his style so I study his columns, but I also enjoy reading them for the humor and writing tips he shares. He also includes other bloggers on his site such as Mary DeMuth.

A daily word from their thesaurus is dropped into my inbox with an explanation, and usually a current event to go with it. Sorry, this one’s not free, but for about $20/year I am expanding my vocabulary and finding daily inspiration.


Randy Ingermanson’s free email newsletter is always fun to read and has pertinent writing advice. He studies current novels and derives writing principles which he delivers in an entertaining and brief format.  See

This online therapy service offers tongue-in-cheek therapy for your developing cast. Jeannie Campbell, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist gives tested and true advice to bring your characters to life, and to give them believable problems and solutions.


Follow a group of unpublished authors to publication and learn along with them through their mistakes and rejections, and ultimately a book cover.   

This is a literary agency with some well-known agents such as Rachelle Gardner and Chuck Sambuchino. If you’re not interested in procuring an agent, then just focus on their excellent writing advice. (Michael Hyatt says every writer should be following Rachelle Gardner!). is the the author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (Thomas Nelson). It is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today  bestseller.  He is also the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. His blog is focused on “intentional leadership.” Hyatt is very generous with his writing advice, including a link for how to set up your own Word Press Blog.


The Bible! I like the NIV Archaeological Study Bible by Zondervan. Every book is prefaced by historical information backed up by archaeological finds. It’s fascinating and has deepened my appreciation of God’s accurate Word. Ann Voskamp shares daily reflections from life. It helps me to see wonder and holiness in my every day life. She also has the greatest links.

M inbox is inundated daily with the above resources. Any suggestions on how you handle your own flood of writing helps?

Pam Mytroen

September 13, 2012

Getting Back into the Swing of Things - T. L. Wiens

After a very different summer, I find myself at last wanting to sit down and write. Yesterday, I wrote a song. That’s not quite getting at my novel or taking on my usual two thousand words a day. But it was writing.

My world has been a bit upside-down as of late. I’ve talked to others who have been assaulted and found out most of them took three years to get back into the swing of things. In that case, I am very blessed to be getting back to regular life after several months. Or at least a form of it.

Of course, there is that small complication of our business being vandalized after I pressed charges against my attacker. That has other aspects of my life stalled. Our means of earning a living has been trashed and we have to rebuild before any money will be coming our way. My mind is jumbled by it all.

So it might be another song today. It doesn’t matter—it’s writing. Painful, heart retching writing that has me weeping at my piano. A journey with God that I know will leave me in a better place in the end.

Some might say, “Don’t do it. It’s too painful—why would you want to go there?” Others may question God’s hand in all of this. I’m going to trust God and His word on this one. And who knows, I might even write enough songs for an album.

“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

II Timothy 1:10-12

September 12, 2012

Take control of online reading and social media - Violet Nesdoly

These days a writer is expected to do a lot of things in addition to writing. Staying abreast of industry trends and participating in social media are two of them. Trouble is, keeping track of all the interesting and useful stuff on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs can not only suck time from writing but also bury inspiration, dampen enthusiasm, blur focus, and deplete energy. Posting and reading social media updates can be just as distracting. There is so much out there to read and do—and still only 24 hours a day in which to do it.
Two little programs that I use regularly have helped me streamline my time online, even as I attempt to stay on-task in the midst  of all the noise.

Pocket ( - formerly Read It Later) is one. It's a program that works on any device (phone, tablet or computer). I have installed it on both my desk computer and laptop using Firefox.

The program puts a little pocket-shaped icon in my browser bar. If I find an article that looks interesting but I don't have time to read it, I simply click on the pocket (which then turns red). It gets saved to a list of links that I access by clicking on a second pocket found at the far right of my browser.

Because I have Pocket on both computers, I can browse the internet for information at my desktop, save all the articles in my pocket, and read them later when  I'm relaxing  with my laptop.

A second great time-saver is Buffer ( This program lets me schedule tweets. I also installed it on both computers using Firefox.

The free version of Buffer lets me schedule updates to one Twitter, one Facebook, and one LinkedIn account, but it does have some limitations. For example, I'm limited to how many tweets I can schedule; I think it's 10. However, that's easily enough to schedule enough tweets for a day or two (I have control over how many times a day I'll tweet and when).

So gone are the days of inundating my followers with a deluge of tweets within seconds of each other. Now I set aside some time most days to Buffer my twitter stream for the next day, remembering to sprinkle in a few tweets for my book or other writing. I haven't posted any updates to Facebook or LinkedIn with Buffer but I'm sure it works just as well. 

These two handy little programs (plug-ins, apps, whatever they're called) have helped me take control of my online reading and social media endeavors. Why don't you give them a try?  You might like them 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.


September 11, 2012

Resource Rich -- Sharon Espeseth

I feel thankful for the many writing resources I have at my fingertips.

1. Literally at my fingertips is my 2007 iMac, which continues to be a faithful workhorse. With thankfulness I am reminded of my first typewriter, a portable Remington, that my aging fingers and wrists couldn't possibly handle today. Then there was my IBM Selectric that had a cartridge you popped in and out to fix errors. Writing anecdotal report cards and the odd writing submissions was a chore when compared to the ease of typing, editing, rearranging stories on computer as I do today. Also at my fingertips is the Internet.

2. My family who supports me in my writing and often gives me someone or something to write about, like our chocolate drop below.

I would have to put up lots of photos to represent all my family helpers: my father who was a colourful character and a storyteller himself, my grandkids who are the cutest, my husband and proof reader, our own kids, sisters . . .

3. The writing books and other books I have squirrelled away over the years, and the availability of our Public Library.

4. God's word have I hid in my heart. Still I have to look up verses and passages for my writing, so I have several versions or translation.

5. The Roman Catholic missalette, Living with Christ. Each Sunday has an O.T. reading, a Psalm, something from the Epistles, and the Gospel reading with a related theme. Week day readings are similar, so each day's reading gives the basis for a Scripture-based article.

6. The Women Word Weavers of Barrhead, who are excellent supporters, teachers, friends, and fellow learners. They are my critics, my motivators, my cheerleaders.

7. Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship with its contests, feedback, ListServ where I am motivated by what others are doing, conferences, role models, teachers. Marcia Laycock's devotional course was an excellent resource for me. FellowScript writers and editor Bonnie Way always have new writing ideas to try and lessons to learn.

8. Hope Clark from Funds for Writers 's two newsletters, Small Funds for Writers and Total Funds for Writers, have given me many sources for markets, contests, and an occasional "bonk on the head." 

9. Meaningful feedback from a Writer-in-Residence for Alberta Authors Association. This is something to look into as many of the colleges and some of the city libraries have writers-in-residence. Look for them.

10. Resources come in all shapes and sizes. Some are inanimate; some are animate, even human. I am thankful for them all. My office, my life, my surrounds are resource rich. Writing continually calls me, and life goes better when I make time for my writing.  When I take time to talk to and listen to God, I find my writing goes more smoothly. God, the Creator, is really my number one resource for writing and for life.

"The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights."
Habakkuk 3:19a NIV

A writing workshop–Stephen T. Berg

Orion Magazine is an ad-free, literary magazine that digs beneath and addresses the environmental issues of the day, while trying to bring us back to an awareness of place. At Orion you'll find authors and activists like Bill McKibben and Derrick Jensen laying out startling evidence of environmental degradation as well as corrective courses of action, and you'll find contributing editors like poet Wendell Berry and novelist Barbara Kingsolver, touching on the spiritual connection we have with our earth, and so, our concomitant responsibility for true stewardship. Perhaps you've gathered that I'm an avid fan of Orion.

Last year I discovered that the magazine sponsored a writer's workshop: one week at historic Sterling College in Vermont, with 30 other writers from across North America, two editors from Orion, and three authors/teachers. Writers are selected on the basis of an essay and a cover letter. My application was successful. I was informed of this on April 1, so of course I double checked the validity of the correspondence.

I elected to study under poet Alison Deming Hawthorne (Nathaniel Hawthorne's great-great-granddaughter). To receive finely articulated critique as well as credit from her, was, you'll understand, a highlight. In all, an idyllic week.

There's a problem with this of course. As we all know, after coming back from a rewarding conference or workshop, the reality of the blank page seems twice as daunting. But we also know that something has been added.

The Wildbranch Writing experience encouraged me to step out and apply myself in the face of what I may think are insurmountable odds. It has given me some confidence that I can write, but it has also helped me experiment with style and form, voice and method, which in turn has helped focus my writing, find my place.

My encouragement then is simple: that retreat, workshop, writer's circle, course, you always wanted to take or try...well, give it a (another) shot.

September 09, 2012

I Write, Therefore I Am - Shirley S. Tye

That’s a saying on a plastic mug. That places a great deal of importance on writing and ties an individual’s character and very being to a task. I enjoy writing but it doesn’t define me. However, at times my imagination tends to rule as it runs into high gear distracting me with mini movies that flash across my mind’s eye. Some of them are funny and I laugh out loud – a little embarrassing in public. Wish I could write fast enough to record them.

I’ve learned a lot through various venues: reading novels and books about writing and editing, taking writing courses, attending workshops, and “listening” to tidbits of information exchanged on writing groups’ listservs. There are many talented people willing to share their knowledge. Some courses have been in actual classroom settings and one was a correspondence course with the Institute of Children’s Literature. Two were via email: a devotional writing course taught by Marcia Laycock and a course about promoting one’s writing by speaking taught by Randy Ingermanson.

Am I a good writer? Well, I think so. But not all readers and editors agree. Writing is an art and each writer has his/her own unique style of expression, readers have their preferences, and editors have the ability to spot weak areas and the knowledge to determine whether a manuscript is saleable or not. Because I enjoy writing, I’ll keep learning and I’ll keep practicing.

The art of writing can be addictive; seeing words transforming into a mental video; the feel of a well balanced pen; the aroma of a recently sharpened pencil; the clicking of a key board; the magical appearance of words on the computer screen…excuse me, gotta run! Another pen is calling me.

September 07, 2012

Great Resources for Writing – Ramona Heikel

I am astounded by the amount of helpful information that generous writers are giving away free, and I’d like to pass along some of my favorite resources to you.

With the publishing industry seeming like a moving target, I trust the information on the internet to be the most current, and most of my resources are there. And since I am usually writing for children, much of what I list relates to that area. I hope you find something useful…

    Now I must confess to a quirk that I have. I love how-to-write books written especially for children. Their fun, goofy, imaginative ideas for stories inspire me. For these writing prompts, I usually have to write down the whole story in one sitting, which forces me to plan the conflict and endings, which I have always found challenging. Here are a few of the ones I’ve collected:

    I hope that as time goes on and I learn more, I will be the one that offers tons of helpful information for free!

    Posted by Ramona

    September 03, 2012

    How do I Develop Necessary Skills in a Writers' World? - Janis Cox

    "School is never out for the pro!" Those were the words that Brenda used to motivate us this month for our posting.

    She is right. I think I have learned more in the past 10 years than I did in my first 50. Yes it has been an uphill climb but very exhilarating at each of the peaks. Of course, the slides down are not too much fun. But God knows that we have our ups and downs.

    Brenda asked:
    "How are you developing and growing your skills as a writer?"

    Well right now I am trying to grow my skills as a marketer – or promoter. Or somehow find an audience.

    My Learning:

    • Write! Canada – Thomas Umstaddt’s course. Opened my eyes to social networking. So I have been busy learning more about blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. That’s enough for me at the moment. But there is Pinterest, Digg, Google, and on and on.
    • Using Google as Search Engine - Every time I have hit a wall and think I can’t go any further – I Google for the answer. I always seem to find something that works. Thomas said to Google 50 times a day. Well I don’t think I have hit that number but some days I am close.
    • Set up a self-hosted Word Press Blog. This was a big learning curve. Setting up the blog wasn’t too hard. But finding the right pluggins – that is harder.  
    • Publishing and Marketing a book - And the other learning curve is working on edits and preparation for final publishing of my book. When I self-published a few copies it took lots of time. But now when I am working with a real publisher I have to work with others – it seems to be taking longer. I say, “patience, Jan, patience.”

    Some Interesting Resources:

    Twitter Ideas by Ruth Snyder
    What is a Platform? by Chip MacGregor
    How to Launch a Self-Hosted Wordpress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less - by Michael Hyatt

    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.

    September 02, 2012

    Stepping Stones - M. Laycock

    A friend posted a cute photo on Facebook a while ago. It's a picture of a baby's foot about to step down onto a round piece of salt dough. The recipe was included and the suggestion that one should be done each year and made into a path of stepping stones. A great idea for new moms.

    It's also a great idea for writers, to do this metaphorically. I had occasion to follow a trail of stepping stones a while ago as I pulled out an old manuscript. I had a few versions of the piece so I could see the progress clearly, just like a series of stepping stones made of a child's footprints. It was humbling to see all the mistakes I had made in the beginning, but encouraging to see how much I had grown over the years.

    It's a worthwhile exercise to look back at the work begun when we were baby writers. And it's a worthwhile exercise to look back at our lives to see what stepping stones we have made as believers in Christ. The Old Testament is full of places where God told His people to look back and remember. He often told them to mark a significant spot with stones or an altar built to glorify Him.

    As writers of faith, we can do that by writing the testimonies, the stories, the articles and poems that glorify the God who has led us from the moment of our conception. Then we can look forward to all that He will continue to do in our lives and in our work, trusting that He will work in and through us as He has in the past.

    "and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight to serve as a sign among you." Joshua 4:3-6


    Abundant Rain, Marcia's devotional ebook for authors is now available at
    Visit her website for more of her writing and speaking ministry