April 30, 2013

On Affirmation - by Susan Barclay

Writers crave affirmation, and I've been blessed to be surrounded by people who've believed in my gifting. From my mother, who encouraged me to write down the songs and stories I verbalized at a very young age, to my husband, who said 'yes' when I talked with him about quitting my 'day job' to pursue the dream. And to those in between and beyond.

There was my grade three teacher - Mrs. Weiss - who, years later, could still recite the conclusion to a story I wrote in her class. There was my grade ten and twelve English teacher, Mrs. Michna, who with her enthusiasm, enlarged my passion for literature. And what would the discussion be without referencing my grade 13 Creative Writing teacher, Mr. Weir, who told us all to forget about writing? Plumbing was certainly a respectable profession. Not quite affirmation, but he explained privately that it was his way of motivating us to prove him wrong.

Writing for pleasure took a back seat during my university years, and it was only after I married and was on maternity leave with my first child that I started writing again. Perhaps not surprisingly, my efforts turned to children's picture books. Fast forward a few years, and the decision to pursue the dream meets up with the formation of a local writers' group. With the first meeting just hours away, I manage to drum up a page-worth of words for an initial submission. At the evening gathering one of the writers seems awestruck after reading my piece. "You have enough substance here for a novel," he says.

A novel? The thought hadn't entered my mind. But now it does, and it lingers there, urging me on. Fast forward again; the writers' group membership has shifted and changed, morphing into something new, something good and solid. My novel too has taken shape. One evening, Jenn, one of the other writers says, "I could see this being a One Book, One Community read someday." I am stunned.

I pass my work under the eyes of various Writers-in Residence. Wayson Choy, famed Canadian author of The Jade Peony among others, meets with me. "You are a writer," he says. Wow. He probably says that to all the participants, but still. Wow.

In grade 7, my son misses a visit with author Eric Walters at his school. His classmates tell him he missed an amazing event, but he just shrugs. "I live with an author," he says. "My mom writes books." I love my son :) Who else his age would prefer me to Eric?

I hope you have people in your life who encourage your writing, as I have. We writers can be very hard on ourselves and need others to believe in us and spur us on. With all those rejection letters, we discourage easily. But if God has truly given us the gift of communication and imagination, we need to keep going, trusting that He will open doors for our work to find readers. We have to rely on His affirmation most of all.

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. ~ George Mueller


For more of my writing, please visit my blog Notes From Innisfree and my website.

April 29, 2013

Collaboration as Writers - Ruth L. Snyder

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the 5th Annual Book Marketing Conference, an online program put together by D'vorah Lansky, author of Book Marketing Made Easy. The theme of this year's conference was eBook Publishing Boot Camp. The sessions included in the program were:
  • Four ways to write your non-fiction book or eBook to publish and sell on Amazon Kindle in 7 days or less, presented by Jim Edwards
  • eBook editing for maximum profits, presented by David Perdew
  • How to prepare and publish your books for Amazon's Kindle, present by Val Waldeck
  • Successful eBook publishing using Barnes and Noble, Kobo, & Smashwords (for Apple), presented by David Wogahn
  • The print-on-demand revolution, presented by John S. Rhodes
  • Turn your eBook into a print book, presented by Kristen Eckstein
  • Build buzz for your eBook, presented by Sandra Beckwith
  • Leveraging influencers, presented by Susan Baroncini-Moe
  • Google hangouts for authors, presented by Jason Matthews
  • Create a course with Udemy & earn, presented by Alex Mozes
  • Magnify your message with powerpoint, presented by Dr. Jeanette Cates
  • Grow your business with teleseminars, presented by Bob Jenkins
  • Become a Kindle bestseller, presented by Connie Ragen Green
  • Successful book launch strategies, presented by Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart
As you can see, I received a lot of useful information. However, as I reviewed the online learning opportunity, I thought about how collaboration with other writers is both necessary and helpful. Why?
  1. Our time is limited - We all have responsibilities other than writing. Quality writing takes time. Once the writing is done, we have editing, publishing, and marketing to think about. Then there's blog posts, creating and updating your website, and interacting with people on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In. Whew!
  2. We can't be experts at everything - God has given each one of us different skills or gifts (see I Corinthians 12). Each of us has a unique part to play in the body of Christ. Not everyone can write non-fiction books in an orderly, clear manner. Neither can everyone write fiction that grips the reader from the first page to the last and encourages personal growth in the process. Some people are good at selling. Other people are more skilled at speaking. Some do well on social media. Others do better face to face. We all need to figure out what we are good at and what "energizes" us. Then, we need to surround ourselves with people who are good at doing the tasks that we are not so good at.
  3. Working with other people gives us exposure to a broader range of people. Networking is a word we hear often these days. Working together enables us to broaden our network by getting to know people that our friends know. For example, if five people each have 100 unique contacts, by working together, they have increased their contacts to 500. 
This brings me to InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship. There are many things we are doing well:
-FellowScript provides information and helps writers develop skills
-Satellite InSpiration groups enable writers to learn and grow together
-Members only contests provide opportunities to get feedback on writing
-InScribe Writers Online (this blog) gives members the opportunity to showcase their writing
-The InScribe website provides a venue to share information
-The InScribe professional blog is another opportunity for members to share their writing expertise and to attract new members to InScribe.

There are many other things we could be doing. However, for this to work, we need more volunteers who are willing to share their gifts. Do you have some time you could donate? What other directions do you think InScribe should pursue? 

(Education information)
(Ruth's writing and family life) 
(Information for caregivers of children ages 0-5)
Follow Ruth on Twitter:www.twitter.com/@wwjdr

April 26, 2013

Take an Online Writing Class - Bonnie Way

Writer's conferences and writing courses are both great ways to improve your skills as a writer—if you are able to make it to the venue offering them.  Online creative writing courses are opening up new opportunities for writers who live in smaller towns or aren't able to travel to big writer's conferences.  When I lived in northern Alberta, I took two online courses (from two different universities) as a way to learn, encourage myself to write, and connect with other writers.  Here's what I learned from that experience.

Choosing an Online Creative Writing Course

Look for a course that is relevant to what you need to learn.  If you are just starting out, choose one or two topics to focus on and take a course or two in that area.  When that concept is mastered, look for more courses.

Look for a course that seems manageable to you.  Consider how much time you can commit to this course at this time and whether you will be able to meet the deadlines (if there are any).  Some courses are offered as work-at-your-own pace; there is no instructor, no deadline, no peer feedback.  Consider working through it with another writer so you can set deadlines for each other; or, if you are self-disciplined enough to work through the course and do all the suggested exercises on your own, go for it.

Peer Feedback is Valuable in Online Writing Courses
Writing is a lonely business and writers are often looking for others who understand the business.  An online writing course can be a great way to find writing buddies and to get critiques.  Pam Mytroen, a freelance writer and concert reviewer, says that “constructive criticism by other writers taking the same course was the very best component of the course. ... It's one thing to show your assignment to your family or friends to read but it's another thing to show it to an unbiased student who you're only dealing with over the internet. You get really honest criticism and encouragement.”

Having a fresh, unbiased eye look at a writer’s work is always valuable.  Other writers in an online course can do this without fear of hurting your feelings.  For Pam, that was “worth every single penny right there.”  She adds, “I discovered exactly what needed work. Their insights were surprising. I would have never gotten this help from people close to me.”

More Pros of Online Writing Classes
Online offers an atmosphere of immediacy.  Rather than waiting weeks for mail to travel in a traditional correspondence course, writers can receive feedback from their peers and instructors within hours or days.  Those enrolled in online courses guided by an instructor benefit from the wealth of the instructor’s experience.  Pam found her instructor “practical and discerning and encouraging.”  The instructor can also set deadlines which can help motivate the writer; as Pam says, “It was like a kick-start to writing. After that course I wrote for an entire year.”

Disadvantages of Online Creative Writing Courses
Many of the disadvantages are similar to the advantages.  Courses that offer instructors cost more than courses that do not; weigh your need for feedback and deadlines with the funds that you have to spend on your learning.

Peer feedback also depends upon the other writers in the group.  As Pam explains, what you gain from an online writing class “depends upon who your fellow students are and how much they're willing to give you.”  Pam had several good experiences with fellow writers in online courses, but then, “in one course I took, one of the students dropped out early and that only left two others to critique me. Of those two, one was defensive about everything I tried to help her with and I discovered in return that when she critiqued my work, it was poorly done.”  I had a similar experience in one of my courses; two students never offered critiques, so instead of getting feedback from four people, I only got two.

Writers who pay for an online writing course, expecting to get great critiques from their fellow students, may be greatly disappointed.  Pam felt that “when you pay several hundred bucks, there should be a more fail-safe system of getting the critiques you need.”  Before starting an online writing class, consider asking the instructor or the institution about critiquing guidelines for participants, what will happen if a participant drops out, and what the policy is if one student fails to participate in the critique process.

April 24, 2013

Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours! - Lynn Dove

Do you know the old adage, "If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"?

Book marketing is all about helping one another. Interesting that Jesus was all about that concept too. (John 15:12) If you've ever tried to create a "buzz" about your books, you will know that this is so true. You can't do it alone!

You will discover that the number one thing a new writer/author needs to do right away is connect with other writers and authors who share your common passion for the written word (and if you're a Christian author it's important to connect with other Christian writers who also share your passion for God.) There are numerous great groups to network with: John 3:16 Marketing Network, The Book Club Network, Edgy Christian FictionCrossreads and of course here in Canada The Word Guild and Inscribe!  There are numerous groups and websites like Goodreads, Shelfari, Twitter and Pinterest as well as a host of other Christian Author Facebook groups and pages, where you can join and connect with other writers.

Anyone who is a Christ-follower knows that "community" is essential for encouragement and support. We share our joys and we share our burdens. We're a tight-knit family and it is so wonderful to know that we're not alone on this journey but we have each other to help along the way. Unfortunately, I have also noticed that in every family (and in this case I'm going to talk exclusively to the writing community) there are those that seem to have no trouble accepting help from others to promote and market their books, but are not as willing to reciprocate when asked. Some even get downright rude and offensive about it.

Here are my thoughts on the matter.

1. If you are a writer/author and you want others to blog, tweet or promote your books on Twitter (or anywhere else), you should be willing to do the same for someone else.

2. If you want lots of followers on Twitter, follow lots of people on Twitter. My rule of thumb is I won't follow someone on Twitter even if they have 100,000,000 followers or more if they don't follow back. (Sorry @justinbieber) Sure there are those that are just spammy advertisers (be cautious about that), but if you want followers to "retweet" about your book promotion someday, it's not asking a lot to follow them back in return. Let me give a wonderful example here: Tricia Goyer! Tricia, Christian author of 30 books, award winning writer and prominent speaker, has 55,500 + followers on Twitter. She follows well over 56,000 people back. She takes time to connect with her followers too; she thanks followers who follow her back and she actually reads the tweets people send to her! If you want a great example of a "tweeter" follow Tricia! @triciagoyer

3. If you expect people to "like" your postings, pages etc. on Facebook, return the "likes" right back! Make an author's day and go on Amazon and see their book listing-"like" their book as well as their Amazon author page :)

4. If you expect people to read and review your books, read and review their books. Take it one step further: if you want authors to buy and/or read your books...BUY and/or read their books! I know it gets pricey to buy print books all the time but you could do a book exchange for instance, send a PDF of your manuscript to them and they do the same for you. I love doing author interviews on Word Salt. Most of the authors I've interviewed on my blog have reciprocated and hosted me on their blogs. We've done book exchanges and/or we've purchased one another's books. You can come up with unique (and inexpensive) ways to help with their promotional marketing efforts and they'll be happy to return the favour.

5. Taking it yet another step further - when you do a review of a book, a little "honey" goes a long, long way. There's a right way and a wrong way to review a book. Honesty is one thing, cutting a manuscript to pieces with your critical review on Goodreads or Amazon will just break an author's spirit. (Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.") Give an honest review but ensure that you have listed more positives than negatives if possible. If that's not possible, perhaps the best thing to do is this: "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all."

6. Last thing..."Don't get too big for your britches!" So you've published a bunch of books (all best sellers)...wonderful! Just remember that you were a "newbie" once. You didn't have a clue what you were doing when you started out in the business and you made lots of mistakes before you published your first book (traditionally or otherwise). Take time to share your expertise, as well as your failures with new writers who need encouragement. I wouldn't have published a word without the mentoring of a couple of friends and authors, Connie Cavanaugh and Kathy Howard. Both of them, prominent speakers and writers in their own right, when I ask them to help promote my books (even though I know they are extremely busy ladies with book and speaking tours themselves) they do not hesitate to say, "Count me in!" If you are an author and writer, determine to be the kind of friend you would want to have in this business. You'll be glad you did.

Lynn Dove calls herself a Christ-follower, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, a teacher and a writer (in that order). She is the author of award winning books: The Wounded Trilogy. Her blog, Journey Thoughts won a Canadian Christian Writing Award - 2011. She has also had essays published in "Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul - Parenthood" (March 2013). Readers may connect with Lynn on Facebook, Twitter and on her blog: Journey Thoughts

April 21, 2013

Procrastination- Opportunity's Enemy - Sulo Moorthy

Once upon a time I enjoyed cooking. I took great pleasure in turning out new recipes and getting compliments from family and friends. Not wanting to see my culinary talent go waste, my entrepreneurial husband encouraged me to write a cook book. I liked the idea. But I didn’t know how to write a cook book. So, when I saw an advertisement in a magazine for a writing course by the Institute of Children’s Literature, I quickly enrolled myself in it. Then being unfamiliar with the craft of writing, I must have assumed that any kind of writing course would enable me to write a cook book. But by the time I finished my course, my interest in writing a cookbook had vanished and I ended up not writing one. However, I have no regrets for taking the writing course that taught me the ABC of creative writing.

Even though, the course prepared me well to write for children, I preferred to write for adults instead. Except for my short poem titled, Is Christmas Your Birthday, Jesus? which got published in our church bulletin, and my story on the life of Brother Yun-the Heavenly Man, which got published in children’s magazines Partners, and Guide, I hadn’t published or written anything for children in the last fifteen years of my writing life.

But lately, to my surprise, a nudge to write a children’s story has been following me for weeks. As always, I’ve tried to give all the excuses why I cannot do it, but found no luck with it. Interestingly, even the story line has started to shape in my head with names for the characters, and a childhood memory as the background. But I couldn’t make myself to sit down and write out even the first sentence onto my computer screen. I kept procrastinating it.

The term 'procrastination', which derived from a Latin word means,“ to put off for tomorrow.”

“The things all writers do best is to find ways to avoid writing,” wrote Alan Dean Foster.

Since I give into procrastination easily, I did a little research recently to find out what causes us to procrastinate. I learned that procrastination can be triggered for many reasons, and it doesn’t always affect for the same reason. In certain stressful situations, it works as a coping mechanism to keep the stress level under control. At times, overwhelmed with the project in hand, the brain refuses to cooperate with our schedules. It is at this time, we tend to distract ourselves with trivial activities like returning phone call, scanning the e-mails, dusting the sofas or walking the dog instead of doing the important project- writing in our case.

Usually when we procrastinate, we tell ourselves that we'd start our writing, when we get enough ideas or mood to write. But according to Julia Cameron, the author of The Right to Write, the process actually works backward. “It’s the act of writing that calls ideas forward, not ideas that call forward writing.” She encourages us to have more than one writing project so that we don’t get stuck with one, when ideas or words fail to flow. A writer who is not writing can be filled with self-loathing and guilt stricken, she writes.

Cameron suggests a daily habit of writing three pages in long hand or having Artist Date to create an inner welling up of thoughts and ideas that will become more and more pressing to put on the page. Lack of motivation, fatigue, fear of failure, perfectionism or laziness could give rise to procrastination.

At times, not knowing where or how to start could lead to it. Once something has a beginning and end,, it’s easier to visualize what’s in the middle. So, it’s better to work from both ends and fill in the middle later. To get through perfectionism, we need to give ourselves permission to write sloppy first draft. Otherwise, we wouldn’t get through our beginning sentence without pressing the delete button a number of times. I speak out of my own experience for I know too well how many days I used to spend on my first draft in the beginning of my writing years. Thankfully I’ve got better with time, but still some remnant of it shows up now and then.

Now that I’ve learned the reasons behind procrastination and not to put off for tomorrow what I can do today, I hope I'd be able to write down the children’s story in my head sooner than later.

“ Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” ~ Charles Dickens

April 20, 2013

In Good Company - Brenda J. Wood

I started to write my upcoming children’s book, ‘The Plate Family Dishes Up,’ with one plot in mind and to my surprise ended up with quite another. No one was more surprised than me.

That’s what happened to Jude. He wanted to write about salvation but instead found himself writing instructions on how to contend for the faith.

Although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. (Jude 1:3, NIV)

‘Meeting Myself, Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind,’ came from my bulimic experiences but I kept my deepest thoughts for face-to-face conversations with women in the same circumstances.

John did the same thing.

I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. (3 John 13, NIV)

The Pregnant Pause of Grief, the First Trimester of Widowhood, chronicles ‘an orderly account’ of every thing that happened to me. This is Luke’s method of writing.

With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:3-4)

I tell you these things because I want you to know that whatever you write, it is right. You are in good company! Oh, the critics may not like it. Your manuscript might never see a book shelf at Chapters. But it is your story, written in your way and God gave you that story for a reason.

Enjoy it, even if you are the only one who does. After all, if you don’t, who will???

So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his portion. Ecclesiastes 3:22a

Brenda J Wood

April 17, 2013

Organizing My Computer by Bryan Norford

I was taught that my desk should show some disorganization. If it was too messy I was not in control of my work, but if it was too tidy, I obviously had nothing to do. Unfortunately, computers do not understand that rule.

Organization is probably the least inspirational part of writing, yet, If we look below the surface, it’s something that still requires inspiration to ensure it works effectively. In fact, inspiration is necessary for every aspect of writing, even the most mundane parts of the work.

To consider that we need not pray about the mundane is to exclude God from the infrastructure of our lives, no more so than in our writing. It’s really pointless praying for inspiration for that perfect piece if it’s lost in a computer maze.

So here are some ideas for organization that I use, and contrary to my previous advice, I spent too little time seeking guidance for—from others or from God!

My Documents library includes many directories, including Articles, Blogs, Books and Diary. Articles is the least organised, simply with all completed articles in alphabetical order. My Diary lists each years’ blogs on Norford’s Ramblings, dating back to 2008, as documents. The Blogs directory list blogs on other sites, including a sub-directory for blogs to Inscribe.

Books is the most comprehensive directory, as that is where most of my time and energy is spent. Each book title naturally has its own sub-directory, but within each of those are the following sub-directories:

0 Original Script: This is kept up to date with the latest revisions.

1 Edited Script: Any scripts edited by others kept for reference.

2 Images: Downloaded images I may use for cover design, and cover design development.

3 Agreements: Publishing or other agreements scanned and kept for reference.

4 Correspondence: Critical letters or emails regarding the book, including endorsements.

5 Published Script: Holds camera ready documents and PDFs of the book for self publishing.

6: and 7: Left free for other directories that may be required for a particular book.

8 Seminars: Holds document and power point presentations for the book.

9 Superseded: Really important: keeps outdated materials separate from current scripts or images, but still available for future reference.

I use numbers for these sub-directories to maintain the order I want, rather than alphabetical order.

Also in the Documents Library I have directories for Invoices, Promotion, and Templates. These are separate from the individual book directories as the contents often include more than one book. At present, I have no sub-directories for these, but as they grow, they may also need subdividing. The Templates directory holds cover or interior templates a publisher may provide or require for processing.

These ideas are, of course, specific to my work, but may be adaptable for your particular needs. If so, I pray that you may be inspired to clean up your computers, and able to access your materials more efficiently—especially that remarkably inspired, but long lost piece!

April 16, 2013

Words - by Marcia Janson

Wars and rumours of wars; violence and terrorism; lawlessness and faithlessness; mishandling of the environment; sickness and poverty; political oppression…

How’s that for a depressing start to a blog post? Well, living in this world can be painful and difficult, especially as things seem to get worse rather than better. In North America, we are shielded from the more extreme elements of the above list, but it grieves our hearts to see it happening anywhere – near or far. The recent Boston Marathon bombing brings the horror a little closer to home and many of us are deeply unsettled by this act of terrorism. There is sadness for all the pain and a certain level of frustration and rage that the perpetrators have allowed evil to overcome them in this way.

Why did they do it? We don’t know what drives each individual person, but we can make some general guesses…

Separation from God.  Emotional and spiritual wounding.  Alienation.  Lies and deception.  Hatred.  Fear.


One author puts it this way:

I believe there is pain, something untoward in certain people – certain communities, even – perhaps it’s anger, a sense of dispossession or disenfranchisement, and they have to destroy that which brings joy and love. ~ Jacqueline Winspear*

Those who follow Christ know this is true. Evil hates what is beautiful and good and wants to do away with it. From the very beginning and throughout the millennia, it has left a path of destruction in its wake, culminating at the cross. There the perfectly beautiful was tortured, disfigured and killed.  On the surface - another victory for evil.

But Christians know that isn’t the end of the story. When Christ gave himself up for us, God pulled back the curtain of death and separation once and for all. Jesus rose to life and now “...the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)

What does this have to do with Christian writers? We belong to Christ and his light is in us. When we draw close to him, he infuses our thoughts with his own. Our words can bring beauty into places of destruction, joyous blessing to mourning hearts and hope to despairing souls. 

So, when evil is performing a victory dance, with the media cheering it on, may God give us words of grace to overcome evil with good.

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24
* Jacqueline Winspear, Leaving Everything Most Loved
Photo credits: 
Sea storm -http://www.flickr.com/photos/sacharules/3573348242/

April 15, 2013

These Feet Were Made For Writing - Tracy Krauss

Yesterday marked the three week mark since I broke my ankle after slipping on a wet floor. What does this have to do with the business of writing? Previous to this mishap, I would have said, "Absolutely nothing." After all, one doesn't write with one's feet.

I've since decided that writing involves the whole body, not just the brain or the hands. At first I thought I'd try to make the best of all the 'free time' I was sure to have. After all, with my new mobility issues, my husband was now doing most of the cooking and cleaning. I also had a ready made excuse to let go of many of my other outside commitments. Theoretically I would now have a lot more time for writing.The truth is, I've done less.

Beyond just trying to find a comfortable place to sit, I've been too distracted mentally to be very productive. I was actually surprised by this. Even when I have had the time, I just haven't felt like it. It reminds me of the passage in scripture when Paul talks about the body. When one part suffers, the whole person suffers. Of course, the spiritual application goes without saying.When someone is hurting in the body of Christ, the whole body suffers as well.

On the up side, sometimes an enforced season of rest can do a world of good. As the pain lessens I am beginning to feel the familiar stirrings of words waiting to get out - fresh ideas that may have been shoved to the background in favor of another more prominent project.

With four more weeks to go, I'm starting to get back into the groove. I'm back at work, and as you can see, my students have graced my cast with some lovely artwork. I can't help but be reminded of something Nancy Rue said at the fall conference. "See everything life throws at you as an opportunity for research." I'm taking this to heart. Don't be surprised if a hero or heroine appears in one of my novels with a broken ankle...

Website: tracykrauss.com
Blog: tracykraussexpressionexpress.com

April 14, 2013

The Business of Writing from the Heart and Writing Short

I’ve learned a couple things from writing the live concert review over the years.

          1) Just start.
          2) Keep it short.
It sounds like the perfect sermon.

When I began writing I assumed that before I penned  the first word I needed to do a ton of research to back up my points. I would read for hours, and find all kinds of wonderful and intriguing information. Then I would try to squeeze as much into the article as I could.

But there was a problem with that ‘viewpoint’. Looking back I can see that I was just sharing ‘points’ without my ‘view’. I was dumping knowledge but it probably ended up in the landfill. People aren’t usually impressed by facts.

I feel that people do not read for knowledge as much as they do for affirmation. We read to find ourselves on the page. We are always looking to validate our own unique pilgrimage. Have other people taken similar detours? Have they experienced the same kind of defeats and doubts as we have? If we find ourselves in a story, fiction or non, we feel validated. We find a niche in the spectrum of humanity and so we have hope to continue.

Therefore, when I start an article I pour out my feelings and impressions first. Later, after the first draft, I check my facts and I research to be sure I am credible. Heart first, facts later.

The second thing I’ve learned is to keep it short.  My first human interest story was several pages long in the newspaper. I’m surprised they printed it all! And I’d be even more surprised if anybody actually finished reading the epistle.

I’ve noticed that I like to read really short pieces and if it looks too long I will just skim for key points. Now I aim to treat my readers the same way I want to be treated. Hey, this is starting to sound like a sermon. 

Just get started. And keep it short. 

Pam Mytroen

April 13, 2013

Rebuilding by T. L Wiens

I want to say thank you to everyone for your prayers and thoughts as we dealt with the loss of the roof of our house.

This isn’t the first time my family has experienced this type of loss. Our house burned down a few years ago. We lost everything or did we? In fact, eight days after our fire we were back in a house given to us by a wonderful family. Friends, family and neighbors filled it. We lacked nothing. If God can do that, I knew He had a plan with this latest excitement. Once again, I saw Him restore and teach me through a difficult time. Matthew 6: 19 which says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:” makes a lot of sense to me. Don’t get a strangle hold on things because they can be gone in a moment.

However, there are things that aren’t easily replaced. One of those is reputation. How we endured the hardships is far more important than the things we lost.

As a writer, I see a lot of parallels to these life experiences. A rough manuscript can be rebuilt with the help of an editor but writing that doesn’t honor God is a different story. A Christian writers, I think we have to stand up for the message God has given us to write about even when what we write may not be the popular idea of the day. In the grand scheme of things, the most important thing is to honor God in all things.

April 12, 2013

Cross-Training for Writers - Lorrie Orr

I’m no athlete so my understanding of cross-training is very simple: Do different activities to stimulate different muscles and to keep you from getting bored. The result will be a toned body, able to perform well.

As creative people, writers can use the idea of cross-training to improve and stimulate growth. Here are some examples:

- 1. If you write prose, try writing a poem, or a creative non-fiction piece.

- 2. Take a walk with your camera. Looking through a camera lens is a way to focus in on a subject, to frame it beautifully, and to see it in a new or different way.

- 3. Work in the garden. Weeding, planting, watering, pruning – these activities occupy one area of your brain but leave plenty of room for other thoughts to percolate – thoughts that could turn into stories, dialogues, or scenes.

- 4. Indulge in play therapy. Use play dough to model a character or characters that live in your mind. Let your fingers and hands work, kneading and manipulating the dough. Act out a scene. Who is this character? What is she doing? Why? What does she want and what stands in her way? How will she move forward?

- 5. Take some time to find an imaginary creature in your world. It might be an animal figure in the troweled plaster on the ceiling above your bed, or a face in a flower, or a design that captures your attention. What might this creature be thinking?

- 6 Plan a party – one that you would like to attend. Who would be there? What food would be served? What is the setting?

- 7. Paint or draw even if you think you cannot. Swirl colour onto paper in lines and patterns that please you. Give yourself permission to play.

Cross-training can free ideas that will help you write better. And it can be a lot of fun besides.

by Lorrie Orr 2013

April 11, 2013

Ready to Publish? Check Out The Writer's Edge


  "Matching Quality Christian Manuscripts with

Major Christian Publishers"

The Writer's Edge is now is offering 20% off coupons to InScribe members. If you're interested, send us an e-mail for more info!

"The Writer's Edge provides an avenue for writers to connect with established publishers with credibility, economy, and moral support. Most new or relatively unknown writers are frustrated that they can’t get on the radar screen of acquisitions editors at established publishing houses. Major Christian publishers are overwhelmed with book manuscripts they don’t have time to open or read. So we provide a service to both the author and the publisher. The way we do this is to initially log in all manuscripts into our system. Then our editors evaluate them, select the ones we think have merit, and send those in a monthly report to the participating publishers. Those not accepted for the monthly report receive some initial feedback regarding their manuscript’s strengths and weakness, along with recommendations for improvements. We also offer other valuable resources and helps for the writer." ~ excerpt from their website
You might also want to check out their Author Resources page for links to writers groups, resource books, writers conferences, publishing trends, a sample book proposal, plus internet sites and blogs of interest to Christian writers.

The Blog Editor

April 10, 2013

Strong Verbs Give a Strong Message by Sharon Espeseth

Looking forward to spring walks

On holidays, my husband Hank and I drove past a church sporting a brief, but all-encompassing message. All it said was, TRUST, LOVE, FOLLOW, CARE, SHARE. "Wow!" I thought. "That is the Christian faith in a thimble, and it's all verbs.

The Christian walk is one of action. As I scribbled this church sign on a paper napkin, a few Bible verses flashed through my mind.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart." (Proverbs 3:5a)

"Love the Lord your God . . . and love your neighbour as yourself." (Luke 10:27)

"'Come follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.'" (Matthew 4:19)

These few verses fleshed out the memo, but kept the Christian mission succinct. One could add more about caring for people in prison, sharing with widows and orphans, healing the sick, caring for the elderly, acting justly, but that is all included in "love your neighbour as yourself."

Strong verbs! Any writing teacher worth his hire will remind us to use vivid and virile verbs; and go easy on the adverbs.  Precise verbs show action and inject life into a story. Verbs with punch lessen the use of passive voice. To say, "She was driven crazy by the dog," is lame compared to, "The dog drove her crazy when he pattered in with muddy feet." Action verbs tell it like it is. Well-chosen verbs bring life to the page.

The language of the Bible demonstrates effective writing while teaching the spiritual lessons God wants us to understand. Look at the verbs in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." What life-giving verbs! What a life-giving story.

Prayer: Thanks for the reminder, Lord, of how simple, yet powerful and complete is the Christian calling. Help me share the good news of your plan of salvation enacted 2000 years ago. I am in awe of what you did for me, for all of mankind, to save us from the errors of our ways.

April 09, 2013

Spreadsheets - Shirley S. Tye

Microsoft Excel is an excellent program to keep track of “Income and Expenses”. At the top of the spreadsheet, I enter the months into each column. Down the left hand side of the top portion of the spreadsheet are income amounts (book royalties, magazine articles, workshops, et cetera) with a total for each month. Below that on the left-hand side are listed all the expenses, such as: accounting fees, telephone long distance, courses and workshops, resource books, membership fees, office supplies, photocopies, postage, promotion/advertising, website costs, travel costs (traveling to a place to hold a workshop; gas, meals, hotel room), home-office expenses (heat, hydro, house insurance totals are generally calculated based on percentage of the square footage of the office over the total house). The rows total on the right-hand side of the spreadsheet giving totals for each item such as; total expenses for office supplies and total income from workshops. Each column gives totals at the bottom of the spreadsheet for each month.

Catalogue envelopes (5 7/8 inch x 9 5/8 inch) are great for storing each month’s receipts. At the end of each month, I put like receipts together (for example: office supplies such as; paper, printer toner, pens) and add and print the totals on a calculator. I staple the calculator paper with the total to the receipts and write the month, year, and what the items are on the calculator paper. I enter all the expense and income totals to the Excel spreadsheet. Doing this monthly, saves a lot of time at the end of the year and gives me up-to-date totals for all income and expenses as the year progresses.

Spreadsheets can be set up to keep track of “Writings at Market”. This spreadsheet helps me keep track of the work that I’ve submitted, the publisher or contest I sent the work to, whether it was paid or rejected, and when it was published. At the top of the spreadsheet, I have the following titles; Title (of the writing), Type (article, poem, et cetera), Word Count, Publisher (or contest), Sent (mailing date), Return (date the work was returned if not accepted), Published (publication date), Paid (date I received payment), Amount (payment amount). Another column that I use is Receivables. I’ll enter the dollar amount in this column if I know the amount I’m expecting to receive. Once it has been received, I move that amount into the “Amount” column. At the bottom of the “Amount” column is the total payment received.

Spreadsheets keep a lot of information in one spot for easy, quick viewing. They certainly help keep me organized.

April 08, 2013

Writer's Block Sometimes Comes With Four Legs and A Tail -- Elaine Ingalls Hogg

Thank you, Elaine--and helpers--for joining InScribe Writers Online as our Guest Blogger today.   

I've inherited a helper, two helpers actually, but only one of them likes to help me type.

When our daughter moved house a few years ago, she asked us to take care of her two cats, Angus and Alex, for two weeks.

Little did I know when I agreed to let these two creatures into my home that they would tug on my heart strings, but they did; tugged enough so that when Heather said she needed to find a new home for them, I agreed to keep them.

The two cats have made themselves quite at home in the last three years. No, worse than that, they've taken over my home and during the day when I'm in my office, their favourite resting spot is on my desk. More than once I have to move a cat tail when I want to type in order to find the keys. Some days, like today when I'm experiencing an attack of writer's block, I don't mind if 23 pounds of cat sits on my keyboard. Moving his furry presence with its pleading blue eyes gives me a perfect excuse to procrastinate.

Why am I procrastinating? Because the words haven’t come easily during the past year. I could blame it on a number of circumstances…illness in the family but that wouldn't be the whole story. Whatever the reason is for the words to be blocked, written words aren't the only ones that have dried up. If I'm honest, I hit a wall in my prayer life this week.

I have prayed the same prayer for several years now, prayed daily for God to take care of people I care about but because I couldn't see the answers, this week I almost gave up. I wanted to say, "God are you having hearing problems? Are you tired? You don't seem to be paying attention to my prayer. If you were, you'd have fixed that problem by now."

So for a while I’ve allowed the cat to use my computer for his pillow. I’ve despaired that the words are locked away, that I couldn't write and I couldn't pray.

Today, I read in my Bible where Gideon, a top notch soldier whose story has been passed down for many generations through the words in the book of Judges, also went through a period when he entertained doubts and wondered if God was hearing his prayer. He asked, "If the Lord is with us (me), why has all this happened to us (me)?"

I read on, interested to learn how such a man changed from questioning to becoming a man of faith, a man whose life story is worthy enough to be included in the Bible. I learned Gideon had gone through trying times. He and his people were in slavery for seven years. Then God called Gideon to set his people free. Freedom was a prayer that had been on Gideon's lips for many years but when God answered his prayer Gideon could hardly believe what he was hearing. He expressed his doubts to God and asked for a sign that his prayers had been heard. God didn't cast him aside because he needed his doubts squashed. Patiently, lovingly, God used a series of miracles to teach Gideon he was talking to a God who could be trusted.

When I finished reading Gideon's story, the writer's block that had crept across my fingers and stopped the words from flowing disappeared. So as I push Angus away from my keyboard, I'd like to leave you with this thought.

This week God has reminded me that answers take time; sometimes seven years, sometimes more, but God does hear our prayer and the answers will come.

Elaine Ingalls Hogg
Award-winning author and inspirational speaker
Blog: http://elainehogg.wordpress.com
Read Janet Sketchley's interview with me here