July 30, 2014

O What Fun It Is To Write a Parody Tonight - by Susan Barclay

Summer is a challenging time for me to write. Kids are out of school and we are all out of our usual routines. That’s why it was only today, when it was my turn to post something on Inscribe, that I finally got down to business.

Like fellow Inscriber, Tracy Krauss, I’m an eclectic writer. I don’t really have a niche. I enjoy writing picture books, personal experience stories, short stories, and my current work-in-progress is a novel. So it’s kind of hard to find a genre I haven’t dipped my pen into, including poetry.

But at my house--and this isn’t unique to us, I’m sure—we’re very good at responding to situations by bursting into song or modifying songs that already exist. For example, to the tune of ‘O, What a Beautiful Morning,’ I might sing, “O what a beautiful puppy, O what a beautiful dog; O what a beautiful Jazzy, even though he’s a bed hog.”

For the record, our dog’s name is Jazz, and he is beautiful. But in case my mom is reading this, Mom, Jazz never gets up on the bed and cuddles with us. Never. It was just an example. Really.


Anyway, I thought I’d try writing a full parody for this month’s challenge. Since it’s fruit fly season and the pests are both bothersome and loathsome, I decided to switch the ‘I Hope you Dance’ song to ‘I Hope you Die’. Dark, I know, but there you have it.

Here are a few lines from the finished product:

I hope you starve because there’s nothing here to munch on
When the fridge door opens I hope you can’t get in
Promise me that you’ll lose heart and start to sigh
And when you get the choice to fly away or die
I hope you die…I hope you die.

Catchy, huh?

So, how did I feel about the experience? It was a challenge to write a whole song as opposed to just changing up a few lines, but I feel pretty positive about the first draft result. The exercise also got my creative juices flowing, which is never a waste of time or effort. Next time I’m feeling stuck, perhaps I’ll turn my brain and my pen toward a different genre for a moment to get out of whatever box I’m in. If nothing else, it may remind me that writing is not only challenging, but fun. And if it isn’t fun, why are we doing it?

Check out some parodies from the Christian band, Apologetix, at their youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ApologetiXMusic


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

July 29, 2014

Having fun with poetry by Ruth L. Snyder

This month we're challenged to try a genre that we don't often write. Since I usually stick to prose, I thought it would be fun to learn about some poetry forms and try them out. I invite you to come along on my journey, exploring a few different styles.


This form was developed by Adelaide Crapsy. You can read the history here.
"Cinquains have five lines
Line 1: Title (noun) - 1 word
Line 2: Description - 2 words
Line 3: Action - 3 words
Line 4: Feeling (phrase) - 4 words
Line 5: Title (synonym for the title) - 1 word"

Canadian writers
Encouraging, learning, challenging
Embracing Christ's individual call


These poems are similar to the cinquain, but form the shape of a diamond.
"Line 1: Noun or subject - one word
Line 2: Two Adjectives that describe line 1
Line 3: Three 'ing words that describe line 1
Line 4: Four nouns - the first two are connected with line 1; the last two are connected with line 7
Line 5: Three 'ing words that describe line 7
Line 6: Two adjectives that describe line 7
Line 7: Noun Synonym for the subject"

September opportunity
Learning, celebrating, networking
Workshops, worship, submissions, rejections
Crafting, editing, honing
Word warriors

I Wish Poem

"Each line of the poem begins with the words "I wish" and then you fill in your ideasThe poem should be 8-10 lines long."

I wish every Canadian grasped God's amazing love.
I wish every Canadian accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour.
I wish every Canadian Christian used his or her spiritual gifts.
I wish every Canadian Christian writer received the support and encouragement he or she needed.
I wish every Canadian Christian writer understood the benefits of belonging to InScribe.
I wish every InScribe member obeyed God's call to write.
I wish every InScribe member felt supported in his or her writing.
I wish every InScribe member attended our fall conference.

Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I hope you've enjoyed the ride as much as I have. Thanks for the challenge, Brenda :)

You can learn about some other forms of poetry and write your own samples by visiting Kathi Mitchell's post, Poetry for Kids.

You can connect with Ruth and learn more about her usual writing style at http://ruthlsnyder.com 

July 28, 2014

From A Radio Scanner's Point of View - Bruce Atchison

The blessing of writing without aiming for a particular demographic is that we can venture into creative forms of literature without being reprimanded by our editors. I believe this is good practice since it forces us to structure our stories or poems in unfamiliar ways. It also keeps us out of creative ruts.

Just for fun, I wrote a short story devoid of narration. All I used in it was dialogue and sound effects. It's as if the reader is sitting in front of a radio scanner which is tuned to an amateur radio frequency. The resulting conversations tell the entire tale.

I titled my fiction story Autopatch after a component of a radio signal repeater which allows hams to access the telephone lines while in their vehicles or on foot. In my story, two men are chatting on the repeater when one spots a car accident. Since the cell phone reception in that particular area was poor, the ham used the keypad on his radio to dial into the autopatch and contact the RCMP.

Writing this tale was quite challenging for me. Though I made sure to have the hams identify themselves by name and call sign, I still became confused. After strenuous editing, I straightened out who was speaking to whom.

Choosing the sound effect words was also arduous. Repeaters have courtesy beeps, so named because it allows a second or two between transmissions. If anybody needs to use the repeater to contact some one or for emergency communications, the others on the frequency will be able to hear and let that ham speak. Since those beeps are often at a relatively low pitch, I chose "boop" to represent the courtesy beep.

I also strove to make sure Autopatch was as realistic as possible. This included interruptions. Many amateur radio repeaters use Morse code to identify themselves with their own call signs. I used  "dah" to indicate dashes and "dit" to indicate dots. Quite often, repeaters will send these bursts of code over top of a conversation. The other person in the conversation usually needs to ask for a repeat of what the interrupted person said.

Another difficulty I faced was the use of call signs. Out of respect for my fellow hams, I didn't want to use one belonging to a living person nor one from an amateur who passed away. Then I realized that I could use the call signs of local repeaters for the hams in my story and my own call sign, VE6XTC, for the repeater they were using.

As for where I'll publish my labour of love, I have no idea. The CBC might dramatize it in their three-minute stories feature or some literary magazine might find it worthy of publication. Whatever happens, I hope my experimental prose is seen in print or pixels. How sad it would be to do so much work for naught.

July 26, 2014

The Writing Conference Blog Hop (Bonnie Way)

For a decade, the last weekend in September was reserved on my calendar for the Inscribe Christian Writer's Fellowship's annual Fall Conference. When I went to my first conference in 2000, I knew I'd found a family of writers, and I went back again every year for the encouragement and inspiration I found there. Every year, I found myself returning home ready to keep writing.

Since then, I've had the chance to attend a few other conferences, including The Word Guild's first two Write! Vancouver conferences. This weekend, I'm actually at BlogHer14 in San Jose, California, networking with bloggers and brands and learning more about that genre of writing.

I thought this would be a fun space to share our blog posts about what conferences we've attended (or would like to attend) or about any tips for going to writing conferences. Feel free to link up your posts (old or new) below.

And don't forget that ICWF's Fall Conference is still happening the last weekend of September - that's exactly two months away! This year, Phil Callaway is coming back as the keynote speaker and I can assure you, from hearing him speak in 2000, that he's a lot of fun! Check out the conference trailer and find out more details on the ICWF website.

July 25, 2014

It's Up To You by Vickie Stam


"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21

A thin silver moon casts a shimmer of light across the midnight sky. You're unaware of the tiny moon's existence. The den you burrow in your blankets each night would make anyone believe you possess the skill of a wild animal even though your demeanor proves different. You feel cozy and warm but not entirely protected from the wilderness that looms not far from your lair.

Six months of living in your apartment in the city's shadiest part of town makes you wish you could sleep with one eye open. The break and enters and purse snatchings dictate the monthly rent you pay molding a price that fits your budget. You keep to yourself. Don't make any waves.

Tonight, just like any other night, a noise outside your window wakes you from your not so deep sleep. You lunge forward. Your heart throbs. You call out in a loud voice, "Who's there?" But no one answers. Eyes wide, you search the room and breath a sigh of relief when you realize there's no one standing between you and the light you purposely leave on each night.

You shutter at the sound of breaking glass outside your window. A familiar scene plays out in your mind. You cast your gaze on an old pine chest that once held a family heirloom. The words, "Nothing ever changes around here," ignite a fire inside you, yet you don't call the police. Instead, you lay back against your pillow, close your eyes and wait for the silence to return. How dare you?

The next morning, cops are milling the street questioning anyone who might have witnessed what happened to your neighbour's car. Shards of glass line the sidewalk in front of your building. You tip toe around the crime scene hoping to go unnoticed.

With your nose to the ground you take up your usual quick pace and head west in an attempt to veto any questions the cops might hurl your way. The smell of evil burns your gut. You taste its wicked bile.

"Not so fast!" A tall man in a blue uniform jumps in your way. You swallow hard resisting the temptation to throw up your own shame. The man means business. You see it in his eyes. You know what he needs. A full description; something you can give him. It's time for you to turn this no-good neighbourhood into a good one. It's up to you to change things.

You clear your throat and run your fingers through your short brown hair. Just when you're about to ante up, the man's complexion turns a deep shade of red.

"Someone around here knows something!"

Caught between the battle of good and evil you know what you must do. You must confess. That someone is....you.

This month's theme "New Explorations" challenged me to write in a different voice/style so I chose to write something fiction in the 2nd person narrative using you, your and you're. I prefer to write non-fiction so this was a daring choice for me and my first attempt at such a narrative, one that I just might try again.

July 24, 2014

Writing to a Different Audience by Lynn Dove

This month’s focus was writing in a genre, voice/style or for a particular audience that I would not normally write in or to. Still I couldn’t help but giggle when I entitled this blog post “Writing for a Different Audience”. It just begs quotation marks around “different”, does it not?

As I thought about it, the comedic side of me immediately surfaced and I thought about what “different” audiences I should write about or to. So here goes:

Writing to my dog would require a bare bone plot line and may be a little rough (ruff) around the edges.

Writing to a cat would require a scratch-pad handy to jot down my thoughts and ideas, but in the end I would only be able to scratch the surface…it would never be absolutely perfect (purrfect) or to the cat’s liking or licking as the case may be.

Writing about a tree would leaf me breathless, especially if I made sure a few shady characters were thrown in for dramatic relief that wood leave the reading audience rooted to their seats.

Writing about a vacuum cleaner would require catchy pick-up lines but in the end the plotline would likely suck.

Writing about a cellphone in the context of a mystery novel would require indecipherable code (LOL), a limit of text, characters, and horrific grammar. It wd B a Bst sell R 4 shur!

Lastly, writing while on vacation may not have been my best idea, but it definitely has been fun!


Feeling punny? Add one of your own for all the writing pundits out there...hahahaha!

July 22, 2014

The 'What-Ifs' Gone Wild by Nicola Frankensee




We are pleased to welcome InScribe member Nicola (Henrietta) Frankensee as our Guest Blogger today.

Ever since God what-iffed the dimensions into being with a Word and gave His people the privilege of intimacy with Him in the use of their own words we have been what-iffing worlds into literature. I think He revels in our imaginations, though they can never do more than reflect His Greater reality.

The ancients imagined Valhalla and Olympia and Nirvana. They created characters--Gilgemesh, Bathsett, Hercules and Ah Bolom Tzacab to populate these worlds and stretch themselves beyond the earth-bound human story.

In western civilisation, using a Christian worldview, Shakespeare the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Andersen wrote about elves and fairies and talking animals. In modern times we look to C.S. Lewis and Tolkien as the fathers of modern Christian fantasy. We have The Gospel According to Star Wars. Speculative Fiction is alive and well among Christian authors and publishers.

So what is Speculative Fiction? It is 'what-ifs' gone wild!

  • What if Jesus doesn’t come before the year 3000?
  • What if He does and it’s before the tribulation? What if He comes after the tribulation?
  • What if Time is set in stone and a traveler couldn’t disturb or influence events in the past or future?
  • What if the traveler could and did, by design or accident?
  • What if a well seasoned Christian met a stranger with suggestively elongated upper canines?
  • What if aliens or robots or elves or clones or any assortment of them ruled the earth?
  • What if alien police sought to research/experiment with human law by kidnapping a super sleuth to solve their unsolvable crimes?
  • What if we could survive a trip through a Black Hole?
  • What if animals were better at remembering and worshiping God than humans?

These questions collect and are published under titles like Fantasy, Science Fiction, End Times Fiction, Steam Punk, Time Travel, Ghost Stories and Paranormal Fiction. I find new subcategories all the time.

Friend Google cheerfully lists 5 710 000 hits to the 'Speculative Fiction' query and 670 000 hits for Christian Speculative Fiction, though this changes every day. One of the first links I followed has proven my favourite, Speculativefaith.com. I’ll leave it up to you to follow other links. Be prepared for the bizarre!

There are 114 publishers of Christian Speculative Fiction presently listed on the speculative faith website and more coming up all the time. Though in its infancy and generally published by independent houses, the fan base is hearty and loyal and always hungry for new reading. And even by the short list of what-ifs in this article it is easy to see there are more stories to be written.

Since a blog acquaintance suggested my story came within these parameters, I have reveled in the discussions, controversies, stories and generous companionship of this genre. Bravely going where no Christian Writer has gone before, much joy has been added to my writing life with heretofore undescribed species and situations, and I look forward to where the elves and dwarves and pixies might lead me. I will personally leave the horror and paranormal genres to braver souls!

At the last God gave one man, John, a peek at the what-ifs He has in store for our future, proving again that no author can out-create the Alpha and Omega of Imagination. To His praise and glory He is not threatened by our attempts to use the gift of language and imagination that He so generously shares.

Nicola Frankensee (aka Henrietta) was born in South Africa and has lived in England and Canada. She has told stories all her life and hopes one day to share her Magnum Opus, which is called Leoshine with a wider audience. 

July 21, 2014

The Waiting Place by Jocelyn Faire

And I want to be Happy and Summer Carefree, but I have been in .....

The Waiting Place

According to Dr Seuss, it is a most useless place ... the waiting place where people are just waiting. The place of plea bargains, oaths to the Creator, and life priorities evaluated. But when your back is up against the wall, desperately wanting an outcome ...

The messages kept coming back as prayer requests ...
Katya's not well, she's being admitted.
It looks like endocarditis (an infection of the heart's inner lining)
Antibiotics not effective ...
Medivac'd in the night to a bigger cardiology centre ...
(They are all displaced-this is not even their home province)
Surgery scheduled, cancelled, then rescheduled ...
Twelve hours in surgery ... while they wait
Bleeding, back to the OR ...

With those texts as background, I picked up a second hand book ... Moving the Hand of God, (the book disappoints, and I argue my way through the introduction; I don't see God as Formulaic, as one who cannot see through this attempted manipulation).

My friend's life hangs in the balance. She may not know she is in the waiting place ... where is one's spirit when drugs render unconsciousness? Her daughters gathered are also in that waiting place. Waiting for good news, waiting for improvement .... waiting for the rain to stop.

This is the Waiting place. WELCOME TO THE WAITING ROOM...

Waiting feels helpless, useless.

Lamentations 3:28, 29 When Life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.

How does one wait with hope?

Can I Trust you

Dear God

I woke with knots in my stomach ... so many questions whirling my head ...
Can I trust You with the knots?
Heavy heart over her, as life hangs in the balance ... machines breathe for her
Can I trust you with that?
Life not being what I or they thought it should be or would be.....
Can I trust you with the future?
Despair and doubt want to hinder any Bold prayer
Can I trust you with that?

... ...

Even as I speak these words, I KNOW without a doubt, I have no one else that I could trust these things to, so why do I hold back God?

Can I trust you with that?

And your answer is a Resounding—YES YES YES!

I stretch lame hands of faith and grope,
And gather dust and chaff and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

I have had the privilege in the past three weeks to rejoice with those who rejoice(wedding), and to mourn and pray with those who mourn. Between an unexpected trip to visit a treasured friend in a cardiac ICU and a planned wedding trip, my day to post has arrived. This is a repeat of my July first, at http://whoistalking.wordpress.com, if you do not follow my blog, this is an invite to take a look at it.

While the waiting place is one of the difficult rooms entered into in the writing process, in comparison with the ICU waiting room, it's a party room. I have gained a new perspective in my being present in the moments that come.

July 20, 2014

Waffling Weasel Words by Brenda J Wood

"In her book, You Never Gave Me a Name, Katie Funk Wiebe wrote that one of her husband's professors at Syracuse University told her that she used too many "weasel words" like "perhaps" to avoid saying what she meant. A few paragraphs later, she tells how she ended an appeal for reason, by saying, "Perhaps I am wrong in this," and says, "There was that weasel word 'perhaps' again.'

From that moment on I noticed weasel words every time I wrote them or said them, and they seemed to pervade my emails with alarming frequency. I realized how often I weakened a point I really meant, by giving the receiver a way out of agreeing, in order to avoid being "wrong." Suddenly I found myself rereading statements that I thought I had made, only to find that I hadn't made them at all, but only a vague allusion to what I meant!"

Belinda Burston wrote this on her July 2 blog and I've been thinking about it ever since. So then I had to ask myself how many times do I speak of commitment, all the while knowing I've left ourselves a way out?

"Yes, we must have coffee together one day soon."

"Oh, perhaps I can babysit but I have to check my schedule."

Do we also waffle when we write? What does that say about us? Do we say what we mean and mean what we say? Or are our real selves and our true opinions hidden under waffling weasel words?

Brenda also writes at Heartfelt Devotionals.

July 19, 2014

Teenage Writer? Whaaa?

If you're a teenager who likes to write, keep at it.  If you have the desire to write, it's because you're a writer.  Only writers want to write. Others may wish they could or would, but they don't want to dig in and do it.  So, stir up the gift that is in you.  Here are five things you can do to fan your talent into flame:

1.  Always jot down your grand ideas.  Don't tell yourself you'll remember such dynamic words or powerful sentences, because you won't.  You'll later spend two hours digging inside your head, only to pull out a few clumps of tangled letters and syllables, while your partner complains that you're too preoccupied to follow the movie you chose to watch together.

2.  Save every single poem, article, story or video game idea.  Create a simple filing system to organize your starts, middles and endings.  File your profound discoveries and your excellent word arrangements.  If you wrote an angry poem because your significant other is overlooking you for someone else, don't throw it out, throw him/her out!   File your poem for later motivation, contemplation, and to remind you he/she was not for you anyway.

3.  Write something every day.  Make a deliberate attempt to write at least a phrase or sentence that is out of the ordinary.  Text it to yourself while you wait for your friend to try on seven pairs of shoes, or for your turn on Xbox.  You may want to journal or blog too.  Your Facebook status or Snapchat don't count unless you intentionally write something other than "tbh, lol or whaaa?"

4.  Pretend you're someone else for a few minutes, someone older or someone from another country, or planet.  It doesn't matter, just someone who isn't you.  Act out that character and make a note of what that person would do or say in a specific situation.  Don't do this during a school exam or parental lecture, unless suspension or being grounded is your idea of fun.

5.  Write with your heart first and then your head, but be sure to use both.  Your heart holds the passion for engaging writing, and your head is needed later for editing.  One without the other creates either a mess of bewildering emotion or a textbook.  Writing with only your heart could provide a possible exception to tip #2's "don't throw it out."

When you're dreaming of an eloquent poem or story, one that squeezes your chest in the delicious presence or agonizing absence of love, please reach for your pen, or keyboard.  The wistful far-away look in your eye is actually a poem or story pleading to be written.  Or if you're inspired by an action-packed narrative filled with the angst and anticipation that video games are made of, don't keep it to yourself.  Share it with the world!  You can do it.  You must do it.  You're a writer!

July 18, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way by Dayna Mazzuca

Overcoming Roadblocks on the Path to Publishing Success 

Funny thing happened on the way to the publisher... I hit a roadblock, with a book called "The Roadblocks Writers Encounter on the Path to Publishing" tucked under my arm. I was on section two of the book, word 20,008. And suddenly things came to a screeching halt, right after I swerved off the road, trying to avoid, you guessed it, another roadblock! Arg...

When will this wonderful book I have written word-for-word in my imagination, in the binders I use in my workshops, and even have mapped on bright-blue bristle board... when will it be written in concrete, draft form, well enough to send to the traditional print publisher I... envision?! When?

When it comes to getting a book project off the ground, out of the ditch, away from temptations to do something else (anything else), when is all that matters. The word count ceases to count. The outline can be in shreds. The winning metaphors and relevant quotes all go by the wayside. All that matters, when it comes to keeping a book-sized project on track, is that four-letter word: WHEN.

When will the first draft be done? When will I set aside time to finish it up? When will I stop analyzing what's stopping me and plow through all the roadblocks that act more like magnets to my writing-vehicle than deterrents? When?

The only when that matters is the when I say. Setting my own deadlines is a new thing. I'm used to writing 35 stories a week for a hard-driving newspaper editor, on deadline. I'm used to working for clients and charging an hourly rate, so I work fast. I'm used to hosting workshops and working towards the dates we agreed upon. I am NOT so used to setting my own goals, achieving my own dreams and knowing no one will hold me accountable to the dates that I've picked—entirely at random! In the solitude of my own work space! At my leisure...! Shocking way to live and work and have my being... pursuing something the Lord has put on my heart and into my hands, seemingly for the sheer pleasure of it.


Does writing a book about what I want to write about just because I can and feel it is time to do so at this stage in my career sound like something I'd do for pleasure?

Of course it does. Writing a book is one of the greatest gigs in the whole wide world!

What is not so pleasurable is hitting all these roadblocks myself, while I'm trying to write about them. It's like a driving instructor showing a newbie what not to do, by backing into three parked cars on the way out of the training lot. Bump, Scrape, Oops. I procrastinate, rewrite, overthink. Bump, Scrape, Oops.

And then sometimes I wonder if I am simply denying myself the pleasure of diving in with my whole heart. I know no one is holding a hammer of a deadline over my head. There is no one lurking in the corner office who can fire me on whim. I will not be docked pay. My reputation will not suffer if I do not meet my own self-invented deadline. If I do not write this book... If I do not publish it... Sell it... Sign it and use it a promotional tool for future writing workshops (as I envision...), then no one will suffer but me.

I will suffer. 

I will suffer the loss of the pleasure of creating a wonderful work that will bless others in their writing journey and help them to avoid and overcome the same roadblocks that are currently holding me back...

And so thanks for listening dear reader! Because in my book I say that the only way to overcome this particular roadblock on the Path to Publishing Success is to ask for help. And so I am asking. For prayer first and foremost—to get this thing done. For the JOY of it.

Yes, the joy! I say, yes, Lord, yes.

July 17, 2014

Engaging A New Genre by Bryan Norford

I generally focus on non-fiction, and, if I’m honest, I’ve always been sceptical of fiction as “telling stories” rather than “telling the truth.” You can interpret that anyway you wish! That, despite the fact that Jesus was perhaps the greatest recorded “story-teller” of history.

Jesus’ genius was finding spiritual application from the everyday things that surrounded him: sheep, seeding, and so on, and the endless variety of human foibles. In contrast, an inadequate imagination has always been my handicap.

But back to my non-fiction fixation. I wanted to write a book detailing the reasons I’m a Christian. I’d have no difficulty in filling many chapters. And if I did, I’d eventually have one book in ten thousand that no-one wanted to read, and perhaps exalted me well above my rank.

But slowly the ideas of fiction began to gel in my mind, partly as Ann and I started writing our war stories. It was necessary to include some fiction categories to complete the stories and make them readable. Something towards, but, I hoped, short of full dramatization

The idea of combining the virtues of the faith with a novel began to take root and make sense; something centuries of fiction writers already knew. First, I wrote a short story—about 6000 words, perhaps not so short—in response to a competition, for which I received a polite “thankyou.” Damned by faint praise!

Then I wrote a novel—about 70,000 words—incorporating my ideas. It was an enjoyable experience; with the characters and the plot often taking on a life of their own. A good writer friend read it and suggested it “wasn’t a page turner,” and I should “reduce it by a third”!

However, I was already beginning to see major problems with it, and a few fiction workshops confirmed my concerns and added a few more. I was finding out, by the writing itself, and what I learned since, fiction has a lot more constraints surrounding it that at first thought.

Surprising, for surely, here is a genre where even the sky isn’t the limit; it gives freedom to go beyond imagination, and liberty (license?) to say whatever I want. Yet even fiction must follow guidelines if its intended audience will pick it up and read. And those guidelines change constantly, decade by decade.

However, the idea of a novel lives on in my bucket list, but next time with far more wisdom and appreciation of the art. And with the numerous recognized fiction writers as mentors in InScribe and The Word Guild, it could become a meaningful creation.

July 15, 2014

A Branding Nightmare - Tracy Krauss

Our prompt this month suggested we look into writing in a different genre. While variety is the spice of life, I'm afraid I am going to have to pass. I'm already scattered enough as it is. (At least it feels that way.)

For those who don't know, I already write in several very different genres. My two primary genres are romantic suspense novels and comedy stage plays. The novels are for a Christian audience while the plays are for a secular high school audience. I've also delved into Science fiction in a recent collaborative series called COLONY ZERO. Add to that my devotional book 'LIFE IS A HIGHWAY - Advice and Reflections On Navigating the Road of Life' and my illustrated children's book THE SLEEPYTOWN EXPRESS, and I would say I've got enough variety already, thank you very much!

Herein lies my problem. As a published author, it is difficult to brand oneself with such a variety. I recently read an excellent post by Russell Blake entitled 'How to Sell Loads of Books.' (I highly recommend you read it if you haven't already.) He says you need to stick to one genre if you are going to try to brand yourself. (And branding is highly recommended if one wants to sell books...) He also recommends using a pseudonym if you are writing in more than one genre. Even if you 'tell' your audience that you and your pseudonym are one and the same, it helps with branding. 

Hm. Unfortunately, this advice has come rather late for me. I've already got several things going, all using the same name - my 'real one'. One of my problems is, I enjoy writing both fiction and plays and I don't want to give either one up. I suppose there could be worse problems to face in terms of one's writing aspirations. I should be happy that I have so many titles under my belt, right?

I know there are several other writers within our ranks with a similar 'problem' and I wonder if they have any advice on the topic. This is a dilemma that has come up in more than one discussion forum online and I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Tracy Krauss continues to write plays, novels, novellas, blog posts and too many other things to list in her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. Maybe one day she will figure out what kind of writer she really is...

July 13, 2014

My Editing Journey by T.L. Wiens

When I started writing, I didn’t like editing at all. I didn’t know how to receive criticism. It felt like a personal attack. But times have changed.

During my last meeting with my local writer’s group, I got praise. In fact, for twenty minutes or so, I listened to compliments on my writing. I’ve never been more uncomfortable. A part of me doesn’t want to hear praise. Praise is like reaching the top of Mount Everest—there’s no higher peak to attain to.

I’ve learned not to take criticism personally and have come to realize most editors really want you to improve. And some praise is good although for me I still prefer not to get it.

Writing seems like a solitary journey between author and page but in reality, we writers need the help of editors and critiques to reach our mountaintop. When’s the last time you heard of a solitary mountain climber reaching the top of Mount Everest?

July 11, 2014

Stretched by a New Style: The Sonnet by Connie Inglis

This summer I set the goal of reading and working through the book, Writing the Life Poetic by Sage Cohen. The exercises have been both instructive and fun, although I'm not near as far along in the book as I'd like to be. Sometimes life just gets in the way and I need to be content in that.

With this month's challenge of trying something new in my writing, I thought I'd be more deliberate in writing rhyming poems instead of free verse. To be more specific, I thought I'd try writing sonnets throughout the summer, something I've never intentionally focused on. This has definitely been stretching for me. I've been re-reading many of Shakespeare's sonnets for inspiration and have fallen in love, once again, not only with the iambic pentameter that floats the reader on but also with the poignant word choice and deeper meaning behind each word and each rhyme. Shakespeare was a genius! My attempts are feeble in comparison but they are attempts, nonetheless, and so I press on.

Last week I attended my nephew's baptism. It was a beautiful celebration. A few months ago my nephew's mom and I discussed how the pre-baptism and post-baptism time can be difficult because Satan does NOT like this outward proclamation of faith. In fact, he hates it. My nephew needed to be aware of this attack, to stand firm in Jesus' love and be ready to fight. The following sonnet comes out of this discussion. It too reflects the battle we have as writers to fight the darkness with our words and to do it because He loves us and we love Him.

For Love, In Love -- 1 John 4:13-19

Unknown servant enlists and arms for war,
With shield and double sword prepared to fight,
Spurred on by faithful ones who've gone before,
Against dark, evil foe in Spirit's might.
He questions not his good and righteous King
And sacrificial Son who speaks his name;
This spoken Word gives strength and joy to sing,
In defense, offense, watchman--he remains.
The enemy quits not, his hate severe,
To cut the soldier down, to cause to fail;
Then soldier cries the Name dispelling fear,
In life or death his peace and hope prevail.
In love the soldier heeds the battle call,
For Love has paid the price and won for all.

July 10, 2014

Writing Outside the Boxes by Sharon Espeseth

Last month, when we were too busy downsizing and preparing for a move to a smaller rental property, I just wrote from the heart, as our moderator suggested. That was the only way I could meet my blog due date. I made no attempt to follow the month's theme.

One corner of my new office
This month I'd planned to be on theme, but having squished ourselves into our new home ten days ago, I have no idea where Brenda's guidelines might be. Skipping through the last few days' blogs, I discover the theme is something about writing outside the box. What an amazing coincidence. I am writing outside not just the box, but outside many boxes.

Hank and I have faced many challenges and several not so enjoyable surprises in our new home. We have scrubbed and fixed more than we expected, and we've tried to turn a dandelion patch with rocks and thistle into a recognizable grass format. The neighbours are pleased.

Although Hank and I have shared our treasures and furnishings with our kids and organized antiques and household items for an auction, we still still seem to have too much stuff for the size of our present home. Downsizing our household workload now seems to be a laughable dream. Instead we are renting more work to bring this place more in line with our way of doing things.

We question our decision, but we know we can't go back to the dream house we designed and had built. Instead of whining and second guessing, I am going to continue my blog with a note of gratitude. Moving was our own decision, so what we do from here is up to us. We haven't been forced out of our lovely home by flood, fire, poverty or war. We were not left to move on our own. Our family and friends worked with us. Those who couldn't physically help prayed for us, as they knew we were struggling.

Our daughters and their husbands came several weekends to help before we moved. Son-in-law Donnie installed a central vacuum system and helped with many fixing jobs in our new home. Son-in-law Rob drove from Leduc to Medicine Hat to borrow his brother's trailer. Then these fellows lugged big pieces of furniture up and down stairs. Hank and I had made many loads of boxes and smaller things with our van, but it appeared we had only scratched the surface. Christie and Jenny cleaned and hauled and encouraged us in every way. Last week the crew was here for three days. We are so thankful for their loving support.
Empties are good news!

Although our house presently looks like hoarders live here, we've put out a lot of empty boxes and our
possessions are gradually finding suitable places. We do have a home and we'll make this work, or else the kids say they'll come and move us again. Foxes have homes and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man had nowhere to rest his head. We have a roof over our heads and a good bed to sleep on. Thanks be to God.

Some days we feel uncertain about what is best for us in the future, but we do know the One who holds the future, so surely He will guide us through this wilderness of boxes and uncertainty. In the beginning of time, God made order out of chaos. With His help, we hope to do the same. I praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Soon I'll be writing about something other than downsizing and moving. Just you wait and see! Living and writing outside the boxes, I want to express thanks to God for our faith, family and friends, and for my forever husband, helper and friend, Hank.

July 09, 2014

New Avenues - Shirley S. Tye

One website stated that stories written in the first person are the most reader friendly yet I’m not drawn to such stories. And I don’t care to write with that point of view. Mind you, I have read several novels which were written in the first person. They were interesting stories with intriguing plots and strong characters.

That site also said that a first person point of view is an intimate way to write. Ah! That explains why I’m not particularly interested. If I were to write with that point of view, I wouldn’t mind getting intimate with my own characters. After all, they’re not real. It’s readers who I don’t want snuggling up to me - as if they’d know me through some fictitious being. And besides they’re strangers. I’d be squirming in my skin. Readers might identify me and the character as being one entity. My character would probably develop as someone stiff and unnatural as I’d guard and restrict the character’s speech, action, and thinking. I’d rather hid behind a third person and let him or her romp freely through the story. Yeah. Call me a coward.

The writer of the site also mentioned that when writing in the first person one must be careful not to over use the word “I”. That’s not always an easy task. I know because I have written several humorous short stories. Okay! You caught me! I have used the first person point of view. But only in short stories to get a laugh.

Perhaps one of these days I’ll try writing a novel in that fashion. But not now. I’m still working on a romance novel – something else I said I didn’t care to do but here I am. Another new avenue – keeps life interesting.

July 08, 2014

Utopia? by Carol Ferguson




We are pleased to have Carol Ferguson, author and InScribe member, join us as our Guest Blogger today.

I was challenged recently to write in a new genre. Here’s my attempt at Sci Fi set in the year 2065.

STEPPING UP to the security check at the airport, Jan placed her chin on the Eye-dentity scanner bar, then lifted two-year-old, Livvy, until her chin rested on the bar for the two-second scan. The iris had proved to be the most basic source of identity and unalterable. They had not even been allowed to leave the hospital after Livvy’s birth until a tiny DNA chip was imbedded between her wee eyebrows. It was the equivalent of the old fashioned birth certificate. Every person on earth had one and it eliminated all need for tangible identification. Jan was pleased with the advances in society. She didn’t have to carry an old fashioned purse like her great grandma did.

Jan remembered hearing horror stories about the number 666; Satan’s number, being tattooed on people’s foreheads and Jews with identity numbers tattooed on their arms. Those stories died off after that generation died and now no parent questioned the chip. If your child went missing a satellite would pick up their exact location in seconds.

When Eye-dentity scanned Jan’s eyes it also scanned her ID chip and gave her an update. Great grandma had laughed too about a cashless society when coins in Canada were phased out and paper currency replaced with polymer bills. Now all finances were only recorded on a person’s chip, Livvy’s too. After the World Monetary Fund took control, finances worldwide, had slowly been equally distributed and no one could access another’s finances. With everyone on an equal economic basis, crime had been virtually wiped out. Great Grandma would be amazed.

Free universal health care became available when the World Health Organization took total charge and quickly eliminated all infectious diseases and eliminated huge pharmaceutical companies that once used health to create personal wealth.

The Bible was used to finally get a handle on world overpopulation and, at the time, it seemed so logical. God promised man three score years and ten, so now, on a person’s seventieth birthday, they celebrate their life and are put to ‘sleep’ and no one grieved about the process. It was now an accepted concept.

No one on earth went hungry since The World Food Bank took control the world's food supply. Everyone on earth works the same amount of time, has the same amount of vacation and everything needed for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is free, shared worldwide.

Pollution and energy problems disappeared with the total switch to solar and wind power. Stored solar power is used to start a vehicle and once it is moving a small wind turbine under the hood recharges the battery.

Jan breathed a satisfied sigh. She finally understands Utopia. Only once in a great while does she recall hearing a voice from the past asking, “When He returns will He find faith on the earth?” Who is returning and from where?

July 07, 2014

God’s Love Language – Ramona Heikel

In an attempt to write in a different genre than usual, I took some ideas and changed them from a blog post to a poetic format. Although you can see I have a long way to go with this genre, I hope the sentiments come through as well as, or even better than, the original.

Heavenly Love Languages

The Wizard of Oz, hiding,
Booming out angry threats,
Frightening with pretended power.
No, Beloved, that isn’t You.

Dystopian ruler, controlling,
Dispatching cruel robot guards:
Keep those people in line!
But this kind of world isn’t Yours.

Inventing and strategizing,
Commanding wayward humans,
Spiritual electric fences and dog collars
Are too harsh to be your way.

Bidding, you draw us, reaching,
Drawing your precious people,
Emmanuel on earth, the Holy Spirit
Wanting time with us, offering your attention.

Yes, you gave your Son, willing,
Now you give the indwelling Spirit,
Even giving talents, ministry, family, all we need,
Loving us with carefully chosen gifts.

Genesis-creation, populating, providing,
Israel-leading, establishing, blessing,
Your prophets warning, teaching,
All these your compassionate acts of service.

Gentle rays of sun on our skin, warming,
Spongy carpet of moss in the forest,
Red velvet petals, cool springs of water,
You are physically near, touching us.

Speaking the truth, writing,
Guiding scribes thousands of years,
Precious preserved scrolls
Offering your eternal affirming words.

Speaking through all your languages, loving,
Never-ending reminders of your affection
On earth as in heaven.
Yes, Beloved, we know this is you.

Posted by Ramona

July 06, 2014

True Confessions from an Addled [Squirrel] Brain

by Glynis M. Belec

I don't think I have any trouble stepping out of my comfort zone with regard to my writing. My problem is trying to focus on any particular genre. I love writing - period. I have a brain that jumps all over the place most days and if the mood strikes me, then I write about it.

I will admit that for a split second, when someone asks me what I write, my brain goes into panic mode. I've been writing for [gasp] almost 28 years now. Still there are days when I don't really know what kind of a writer I am. Because I have had three children's books published I start out thinking I am a children's writer. Then I write short stories Hot Apple Cider and Chicken Soup for the Soul style. Then I remember my devotional writing and my newspaper column, then I think about the novel I have on the go and the magazine articles I write. Writing Sunday school material is fun. Creating dramatic works feeds my inner drama queen tendencies. Now I have started up a little publishing company that requires I write copy and that opens up a whole new part of the writing process for me.

So for me to step out and write something different - that's not much of a challenge. My challenge lies in sticking to one thing.

Lest my writers buddies think I am complaining and confused, I'm not, really - well most days. I like that I write all over the place. However, it's not such a good thing when it comes to branding and marketing and setting up social media - that likes to define who we are. When I have to write a bio I have to be careful not to prattle on.

I must say that over the years, because I have written in many different genres, I have actually found a voice that I like and a style to which people respond to best. I wrote a column for over eleven years in our local newspaper - a fun, folksy, inspirational, humorous content column. It's where I started and now, so many years later it's where I still love to be with my writing. I am no profound theologian, nor am I particularly a brainiac [don't tell my students I told you that] so for me to try to write academic works makes me yawn. I admire people who research and would be the first to encourage them in their craft, but my heart is in writing the everyday.

I've talked to God about this aplenty. I believe He knows my attention span and my squirrel tendencies to shift from thought to thought so has given me the passion to write short.

Git' her done, is my motto most days. Already, within the past 15 minutes of this writing, I have texted my son, flipped to another blog to check that it is up to date and then looked at my to-do list. I also checked my email and flipped to Facebook for a quick peek.

Now, as I write this post, I wonder why I am doing so. I am thinking that I am already straying away from our lovely Moderator's instructions to help people write outside of the box. My insecurities whisper that no one is going to get anything out of me being a rebel.

Then I feel a little God-whisper telling me that it's okay to confess that I am who I am. And I also have a little niggle that tells me that I am not alone in my 'style.' I'm thinking that there might be another squirrel or two out there who just might find comfort knowing they are not alone.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.  PSALM 139:14