February 29, 2016

Writers Connect by Bob Jones

By nature I’m a loner. My teenage ambition was to be a hermit. “How on earth did you ever become a pastor?” (That’s a post for another day.)

Isolation suits my writing well. However, my inclination to isolation was blown up a couple of years ago.  In November 2013 I read Michael Hyatt’s, “Platform.” He got me thinking about writing, sharing my writing and connecting with other writers.

What about starting a writer’s group?

 A Writers Group

To insure my ambition had some accountability I posted on Hyatt’s website”

“One of my goals for 2014 is to organize a group of aspiring writers in our church - North Pointe Community Church, Edmonton, Alberta - and be mutually supportive in seeing each of us write and publish our 1st print book or eBook by the end of 2014. We will use your "Platform" resources as a strategy to succeed. We’ll record and share our journey to help other aspiring writers in their journey.”

In December I sent out an email invitation to people in our church who expressed an interest in writing, to form a “Writers Group.”

“I couldn’t shake the thought that 2014 would be great if I not only achieved my goal of writing, as well do it in a community of people who were mutually supportive of achieving our goals of writing.”

Starbucks Startup

Four of us met at a Starbucks on December 19th and agreed to start in January 2014. We’ve done well at starting a group and not so well at blogging about our journey. This post helps me fulfill that part of the commitment in a tangible way.

As of February 2016 we now have 14 participants including Sheila Webster, VP of Inscribe.
A couple of the participants created Social Media accounts and a personal website to share their work.
Two participants published their first book in 2015.
One participant decided to retire from their 30-year business career and begin writing fulltime. He is now published in national magazines.

Fledgling writers have flourished. We’ve published their first public offering on our blogsite, “Pointe’s of View” and readers have posted very supportive comments. Affirmation  is like pouring gasoline on a fire for aspiring writers.

When I share my writing in the group the feedback I’ve received has invariably improved it. We’ve been polished up without being polishing off.

In Touch With The Writing Community

Launching my book, “Ornament” brought me in touch with the writing community. I met wonderfully encouraging people like Marty Chan, writer-in-residence at the Strathcona Library. Marty took time for a coffee to share his writing habits and marketing insights. Meeting Sarah E. Ball, Ruth Thorogood and Sheila Webster introduced me to The Word Guild and Inscribe.

It seems simple but my confidence as a writer has grown because of my association with writers. Maybe its bit like the man who brought his mule to the Kentucky Derby – he knew his mule wasn’t a thoroughbred but “the exposure would do him good.” Associating with seasoned writers has brought me an inkwell full of good.

Connecting with writers guilds and associations has given me broader exposure, additional opportunities and added responsibility by blogging monthly about writing.

Your Own Writers Group

For this loner connecting with writers has fulfilled a longing of belonging I could not have accomplished without them.

Why not form your own local “writers group?”

Here’s the format our group uses.

Writers Group Format
1. Purchase the “Platform” as a primary resource.
2. Talk about where we are in our writing process.
3. Commit to grow or start a blog or FB page to share your writing.
4. Write 500 words. Print a copy for each participant. Read the submission out loud. 
5. Receive verbal and written supportive, objective feedback.
6. Follow writing prompts to foster a daily writing practice.
7. Commit to the goal of publishing an eBook or print book by the end of 2014.
8. Hold a Writers Group meeting once a month for the rest of the year.
9. Stay in touch electronically every week.

This is how our group does it but there are many ways to form a group.

Inscribe offers help and resources for local writing groups. Check the Inscribe website to find a writing group in your area, or send an email to get information on how to start your own group.  

February 28, 2016

How I Reconnect With You - Bruce Atchison

Last month, I posted on this blog about my goal to write with fewer distractions. Working in a different room on a computer with no Internet connection helps me do that quite well. But there are times when I need to connect with writers.

One way to reconnect is to meet writers for lunch. I live in a tiny hamlet. Consequently, I have no writer friends locally. Being legally blind, I can't just drive to the city to meet writers. Whenever the county gives me a lift on the seniors' excursions to Edmonton, I often invite any writers there to meet me for lunch. We've had plenty of good fellowship during those meals.

Another way I reconnect with people is through e-mail lists. I like e-mail because I answer the letters and posts at my convenience. Phone calls invariably disturb me so I tend not to enjoy them. Neither do I call people unless I need information or to impart relevant news.

For those who like to attend meetings but can't due to distance or inclement weather, Skype meetings are an excellent tool. With a camera and a headset, we writers can schedule a meeting and enjoy the next best thing to being together. I've yet to do this but I'm hoping to some day.

Reading blogs is another handy way to reconnect. I enjoy reading writing tips as well as commiserating with my peers. As we read in Galatians 6:2, Take on yourselves one another's troubles, and so keep the law of Christ.

As you can read here, writers need not be alone. Folks like us can meet vicariously through technology when it's impossible to meet face to face. Though lunch meetings are the most enjoyable method of companionship, we still can fellowship one with another anywhere in the world. How nice it is to be a twenty-first century writer.

February 26, 2016

Collective Numbers by Marnie Pohlmann

I am eight of nine. Or perhaps that should be nine of 11. Or maybe I can best describe myself as just one of many or one of the collective.  Yes, I am a Trekkie (a fan of the Star Trek television series and movies).

Marnie's sibling collective
I was raised in a large family. My two sisters are the eldest, then came five boys, then me, and my younger brother. We also had two foster brothers who lived with us for most of my years at home, and many other foster children who came and went. Sometimes, when Mom wanted me, she called out the whole list of names before getting to mine.

There are other numbers society applies to me as well. One in 9 Canadian women diagnosed with breast cancer (2010 estimate). One in three girls in Canada who were sexually abused as a child.

Not all statistics are discouraging. 35 years of marriage is a good number, as uncommon as that is becoming in today’s world.

Being a nameless number is my comfort zone. I like being part of a crowd, yet invisible. I can observe life, participate when I feel confident, or fade into the background as needed for safety. And I love extended time by myself, playing or reading or imagining. When I need encouragement, though, my brothers and sisters are always there for me.

As a writer, enjoying alone time to work with words is a must and being a silent observer is very helpful. The writer in me also feels the need to be part of a larger crowd; a collective who understand my quirky ideas, give me feedback, and encourage me to keep on with perseverance.  I have a small writing family in Peace Region Christian Writers. We meet monthly to share our projects, try new skills, and cheer for one another.

I have found a writing collective at Inscribe. Membership allows me to be part of an extended writing group, yet remain as invisible as I please. I love the Yahoo list serve, where I can lurk in the shadows while benefiting from the conversations. This is a closed group not because it is elite, but so it is safe for our sensitive egos. My favourite part may be the monthly Word Challenge, where I can try various writing forms. The feedback received is amazing, yet all entries remain anonymous unless one actually wins. We are not in competition, but are growing together, much like a family does.

Assimilation into Inscribe has given me courage to venture out to meet the flesh and blood writers (not cyborgs!) at the Fall Conference or a WorDshop. I have dared to send pieces for publication. Recently I bravely started writing my own blog, Phosphorescent. Once again, I’m blessed by encouragement from my writer friends as well as non-writing friends and family.

Peace Community Church, Taylor, BC
In the eternal family of God, I also become one of many. I belong to a small local church family, one of 43% of Canadian church-goers who attend a church of 75 or less. This eternal family encourage me to grow in, practice, and share my relationship with God. I am also welcomed in the larger crowd of witnesses throughout the world and eternity. God designed His Kingdom to include as many as would follow Him.

These statistics in my life do not define me, but they have formed me. The collective numbers allow me to walk alongside others who also relate to these situations. I am a better individual for being one of many.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:1-3 NIV)

*breast cancer ribbon - CCO Public Domain, Pixabay.com
  all other photos by MarniePohlmann

Marnie Pohlmann worships and writes in northern British Columbia. She ministers with her Pastor husband and works as support to our Canadian heroes in red serge. She leads a local Christian writing group, fights breast cancer, and wears a red shirt.
Read Marnie's blog at Phosphorescent

February 25, 2016

Who's In Your Corner? By Vickie Stam

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and, he will establish your plans." Proverbs 16:3

When someone tells you, "You won't win"....it hurts. They're  obviously not in your corner. I wanted to shout, "you're wrong!" but it was my first crack at writing something that had the potential to go to print and for a fraction of a second I wondered if I was feeling too optimistic.

Those words stung. Still, I could see my story. I could visualize people reading it. I could see it in print. It was a dream. An exciting dream! And every fiber of my being wanted to win.

"You can't win if you don't buy a ticket." Isn't that what we always hear right before the big jackpot? So I told myself, "you can't win if you don't enter."

I remember running my tongue over the flap on the back of the envelope. I hated the taste of the glue but I needed to seal the covering before handing it over to the person behind the counter at the post office. She gently sat the large envelope on the scale. I wondered if the words inside would tip the scale. Words characterizing someone with an iron-hand sprawled across the page. It reeked of injustice. Regular postage would certainly not suffice.

A cover letter was attached bearing my name and other necessary information needed to enter the contest. This was no ordinary letter. I had gone over every word more times than I dared to count. I could not afford mistakes.

Handing over the money, watching her put the stamp on the front and seeing her drop the envelope in the mail slot made me realize there was no turning back. It was a done deal. My story was now on its way. No one read it before it was neatly tucked inside its shell. Not a single person gave me their opinion. There was no on line critique group, no fellow writer I could turn to. Quite simply, I wrote a story; a story I felt had a strong possibility of winning.

When I turned and walked out the door I remember hearing the bells ring; the ones that dangled from the door handle of the post office. If hope could ring...it surely did. For the women behind the counter the sound was merely a signal of someone coming in. For me, something was going out. Something big! 

Even though my story was short, two hundred and fifty words to be exact, I felt it was a story that needed to be told and I was certain I could do it inside of one paragraph.  

Sadly, I did not win. Even so, I'm glad I found the courage to press on, move past those sharp words that for a millisecond almost robbed me of my self-confidence.

Today, I'm happy to say, I have a few trusted friends who encourage me to write. They're kind. And they don't tell me, "You won't win."


February 24, 2016

No Longer Alone by Tandy Balson

When I started writing I enjoyed the support and encouragement of my husband and a close friend. Since I had no intention of writing for a larger audience this was enough.

God had other plans for me and soon my sporadic hobby became more focused. I felt compelled to write and the words he gave me cried out to be shared.

My husband realized I would need contact with other writers long before I did. He saw a notice in our local paper about a writer's group that met weekly at the library and suggested I check it out. I didn't consider myself a writer so was reluctant, but knew he wouldn't let me off the hook until I attended one of their meetings.

What I found was a small, dedicated group mostly comprised of poets. None wrote from a Christian perspective and I felt out of place. They were welcoming and interested in what I wrote. The next week I returned and shared one of my stories. It didn't take long before these people were no longer strangers and I was part of the group.

When my first book was published, these new friends gave up their regular meeting in order for me to hold a book launch at the library. Their support and encouragement gave me much needed confidence. I still attend this group.

After a couple of years I longed to find a group where I could advance my writing skills in conjunction with others who shared my Christian faith. Through a series of events God led me to Ruth Snyder. She told me about InScribe and I had no doubt this was what I was looking for.

My life has been enriched through the writers I've since met, both in person and online. When I attended my first Fall Conference I felt as though I'd come home. The genuine caring and support was like nothing I had ever experienced. Published authors were happy to share their knowledge and experience with those just staring out. I came home inspired and encouraged.

I prayed for a chapter to start in my area so I could immerse myself even more. The mentoring and relationships were things I desperately wanted.

Again, God's plans were slightly different than mine. Instead of joining a group, I am now co-leading one. The men and women attending are all brand new writers with a desire to serve God through the written word.

I don't feel equipped to lead a group. They need so much more than I can offer them. When I asked for guidance InScribe was there to provide me with resources.  I'm now encouraging the participants  to attend the Spring WorDshop in our area. My hope is that they will join the membership and be inspired and blessed as I have been in this fellowship.

February 23, 2016

Colouring my Sky By Lynn J Simpson

 “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”  C.S. Lewis

A couple of years ago I won a Melody Carlson contest, winning a signed copy of  "Here's To Friends" by Melody Carlson. Melody's contest question was to describe why friends are important to you.

I wrote:

My best-friends draw my eyes to the abundant sky.  So often I am filling my plate with a heap of doing but what gives me more nutrition is a mountain of being.  Friends that keep me centred on the journey, not the destination, vividly colouring my sky daily, are  true treasures and blessings from God.

In my writing journey I have been blessed by many writers and others who have, like my best-friends, kept me centred on the journey of writing, and coloured my sky especially when the darkness of writer's block, procrastination, and doubt in my abilities would envelope my soul. 

Here are few of my favourite moments of blessing by other writers and teachers:

1. My first English Professor at Yukon College who encouraged me to never stop writing. He also said I had a unique 'issue' of not writing enough words (compared to the usual issue for many writers of writing too much). I found this actually encouraging to know that I had a unique problem, which I took to be a more 'creative' issue! 

2. My grade 12 Religious Studies teacher who commented that my written prayers were 'beautiful' and evoked a deep spiritual life.

3. My grade 5 teacher who wanted to publish the speech I had written entitled People in the local paper for its insight and depth. 

4. My best-friend's mom, who always carried a yellow pad of paper and pencil for me whenever we went on any of our childhood excursions, so I could write of the adventure and then read them to her later. 

5. And, last by not least, my current writers group, with their experience and wisdom, keeping me centred in Him as my writing journey unfolds to destinations that are often a surprise! I love all of you. 

My hope is you too, have friends that keep you centred on your writing journey and colour your sky. 



Lynn blogs at Connecting Stories and at Lynn J Simpson

February 22, 2016

My Community of Writers Thus Far by Alan Anderson

“I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3)