October 30, 2016

Where Writers Meet Friends by Susan Barclay

The best thing about writing conferences from my point of view are the networking opportunities and inspiration they provide. Although I always take notes during courses and workshops, in the long run they don’t often do anything to change my writing process or technique. This is because I don’t usually review the notes, retype them, or immediately begin to apply what I’ve ‘learned.’ But the people I interact with – why, they become friends, e-mail buddies, co-labourers, encouragers – and in the long run, that’s just as (or more) valuable than any writing improvements I might gain.

At my second Write! Canada conference, I met Lisa. She lives fairly close to me and her nephew and my son were actually in the same kindergarten class. Lisa and I have been getting together for regular breakfast dates for 13 years now. Our friendship is close to both our hearts.

At the same event, I met two other aspiring authors. We didn’t interact much at the time, but years later, we’ve become part of the same writers’ critique group. For the last four years we’ve been investing in each others’ work, encouraging each other along the way, bettering our skill. In addition, I’ve contributed to C’s monthly e-newsletter a couple of times and copy-edited one of H’s novels.

An editor at one conference told me my work was in the ‘top 10%’ of what crossed her desk every day. Elsewhere a writer-in-residence affirmed ‘you are a writer.’ A college-level writing instructor said, ‘you have something to say.’ All of these encouraged me to keep pressing on.

For me the best part of a writing conference or workshop are the relationships that can develop. Where would we be without mentors, role-models, motivators and friends?

October 28, 2016

Why Read Through the Bible? - Bruce Atchison

We Christians tend to think that studying the Bible is a job for the pastors and other church leaders to do. After all, the Bible seems to be a hodgepodge of strange stories and weird customs to those of us unfamiliar with its history.

This was my view before 1980. When I heard about reading through the Bible in a year on the 100 Huntley Street television show, I decided to enroll in their correspondence course and find out what the book actually said.

Each lesson was published in their Monthly magazine. As I read the large print Bible which I purchased for the course and studied the lessons, everything which seemed a mystery to me suddenly made sense.

One of those mysteries was the plethora of laws about sacrifices which God gave to Israel. Through these lessons, I saw how sacrificing pure and unspotted, male lambs was a foreshadowing of Christ's death on the cross for our sins. Even seemingly insignificant rules like not breaking any of the lamb's bones had its fulfillment when the Romans didn't break Christ's legs but shoved a spear into his side.

I also realized why the Israelites were made to wander forty years in the wilderness. It wasn't because Moses was too proud to ask for directions, as some jokers quip, but because the people of that generation kept rebelling against God by not trusting him.

Though I was in a cultic house church at the time, the Huntley Street course gave me great insight into the scriptures. It made murky things plain and showed me that the whole of redemptive history stretched from Genesis to Revelation. This is why I highly recommend studying the Bible in a systematic way to ALL believers. After all, shouldn't we treat the Word of God with the utmost interest and desire to know what he said?

October 27, 2016

Get Involved!

"We are never really invested in our church if we only show up. Taking on a responsibility is how we truly join in and belong... There is a place for serving others, and we usually find that in serving we are also growing... We support our own writing by supporting other writers. Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship helps us do this. We can help with a local writing group. We can encourage others, perhaps through the Inscribe list-serve or the Inscribe blogs. We can become familiar with the workings of Inscribe and offer to help in some small (or large) way. Writing is probably not our only gift. Purposeful gathering begets personal growth because iron sharpens iron."
                                                       - Marnie Pohlmann

This is a direct quote from yesterday's post by Marnie Pohlmann. If you haven't read it yet, don't miss out! (You won't be sorry.) However, the above part was exactly what I wanted to say in today's post. The 27th of each month is set aside for promotional purposes, and today I wanted to encourage you to get involved!

There are so many ways to get 'plugged in' but I am often surprised when people don't seem to know about all the opportunities.

Writing Opportunities:
 -  Contributing to this blog is just one way you can connect with the Inscribe family and hone your skills as a writer at the same time. While we have a list of regular contributors, there are still spots available, and there are also guest posting opportunities. Email me or make a comment below.
-  Word challenges are great ways to write to a topic and get your words selected for publication. Glynis Belec does a fantastic job of moderating this vibrant and exciting opportunity. It's kind of like a free contest every month and is very interactive. Why not get involved?
- Speaking of contests, there are literally dozens of contest categories to choose from over the course of the year. The annual Winter Contest will be coming up in January. Check the website for details.
- Fellowscript magazine takes unsolicited articles and poetry. Check the writers' guidelines online or in the front of the magazine. You even get paid for your words!

Learning and Connecting Opportunities:
- Do you have a question? Post it on the listserv! This is a wonderful forum for asking questions (and getting answers) as well as making announcements and celebrating successes. Prefer facebook? No problem! We have a public Inscribe group as well as a page called 'Canadian Writers'. Join the conversation!
-  Inscribe helps various writers' groups across this great country. For a listing of groups near you check out the page on the website. Don't have a group near you? Start one! We'll help you get started.

Volunteer Opportunities:
As marnie so eloquently said in yesterday's post, taking on a volunteer position actually benefits you in ways you would never have imagined. We currently have several executive positions available including WEBMASTER, FELLOWSCRIPT LAYOUT, CONTEST COORDINATOR, and CONFERENCE COORDINATOR. Besides this there are many other ways you can help out: proofing the website, being a provincial rep, helping at conference, offering editing services for various projects... if you have a skill or would like to be involved, ask one of the executive. We are looking for people just like YOU!

Get involved in INSCRIBE. You'll be glad you did.

October 26, 2016

Gatherings by Marnie Pohlmann

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17

Purposeful gatherings beget purposeful growth. 

Have you noticed this to be true in your life and writing? Not that casual gatherings do not offer opportunities for growth – who doesn’t like an impromptu party? We have fun, get to know one another, share food, and may learn a new dance step.
Smilies - CCO Licence courtesy of Pixabay.com

However, purposeful gatherings are the places where we choose to be, rubbing shoulders with like-minded people who have also chosen to be there, where iron can sharpen iron. We gather desiring to grow in our common interest. Church is one such purposeful gathering, and for writers, conferences are also a place for personal, purposeful growth.

I believe the following guidelines for growing in our faith at church also apply to advancing our writing when attending conferences.

Know why we are gathering. Church is not just a social event and the same is true of a writing conference. The purpose of a Sunday church service is to focus on God alongside others who also worship God, and the purpose of attending a writing conference or taking a writing course is to focus on… writing. 

Of course, there are many aspects to our time at the service or conference. We meet our friends, and we learn to get along with those who we may not choose as a friend, finding common ground in our shared interest. We join together in voicing our excitement to be gathering for this purpose. We plan other activities for fun and service so we can meet again or share our interests with others. And we usually share refreshments. But in order to personally grow, our main focus needs to be on the purpose of being there.

Showing up at a gathering is the best way to get something out of the time. We need to make attending a priority, not because we have to but because we want to. Even though church may be important to us, it is easy to miss a service and then find we have missed two or three because other things intrude on that time. It’s not that we don’t want to be there, but good intentions and other priorities don’t get us there. 

For writing conferences, time and money can certainly be roadblocks, however at some point we may need to “put our money where our pen is” in order to discover how a conference will help our writing. Our attendance also supports those who have spent time organizing the event. Purposeful gatherings don’t just happen; they take effort on the part of people who want to help us grow our gift.

Pay attention 
A speaker or presenter who has been chosen to share some wisdom has prepared a message. He may not be entertaining or an accomplished orator, but he is willing to offer a small nugget to those who gather. Perhaps, at times, we feel we know more on a subject than the speaker, but by listening, by paying attention, we are still guaranteed to learn something new, if only because the style of presenting or way of thinking is slightly different than ours. We know this to be true because we are still learning from children.

writing notes - CCO licence courtesy of Pexels.com
Pen Notes 
There is only one way to carry home what we have heard at a gathering, and that is by being able to recall it later. Let’s be honest, our memories fail, so we need to make notes. Many people have problems listening and writing at the same time, but even if just the highlights are noted, there is something to take home to reference later. I think that’s why the three-point sermon method became popular in churches; most people may be able to remember or write down three main ideas even if they do not retain the rest. Yet if we want to grow in our writing ability, we may need to know more than the main points. 

Joining in the singing, giving a tithe, reading along with the Scripture, and perhaps, if you attend that kind of church, calling out an “Amen” in response to a speaker’s point are all ways to participate in a church service. At a writer’s conference, we can also sing, support, read, and respond to what we are hearing. Questions are encouraged. Participation helps keep us united and focused.

To grow in our personal Christian faith, we need to do more than listen to a message at a Sunday service. We need to study the Word for ourselves, and practice living what we learn. Christian faith is dependent on our personal walk with God. No one else can journey in our place. The same is true for writing. Attending a conference or course will not help us develop in our personal writing endeavours if we do not also study and practice between conferences. Writing is a solitary journey. We are the ones who need to make the time, take the time, do the time, to learn and grow.

We are never really invested in our church if we only show up. Taking on a responsibility is how we truly join in and belong. We can take turns or build teams to serve alongside others. We can do simple things like make coffee, or watch over the children, or more time-consuming things like counting and depositing the offerings or sit on committees. Church and conferences are not all about our own personal growth. There is a place for serving others, and we usually find that in serving we are also growing. 

There are many opportunities to purposely gather with other Christians and other writers, from regular small meetings to occasional large conferences. Be purposeful in your attending. Make the gathering a priority in your life. Pay attention, pen notes, participate, prepare, and even help provide so there continues to be a gathering for like-minded people. 

We support our own writing by supporting other writers. Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship helps us do this. We can help with a local writing group. We can encourage others, perhaps through the Inscribe list-serve or the Inscribe blogs. We can become familiar with the workings of Inscribe and offer to help in some small (or large) way. Writing is probably not our only gift. 

Purposeful gathering begets personal growth because iron sharpens iron

October 25, 2016

A Challenging Class By Vickie Stam

I have not yet had the pleasure of attending one of Inscribe's Writing  Conferences, nor have I been to a writer's conference. 

Certainly after reading some of this months posts, I have learned just what I'm missing. I too look forward to meeting other members and hope to be able to attend a conference sometime in the near future.    

For now, I am attending my first "intensive writing class." When I enrolled in the class a couple of months I had no idea how intensive it would be, even though the on-line advertisement did warn that the class was not for beginners. 

By the end of the class, my head feels full; like it couldn't possibly store another word. Today marked my second class. The drive home was quiet. No radio. No music. I simply wanted to reflect on the pieces we had just critiqued. It was a lot to take in, especially since I'm not familiar with all of the different genre's that were submitted.  

A dozen students along with the teacher sit around a large table and critique three members of the groups work, something else I've never experienced. The three designated writers are asked to submit a "long piece," up to 35oo words with no minimum. This could be part of a novel they're working on, a poem or a stand alone piece from any genre. 

The piece must be submitted via email to the teacher the week before and he then forwards them to the rest of the class. My turn will come next month. A part of me is cringing underneath. Having eleven classmates dissect my work won't be complete without a few stings, I'm sure. Maybe they'll be gentle. One can only hope.  




October 24, 2016

I Found My People! by Tandy Balson

I attended my first writers’ conference in 2014. After joining Inscribe, I connected with the online community and wanted more of what I experienced there.  A few short months later, I was on my way to Edmonton and Fall Conference.

As a newbie writer, I had much to learn and the workshops taught me skills I needed to become more proficient at my chosen craft. What I found there was much more than helpful teaching, though.  I found my people!

Face to face connections with writers who share my Christian faith and values was priceless.  The encouragement, support and acceptance filled a void I hadn’t fully identified.

Although I attended a local writers' group, as the only Christian I often felt like a misfit.  My outlook and style of writing were very different from the others. I often wondered where I could find anyone similar to me.

Attending Fall Conference felt like coming home to much-loved family. I was no longer alone.  Talking with others with thought processes like mine helped me to see I wasn’t crazy. There were others who prayed before writing, knew God guided their words and were amazed at the direction those words sometimes took. I was a Christian writer! This enabled me to fully embrace the calling that God had placed on my life.  

Connections made turned into friendships.  Nothing can come close to the relationships built when sitting beside a fellow writer and engaging in conversation. The mutual support is invaluable. 
Finding my people has helped me unearth the confidence needed to keep writing and sharing the words God has given me and I owe it all to attending a writers’ conference.

October 23, 2016

The Invitation by Lynn J Simpson

                         The second is this; Love you neighbour as yourself. 
                          There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31

Where are you in relationship with others?

That was one question asked to us by 
author and speaker Rosemary Flaaten at a Women's Breakfast I was attending. There is no doubt that we are made for relationship. But how willing are you to connect at a deeper level? Do you have relationships that go beyond your front door? Or do they stop at the kitchen and never see the garden?

I loved how Rosemary described relationships levels by how far we invite others into our homes.

First is Street Level. These relationships are like the people whose homes you pass by in your neighbourhood and take a peek through their windows to gawk at their television or the cat in their window.

Second is the Front Door. These people have a reason to be at your home. Maybe they are the carpet cleaner boys, the UPS men, or the girls selling girl guide cookies.

Third is the Living Room. These relationships are those we invite in beyond our front door but only into our living rooms where they see us in our best light. No messiness, no dust.

Fourth is our Kitchen. In the kitchen is where we do life, where stuff gets a bit messy, where mistakes happen and, importantly, where we nourish each other.

Then last is the Garden. The garden is pretty place but it also where lies our soil , our roots, even our compost,  the scraps of our life. Those we invite into our garden we also invite in to see beyond what is on the surface. There is no judgement, just acceptance and love. These people we allow to see the heart of who we are. And for most of us that may be one or two, or maybe three confidants. It is the deepest level of relationship, the most rewarding, yet the hardest door to open.

What keeps people out of our hearts?

Our attitudes can lock the doors, those locking  attitudes of anger, envy, and judgement.

The scariest part of inviting others into our garden is our assumption that they will judge us.

But an attitude of grace erases judgement. It accepts others and ourselves for who we are, and opens the door to forgiveness. 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, 
bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Above all, love each other deeply, 
because love covers over a multiple of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Who is in your garden today? Or are there relationships in your kitchen waiting to be invited into your garden?

Love does no harm to a neighbour.
 Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10

October 22, 2016

Inscribe Writer’s Conference 2017 By Alan Anderson

This is a dream!  I can see it now.  InScribe’s 2017 Fall Conference would be just beginning.  It’s my first writers’ conference.  Having fairly good self-awareness I’m somewhat nervous.  Although I may have interacted with writers I admire on Facebook I have never met them in person.  I mutter to myself, “Oh boy, what am I going to say?”  What am I doing here?

Being here at our InScribe Conference reminds me when my wife and I stayed in a B & B in Barkerville in July 2016 for a couple of days.  Barkerville is a historic gold rush town in BC and is now a popular tourist attraction.  We met some wonderful people including Marnie and Wally Pohlmann.  Marnie is an InScribe member.  Once I discovered she was a writer and part of InScribe I got all excited.  I began talking to myself inside my head.  Terry, my wife, did it the other way.  She actually spoke to Marnie.  We had been chatting for a while about life in general.  We eventually shared our passion for writing with each other.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  I sensed myself getting quiet, in an introverted kind of way.  I was thinking, “I’m sitting here in Barkerville in a small hotel, drinking tea with another writer!”  I will never forget that evening.  I will never forget Marnie and Wally!  My introduction to a real writer.

I have the same sense of excitement here at the 2017 Conference.  Wow, I’m here!  I’m actually here!  Oh boy, what do I do?  Who do I introduce myself to?  I see familiar “Facebook” faces only they are not only faces, they are walking, talking, beautiful people!

Oh oh, I think someone just noticed me.  It’s Ruth L. Snyder, the President of InScribe, and she’s walking my way.  Maybe she sees someone behind me she wants to talk to.  Nope.  She is definitely looking at me.  Another lady has joined her.  I see its Tracy Krauss.  Tracy gave me the opportunity to blog for InScribe.  Oh man, my hands just got all sweaty.  I’ll just lean up against the wall and try to look cool.  Wouldn’t you know it?  Just as I begin to act cool I spill my coffee on my pants.  Here I am with two ladies I’m dying to meet heading my way and I have coffee stains on my pants.

Things are going well.  I’ve enjoyed talking with Ruth and Tracy.  I don’t think either of them noticed the coffee stain.  Maybe its because I held one of those really neat cloth napkins from the table and strategically covered the stain.  Ruth and Tracy have made me feel so welcome.  This is cool!

I notice as I look at my pants the stain is beginning to dry and it’s not as noticeable.  I feel happy about that.  I feel even happier when another InScribe friend approaches me.  I’ve wanted to meet Bobbi Junior for ages and now here she is smiling in front of me.  Her book When the Bough Breaks moved me.

I know that a writer’s Conference includes such wonderful things as workshops and book tables.  I look forward to learning and taking away some invaluable knowledge.  I’m here to learn and to grow as a writer.  First, I am looking forward to hanging out with some of my writing peeps.

This is all a dream.  I have to wait a year for it to come true!  Oh well, it will be worth the wait!  See you all next year!

Blog: ScarredJoy@wordpress.com

October 21, 2016

Every Cliche has some Truth ... by Jocelyn Faire

And every point has a counterpoint ...
Last October I attended the Surrey International Writer's Conference, and like most conferences I wondered what I was doing there. And then I decided again to learn what I could, even if I felt out of my league. 
At the edge of discomfort is where we grow the most ... by that standard, I have grown by leaps and bounds. I have leaped off cliffs and bounded headlong into some areas that felt beyond my scope. In pondering fear ... which is what holds us back, I came up with my own acronym  
FEAR is Forgetting Everything Already Revealed.  
We write because God has called us to, he has revealed that. He has given us something to say. We continue to write because our soul needs to, and people respond to it. When I began my Creative Writing courses, what came through loud and clear was that everyone in class felt a desire to write, and everyone experienced a fear of doing the same. Everyone asked a question - what was I doing writing? Everyone feared the vulnerability of exposure on the page. 
Through the courses I learned a few key things:
*Writing is a craft, a skill to be learned, anyone can learn to write, and to write better. That is exciting news, we continue to improve as we spend time.
*Write what you knowEveryone has a story, and stories are what connects us. Jesus was a master of story telling. When I first heard the instructors tell me to write what I know ... I thought all I knew was grief. Who wanted to read that? I didn't want to write sad, I wanted to write happy, positive. As I reflected on this, I came to realize that as I wrote about the grief, I also wrote about the hope that had been given me; I wrote about the beauty I saw in the world because of the grief. I wrote about a God who walked alongside every step of the way. My eyes opened to a new depth that showed up on the pages.
Scripture encourages us that in everything we do, we do it for God, both in our living and in our writing. And if I had to choose one over the other, let me live first with compassion and depth.
My daughter always told me that the story of my life was not finished, the final chapters had not been written, and now it looks like I might get to write the happy ever after ending that I had longed for.
Ultimately I know that true happy ever after is what Heaven is for.


Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking out of My Head? grief as an out of body experience ...
She blogs at  http://whoistalking.wordpress.com

October 20, 2016

The Influence of a Writers’ Conference – Stepping Stones to Growth by Joylene M. Bailey

photo credit: oatsy40 <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/68089229@N06/6818869372">Stepping Stones</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a> 

The first writers’ conference I ever attended was one I helped organize, in a city that hadn’t seen a Christian writers’ conference in many years. I just wanted to be around other writers, other like-minded people.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I was really surprised to discover that the other writers there weren’t some famous high falutin’ authors. They didn’t look like Ernest Hemingway. They didn’t spout off long-winded, obtrusive commentaries.

They were ordinary people, just like me.

Nobody looked down his nose at me. Nobody whispered behind her hands, “What is she doing here?” When I said I was a writer they believed me, even when I didn’t believe it myself.

So, it was at a writers’ conference that I found the courage and the confidence to call myself a writer. Out loud.

It was at a writers’ conference that I found out that the way I write is OK.
The plenary speaker and author of many novels called himself an Intuitive Writer - someone who doesn’t know ahead of time what is going to come out of the end of his pen. He just writes whatever comes to him. He told us that partway through the writing of one of his novels, an important character decided to up and leave the story completely, and how he, the writer, was left wondering what to do. And I thought, “That’s how I write!  It must be ok.” It was a significant AHA! moment in my history.

Up to that point I had thought I was odd.

It was at a writers’ conference where I learned about and joined ICWF’s listserv, an email community of like-minded people who help and serve each other as we navigate the many facets of writing.

It was at a writers’ conference where I answered the call to write once a month for Inscribe Writers Online.

It was a writers’ conference where I entered my first writing contest, and won second place in my category.

It is at writers’ conferences that I get so inspired, so encouraged that I feel myself swelling from the inside out with confidence and absolute LOVE for putting words down on paper.

Over the years I have come to know and recognize other writers. From that day 9 years ago, when I walked into that first writers conference, to today, I find I am among friends there. I’m still not completely comfortable walking into a room full of other people, let alone writers – that’s probably the introvert in me - but it is so comforting to find friends there. People I’ve come to know over the years. Writers I admire – not just because of their writing, but also because of their character.

So have Writers’ Conferences influenced me? Absolutely! Each writing conference is another stepping stone in my growth as a writer. The impact on my confidence, my freedom to create, and on my sense of my calling has been invaluable. If you have never attended one I encourage you to take that first step, hop onto that first stepping-stone. You’ll never look back.

photo credit: Kristofer Williams <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24710541@N08/5520512354">'Stepping Stones' - Talacre Lighthouse, Talacre Beach</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a> 

Joylene writes from her home in Edmonton where, currently, all the furniture is piled in the middle of the rooms so that the painters have room to paint.