October 19, 2018

A Little bit of me by Eunice Matchett

Storytelling has always been a big part of me. As small children after we were sent to bed to go to sleep my sister and I would lay in the dark telling each other stories in whispered voices.

Over the years, I’ve had many stories published in Sunday School take-home  papers. Some of these stories originated  from my own childhood experiences, or my children’s, but most of them, because of their relevancy, came into being from watching my niece’s and nephew’s antics as they grew up. When one of them would do something unique, I’d ask myself ‘what if?” then put the possibilities to paper.

I love history. Much of my time is spent reading about it. Writing Historicals is what I would expect myself to do. I did so twice. When a character caught my attention, I’d research that person until I knew him/her as well as a best friend. Of course, when I talked about them as if they were a best friend I would get a few raised eyebrows here and there.

After I finished Beyond the Purple Sky, my thoughts moved beyond history to a topic close to my heart. Bullying. Rather than telling the story through the eyes of someone trying to survive bulling, I addressed it from an adult’s pov trying to cope and live with the wounds years later. Because I used situations from my own growing up years, writing about these situations was difficult, but once I addressed them, God was able to bring a degree of healing my way.

From there, I went to a two-book suspense story dealing with the ups and downs of widowhood. Again, I sprinkled my own experiences into the narrative, and then added the ‘what if’ element to it.  

Although I haven’t thought about it before this month’s topic, I now realize I do leave a part of myself in each tale I spin. Not to do so would be like trying to make candy without sugar. For me a seed of emotion has to be planted in order to  evoke those feelings in others.

October 18, 2018

The Story That Changed My Life - Gloria Guest

It was just a high school English essay assignment. And although I enjoyed English and writing I was a procrastinator, just as I am now. And so I postponed it until the night before it was due. To make matters worse, our family was getting company that evening. And so I rushed to get it done. I handed it in and forgot about it.

When my English teacher handed back my story, she had written on the top that she thought that I should enter it into a National Writing Contest for high school students. I was pleased with my good mark and felt complimented by her suggestion and then I forgot about it.

My teacher, did not forget about it. Diminutive in stature she made up for it in determination and what I considered down-right nagging behaviour by constantly reminding me of the deadline to enter.  It was only when she took to stopping me in the hallway and at my locker that I acknowledged her as the victor of our little stand-off. She had hit me right where I couldn’t take it; putting me in the spotlight in front of my friends and others. I could see that she wouldn’t quit. And so, during my noon hours I typed out my good copy, taking note of her editorial comments and entered in that silly contest. And then I forgot about it.

It was sometime in the spring that the results from the contest came in and I was told by my very excited, beaming English teacher that I had placed first place in Alberta for my entry and would receive a scholarship. I was stunned. And due to my low enthusiasm and self- esteem I felt somewhat embarrassed. She had to hound me in the hallway once again to show up to have my picture taken with the award for the yearbook and the moment I had to step on stage in front of the entire high school to accept that award was awkward and anxiety producing. However, I was happy about the money. I knew I could put it to good use somewhere; I just didn’t know where. And so I put it in the bank in a savings account and for the most part forgot about it.

That summer I worked in Edmonton. I hadn’t had a lot of freedom in my life and so my newfound freedom in Edmonton was a little heady for me. I would ride the busses around the city, looking for work or finding interesting places. It was on one of these outings that I met a guy, who became my boyfriend. Little did I know though that the truck he picked me up in for our first date was actually stolen and later in the summer he ended up in prison.  And so, with my one reason for staying in Edmonton gone, I decided to go with plan B and head to Bible College in Eston, Sk. with the money I had from my scholarship being the only money I had to even begin to pay for my tuition.

It was at College that I began to lay down a more secure foundation in my life than I had ever experienced before. I was a Christian but my compass had become shaky, my faith weak and my attitude towards life and God was cynical, mistrusting and still on the rebellious side. I needed a lot of inner healing but that would only come in time, down through the years. But God had a plan. He knew that a big part of that healing would come in the form of a young man that I met one day at the college mail boxes; a man who would become my future husband. I don’t recall what exactly we said to each other after hello, but I must have shared something about my life because apparently my future husband went back to his dorm room and prayed to God for an opportunity to help me. God answered his prayer. We married two and a half years later and he has had many opportunities to be a support to me in my healing journey for thirty-five years now! {And I to him}.

I’ve often thought of the difference in my life that writing that story made. And the difference that one teacher made. My own rebellion almost didn’t allow any of it to happen. But God was stronger  and He prevailed. He has prevailed over my stubbornness, my hard-heartedness, my fight or flight responses that I learned growing up and many more of my ingrained attitudes. Through everything I’ve been through and each stage of my journey He has taught me more about His love and His grace.

I realize that I didn’t even tell you what my story was about. That’s not the real story here though. The real story is what played out behind the scenes. It’s the story that in all reality changed the trajectory of my life. It’s a story that I’ll never forget.

October 17, 2018

The Story Behind the Story by Lynn Dove

The Story Behind “Even Though I Walk Through the Valley”

In 2011, I won a Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Award for an article I wrote in 2010, entitled, “Even Though I Walk Through the Valley”.  My daughter had suffered a traumatic miscarriage and our entire family was trying to negotiate the deep, deep valley of grieving the loss of what would have been our first grandchild.  For my daughter, it was an intense time of sorrow as she and her husband sought comfort from the Lord, but also asked those “Why?” questions of God.  For me, seeing my child suffer so in her grief, led me to express my heartache in writing for her in particular, but also writing and posting an article on my Journey Thoughts blog for all those navigating mountaintop as well as valley experiences in their lifetimes.

One of my favourite places is the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  My husband grew up there, and we continue to visit the area on a regular basis.  It seemed a fitting setting to describe the beauty of both the mountaintop of Mount Washington and the Comox Valley.  I was so well-acquainted with the area it was easy for me to contrast the actual setting of Comox, and to use it as a wonderful analogy for the “mountaintop” and “valley” experiences of life. 

I did a fair bit of research on the article as I read commentaries and online articles that exegeted the 23rd Psalm so I could get a better understanding of the wording and meaning of that beautiful Psalm.  I was especially captivated by the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep as he leads his flock to greener pastures in search of nourishment.  Sheep follow the shepherd as he guides them up and over rocky terrain.  Like sheep, we follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus.  He knows us and we know Him.  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—“  (John 10:14)

I camped out for weeks in the Psalms and read and reread Psalm 23.  One line in particular drew most of my attention: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley…” (Psalm 23:4)  One word, “through” jumped off the page at me and I took note of it in my notes, and then when I wrote the article I highlighted it in the last paragraph of my article:

“My family and I are walking through one of those “valleys” right now.  Notice I say we’re “walking through“, we’re not rushing through it, nor are we going to camp here indefinitely.  We’re walking through, taking our time, being comforted by the Good Shepherd, and we’ll move on when He says move on.  Until such time, we will take nourishment from Him here in the valley, and though our eyes may stray to the mountain from time to time, we will find rest and comfort here for now.  “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.”

It is humbling that this article still gets read and commented on eight years after it was originally published.  Its message is timeless, I suppose.  My sweet daughter, walked through that particular valley of miscarriage only to carry to term our first grandson in February, 2011.   Two years later our granddaughter was born.  When our daughter-in-law suffered two miscarriages before giving birth to a boy in December 2017, and then our fourth grandbaby in May 2018, we walked through those dark valleys with her before we experienced the mountaintop joy of welcoming those boys into our family. 

Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes.  A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner.  Readers may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and at lynndove.com 



October 16, 2018

The Heart of the Story by Nina Faye Morey

Many of my stories are based on events in my life. My stories aren’t driven by these experiences, but by the emotions they elicit. Writing about these memories from the heart means my feelings will form the heart of the story. If I can tap into these emotions, then my tales will touch my readers. They may not have experienced a similar event, but I know they will have experienced the same emotions.

My readers want to be immersed in my fictional world. They want to identify with my protagonist—or perhaps, they favour the antagonist. Therefore, I need to create characters my readers can become emotionally invested in. Then what touches my characters’ hearts will also move the hearts of my readers. They will see the world through her eyes; feel what she feels. For instance, they may never have experienced skydiving, but they want to feel the adrenaline rush, the emotional high, the heart-pounding fear my character feels as she steps out of the plane into the void of space, putting her faith in a skimpy piece of nylon.

Whether my readers will be drawn into and emotionally satisfied by this scene depends solely on my skill as a writer. You see, I’ve never actually parachuted from a plane, but that needn’t stop me from creating a spellbinding scene. Remember, it’s not the events but the feelings that are at the heart of the story. So to make it believable, I’ll need to mine memorable events in my life for those strong feelings of excitement, fear, and faith. I can’t be afraid to relive and reveal my personal memories and heartfelt emotions. They’re vital to my success as a writer.

Therefore, I’m pleased to share “the story behind the story” of “Isabella’s Green Shamrock Sweater” (Canadian Messenger, March 2010, pp. 24-5). The inspiration for this story was my memory of being bullied by classmates for wearing green to school the Friday before St. Patrick’s Day. Managing to free my heart from the pain of hurt feelings through forgiveness is what forms the heart of the story. Here is an excerpt:

“Why are you wearing that sweater with green shamrocks?” Jenna demanded to know in a haughty tone as she came up behind Isabella.

“My grandmother knit this sweater for me to wear on St. Patrick’s Day,” Isabella replied proudly.

“Today isn’t St. Patrick’s Day, stupid!” Robin sneered.

“Yeah, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until Saturday,” Jenna added with her usual air of superiority.

“And you’re not Irish, anyway! So why are you even celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?” Robin taunted Isabella as she shoved her into a corner of the cloakroom. Isabella recovered her balance just in time to feel Jenna shove her from the other side.

A crowd of students began to gather around the threesome. Isabella felt her face flush and tears welled up in her eyes as she turned to see that some were merely staring, while several others were laughing at her.

When Miss Fran, Isabella’s history teacher, learns of her classmates’ bullying, she uses it as an opportunity to teach her class the story of St. Patrick. They learn how he was captured by Irish marauders as a teenager and sold into slavery. Relying on prayer and a vision from the Holy Spirit, he escapes after six years. He eventually forgives his captors for the hardship and hurt they caused him and returns to Ireland as a Christian missionary and bishop. Miss Fran urges her class to honour him on St. Patrick’s Day by following his example of forgiveness.

Unfortunately, it’s the traumatic events in our lives that form our most indelible memories and trigger our most intense emotions. That’s the reason I chose this childhood incident of bullying as “the story behind the story.” 

Photo Credits: Pixabay

October 15, 2018

Too Many Stories! by Tracy Krauss

This month we're sharing the 'story behind the story'. But which story? I must admit my imagination is often fueled by many and varied stimuli...

Conspiracy of Bones (formerly And the Beat Goes On) - inspired by research while homeschooling my kids when we discovered holes in evolutionary theory compared to documented evidence backing up intelligent design and what the Bible says about creation.

My Mother the Man-Eater - inspired partly by characters I had created while playing the 'Sims' and studying the book of Hosea. I love the boundless grace of God displayed in this story - and the title came to me in the shower!

Play It Again - inspired by listening to the radio while driving one time (don't remember the song!) and my friend's account of visiting Hecla Island (in Manitoba) for a conference.

Wind Over Marshdale - inspired by my hometown of Mossbank, various real life 'characters' we met in our many moves, and an interest in Native spirituality as it relates to Christianity after many lively discussions with several Indigenous friends who have strong views on all sides of the debate.

Neighbours Series 1 - inspired by 'people watching' in airports and coffee shops along with conversations with family and friends about 'boom and bust' economic cycles, especially around non-renewable resources and agriculture. Also inspired by Maeve Binchy's style of using multiple POVs to tell one story. Parts of this book were written as a 'nanowrimo' project.

Keeping Up With the Neighbours Series 2 - readers seemed to really like Jed Malloy, a minor character from Series 1, (and I did too!) so I tapped into my many Newfie friends and wrote a whole book about Jed's family. So fun! I love these guys!

Lone Wolf - The question, "But what happened to Thomas?" (from Wind Over Marshdale) kept re-occurring. Plus, I also felt drawn to his character and wanted him to get a happy ending, so I wrote this short novella length sequel.

Three Strand Cord - Ecclesiastics 4:12 (a three strand cord is not easily broken) was the starting point coupled with my observations that close friends and even couples aren't necessarily 'compatible', yet it works somehow, because one person's strengths balance the other's weaknesses. This one also started as a 'nanowrimo' project, too.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! I've got many more in various stages of 'completeness' - inspired by:  my love of science fiction; a conversation with my son about early eastern block hockey players who literally took their lives in their hands by defecting; an idea that came after hearing about a mercy killing on the news; a drive along a windy road full of switchbacks... the list goes on! And I didn't even mention my children's book inspired by a song my mother used to sing to us as kids, or some non-fiction based on speaking engagements, or my need to organize my prayer journals, or my plays. Now there is another whole blog post!

Some people think I'm full of energy because, from appearances, it looks like I'm quite productive. Perhaps I am, but it's mostly because my head is so full I have to keep producing in order to let off some of the pressure!

Tracy Krauss just keeps on letting off steam as she writes, writes, writes from her home in Northern BC. Visit her website for more - fiction on the edge without crossing the line - http://tracykrauss.com

October 14, 2018

Equipped: How God Prepared Me to Write My Latest Book - Ruth L. Snyder

God is amazing! When was the last time you stopped and worshipped Him—not because you wanted or needed anything, but because you just enjoy fellowshipping with Him so much?

As I look back at how God prepared me to write Equipped: Ephesians 6 Devotionals to Empower and Make You Victorious in Everyday Struggles, I am amazed at His grace and mercy, and humbled that He chooses to use weak earthly vessels like me to share His glorious message.

I first heard about God, my Heavenly Father, from my earthly parents. I heard them praying when people were afraid to come to church because lightening struck the giant tree where our church members met. I watched their example of standing firm in faith against witch doctors and their curses. I experienced God's financial provision for our family.

Jesus Christ became my personal Saviour when I confessed my sin and accepted His forgiveness as a five-year-old. Four years later, I attended school five hundred miles away from where my parents were working, and the "faith of my fathers" became my own faith in practical ways. Several years after that, I was challenged to stand firm in my faith while attending a Christian school where others made fun of my devotion to Jesus. Camp ministry during my high school summers provided many opportunities to share the gospel, nurture others in their faith, and play the piano by ear. During these years a couple of high school teachers encouraged me in my writing and gave me practical experience working on the school newsletter and yearbook. After graduation, I chose to attend Prairie Bible College, where the foundation of my faith was further strengthened. I was able to experience a variety of work including cleaning, supervising, doing computer work for a college teacher, and helping teachers rewrite course syllabi. When I finished college, I enjoyed working in the Prairie Book Room, where I learned how to place orders, track stock, and deal with frustrated customers.

Then God began the training in earnest. My husband and I experienced the confusion and pain of infertility and a miscarriage. My first published article, Gifts From A Loving God, chronicled our journey through loss into the incredible and challenging world of adopting children with special needs. My writing journey continued as I took courses from The Children's Institute of Literature, joined The Word Guild and InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship, entered contests and began blogging. This led to more opportunities for publication and eventually I wrote my first set of ebooks: Learn Twitter—10 Beginning Steps and Learn Twitter—10 Intermediate Steps. When people asked for a paperback version, I learned how to self-publish on Amazon with Twitter Decoded: Tips and Tools for Authors. My spiritual journey deepened as I experienced challenges in parenting, marriage, and leadership. My writing life and spiritual journey continued to intersect. God took me through deep waters where I knew I was helpless without Him: a prodigal child, separation from my husband, and my dad's struggle with dementia. Our daughter is now happily married and the mother of our first grandson. My husband and I have been reunited and are working on our marriage. My dad's struggle with dementia makes me look forward to heaven.

When God laid on my heart that I should write a devotional on spiritual warfare, based on Ephesians 6:10-18, I resisted. However, God's still, small voice persisted. (I share more detail in my devotional in the November 2018 issue of FellowScript.) Today the manuscript is in the final edits. My goal is to have the ebook and paperback available in November.

Are you writing a book? Tell us about it and share the story behind your work!

Sheila Webster and other executive members
presented me with this cross in 2016, which
reminds me to put on the full armour of God!

Ruth L. Snyder lives in northeastern Alberta with her husband and children. She writes in a variety of genres, sharing the lessons God is teaching her about walking with God, parenting, marriage, self publishing, and healthy living. Connect with Ruth at ruthlsnyder.com.

October 13, 2018

Providential Ink by Wendy L. Macdonald

Since writing the rough drafts for several mystery romance manuscripts, I’ve been reminded of the movie: Inkheart. Characters came to life when pages of the book were read aloud. My stories were inspired by some events that startled me and wouldn’t leave my thoughts. I guess you could say it was my way of seeing justice served; I made sure the villains got caught. But I didn’t expect a bunch of strange things to happen in real life that were similar to what I wrote in my novels. Now I’m nervous to keep working on them. 

Will people think everything I wrote was based on real life? 
I’ve decided that perhaps Providence and not an Inkheart phenomenon was at work. Maybe the reason why my writing seemed prophetic was because God likes the story and wanted to help me out with editing by giving me more personal experiences to beef up the show-and-not-tell aspects of it. Trust me, I won't tell an agent or publisher this (Eyes will roll for sure.). However, I will be able to write much deeper now. I will be able to show how hard the trials were for the characters. I will also be able to demonstrate how delicious the victories were. 

Either way, I’m way too curious not to keep writing. I want to see how my characters handle the tough stuff I’ll be subjecting them too. I want to see their hearts pound, break, and soften. I want to witness their growth and transformations. I want to see where this story takes them—and me.

I’m nosey-to-know if you’ve ever written something uncannily similar to future events.

Inkwell Blessings ~ Wendy Mac


October 12, 2018

The Truth Behind the Fiction by Connie Mae Inglis

I have been working on a novel titled Rewriting Adam for the past three years. Through a series of unusual circumstances, my protagonist finds himself helping an archaeologist survey an area in northern Myanmar. Their local guide is a young man who is Shatikha*, a minority language group from that area, and also the language group that my husband and I are working in, translating the Bible into their language. For me, it made sense to have my novel set in that area of the world where we lived for 13 years.

Every culture has its own worldview, beliefs, and legends, so I decided to incorporate some of these stories into my novel. In one of my chapters, my protagonist discovers what the Shatikha believe about ghosts. The ghost stories told in this chapter are either true first-account happenings, or are true stories told by trusted Shatikha sources. My husband gathered these stories himself as part of his cultural study. So, knowing these stories existed, I couldn’t help but incorporate them into my novel. It seemed the perfect way to include my interest in the strange and weird and my love for speculative fiction.

And even though I was writing a novel, I also wanted to incorporate my love of poetry into my writing. Therefore, each chapter begins with my own work of poetry that foreshadows events in the chapter. For the chapter about Shatikha ghosts, I decided to write a poem based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “The Raven.” And even though my poem is only the length of one stanza of Poe’s poem, I tried to write so that the reader would become uncomfortable—to shift uneasily in their chair, as if something scary was about to happen. I know I could never reach Poe’s standard with just one stanza, but I wanted it to be just enough to prepare the reader for what was to come.

Here is the poem:

Once upon a jungle pathway, bamboo heavy, blocking sun’s ray,
Traveller needing rest and beckoning home hearth, presses t’ward the call,
Danger comes so unsuspecting, in human form, veiled presenting,
    Shadowed stalking unrelenting, weary traveller trapped to fall,
Danger bites, addiction’s power, death feeds slowly from the fall—
            Fear the ghost. Fear—one and all.

That was a fun poem to write. Bottom line, though, is this: The real story behind the story will always be the Shatikha people themselves--how God has redeemed them and given them the divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Cor. 10:3-5). They no longer need to be afraid of ghosts or the shaman or any evil spirits. In Jesus, they have the freedom to share their ghost stories without fear. And that, dear friends, is Truth—and the most beautiful story of all.

Shatikha script: book heading for the book of Acts, literally translated "The Story About What the Apostles Did." 

October 11, 2018

Behind the Writing of Amee's Story - Carol Harrison

The story behind the writing of my first published piece which is a memoir called, Amee's Story, happened over many years. Walk with me down memory lane to see the process involved to get to the point of writing let alone publication.  

I loved English including the writing assignments back in high school, more years ago than I might care to remember. My final grade twelve project, a short story, received a very good mark which has been lost to time. In my mind's eye I can still vividly see the teacher's last remark at the end of the piece, "You have an unrealistic viewpoint." I told no one about the comment or asked what it really meant. I simply felt it negated the great mark and maybe I could not or should not write.

My English professor, in first year university, added to my inner negative voice with a failing grade on the first essay assignment. The big red circle around the number 40 stared at me. The comment beside it read, "You didn't answer the question!" Beating back the tears and humiliation, I chose to make an appointment with him to discover what I needed to learn in order to succeed. His answer, "You're in university. You should just know." left me uncertain about how to proceed.

My plan included regurgitating what the professor spouted in class. It helped me pass the class but did not teach me anything constructive. I promised myself I would write enough to pass my classes but never write for anyone else to read. The joy of writing, the longing to put ideas on paper could not enter into my thinking. I was not a writer!

Years later my husband began pestering me to write about the journey with our youngest daughter after her stroke at birth. I had continued to write in journals, especially details of everyday life with the challenges of raising a daughter with special needs. I intended to keep the promise I made to myself to never write for others to read, including my husband and family. Even my dear hubby had no idea of how much I used to enjoy writing. My answer to his periodic requests remained the same, "I can't! I am not a writer!"

This dance around writing this story that needed telling continued for years. Our daughter, Amee, started to plead with me to tell her story so others would understand. The refusals became harder but continued to escape my lips. I did not consider this might be the time God needed to do some alterations in my attitude.

Hubby and daughter began to wear down the wall of resistance built around my heart. I sat at the computer and attempted to start this on going story. I hit delete. After a few weeks I tried again with the same results. Fast forward through many starts and deletes. To combat the inadequacy and the writing going nowhere, I opted to spend time sorting all the reports and notes. I organized everything chronologically, read every piece of information and researched a few terms to make sure I still understood them.

 With nothing left to sort, I began again but did not hit delete. One chapter and then two appeared on the screen before the mental block of how to continue surfaced. I wanted to give up. Who was I to think I could write? Why did my loved ones push me so hard?

A friend saw a poster for a Christian Writers conference in Saskatoon and urged me to attend. You can only imagine all the excuses which came out of my mouth. But God had a plan. My friend, husband and daughter would not let me give up. They encouraged, cajoled, pushed, prayed and did whatever they felt might work on any given day.

I entered that conference room with heart racing and beads of sweat popping out on my brow. Yet people welcomed me. I met some amazing people from Inscribe like Marcia Laycock and Jan Dick. I found myself enjoying the day. I added to the bravery and went to a monthly meeting of His Imprint and continued to go back each month to listen to others read their works in progress, hear encouraging words and helpful hints.

It took a few more months of being stuck with my writing until I took that first chapter and read part of it out loud to other more experienced, published authors. I needed help. I remember Bonnie Grove being very quiet and not offering suggestions. After the meeting I cornered her and asked for her help. She asked me several questions and then bluntly told me to cut a number of things and start at a different spot. After delivering her thoughts she walked away.

I must admit I had thoughts running through my head like, "Who does she think she is? It's my story." which turned to, "Carol you asked her what she thought and told her to be honest. You're stuck. What can it hurt to try it her way."

The next time I sat at my computer I opened a new file and began in the spot Bonnie suggested. I tightened up the writing making sure only pertinent words and information made it to the page. This unstuck my writing and it began to flow from chapter to chapter. It remained my story, only done in a way to grab the reader's attention.

Thank you Bonnie. Thank you to each person who I met at the conference and the His Imprint group. You encouraged, taught, critiqued and helped me move from my refusal to even try to thinking I might be able to.

It took several years of work from those first weeks of sorting material and research until the book was ready for more edits, cover design and publication in January 2010. God has used the story in places I could not imagine, touched lives I may never know about and allowed me to share one glimpse for others that the God of the Bible is still God today. He had a plan for me which I resisted for a long time. He had a plan for the book, Amee's Story which goes beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Things do not always look like what we expect but I am glad I finally listened and let God lead the way into this new venture.

Carol Harrison, B.Ed. from Saskatoon, has published one book, Amee’s Story, and has short stories in fifteen anthologies including eight Chicken Soup for the Soul books and two of Susan King’s Short and Sweet books. She has a passion for sharing stories from real-life experiences and God’s Word to help others find a glimmer of hope.

October 10, 2018

Beginnings by Sharon Espeseth

Caleb Turned Out Just Fine

One of my stories had its beginnings in a real-life entry into the world. This was the birth of Caleb, the third grandson for Hank and me. Caleb was the third child of our third adopted child and I'd been invited to his birth-day party--in the delivery room. Hank dropped Jenny and I off at the Grey Nuns Hospital for her "induction" ceremony.

After a morning of observation and I.V., Jenny was told we could go home, go shopping, or whatever we, or she, wanted while we waited for her contractions to come closer together. When Jenny mentioned to the nurse that not all of her contractions had registered on the machine, the nurse explained that this was normal. 

"My last baby came early," Jenny added.

"You certainly can stay, if you're concerned," the nurse told her. 

Jenny and I exchanged a glance. "It's up to you, Jenny," I told her. "Remember, I'm the new kid on this block." (Reminder to reader: All three of our children had been adopted.) Hank came to pick us up and take us back to Jenny and Rob's home, which was a 25-minute drive from the Grey Nuns. That is where most of the family was hanging out and babysitting the rest of the grandkids.

I'll leave you to guess what happened from there, but I called this story, "Special Gift, Special Delivery." My version of the story was published in Western Producer on October 26, 2006 under the headline, "Experience in barn makes baby's quick debut easier." And I was not the experienced one!

"Special Gift, Special Delivery" was later published in the January-February, 2009 issue of Celebrate Life, which is the flagship magazine of the American Life League. I had entertained, or inspired, readers of two magazines with two different readerships and I had also received a check from each of the publishers.

I am reluctant to retell the whole story, because I may do a rewrite for another publication, possibly an anthology with themes related to adoption, pro-life, farming, parenting, grandparenting. . .

October 08, 2018

The Story Behind the Poetry by Karma Pratt

I find myself drawn to poetry. Capturing the rhythm of a moment, finding the cadence and movement of words as they flow down a page, these are things that appeal to my artist's heart. I draw inspiration from events or experiences in my own life, or things that I have witnessed, or even dreamed. I also love listening to others read or perform their poetry. I think this is why I love music so much; it's basically poetry with instruments. 

It wasn't a surprise, then, that I found myself intrigued by the call for submissions for a sweet little book titled Short and Sweet Goes Fourth. This compilation, edited by Susan King and published by Grace Publishing, had one main criteria: "Choose something you're passionate about, then write about it in 250-550 words, using words of only one syllable." 

There were only six exceptions to the one syllable rule: 
  1. Proper nouns were okay (California)
  2. Polysyllabic words in 5 letters or fewer (only, about)
  3. Contractions (wouldn't, couldn't)
  4. Numbers (fifteen)
  5. Direct quotes (including Bible verses)
  6. Words for family members (daughter)
They were looking for non-fiction, fiction and poetry submissions. Aha! My creative brain got excited. I penciled the deadline in my calendar and made a mental note to prepare for this challenge. I love big words and long sentences, so the idea of writing out my ideas in one syllable increments both excited and terrified me. 

The trick with writing poetry is to allow inspiration to guide you. It's not something that can be contrived; it needs to be felt in the moment. When the time is right poetry will flow from the pen like water flowing from a stream. I kept the criteria for this submission in the back of my mind and waited for inspiration to light a fire in me. 

The poem I submitted for consideration is called Fight for Your Life. It's a reflection of where God was guiding me in that season of my life. I found myself dealing with some heavy things at that time, and God was showing me His Truth. He was peeling away many layers of lies and deception that I had believed for a long time. To say I was passionate about the subject matter is an understatement! I was on fire for the revelations God had for me! When the time came to write the words, they came out in a way that honestly spoke to where I was at in my journey. 

One of the things I do when writing is I read, then re-read (countless times!), the work. For this submission, I didn't just read the poem, I read it out loud at my kitchen table. It became a declaration of what I knew God was doing in my life. It became a prayer. And, by reading aloud, I was able to test the cadence and rhythm of the piece. 

I am excited to tell you that my poem was selected as one of the contributions to Short and Sweet Goes Fourth. The book was published in August 2018 and is available on Amazon. What an exciting journey for this poet's heart! 

My next poetry project is a book of original work titled Patchwork Soul. Stay tuned for details! I am putting the finishing touches on it and will be sourcing publication options soon. 

In the mean time, I continue to write as inspiration strikes. May it be the same for you also. 


When she's not traveling, Karma writes from the golden house in Northeastern BC. You can connect with her online at redraincoatcreations.com.

October 01, 2018

The Story Behind the Story by Sandi Somers

Creative Nonfiction magazine has sometimes featured an article on the background of a writer’s particular work. They called it, “The Story Behind the Story.” Sometimes these background stories are as interesting—or more interesting—than the story itself. Our own Sally Meadows recently wrote a blog that illustrates perfectly this concept.
All of us can tell how we conceptualized, planned and wrote a particular work, or what happened after it was published. This is our topic for October.
Ministry in Refreshing
Years ago, my work situation had been conflict-ridden and I was frustrated. And yet as I read Isaiah 41:18, God spoke into my spirit, “I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys”.
And so it was that a few months later I travelled through the dry
plain in Washington State, through an area that was irrigated and producing lush vegetable gardens, fruit trees and hay crops. As I left the valley, I was surprised to see an irrigated orchard partway up the pass, and then another at the top of the pass. I expected lush groves in the valley, but not on the heights!

It was a mystery how water could reach the heights. It was a mystery how God would water my dry spirit. And yet it was a visual reminder of God’s promise from Isaiah that He would refresh me. My response was to leave everything in Gods’ hands. He would make all things work together for my good and for His greatest glory.
* * *
I wrote that story as a devotional, and it was published in The Upper Room. Some time later, I received a letter (this was before emails) from a woman in Yakima, Washington, asking where I had seen these groves. She shared how she and her Bible study group used The Upper Room as one of their study guides, and the group was pleased that a devotional was written about a location close to home. It was great to know that my words had refreshed their spirits.
PS. In a return letter, I told her that I had stopped in Yakima to pick up a small bottle of mouthwash. Walmart, where I had stopped, was holding a special sale, and I picked up three pairs of shoes, a purse, a jean skirt and jean dress, all for $59. And I shared how my less-than-a-dollar mouthwash had cost $59.Perhap this too was a confirmation of how God could supply refreshment and abundance for my needs.

Now it’s your turn. I look forward to hearing your story behind the story.