July 27, 2022

The Hocus-Pocus of Focus - Bruce Atchison

 I can't help but notice that my story-telling desire has been focused on the things I loved. That makes sense as we all love to talk, or write, about what we love.

I was unpopular in school. To gain some favour from my peers, I often told jokes or funny stories. The boys were busy playing sports so it was the girls whom I entertained.

Once I had a computer with a synthetic voice to read what I wrote, I began writing about my long-time love: electronic music. Two fan magazine published my reviews of CDs and cassettes of musicians who weren't popular except with my friends. I also had a few articles published in underground "zines" before I decided to go professional.

Since my freelance writing teacher said to write what I know, I tried querying magazines about what I knew. But most publications weren't interested in electronic music, radio listening, or house rabbits.

Undaunted, I quit freelance writing and wrote 3 memoirs. The one about my house rabbits sold moderately well but the books about my time at a school for the blind and how a cult-like house church messed me up didn't sell at all.

While all that happened, I blogged on the topics I was writing in my articles and books. My hope was that people would read my posts and decide to buy my books. That only helped me sell a few copies.

So I retired from writing in November of 2021. Because Canada Pension Plan kept a watchful eye on me, presuming me guilty until proven innocent, I felt compelled to promote my books and blogs. Now I'm free of the pressure and enjoying life. I do plan on writing and perhaps publishing two books I was working on but I'm in no hurry

July 25, 2022

A Door Between ~ Valerie Ronald

 This is a reprint of an article I had published in ICWF's FellowScript magazine in November 2019. It best conveys the essence of my writing journey, not in facts but through my inner progression from word-struck child to seasoned writer -- still word-struck.


 An Indian princess opened the door for me. I found her waiting on a shelf between the faded red cloth covers of my first chapter book. She crouched behind a tree on page one, her black braids and fringed buckskin dress sketched above the opening paragraph. With a raised hand she pointed into the belly of the book, so I followed her.  

This first trip to a library marked my graduation from picture to chapter books, a momentous event not to be hurried. My mother waited patiently while I drew down volume after volume. Each cover was judged on its appeal, illustrations perused, and pages thumbed through. When the Indian princess beckoned me into her world, I knew this was the perfect choice. She rode home proudly on my lap, my fidgety fingers on the cover itching to let her out.  

So began construction of the revolving door between my two worlds. In my exterior world I contentedly lived an ordinary life. But my interior world whispered at the door for any opportunity to grab my imagination by the hand and run. It teased my waking hours with daydreams and at night it held sway, filling my mind’s eye with fantastic scenes and stories until I sank reluctantly into sleep. Discovering chapter books threw the door wide for a myriad of tales to march in, populating my world with rich characters and scenes often more real to me than my own life. 

Stepping through the wardrobe door into C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, I encountered the great lion, Aslan, who evoked a childish reverence foreshadowing a future faith in his prototype. The miniature world of The Borrowers found me prone on the floor acting out their story with dollhouse furniture. J.R.R. Tolkien’s wizard, Gandalf, took on the bushy gray brows and twinkling eyes of my teacher, Mr. Smith, who read The Hobbit aloud while doing all the voices. 

My unfettered imagination refused to be reined in, spilling words onto paper at every opportunity. Gypsies, haunted forests, princesses, and magic spells pushed their way through my pen, seeking form and voice in my amateur compositions. My vocabulary and writing skills developed simultaneously with the countless books I devoured to feed my appetite for stories. I could not ingest words quick enough to satisfy the ravenous hunger of one who saw the world as a continuous tale begging to be transcribed. 

Behind the exterior world of a shy, awkward girl a parallel world teemed with all that I did not possess. Like infants learning to walk, adventure, beauty, and virtue stumbled for expression in my writing. At first I hugged my novice attempts to myself. The exercise of writing brought a satisfaction wholly my own ˗˗ a solitary catharsis not dependent on affirmation from others. But what good was a story written if not shared? If one day mine was to be the book drawn from a shelf then I needed to let others into my interior world. The door revolved both ways. 

So I released some of my literary offspring and to my wonder they were affirmed as showing promise. This changed everything. Books were places in which I could be lost, but now they became where I could be found. Reading for pleasure evolved into exploring literature to learn from successful authors. Could I subtly comment on the social mores of the day like Jane Austen, create and populate whole worlds like Tolkien, craft an endearing heroine like Lucy Maud Montgomery? Could I spread my own heart across a page for others to peruse? 

Years later, the door to my interior world still stands open. Being vulnerable is the risk I take as a writer chronicling from the heart. Numerous books are welcomed in to refresh, stimulate, and feed that world. I leave the door revolving in the wind. Perhaps an Indian princess will pass through. 

More of Valerie's work can be read on her blog.


July 22, 2022

An Invitation - Lorrie Orr


                          You are cordially invited...

to waltz with words to the rhythm of your beating heart

to play with sounds and syllables just for giggles

to create lists

     of mundane grocery shopping, knowing that food is never


     of roses that will

          prick you with their thorns and 

          delight you with their fragrance and

          mesmerize you as you gaze into dreamy depths 

                  of endless blushing rosiness

 to pour your purple grief onto the page in torrents of messy

         phrases that will leave you

                   drained, but

                         curiously calm and oddly hopeful

to record the touch of your nose nestled in a small soft neck 

         so that

                   one day, 

                         in the future that is closer than it looks

                   you will relive that moment of fleeting perfection

to begin your longings with "Dearest Mom and Dad"

          to tell beloved ones

                   so far away what it is like

                   to raise children in a verdant jungle 

                   far from the home and country you love

to soothe a grieving soul

to share a bit of humour

to buoy up a downcast friend

to thank a giver 

          for time, for friendship, for kindness

to create stories to tell the world of infinite Love and Beauty

          with the hope that

                   Beauty will resonate from pen to heart 

                   to heart to over and over 

                   and over until

          at last

                   the pen is laid down with nothing left to say

                   and you are cradled

                   in infinite Love


The Blank Page

Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island where she enjoys boating and hiking with her husband. Gardening, sewing, reading, and spending time with her five grandchildren fill her days with happiness and contentment. She is newly retired from teaching high school Spanish. 


July 21, 2022

Defining Moments On My Writing Journey - by Tracy Krauss

This month's theme is fascinating because I am learning so much about my fellow InScribe members! Some of the stories I'd heard before, but many I had not. Some are small or simplistic, but that is the beauty of the topic. Those little defining moments may seem insignificant on their own, but when woven together become quite profound. 

Here is what came to mind as I reflected on my own defining moments.

I have already shared on this blog about the time I wrote a play in Grade Four based on the book Ghosts Don't Eat Sausages. When my teacher saw me coaxing my ragtag troupe of actors into submission at recess, she made a way for us to perform the play in front of the school. We even made it into the yearbook! (That's me in the middle with the messy hair and glasses...) It was my first foray into writing and directing plays and the sense of accomplishment was strong. It may have been the seed that led me to become a Drama teacher for many years. 

The next memory is less successful, but just as defining for me as a writer. I wrote a story in Grade Seven or Eight about a teenager who flew to a small European country and ended up meeting a handsome teen guy... (who was actually the prince of the country in disguise!) As I remember it now, it smacks of a Hallmark movie! It was quite long and elaborate - and probably quite good if my mark and the teacher's response mean anything. However, she made everyone get up and read their story in front of the class. I flatly refused. As I recall, I got sent to the principal but I wouldn't budge. Perhaps I was embarrassed because of the romantic elements. My pubescent self would not risk the humiliation or potential teasing I thought might result. Still, it is a defining moment because I remember how lost I was in that story as I was writing it, but also the uncertainty and fear I felt about sharing it. Fear of rejection and imposter syndrome were already lurking. 

In Grade Twelve I wrote a story about a man who became a hobo after the great stock market crash in October of 1929. (I had probably just learned about it in Social Studies.) My English teacher praised the story and suggested I go to a writing camp for teens that summer. It was the first time I actually considered the possibility of becoming a writer, even though I didn't go to the camp. 

As a young mom, I started writing as a creative outlet when my baby was down for her nap. I had previously focused most of my creative energy on visual arts, but this seemed like a less messy and controllable alternative. It became a habit I never stopped. I accumulated four manuscripts before I got up the nerve to share them with someone. (About sixteen years later.) I shared with my teenage daughter, a fairly safe candidate, or so I thought. She gave constructive feedback which surprised me. I wasn't expecting her to actually have criticisms even though I had asked, but it opened my eyes to the necessity of sharing if I ever expected to get better. I was too emotionally attached to my own words to see them objectively and needed a fresh perspective. Thank you, Priscilla!

After that, I got up the nerve to start submitting. The rejection was often crushing, but I took it in stride and LEARNED from the feedback. (I'm still learning.) During that period, I can think of two specific times when the agent or editor took the time to give lengthy and detailed feedback. I wish I had saved those letters. (Yes, they were in PAPER form!) They were both defining moments that gave me HOPE. (And by this time, quitting wasn't an option.)

Fast forward a few years (and rejections) later. I had never submitted too many queries at one time, but since I was off work on medical leave, I decided to do a blitz. I sent 120 queries to agents and publishers, all of them mailed hardcopies in manila envelopes. It cost me more than $400 in postage and photocopying! Over the next few months, I got THREE requests for more! Those were such exciting moments for me. One was from Harlequin, but unfortunately, it never panned out. Another was from an agent who then declined. Still, I was happy to be taken seriously. The third was for a book deal that I signed in 2008 for And the Beat Goes On (now republished as Conspiracy of Bones.) I won't go into the long details of my publishing history, but having my first book published was a huge milestone! And yet, thirty-some books and plays later, I am occasionally still visited by that old 'friend', Imposter Syndrome... 

Landing an agent was another important milestone for me. At the time I thought it meant I was legitimate. He worked hard for me, even finding me a couple of book deals. However, it also was very enlightening in that it led me to the path of independent publishing I'm currently on. I don't regret the experience, but I feel like I've finally found where I am supposed to be. 

The final defining moment I want to share was the day I discovered InScribe. I happened upon it online when I was reading a blog post written by Marcia Laycock on an international bloggers site. I was blown away! A CANADIAN organization for Christian writers?! So far, I had only come across American groups. I was quick to join and went to my first Fall Conference in 2010. I was in awe when I actually met Marcia, not to mention Rudy Wiebe and Sigmund Brouwer. My first InScribe "friend" was Brenda Leyland, who graciously let me sit with her at the banquet. 

My journey has been long and winding with lots of bumps along the way. Sometimes it feels like I'm always chasing the next trend, but I've come to realize that my story has unfolded the way God intended, and I'm content with that.


Tracy Krauss
lives and writes from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. Visit her website "fiction on the edge without crossing the line" for all her titles.

July 20, 2022

Prayer for My Words by Alan Anderson


Early Years


Writing discovered me as a student in school in Scotland. My mind struggled in school from my early throughout the long tunnel in life from one grade to another. Subjects like math and science shunned me. We did not get along. English, Language Arts, and Composition befriended me. Words became my companions.



My English teachers in school were my main reason for persevering with other subjects. The subjects these teachers taught motivated me to want to know more about how to create with words. You see, I always had bunches of words in my head nagging me to get out. When I discovered my love, my absolute joy, for words, I had buddies for life.



As a boy I had challenges with people because of my shyness. I preferred to be on my own because this made the world safe. Shyness, at least in my case, took a lot of energy. I did not like hanging out with crowds. I usually only had two or three real friends. As soon as school ended each day, I headed straight home. My words were free to do what they pleased when we were home.



My Place in Life


When I was a boy words taught me how to find my place in life. There was a price to pay for shyness in school, and even at home, but the words of story tellers showed me a way to live. The stories spun by greats like Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Defoe allowed me to climb into my imagination.



In time the words of poets caressed my creative mind. How can anyone resist the poetry of Rabbie Burns? His poetic masterpiece, “A Red, Red Rose,” written in ballad form, allows readers to feel how intimate words can be.



By my senior high school years, I discovered Emily Dickinson, John Keats, Robert Frost, and others. Their poetic skill held me tight with a new way of touching the world around me.


Growth as a Writer


My growth as a writer took years. I hid my love for poems from a time in life where poetic words were mocked. My shyness held me back, but I persevered. I knew I would always love how poets speak into life.



I look back on my life and stagger at how the years flew. In this life I see most of my years are history. Poetry is now a dear friend and helps me offer word pictures of who I am today.



Along my writing pathway I am intrigued by and resonate with people the limelight is not interested in. The people who go about their lives not out to seek attention. They interact with the world in quiet, inconspicuous, almost invisible ways. They try to make the world a better place without fanfare. My words and written prayers are dedicated to them.


Prayer for my words.

I pray there will be times where my words are tears. May they drip down a page where every letter, every word, holds on to each other. They will remind readers they are not alone. I also pray there are times my words will present as puppies eager to put smiles on faces. Other times I send my words out into the world in hopes they will bandage gaping wounds which are a result of a broken world.



Dear friends, loved by God, who do you pray your words will reach? What prayer do you have for your words.




Alan lives in Deroche, B.C. with his wife, Terry. He contributed stories to Good Grief People by Angel Hope Publishing, 2017; Story by Story: The Power of a Writer, Unstoppable Writers Publishing, 2018; Easter Stories & More by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, 2021. Alan periodically writes articles for FellowScript Magazine. He has written posts for our InScribe blog since 2015. Blog: https://scarredjoy.ca.

July 19, 2022

The Written Word – A Vital Part of My Life by Elizabeth Volk (Guest Post)

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


Early in life, I developed a love for reading and books. By junior high, writing was added to my literary list. And thus began my relationship with words. I wrote stories. I wrote poems. And I wrote in lieu of speaking. My most meaningful conversations with friends were via letters.

By the time I was in High School, I spoke very little on a personal level. I had some Christian friends who welcomed me back when I attended their youth meetings for a second time. I was recognized and acknowledged, which is much more than I got from the crowd I had, until then, hung out with. That drew me to Jesus, and I came home from a youth retreat at Briercrest Bible Institute (as it was then known) knowing HIM personally.

I continued to read and to write, and received my discipleship training via the printed word. The next major event was Bible school, and along the way, I was taught (by friends) to talk as well as write. I couldn’t believe that they actually encouraged me to say what was on my mind without carefully choosing words!

That was all many years ago, and much has happened in the intervening years. Yet, one thing that remains a vital part of my life is the written word. My vision is deteriorating and I have fewer opportunities to read and write, but it does not lessen my yearning to do so.

When I was first learning to express myself in writing, a song that caught my attention has within its lyrics the line “It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away.”  In a sense, this defines my communication – I am not in the habit of taking people’s hearts away, but I do seek to impact them with what I write.

The message I desire to share with others most is the Good News of the Gospel. I know that words are not sufficient – the things done display the love and grace of Jesus most eloquently. However, words can have an important role in helping people to understand and eventually express their faith. To confess Jesus as Saviour and Lord is a specific act that demands the use of spoken (or written) words. And the Word of God is, of course, written.

I do believe that the communication by word is as vital as the works we do to share the Gospel.  “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 ESV). There are many who are much more fluent in writing than in speaking, and at times it can be intimidating to be told we need to share the Good News vocally. Not all are gifted to speak – some really are gifted in writing instead of speaking. God uses both according to what He has blessed His children with. (And some folks read more comprehensively than they listen!!) The onus is on us to share the Good News – in whatever manner God enables.


July 18, 2022

Following God's Trail by Lorilee Guenter

 I stood at the trail head looking at the map, a decision to be made. Is this the path I want to hike? The map gives a general guide to what the experience will be as lakes and rivers are marked. The geography  of the area gives more clues. 

Do you know you write well? The question invited a decision. The way forward is vague, however, like on the trail others have walked this way. There are many options as faith and words combine. One trail leads to poetry, another to novels. Some trails cross over and combine many types in a "mixed geography." As with the trail, I chose to take the first steps in honing my skills.

One recent memorable hike combined forest and rock of the Canadian Shield. From the top of the rock rise, you can look over the trees and survey the surroundings. The vistas are amazing. To get there involved climbing over boulders and around trees that clung to the rock, their roots anchored in cracks and crevasses. The beauty became evident before we reached the top, but if we stopped we would only have a taste of what could be. In my writing life and in life in general, I am often tempted to stop before the top. I settle for the taste instead of the abundant feast. That particular climb we made was not easy but it was worth it. As God leads me through the obstacles that threaten to stop me, I need to look forward to what He has to show me along the way.

There is no water at the top of the rocks. The sun beat down and reflected back. The beauty, while amazing, can only be enjoyed for a short time before we must follow the path in front of us to a place of refreshment, to the still waters and green pastures (Ps. 23). The climb back down has its own obstacles. It takes trust to keep going, to continue on to the next place, to the next project God has prepared. In the descent, it was evident how the anchoring rock remains under the soil and vegetation of the forest. We can remain anchored, and indeed need to remain anchored, to have the strength to continue.

On our hike we passed through forest before and after the climb. On a hot summer day the shade of the trees offered a welcome break from the intense rays of the sun. The trail through the forest was well marked by those who walked that way before, yet obstacles remain. Roots running across the path trip the unobservant. Side trails can lead you off course. Fallen trees block the way, although hiking buddies can help each other scramble over them.

I have never undertaken a hike alone. Nor do I live my faith and writing journey alone. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses [Heb. 12:1], those who have and are walking with us. My faith and my writing are strengthened as I learn from others. They help me to throw off what holds me back as I learn from them and am encouraged by them.

Enjoying time on top of the rock

The first time we did that hike, we skirted around the overlook. We knew that there was more at the top than we had found but heat made us turn back. Before we left the area, we tried once more. As a result, we sat on the rock ridge and looked west over the forest and lake to see the beginning of the sunset, a gift of beauty. If I press on and don't skirt around the lookouts ahead of me, I have no doubt that gifts designed and given by God await.

July 15, 2022

Finding My Writing Path by Carol Harrison


I couldn’t see a path, only a tangle of roots to trip me and overhead branches to whip in my face. Why attempt to push my way through the underbrush trying to discover a writing path. I’d buried the enjoyment of writing so deep for decades that no one knew it had once existed except God.

My husband, Brian, kept asking me to write about our journey with our youngest daughter, Amee, and the amazing things God had been doing. “I can’t. I don’t know how.” became my familiar refrain. I honestly didn’t think I could or should write so why try finding a path in the forest of doubt. He asked periodically. I responded in the negative.

Then Amee began to say, “Mom, you need to write my story so others will understand.”

“What do you want people to understand?” I’d ask her, not expecting her to articulate a response.

“Help people understand more about who I am and what I can and can’t do. Help them understand that God still answers prayer today. I know ‘cause I’m here.”

How could I refuse her request? I began to read notes I’d written through the years as well as various medical and educational reports. Remembering how winding the journey we’d been on and the amazing things that had happened proved to be a healing exercise. But I couldn’t get past writing the first few paragraphs over and over. I’d write and hit delete. Then I’d begin again. No clear path emerged about how to tell the story. I was stuck and wanted to quit.

A friend saw a poster about a one-day Christian writers’ conference in Saskatoon. She urged me to attend. All I could think of were excuses not to go. It’s for experienced writers. I’m not a writer. It’s for published authors. I’ll still be on crutches. The list continued and my friend countered them all with simple words, “Just go and check it out.”

I met some amazing people like Marci Laycock, Janice Dick, Susan Plett, and Bonnie Grove among many others. I learned about Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship that day as well. Some people attended because they wanted to learn more skills or refresh ones they hadn’t used for awhile. Others wanted to write family stories but never publish. Still others planned to publish or had published pieces. This day was for people like me who didn’t think we could write anything.  

Each month some Christian writers from Saskatoon and area gathered and shared writing tips, prompts, and encouraged each other. After attending a few meetings, I chose to read those first few paragraphs of Amee’s story. Maybe someone could help me get unstuck. They did and the writing journey really began.

By the time I published the memoir, Amee’s Story, my desire to write had resurfaced. Encouragement from my family and friends spurred me on to write a few short pieces and then look for places to submit them. I stepped out of my comfort zone and sent away a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul which was accepted. Nothing Under the Tree appeared in their Christmas book of 2010. Holding the payment cheque and copies of the book, seeing my story in print, and hearing the excitement of others over this writing accomplishment acted like a chainsaw to begin clearing away of the underbrush clogging the writing path.

As I thought about other moments that helped define my writing path, I realized the influence Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship has had on my journey. I have learned from others through conversations, workshops, and taking Marcia’s Devotional Writing Course. Challenges and contests have encouraged me to try new things, improve skills I have acquired, and grow as a writer.

A grandson’s challenge enlarged the path from memoir and short non-fiction pieces to writing fiction. A granddaughter’s request to join her at a local poetry writing workshop added yet another dimension to my writing path. Being the FellowScript columns editor meant sharpening my editing skills and learning many things in the process.

My writing path isn’t a tangled mess of branches hiding the way and roots waiting to trip me up. It has grown wider but it still has twists and turns. I can’t see where God will direct me next on this writing path, but I plan to follow and be a good steward of the abilities He has given. 





Carol Harrison now spends many hours on her writing, whether editing her works in

progress or writing something new from her home in Saskatoon. She enjoys the encouragement of her husband, adult children, and grandchildren. You can find out more about her at https://www.carolscorner.ca

July 14, 2022

The Flow by Sharon Heagy


    The past few weeks my husband and I have been bouncing along with our truck and trailer across the Prairies and B.C., through our gorgeous Yukon Territory and into the neighbouring and equally beautiful U.S. state of Alaska. Many bridges have marked our way as we crossed creeks, streams and rivers. Each body of water we crossed had a name of some significance. Some bore Indigenous names; some were named to honour an explorer or a colourful historical character and others were named for the surrounding topography or for an incident that happened in the area. There seemed to be no shortage of monikers. 

            Every creek crossed feeds a stream and every stream a river and the rivers all lead to another larger river and eventually to an ocean. There are short creeks and long meandering rivers. Wild water and placid ponds. What a vast assortment of tributaries.

            It occurred to me that my writing path resembles all these waterways in some manner. Most often it parallels a meandering river. Slow and somewhat steady. Sometimes a belligerent beaver dams the flow, reducing it to a trickle and other times the words flow out, tumbling pell-mell like a river suitable for white water rafting. 

            There are many tributaries that feed my writing waterway. Wonderful people who have encouraged me and helped me learn along the way, many from the Inscribe family. Authors who have written books on writing, and technique have filled my ongoing need to sharpen my skills. Teachers and workshop leaders have filled my head to overflowing with their vast knowledge and talent. And, of utmost importance, there are those who pray for me and alongside me and for whom I can also pray in kind. 

            And girding each creek and riverbed is God. He lifts me up over the rocky rapids and leads me to ‘still waters.’ He pokes holes in the beaver dams and lets His love and guidance pour through. It is He who will get me to the ocean, eventually. Until then my journey, in life and in writing, is in His hands.