April 28, 2023

Deep Dive by Mary Folkerts


“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:9,10 (NIV).

I watched my 82-year-old friend dive into the summer lake while I sat in the boat with my fear. 

As a child, it was ingrained in me to fear deep water, and I never had swimming lessons until I was in high school, and then only for a short while. This, and not having much access to swimming pools, created in me a fear of water if it was too deep to stand in. 

So what a strange dilemma when you become a swim coach who can’t swim. That’s right. I help coach Special Olympics swimmers on my daughter's swim team, but I cannot swim. All  I can do is stand on the side of the pool, relaying instructions from the head coach, cheer the athletes on, and see if someone is in distress, but I cannot jump in to save them. I watch with a sense of longing as the swimmers effortlessly cut through the water, their limbs and minds trained to know how to keep their bodies afloat in deep water. They don’t fear the depths as long as they trust what they have learned. 

What a strange dilemma when you become a
swim coach who can’t swim!

 Isn’t it true that we often spend too much time splashing around in the wading pool of Christianity because we’ve never really learned how to swim? Oh, we’ve been saved by faith in Jesus, but we’ve never had the desire to swim in the deep end. Fear holds us back because when our feet can’t touch bottom, we lose our sense of control. And we don’t like to lose control. We want to “do Christianity” on our own terms. We read part of our key verse, “… I have come that they may have life…” and that’s where we stop. 

“...and have it to the full” is the deep dive. This full or abundant life is not necessarily characterized by a life of ease. One of the biggest things that keep us from experiencing this life Jesus desires to give us is our inherent need for control. We like to keep our feet firmly planted in our own plans and desires. We hold on tight and miss out on the blessing of trusting God’s love for us. We have been taught that Jesus is faithful and trustworthy, but do we believe it? Have we never learned to truly trust because we refuse to go where the water is deep? 

How can we encourage readers to dive deep into an abundant relationship with God when we fail to do so ourselves? Shallow faith is not a tried faith. It’s working through the difficult emotions, the ugly sins, admitting to failure, discouragement and depression. It’s being authentic. It’s removing the mask of perfection, revealing the depths of God’s love and working power within our own desperate hearts.

Shallow faith is not a tried faith.

And sometimes, by God's grace, He gently nudges us deeper than we wanted to go, to where we have no choice but to cling to Him.  It’s here that we become aware that living in His abundance means complete trust in His goodness, which brings abundant peace no matter how deep the water.

Mary Folkerts is mom to four kids and wife to a farmer, living on the southern prairies of Alberta, where the skies are large and the sunsets stunning. She is a Proverbs 31 ministries COMPEL Writers Training member and is involved in church ministries and music. Mary’s personal blog aims to encourage and inspire women and advocate for those with Down Syndrome, as their youngest child introduced them to this extraordinary new world. For more inspiration, check out Joy in the small things https://maryfolkerts.com/  

April 26, 2023

Devoted to Devotionals - Gloria Guest

I have been a proliferator of devotionals for most of my adult life ; all helpful on a day to day basis in my walk with God and to encourage and inspire me. Some devotionals are more topic orientated and others follow various Bible passages. One I have always turned back to  has been My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. In spite of the formal language it is a gem in the way it transcends time and it's depth of thought continuously uncovers more truths hidden in the author's words. 
As a past columnist I think that writing a devotional is very similar in that brief is best, every word counts, and being clear and concise is paramount. A good devotion can be turned to quickly and inspire your reader for a day, weeks, months or even a lifetime. I love the impact that just a few words can have. 
Following, I share an Easter Devotion 

An Easter Devotional

It was a winter of much needed Grace and Gods provision.
I spent a great deal of it looking forward to Spring.
Spring doesn't magically change circumstances, but with its cheery disposition, it does seem to make things feel a little easier.
In Spring I can throw open the windows, let the fresh air replace the stale, hear the birds chirp their freedom song.
In one sense there is no difference, yet in another, everything is different.
The Easter season and life in general, is much the same way.
One day it is Good Friday, where we mourn and shake with fear and hide ourselves away.
Then come the 'in between days,' where most of us often find ourselves living.
We need something new to happen, to deliver us from winter, something fresh and alive, yet yesterday mocks us with our sin and stains us with guilt.
On Easter morning, Jesus was not recognized at first by those who knew him most intimately.
We too don't always recognize Jesus when He arrives in our lives, during the earliest days of new growth and change.
I know I haven't.
Yet there He was, tending the garden of my unruly thoughts, pruning an overgrown plan and watering thirsty dreams.
He looks at me and says, "Why do you weep?"
And in my distress, I reply to my risen Saviour, who I've diminished to a mere gardener, 
"Where is Jesus?
Why has He left me?"
And then he gently speaks my name,
"Gloria," and I suddenly recognize Him.

*partially paraphrased from John 20: 11-18

Prairie Crocuses taken by Reg Guest

This topic has actually served to inspire me to perhaps continue to write more (I have a few saved up) and publish my own devotional sometime. It's always something that has been on my Bucket
List and since I missed the 'B' month, I'll just sneak this in here.;) 

Gloria writes and blogs from the small hamlet of Caron, Sk; where she lives with her husband Reg (when he's not on the road) and her cat Tigger. She especially enjoys the genres of memoir, creative non-fiction, poetry and perhaps you'll come across some devotionals in the future. She has written extensively for various newspapers as a reporter and has been a newspaper columnist and has published various pieces in anthologies. She has also studied creative writing from the U of T and editing from SFU. 

April 25, 2023

A Ditty About Dialogue ~ Valerie Ronald

                                                                                           image credit iStock             

This ditty about dialogue can be sung to the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General”, from their comic opera “Pirates of Penzance”. If you are not familiar with the tune, find it here. I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General Guaranteed to get stuck in your head!                                          

                                  A Ditty About Dialogue

When words are scribed to illustrate a story conversational  
they bounce from one to t’other in a manner dialogical.
Inverted commas there to show us that they are quotational 
from Tom to Dick to Jane to Sue, in order categorical.

Avoid he said-she said, instead paint pictures anectodical 
of who is saying what in tones so they are recognizable.
Words spoken tell the reader things not spelled out biographical.
In short, if characters are bad or good or egotistical.

Between what’s said use action lines for interest prototypical 
to keep the story moving for a reader idealogical.
Have characters speak normally, keep what they say realistical 
so when the story ends, the dialogue is commonsensical.
More of Valerie's work can be read on her blog:


April 22, 2023

Developing a Writing Style - An Experiment in AI - Lorrie Orr


Artificial Intelligence - what does it mean for writers, and other creatives? Chat GPT was released in late November 2022, and another version, Chat GPT4 in March 2023. The capabilities are causing consternation throughout academia as schools, publishers, and others grapple with the possibilities and drawbacks of this new technology. In an effort to understand just what Chat GPT could do, I signed up for it with my Microsoft account. I asked it how to develop a writing style. Here's what it gave me in less than six seconds.

Developing a unique writing style takes time, practice, and a lot of experimentation. Here are some tips to help you develop your own unique writing style:

1.     Read widely: Read a variety of books, articles, and other forms of writing to expose yourself to different styles and techniques.

2.     Write often: Practice writing regularly to develop your writing skills and to find your own voice. Try different genres and formats to explore what works best for you.

3.     Experiment with different writing techniques: Try different approaches to writing, such as using metaphors, analogies, or humor, to find your own unique style.

4.     Find your own voice: Write in a way that is authentic and reflects your personality and values. Don't be afraid to express your own opinions and emotions in your writing.

5.     Edit and revise: After you have written a piece, revise and edit it to make sure it flows well and is free of errors. This process can help you refine your writing style and make it more unique.

Remember, developing a unique writing style is a journey, not a destination. It takes time and effort, but with practice and persistence, you can develop a style that is all your own.

Rather boring, I thought, but the bones of good advice are there. Then I asked it to write the same information in the style of Hemingway. Here's the response:

Developing a unique writing style takes grit, practice, and a heap of experimentation. To find your own voice, you gotta read widely and write often. Don't shy away from trying different approaches, like using metaphors, analogies, or humor. Be true to yourself and express your opinions and emotions fearlessly. And don't forget to edit and revise, honing your style until it's as sharp as a blade. Developing your own style is a journey, a rough road that requires time and effort, but with persistence, you can make it your own.

And in the style of Margaret Atwood:

Developing a unique writing style is a gradual process, one that requires patience, perseverance, and plenty of experimentation. To cultivate your own distinctive voice, it's essential to read widely and write often. Don't be afraid to explore various techniques, such as metaphors, analogies, or humor, until you find what resonates with you. Above all, let your writing be an authentic reflection of your personality and values, without compromising your integrity. Remember that editing and revising are vital parts of the writing process, refining your style until it's polished and refined. Developing your own style takes time and dedication, but with hard work and tenacity, it's possible to create something truly unique. 

And in the style of Charles Dickens:

To develop a unique writing style requires perseverance, diligence, and the utmost commitment. One must read extensively and write with unwavering dedication to discover their own voice. Experimentation is key, for one must try their hand at various techniques, including the use of metaphors, analogies, and humor, to uncover their unique style. Above all, one must remain true to oneself, conveying their opinions and emotions without reservation or compromise. The process of editing and revising is equally important, polishing and refining one's style until it gleams like a polished diamond. Remember, dear writer, that developing a singular style requires patience and tireless effort, but with persistence, one can achieve a greatness that will leave a lasting impression upon the world of literature.

I was surprised by the ability of the program to capture Hemingway's strong, casual vocabulary and syntax, Atwood's smooth flowing words, and Dicken's wordiness along with addressing the reader. 

So what does this mean for writers? The irony of a ChatBot writing "Above all, let your writing be an authentic reflection of your personality and values, without compromising your integrity" was not lost on me. Schools are already dealing with students using the technology inappropriately.

This article discusses possible responses to technological change, and I believe they are worth considering. Even if one doesn't engage in AI, it's good to be aware. 

This post is getting to be far too long, but I'm interested to know if you have experimented with Artificial Intelligence in your writing, and if so, what are the possible benefits and pitfalls? I believe we are all going to have to grapple with it sooner rather than later. What are appropriate uses for such technology for writers? 

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. 

April 21, 2023

Discipline Yourself - Tracy Krauss

Writing takes DISCIPLINE.  

I'm not talking about the punitive connotation, but the self-regulating type required of athletes, musicians, or anyone, really, who is serious about their calling. I tossed the words DEDICATION and DETERMINATION around as alternates, but without DISCIPLINE (self-discipline to be exact) these may be little more than wishful thinking. 

No matter how busy, people tend to make time for the things that are important to them. If this is true, (and I believe it is) I am ashamed to admit that watching Netflix (or other irrelevant TV) must be important to me since I spend a fair amount of time doing it in the evenings.

What about you?

I'm going to be blunt. For most of us, "I'm too busy," is just an excuse.  Finding time to write, publish, connect with other authors, or market our work takes self-disciple. 

Paul says, Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9: 24 - 27 (NLT)

Paul is talking about the Christian life, of course, but the principle applies to writing as well. All the courses, books, and seminars in the world will not make a bit of difference if you don't take action - and then keep on taking action! There are no guaranteed tips, tricks, or "hacks". Moving ahead with your writing goals - whatever they may be - takes hard work and a stick-to-it mindset.

I know from experience that I am "gung-ho" after a conference or seminar, but applying what I've learned for the long haul is hard! It's easy to lose momentum. But like that runner, I have to keep on taking steps forward, no matter how small. I need self-discipline. 

Schedules, deadlines, checklists, rewards, or other incentives are all good strategies. Do what makes sense for you. But like anything worthwhile (praying more, exercising, changing our eating habits etc.) it boils down to one thing: choice

Self-discipline means making the choice. It's that simple.


Tracy Krauss
is the former president of Inscribe who works, writes, (and sometimes procrastinates) from her home in northern BC. Visit her website at: www.tracykrauss.com

April 20, 2023

A Testimony of Discipline by Alan Anderson

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.—I Corinthians 13: 6 & 7.


D is for Discipline


Discipline means “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discipline


Touchy Feely and Called 

Years ago, a friend and colleague informed me I was “touchy feely.” He said this because visiting people in the hospital like I did was not his calling. He spent more time in administrative responsibilities than anything else. He later noted he could not do my ministry. Well, that’s the point of our spiritual gifts. We are gifted as God sees fit. With our spiritual gift comes discipline as our gift develops.


I love people, and I love writing. I care for people, and I care about each word I write. I am devoted to both. I imagine there are people who might consider my writing “touchy feely,” as well, and this is fine with me. Please allow me to explain how my spiritual gift and my discipline developed.


A Jump Start to Discipline


In my younger years of Bible college and ministry, I soon realized I would never be a Biblical scholar. For a time, it seemed I was a failure. While several of my Bible college peers were learning Hebrew and Greek, I was falling behind.


April 18, 1977, gave a jump start to my education, ministry, and area of discipline. Dr. Vernon C. Grounds, of Denver Seminary, presented a three-day series entitled, “Thanatology: A New Name for Man’s Old Nemesis.” This presentation set the foundation for my discipline into pastoral care, with my focus on grief, death, and dying. Dr. Grounds was not only a pastor and scholar, but he was also approachable and exhibited a deep love for God’s people.


Discipline, Devotion and Ministry

I love people; I love to write, and I hope people find me approachable. I care for people, and I care about each word I write. Over the past forty-five years, I devoted my calling to pastoral care related work to ministry in church and community involvement. This includes my writing. This has all taken determination and discipline to make a difference in the lives of people.


My disciplined journey in pastoral care took years to develop. I loved every year, even the difficult ones. One lesson I suggest to younger people as they seek to develop their spiritual gift is don’t give up. Perseverance is part of the journey of discipline. The difficulties faced in ministry, or our writing, may test us. Difficulties, however, are not a reason to doubt or quit our calling.


Over the past two years, health challenges have challenged my calling. I see no reason to quit but adjust my approach. My so-called “retirement years” give time and space to evaluate my calling, but not neglect it. This is all part of discipline.


Disciplined to Keep Writing


These days my writing is focused on writing poetry. This is a pleasant change for me but still invites discipline. This change from short stories, for instance, has taught me disciplined writing can be a form of contemplation. I know people who focus on devotional messages as contemplative writers. For me, poetry is contemplative and helps me focus on thoughts and emotions I hope to express in the poems.




Membership as an InScribe writer is a tremendous honour and blessing. We are at different levels in our writing call, yet all of us are disciplined in our gifts as writers.


We can never underestimate the importance of discipline in our gift and call to write, whatever our genre. Here are a few concluding points to help us appreciate what discipline entails:


1.  Discipline helps one develop self-control.

2.  Discipline takes time.

3.  Discipline includes enthusiasm.

4.  Discipline teaches us to be humble.

5.  Discipline develops focus.

6.  Discipline helps us make wise choices.

7.  Discipline enables us to reach our goals.

8.  Discipline helps us persevere in our calling.


Dear InScribe family, love the Lord, love His call on your life, and love the discipline it takes to be faithful.



Alan lives in Deroche, B.C. with his wife, Terry, and their poodle, Charlie. 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. He is currently working on a book expressing the grief of grieving grandparents entitled “Hidden Poetic Voices: A Reflective Work of Grief, Faith, and Poetry.” Alan periodically writes articles for FellowScript Magazine. He has written posts for our InScribe blog since 2015. He is the Writing Group Coordinator for InScribe. Blog: https://scarredjoy.ca.


April 19, 2023

Dimension for your Discourse ~ Guest Post by Ruth Smith Meyer

If you’ve never been a one-eyed person, you have no idea how flat the world can look. Even without 3-D glasses, two eyes give a depth perception that cannot be rendered with only one eye. 

It’s the same with writing. The more diverse your view of a discourse, the more depth your story will assume. Without that disparate understanding a story becomes flat and uninteresting.   

Engaging description that helps the reader personally connect to the scene or character will give the narrative dimension and drive the desire to plunge into the rest of the story. 

(example: As Sharon opened the screen door, the aroma of smoked ham and buttery scalloped potatoes threatened to transport her back to her childhood. The sight of four loaves of bread, cooling on the table, their crusty tops shining with butter almost finished the job.  Her mother turned from the stove to greet her.  Beads of perspiration stood on her forehead and her graying curls clung to her cheeks. Embraced in her warm hug, Sharon breathed in the familiar scent of her mom. The comfort of her arms.  The depth of her love. How she longed to be that little girl again. She braced herself.  What she had to do today was not a task for a little girl, but for a grown woman. It was not going to be easy.  A deep breath. A short pause. A renewed determination.  “Mom, we have to talk.”)

Defining the characters in the story, demonstrating the emotions in each scene, describing the settings, the diversity in vista, or drama happening around the situation develop and elevate the emotions of the reader and compel them to feel personally involved.  

(example: The expansive flowerbed in front of her danced with the incredible warmth and stunning brilliance of colour—shocking pink geraniums, yellow and orange marigolds, purple and white petunias the feathery love-in-the mist mingled with the various greens of coleus and hostas. Behind them the pink and red peonies, blue and purple delphiniums anchored the flamboyant display. Marla tried to keep her eyes from the sky above and behind. There, the lightening flashed and black clouds seemed intent on rolling over each other as they hastened in her direction.  Light and dark. Peace and turmoil. Happiness and looming tempest.  What a vivid demonstration of what was happening in her life.)

The unintended duplicity in a dyad also can disclose a demonstration of difference in the dimension of understanding. This often happens because of the dissimilarity in upbringing or background. The results can be daring or delightful depending on the storyline.  Discovering and disclosing them in the characters of your discourse can add depth to your story and draw out the diversity and disagreements your readers encounter in their own lives. It may even bring to light dormant difficulties that can be confronted and diminished once they are discovered and accepted. 

So keep discovering the delight in different dimensions as you write and disperse them into your world. 

Ruth Smith Meyer lives in her little house in the fairy-tale town of Ailsa Craig, Ont. Widowed twice, she finds comfort and companionship in her writing. She is part of a writers’ group that keeps her focused. She invites readers to visit her Facebook page: Ruth Smith Meyer Books 

April 18, 2023

D is for Defying Doubt by Lorilee Guenter


There is a dictionary full of words to choose for this month. I thought about reading through the entries to find something to anchor this reflection on, because I didn’t want to write about doubt. I recognised some irony in the search since I was letting doubt guide a path away from the one word that kept surfacing among the many options.

Doubt creeps into my writing journey in many ways. Some are obvious. Those are the easiest to catch and face. Others are much more subtle. All could contribute to the so-called impostor syndrome.

The most obvious voice of doubt screams, “You are not a writer.” The primary response is to pick up my pen and write anyway. As the ink makes readable marks on the page, I silence the lie. Even if no one reads what I have committed to paper, I have shown that I am a writer in the most basic sense of the word.

“But no one will want to read what I write.” Another lie born out of doubt. True, there will be people who don’t want to read my work. We all have different preferences regarding style and content we like to read. That does not prove that nobody wants to read it. It is not my job to decide who does and does not want to read it. My job is to express the ideas I have been given. Even if only one person, me, reads the writing, it is enough because, through the act of writing, I am able to clarify my thoughts.

Then there are smaller doubts that arise while writing or, more specifically, during revising and editing. The doubt is about clarity. This doubt can be a tool used to strengthen our writing if we don’t let it paralyse us. The dictionary and thesaurus might help here as we search for that word that brings an image to life. Conversely, it can paralyse if we let that hint of doubt keep us from picking a word, or creating a phrase. The perfect choice does not exist because each reader brings their own experience to the page. Those experiences inform the connotations the reader interprets language with.

As I walk through my writing journey, I must learn to recognise the doubt that paralyses and turn it over to God. By entrusting my writing to the Holy Spirit, faith replaces doubt. My writing becomes an offering. My responsibility is to be faithful to use the gifts I have been given instead of hiding them due to doubt. God’s responsibility is to take the offering and use it where, when, and how He wants.

I do not know what doubt I will face tomorrow. It is my hope and prayer that I will recognise it and continue in faith anyway.

April 17, 2023

D is for Diligence by Carol Harrison


As I thought about which D word to write about for this post, I kept coming back to the words diligent, diligence, and due diligence. Diligence comes from the Greek word that means attention or care. A person who is diligent will have character traits like determination, steadfastness, and attentive to details. But diligence is a skill we can learn.

I think writers who are diligent will:

1        Work towards a goal

o   Not everyone enjoys the idea of setting goals, but we all need to have an end result in sight so we know where we need to go.  

2        Plan small steps towards the goal

o   A goal, especially a large one, can be daunting. Planning out small segments takes some of the overwhelming feeling away

3        Do those small steps one at a time

o   Setting a goal and planning those small steps is only the beginning. We actually need to work on doing those small bits so we can reach the final product whether it is a book, an article, a plan for more education, or anything else

4        Push through the obstacles

o   Obstacles show up in my life all the time, blocking me from writing. I realize I’m not the only one to experience obstacles.  

o   Some things like specific appointments, getting sick, or an unexpected obligation are legitimate reasons to put writing on hold for a time but I need to remember not to let them morph into excuses later.

5        Don’t settle for good enough or have the attitude that it doesn’t matter

o   Too often I get impatient and settle for good enough. And then get upset about dong it again. Doing the best I can is being a good steward of the gift God gave me to tell stories in various ways.

6        Produce excellent work

o   This is where obtaining critiques, edits, and more edits comes into play. I am so grateful for early readers and those willing to give critiques before the piece, especially a book, goes to the editor.

7        Finish what you start

Business uses the phrase, due diligence often. Yet there are ways we need to apply this to writing. Some good questions to ask to show due diligence in writing can include:

1.      What does the reader expect and need from this piece of writing, this story?

2.      How much research should I do to help make my work authentic to the time, place, and events in it?

3.      How do I incorporate that research without just being an information dump?

4.      Am I using words and phrases correctly to show I understand their meaning and allow readers to figure it out too.

5.      Does the wording I use reflect the time period of the book?

The list isn’t exhaustive but it gives us a start in the process of doing our due diligence in our writing.  

I also think being diligent with our writing means we will make time to write and then stick to it as much as possible. I have lots of project ideas, sometimes multiple ones going on at the same time. I need to learn to set the order of priority for them. Checking deadlines and writer guidelines and then following them is so important.

As writers, we always need to be honing our craft. I had the opportunity to sit down with Saskatoon’s writer-in-residence at our local library. She asked why I had sent work in and come to this meeting. My answer was, “There’s always something more to learn.”

I love to share stories both orally and in writing. Sharing the story of Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf, continues to be something I love to do. Do I share it enough in my writing? Do I gently share or beat the audience over the head and preach to them?

In I Timothy 4 Paul charges the young man and pastor, Timothy, about being diligent in sharing the gospel. In verses 11-15, we see Paul’s instructions which apply to all of us who follow Jesus.

Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters, give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

I think these are important for us in our everyday lives, not just when we sit down to write our next book, story, article, poem, or anything else.

May we entrust ourselves and our work to the One who gives us the abilities, the desire, and the command to share the gospel with others. Then be diligent and steward all He has given as we write. 

Carol Harrison lives in Saskatoon and enjoys telling stories. Sometimes she writes them as well. Her favourite times involve telling the stories of Jesus to those who have never heard or
heard them all their lives.