August 30, 2013

Who Am I? - Susan Barclay

There a few questions I've recently been asking myself. 'Who am I?' is one of them, and from this follow 'What should I be doing?', 'What is the best use of my time?', and 'What do I want to accomplish in life?'

I've been thinking about these things for a very good reason. Last year, a neighbour presented me with a network marketing opportunity. It was a great product, I wasn't feeling sufficiently challenged at work, and becoming a consultant would definitely push me out of my comfort zone. Besides, we could certainly use the extra money! I didn't 'over-think' it and, though I seem to recall praying about it, I'm not so sure I listened for the answer.

I placed my business order, had some launch parties, distributed catalogues, attended local meetings, and started selling. I was inspired, but business was slow. With two teenagers, a husband, a dog, a house, and writing, I didn't have enough 'nooks and crannies' in my life to build a team. I planned to relaunch and push hard this fall, but as I considered the future, I came to realize I was sidetracked from my true purpose.

Who am I? I am a writer. I have been gifted by God with the ability to write, to create stories and share ideas. I have something to say.

What should I be doing? Taking care of my family. And writing, of course.

What is the best use of my time? Keeping things clean and organized so that life runs smoothly for all the members of our household. (We made a really good start on this in July as we got ready for our August holiday. Now I just need to stay on top of it and declutter even further.) I also need to be writing - every day. Other writers do it, and I can, too. It's been said that the way you spend your time defines your priorities. You can't call yourself a writer and not write. A writer is someone who writes, period.

What do I want to accomplish in life? I want to be published, yes. I want people to read what I've written. I want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Sometimes I just want to entertain them and take them away to a different place for their pleasure and relaxation. I also want to leave a legacy to my children. One that says I spent my time doing what I was created for, and they can do the same.

So I'm setting my business aside. I still love the product and if anyone wants to buy it, they'll be able to get it through me. But I've decided not to build a network marketing team. That's not who I am.

I'm me, and I'm a writer.

c. Susan Barclay
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For more of my writing, please visit my website at www.susan-barclay.ca

August 29, 2013

5 Reasons You Should Attend the ICWF Fall Conference


In less than a month, Christian writers from across Canada will be gathering in Wetaskiwin, Alberta for the 2013 ICWF Fall Conference. Perhaps you're undecided about whether you should attend or not. Here are 5 reasons I think you should register and attend:

1. To fellowship with other Christian writers. Writing can be a lonely occupation. Our craft demands that we spend hours in concentration, picking the exact words to express the ideas in our heads. Often as writers, we doubt our abilities and calling. Gathering with other Christian writers provides opportunities to share experiences and talk with people who "get it" when it comes to writing. Spending time with other Christian writers is encouraging and motivating. The ICWF Fall Conference is a great opportunity to interact with other Christian writers and get inspired to continue on with our writing.


    2. To hone our writing skills. No matter how long we've been writing or how many classes we take on writing, we can always improve. At the 2013 ICWF Fall Conference we will have the opportunity to learn from keynote speaker, Murray Pura about how to get published and stay published. We will also have the opportunity to share our writing with others in the manuscript or free fall sessions. Then there are wonderful workshops to choose from on various topics including writing poetry.

    3. To celebrate with winners of the Fall Contest. On Friday evening the winners of the 2013 Fall Contest will be announced. Those who are present will receive certificates and prizes. The InScribe purpose statement says: "We exist to stimulate, encourage and support Christians who write anywhere across Canada, to advance effective Christian writing, and to promote the influence of all Christians who write." Our Fall Contest is one way we do this.




    4. To learn more about InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship. At conference we will participate in the ICWF annual general meeting. Executive members present reports outlining what has happened over the past year. Other members have the opportunity to ask questions and give suggestions. Elections are held for executive positions. Perhaps you have some time to volunteer and would like to contribute to growing our organization. We need people who can serve in the roles of vice-president, treasurer, and publicity. We are also looking for "techies" who can grow and develop our website, mentors who can support our satellite groups. There are many more opportunities as well.

    5. To be challenged in our walk with God. Those of us who belong to InScribe are not just writers, we are Christian writers. At conference we have the opportunity to spend time singing worship songs, praying together, having devotions together, learning from other Christian writers, and interacting on an informal basis.
    Perhaps you have other reasons for attending conference. Please share them in the comment section. The ICWF Fall Conference has become one of the highlights of my year. I hope this year's conference will be a highlight for you!


    Ruth L. Snyder lives in northeastern Alberta with her husband and five young children. She joined the InScribe executive 3 years ago and is currently serving as the publicity coordinator.

    ruthlsnyder.com
    www.trusteesnyder.blogspot.com
    www.twitter.com/wwjdr




    August 28, 2013

    KNOW YOUR READERSHIP by Bruce Atchison

    There are only two ways of working effectively, harder or smarter. I learned the hard way that the subjects I thought were interesting are obviously not of interest to others. My three memoirs are an apt example of this.

    When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies sold well, particularly since it was a debut book. I knew many rabbit owners and having been their friend, they bought a total of  two-hundred-and-fifty copies.

    My second memoir, Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School, did poorly. At first, I felt astonished. The fact that most people with perfect sight have no interest in accounts of life in that sort of institution did not occur to me when I wrote my memoir. Neither did I record any sensational stories of abuse in it. Only blind people wanted the book but I lacked the money to have it in an accessible format. As a result, I barely sold fifty print copies.

    I assumed my third book would do better. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity has been out for less than a year but it also has done poorly. Though I promoted it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Linked In, only a few copies sold.

    I now realize that I should have done research on how well books on the subject of toxic churches sold. My second mistake was to assume that apologetics ministries would jump at the chance to promote my testimony of God's providential leading. Every ministry to which I sent a copy politely said "no" or failed to reply.

    Though we writers find it difficult to step back from our creations and see potential pitfalls, it is possible. What we can do, and what I should have done, is enlist friends who we trust to give good suggestions on where would be the best places to plug our books or articles. Of course Googling can be of help but it does consume a lot of time. Writing groups which point the way instead of the finger are also good places for advice.

    I certainly have learned my lesson. Like attracts like. My rabbit book sold well because my friends love to read about bunny antics. If I had my blind school memoir in an accessible format, I might have sold more copies to sight-impaired people. I'm now concentrating on  telling cult recovery organizations about my journey to biblical Christianity. Time will tell if I'm successful or not.

    Bruce Atchison is a freelance writer and self-published author. His articles have appeared in a wide variety of magazines since the nineties. Atchison's first two books are available at Bruce Atchison's books while his latest memoir is at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual bookworm publishers.

    August 25, 2013

    Little Bites & E-Mail by Bobbi Junior

    Writing in the midst of certain seasons of life can be overwhelming.

    Writing about life-changing events can be overwhelming. 

    Writing when you have a busy family, a full time job, and ongoing demands on your time can be... .  

    Well, you get the picture.

    Several years ago our daughter was disabled in a car accident. Lately I’ve felt the need to document the story, but the story is huge. In prayer, I asked the Lord for direction, and a simple thought came to mind. Little bites. Little bites? I gave it a try. That morning I quickly described one scene midway through her hospitalization. It filled half a page. It brought tears to my eyes. I named it, dated it, and saved it in a folder called ‘Draya’s Story’. Since then, I’ve added several more vignettes. Documenting one will often trigger another as I let stream of consciousness take over. Bit by bit I’m creating the skeleton of my daughter’s story, bones that will be ready for a season when God gives me time to flesh it out.

    I also have a file called, ‘Mom’. In addition to working full time, I am part of the Sandwich Generation of caregivers, with an independent daughter who is disabled, and an increasingly dependent mother who has dementia. As my mother's story unfolds, I don’t want to lose the pieces of this part of her journey: hospitalization, working with the health care system, entry to the nursing home, her reactions, my reactions.

    How do I keep track of a story that’s evolving day by day?  Again, I prayed in frustration, and received another nudge from the Lord. As I whipped off an e-mail to my friend, describing Mom’s latest catastrophe, I realized I’d just told the story. In writing. A quick copy-and-paste and the e-mail was saved in my ‘Mom’ file. Today I have several pages of e-mails detailing events as they occur. Once again, when the season is right, I’ll have all I need to tell this part of my mother’s journey, and my learning as I walk alongside her.


    Small bites in the form of vignettes, and saving e-mail updates are two simple ways to be assured you’ll have what you need to tell the full story, when the time is right. 

    August 24, 2013

    Indulgences - Lynn Dove

    If you will indulge me...

    It's been a very topsy-turvy summer.  My "baby" turns eighteen today, and I am feeling the throes of "letting go" once again and letting the last of my children fly from the safety and confinement of the nest into the world.  You know what that means, don't you?...

    Empty Nest Syndrome

    Well, not sure it's appropriate to be called a syndrome yet, but I am certainly feeling the emptiness of the house with just my husband and I rattling around in it.  We moved our youngest into seminary residences only a few days ago, and even though she only lives minutes from our home, every time I walk by her room, I feel a pang of loss. 

    We bought this acreage and house, just north of Cochrane, Alberta, when my son was only a toddler, and my oldest daughter was just a child.  Our baby was born a year after and this house has, for close to twenty years, been filled with birthday party celebrations, pool parties, and youth activities.  It seems so silent all of a sudden.

    Someone said to me that once the kids move out I'll have plenty of time to write.  Wow.  I wish I could feel some comfort from that statement, but I haven't been able to write all summer.  Oh, I blog a bit but my heart hasn't been into sitting down and completing that manuscript that beckons to me every once in a while, taunting me with its incompleteness. 

    And amazingly to say...I'm okay with it.

    A Christian writer knows that there is a "season for everything".  I have to adapt to this next season of life for me now without kids in the house everyday.  I plan on taking a couple of months to establish a new routine, a new normality if you will, for my days.  Certainly that manuscript may be added onto in the months ahead but right now the focus is connecting with my husband like I did BC (Before Children), and settling into my new Empty Nest role gracefully. 

    Thankfully my kids know that they are just a text message away from their Mama, and my baby even has my permission to bring over her laundry weekly and I'll even wash it all for her; I won't even grumble about it.

    Wow, things really HAVE changed!



    Lynn Dove calls herself a Christ-follower, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, a teacher and a writer (in that order). She is the author of award winning books: The Wounded Trilogy. Her blog, Journey Thoughts won a Canadian Christian Writing Award - 2011. She has also had essays published in "Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul - Parenthood" (March 2013),  (Sept. 2013) and O Canada The Wonders of Winter: 101 Stories about Bad Weather, Good Times, and Great Sports (Nov. 2013).  Readers may connect with Lynn on Facebook, Twitter and on her blogs: Journey Thoughts and Word Salt or on her website: www.shootthewounded.org



    August 23, 2013

    Honoring Your Voice - by Terrie Lynne

    Last summer I took the Blogging ABC's for Newbies course by Brenda Leyland, and in September of 2012 I set up my first blog/online writing site titled,  Release The Writer Within. The purpose was to challenge myself and anyone out there in cyberspace to write daily during the 30 days of September what we had learned from the apohorisms/chapters from Cecil Murphey's book, Unleash The Writer Within, Oaktara, 2011.

    Here is an insert of the posting from Day 14 based on Chapter 12 from Cecil's book. I hope you find it enjoyable and inspiring!

    Cecil has previously talked about needing to write with our own voices and to make the words on the page sound like ourselves. "If you write with your distinctive voice, readers will know who you are." He says, "People who know me say that when they read my prose, they can hear me talking casually to them."
    Cecil writes, "For excellence in writing, your words on paper need to sound as if you're having a simple, direct conversation with the reader. And it doesn't matter which genre you use or whether it's fiction or nonfiction. Your voice is your voice."

    Although the style and subject matter change, the voice doesn't. The only time Cecil says your voice should not sound like your own is when you are ghostwriting for someone else.
    This reminds me of a young lady I know who is enrolled in a program run by a Christian author/speaker. The purpose of the program is to teach her how to speak publicly and write books about her love for God. Although it sounds very noble and exciting I can't help but wonder who she will sound like when she's finished. Will she still sound like herself or like the author? Will she write and speak with authenticity or will she become programed, no longer having a sense of her own identity? I guess time will tell. I hope most of all she will reflect Christ in her, the hope of glory.
    Cecil shares further thoughts on this topic. He says,"Too many writers have little respect for their own sound. You may feel you have to imitate someone else, become more erudite, or use strong words to give you authority. Resist that. Work at sounding like the best possible version of yourself."
    He goes on to say,"Readers choose certain authors the same way they select their friends-- on the basis of personality--or the sound of the author's words in print. All humans have a circle of people who like them and want to be around them. You also have those who don't like you, avoid you, or can't relate to you. That's the same as your readership."
    I've heard it said that at least 10 percent of the population will not like you no matter what you do. At least you'll have 90% that do!
    "If you're like the average person," Cecil writes, " you want to have more friends--and as a writer, that refers primarily to buyers and readers of your writing."
    After sharing a few examples of his own experiences in writing Cecil says,"No matter how much some editors or other writers may not like your writing, you'll attract those who will. You'll draw people into your writing circle the same way you do in your friendship circle."
    There is so much more teaching in this chapter than I can possibly post so I would like to finish off with this final paragraph by Cecil.
    He writes, "No one can teach you to write with your true voice. We instructors can only provide the atmosphere or setting that honors the process and encourages you to strive to hear your inner voice. Please remember this: The true voice is the heart of good writing. It's more than techniques or the ability to write in more than one genre. It's the ability to accept your voice as valuable and to use it."
    This message from Cecil is filled with encouragement, grace and a grace-filled environment for us to grow as writers! 

    The Aphorism for this chapter is: "The more I know who I am and like who I am, the truer my writing voice and the more faithfully I honor that voice."


    If you enjoyed this posting and would like to read through the rest of the Release The Writer within and take the 30 day challenge go to. Release The Writer Within

    August 18, 2013

    Creating A Place And Time To Create - Dayna E. Mazzuca

     

    We're pleased to have Dayna Mazzuca join us as our Guest Blogger today.


    Artists are a sensitive bunch. As such, when it comes to our art, we should be able to say what we really want. After all, we’re very in touch with our feelings. Yet, we typically get tongue-tied when it comes to asking for what we need: which is often space away (we hate to sound anti-social), and unlimited time (which sounds rather selfish in a “time is money” culture), plus a sympathetic, beautiful, inspiring environment where basic needs are met so we can focus on the act of creation (who do we think we are, rock stars?!).

    YES, many artists, deep down feel they are special—because they know the act of creation is special. The trouble is our calculating, objective, goal-oriented culture often does not value the artist, except for the salability of what he or she produces. There is a large gap between what the artist needs to create and what the culture is conducive to.

    Seventy-five years ago, when The Banff Centre for the Arts first opened, it was with this disparity in mind. Realizing most artists do not feel validated in the rough and tumble work-a-day universe, The Centre billed itself as “a place for artists.”

    Here was a place for artists to relax, and create out of a sense of newfound freedom and acceptance. At The Centre resident artists were not subject to tight schedules. There were few rules and basic needs, such as food and shelter, were met. Daily showings were well attended. Experimentation was encouraged.

    As a result, writers, visual artists, musicians, actors and dancers flocked to this small campus on Tunnel Mountain overlooking the town of Banff. As a former reporter for the local newspaper, I interviewed countless visiting artists and they all said, basically, the same thing: “It’s essential for an artist to have time and space and a sympathetic environment within which to create.”

    Agreed!!

    But not every writer has access to a writing retreat at a place like The Banff Centre. The best most of us can do is to re-create just such a place and time—for ourselves and others. Whether it’s giving our selves permission to ignore bills and dishes for a weekend, and be obsessive about our writing, or organizing a full-scale writers’ retreat/conference, it can be done!

    Whether it’s a solo retreat or a group event, the main thing to remember is: the creative act is paramount! Small or large, there is a way to honour, foster and encourage creativity, which is the lifeblood of any artist.

    Tell the outside world to wait. For an artist, creation is a mysterious process. Ideas come from somewhere. It’s the artist’s “job” to detect those great ideas, those insights, those movements below the surface. The artist’s sensitivity is like the mechanic’s tool box. You can’t have one without the other.

    One idea must be allowed to lead to the next… and the next… Ideas thrive on blue-sky possibilities and open-ended thought processes. Mundane interruptions and things of an immediate, pressing nature kill this process. For this reason, it’s a great idea to unplug from digital media. Ban newspapers and magazines.

    Direct and prepare conversational topics, if in a group.

    Set aside time for collective brainstorming sessions, or solo ones.

    Be selective in music choices.

    Surround yourself with beautiful things, views and conceptual triggers. Include inspirational reading times.

    Start and end and blend in prayer times.

    On a more practical note, keep food choices simple and readily available. And try not to set goals for your “time away” that stress you out. Pick a topic or a project to tackle or explore and just see what comes. The administrative and business side of the artist’s life requires the attention of the left side of the brain. A creative retreat time is tonic for the souls of the right-brained. It’s the right brain that needs to be pampered, not pushed. It needs unhurried time, not deadlines. It needs space, not a set number of pages to fill.

    Creating a space for the artistic side of our selves to flourish is an intentional act. It can be done for one person, or a small writing group, or a large group of conference attendees. The main thing is to just keep asking, “What would the artist want?” Then letting God lead to what, for artists, would be the most natural of outcomes: time and space and a sympathetic environment within which to create!



    August 17, 2013

    Organizing My Time by Bryan Norford

    Organizing my time at home may be difficult enough, but try it on vacation.
    Oh! Come on now, that’s when you have the time to spare, isn’t it?
    Well, to be honest, my routine at home isn’t foolproof. Perhaps I can get it organized now.
    But whatever routine I mismanaged at home, it’s torpedoed by the relaxing demands of this holiday time. Sleep late, lazy breakfast, and so on. O-oh, missed my devotional time. Besides Ann needs my attention now—she’s my responsibility under God isn’t she?
    Anyhow, I have this book by Eugene Peterson I need to read. That’s devotional isn’t it? But the later the day, the more my excuses pile up. And that’s for a relaxing holiday. This one is travel; so much to see, so much to get in today.
    Other people are depending on me; I’ve made commitments. Time is of the essence. Meeting at McDonald's for breakfast. Other friends expecting us at Oxford in a couple of hours and not sure of driving time to get there.
    Be nice to get home into some regular routine again—however badly, at least it works some of the time.
    Okay. You’re on vacation. Perhaps you need some time away from your routine.
    Yes, good point, I’ll be better able to cope at home after a break won’t I?
    However, you can still find time to do the things you want. You found time to write this blog, didn’t you?
    Yes, of course. It’s the 17th. Can’t let Brenda down.
    You mean Brenda’s your excuse for your poor devotional skills?
    Well, when you put it like that, no. But I’m trying to honour my commitments. Okay, that’s another excuse to miss my commitment to Him. Perhaps my time would have been better spent with Him than trying to put this blather together.
    Well. At least you’ve owned up to that one. What’s your next excuse . . . ?

    August 15, 2013

    Professional Reading - Tracy Krauss

    Writers should also be readers. We've all heard it. I don't mind this advice one bit because I love reading - fiction, that is...

    However, if we are serious about the craft, we should also be reading non-fiction books that will help us become better at what we do. This is what's called 'professional reading', and I also love reading books that inspire me to write better or help me learn new skills. Here is a list of books that I've read this year or that are on my professional  'to read' list, along with a short description in case you decide you want to read them, too.


    Okay, to be fair, I read this one over the Christmas break last year, so it kind of falls in both my 2012/2013 reading lists! I found the book very motivational and I still use many of the principles she outlines. It is well worth it. I actually wrote several blog posts about it, which can be found on my blog 'Expression Express'.

    This is a very practical guide to blogging better. I plan to use many of the principles in this book in my blogging workshop at the fall Inscribe Conference. Of course, I also blogged about it

    Secrets of the Sixth Figure Author –  by Tom Corson-Knowles
    Again, this a very practical book - jam packed with 'action plans' and 'do-able' advice. I was so impressed after reading it that I went and bought five of his other books! He is definitely doing something right! For more details, check out my blog post.

    These are only a sampling of the 'professional' books I've read this year. In total I've read fourteen books on writing, marketing, or publishing. (I keep a list. *Smile*)

    I also have two new books which I am very anxious to read but haven't gotten to yet.

    The Plot Skeletonby Angela Hunt
    This is the book that speaker Nancy Rue referred to at last year's Inscribe conference. Can't wait to read it! 

    The Emotion Thesaurusby Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
    I came across this one after reading about it on a blog post. Just goes to show that blogging about books pays off!  

    So there you have it! What's on your professional reading list?


    Tracy Krauss is a writer of romantic suspense novels and stage plays. She also finds time to teach high school Drama, English and Art. She and her husband currently live in Tumbler Ridge, BC. For more go to her website: tracykrauss.com or follow her blog 'Expression Express'.


    August 13, 2013

    What is a Christian Writer? by T. L. Wiens

    I have no problem identifying myself as a writer. I completed nanowrimo three times over in one year. I’m not claiming to be a good writer—just a prolific one and for that reason alone, I have no doubts about the writer side of the equation.

    Christian is a much more daunting identification. in Acts 11:26, we are told the word Christian is first used in Antioch. For years, I’ve thought about it as simply a follower of Christ or a believer but this name says much more.

    Galatians come from Galatia, Ephesians come from Ephesus. I haven’t gone back to the Greek on this one but in English, it’s hard to miss the form of the word Christian. Just as Galatia was the hometown of Galatians, the early Christians appeared to those around them as coming from Christ. What about the early followers of Christ inspired those around them to see them as having Christ as a homeland? Kind of goes against the Oliver Wendall Jones saying, “Some people are too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.”

    I love Jesus—no doubt about that but do the people around me see me as a Christian? Or am I just a church attendee and in the world’s eyes that makes me a Christian? It’s a struggle that I think I’ll continue to fight, doing my best to live a life worthy of being considered a Christian because of my love for Jesus. I think my writing will reflect my heart, just like the overflow from my mouth. And maybe I will earn the title of Christian writer.




    August 12, 2013

    Find a System - Lorrie Orr



    "Be regular and orderly in your daily affairs
    that you may be violent and original in your work."
    Gustave Flaubert



    The more I read about writers I admire, the more I realize that each has a system. The particulars of the system may differ, but for all, routine and stick-to-it-iveness makes the difference. The trick, perhaps, is in finding the system that works for you.

    Stephen King strives to write 10 pages per day whereas Hemingway's goal was 500 words. Churchill and Nabokov wrote standing up at a lectern. Colette and Truman wrote in bed or on a couch, lying down. Trollope aimed to be at his writing desk by 5:30 am and wrote 2500 words before breakfast. His success was to "allow myself no mercy."

    Beyond putting the words on the page, a writer must find a way to organize the business of writing. When I began writing for publication slips of paper flew everywhere - ideas, notes, quotes, snippets I'd overheard. I had to find some way to organize my writing life. But organization needed to flow throughout my entire life, not just the writing time.

    I run a fairly well-organized household (although it seems to have been more so when I had three children at home) and I needed something that would suit my entire life, not just the writing portion. Julia Hood's The Sidetracked Writer's Planner works for me. It's full of blank forms to personalize - calendars, query index, income and expense records, idea index, addresses, etc. Best of all, I just print the pages I need (it comes as a PDF) and ignore the rest. I've used that system for nearly 8 years now, while writing for publication, while completing my B.A. in French, and now while working on a non-fiction craft book. I like the flexibility.

    Find a system that works for you and stick with it.


    Lorrie Orr
    fabricpaperthread.blogspot.com

    Note: The OrganizedWriter.com website has not been updated for several years, but I believe the materials are still available.

    August 09, 2013

    The Business of Writing - Shirley S. Tye

    I’ve received payment for some of my writing (mostly magazine articles) but I’ve never considered my writing as a business. To operate a business there must be organization, planning, and consistency. Although I am an organized person, I’ve never approached my writing systematically or with much planning. Most often it’s been a hit-and-miss method and writing under pressure to meet a deadline. Yes, I’m afraid my approach to the business of writing has been lackadaisical therefore it’s amounted to nothing more than a poor part-time business or a casual hobby.

    However, I do keep track of places I’ve submitted work, and rejections and payments received. The method I prefer is an Excel worksheet to record such information as; title; type of work (column, article, contest, devotional, etc); word count; publisher or group; date the work was submitted; date the work was returned if not accepted; published date; date paid; amount paid; and receivables (the amount I’m waiting and excepting to receive). This is a quick way for me to see at a glance what work has gone out, and what has been published and paid.

    For my Aunt Shirley Story Ministry I use a binder to keep track of detailed booking information. On a sheet of paper I record; name and address of the group or church; name and telephone number of the contact person; date and time of the event; number of people in the audience; age group (children, adults, seniors); title of the story and lesson taught; distance traveled to the location and home; payment received; and date I mailed a thank you card to the group or person who invited me to speak. At the bottom of the page, I total the number of speaking engagements for that year and payments received.

    Although I’m good at keeping track of my writings and payments, I’m poor at managing time. Because I seldom plan ahead, I write under pressure to meet deadlines. That’s a slap happy way of conducting business. Whenever someone asks for a story or article, I immediately buckle down to complete the work on schedule. But when it comes to working on a novel, I dilly-dally along allowing other things to take priority. It’s no wonder I don’t have a novel or any type of book published as yet.

    I really need to figure out a reasonable schedule in which to work on my novel and have time for other things. That shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish. Let’s see now…there are 24 hours in a day, I need to sleep, eat, shop, go to church, go to work, have time with family…Oh, my! Excuse me now, as I go to the planning table with my calculator and take a serious look at the business of writing.


    August 08, 2013

    Why I Write - Vivia Oliver

     


    We're pleased to have InScribe member Vivia Oliver join us as our Guest Blogger today.  She writes poetry, songs and stories.


    If someone asks me what kind of poems I write, I tell them the ones God wants me to. I generally don’t write poetry from my own ideas. I feel that nearly all my poems are God inspired, especially the gospel poems which have been given to me through inspiration. There have been a few, not too many, that a friend has prompted by saying: why don’t you write a poem about that?  I will be listening to a sermon, a song, or be driving down the road and the words suddenly come to me, or at least the idea, the subject for a poem.

    One poem that I wrote last fall came to me while I was driving down a quiet highway. All of a sudden I thought, Thank you, Lord, for the wide open road. That is what I named it. The lines just kept coming to my mind, and by the time I got home it was nearly all in my head. (I've included the finished piece below).


    At times I have carried a small tape recorder so when I am driving I can record my words and not have to stop on the road side. The first poem I ever wrote was while I was driving and I had to pull off the road several times on the trip to write down my lines!

    I often think of poetry, songs, or even stories while driving, listening to the radio. It is a relaxing thing for me, as long as the traffic isn’t too heavy.

    Pictures are another thing that have inspired me to write stories. I can analyze a picture and come up with a story quite quickly. I have written several stories from pictures in my house.Events with animals are another lead for me to write. I enjoy animals, especially horses.

    Thank the Good Lord


    Thank the good Lord for the wide open road
    And for a saviour to help me carry the load
    For bridges to take us safely over water, not wet
    That cross rivers in the direction I want to get

    I wanted to be a trucker in my younger days
    Now I drive a lot, and am familiar with byways
    Thank the good Lord for the wide open roads
    And the big trucks which carry the loads

    The scenery so beautiful; leaves painted by God
    The skies which could only be spread out by God
    The Saskatoon bush standing by a gate post
    Reminds me of Peter, the Holy Gate host

    Thank God for keeping the deer in the ditch
    And the other cars passing without a hitch
    I feel like I’m driving to eternity
    As Jesus keeps Satan from catching up to me

    The sign posts along the road tell us where to go
    The Bible has a word for us, so we know how to grow
    Thank the good Lord for the wide open road
    And for a saviour to help me carry the load
    Vivia Oliver, September 2012


    August 07, 2013

    4 Motivating Mind-Sets for Writers – Ramona Heikel

    Most of the time, I think we writers have plenty of dreams and ambition, but often our own mind-set can frustrate our writing plans. I’ve been analyzing my own struggles for a while, and what I’ve come up with to resolve them is not new and earth shattering, but works for me.

    1. The Fifteen-Minute Motivation

    I notice that I am easily overwhelmed by huge tasks. This is true with any job I have to do, whether it is at work, home, hobbies or writing. But I have found that if I can just get started, I’ll be rolling in no time. I discovered this idea because in the winter, I just wanted to come home and veg-out after work, but our dog Tango had visions of romping in the snow. Then I told myself, “Come on, Ramona, you can go for fifteen minutes.” So without even entering the house except to drop my bags and grab the leash, Tango and I would head off, and within five minutes, I’d be as happy as he was to be outdoors in the fresh air. We’d usually walk about a half hour, sometimes more. Now I apply that to my writing. I can grab fifteen minutes just about anytime in my schedule, and once I get going, I may go for hours.

    2. Avoiding Distractions (Literally)

    I get excited about working on a story I’ve started, but as soon as I look around my home, all the chores and tasks demand my attention. But I have found great success writing in my car or at the proverbial coffee shop. I may only write for an hour or less, but it is amazing how much this accomplishes, probably because I am completely focused, even amid activities and conversations around me.



    3. Immediate Rewards for Success

    A trick similar to the one above is that I am on my way to do something I enjoy, but I don’t let myself actually go and do it until I’ve written so many words, or gotten to a certain milestone. This happened recently when I needed to get some kindergarten books from the library to help with a contest I was entering, but I didn’t allow myself to go in until I’d written a detailed outline of my story. I was surprised that I could force my mind to focus by dangling the library carrot! That immediate reward encouraged some solid planning that produced a good story.

    4. Recognizing the “Tired-Voices”

    After work, I want to write, but the later it is in the day, the less I can concentrate and create. I notice that if I’m tired, I am very hard on myself and easily discouraged. I often criticize my ideas, ridicule what I’m writing or convince myself that I have absolutely no talent as a writer. Now that I understand this, I find more success writing in the mornings whenever possible, and am learning to recognize that the “tired-voices” are not necessarily telling the truth.


    Helpful? I hope so!



    Posted by Ramona
    www.happilywriting.com


    August 06, 2013

    Diving In - Glynis M. Belec





    I did it. I took the plunge. I have been praying and thinking about starting up my own little publishing company for a while now but there seemed so much to learn, so much to read. Precisely three weeks ago I bit the proverbial bullet and did it. Angel Hope Publishing is my official name and my first customer
    was me!

    Granted, taking the first step was a tough decision but once I put one foot in front of the other things started falling into place. I have plenty to learn and copious binders of information to study. I have courses to take, tutorials to view and lots of details to devour. But I have this wonderful, calming peace in my heart and I really feel I am right where God wants me.

    Today I had a Timmie's date with my editor, Carolyn Wilker, and in between her sipping a berry smoothie and me supping my apple cinnamon tea, we discussed the next phase. She agreed to help out with editing and soon we were chatting about projects and potential.
    Angel Hope Publishing -
    my first book! 

    I hardly remember the drive home after we had downed our drinks. My mind was abuzz with strategy, business plans and marketing. It just seems that once I had made that big decision to 'just do it,' then my brain was able to move on in a different direction. I kinda' liken it to having a yard sale - it's tough initially to make a decision to sell my beautiful ceramic what-not that I have had on the shelf collecting dust for years. I look at it. Think about it. Debate with myself. Then I make the final decision and slap a $2 price tag on it. At that point there is no turning back. Once it makes it to the for sale table then it doesn't return - marking it down to $1 doesn't hurt one iota. I like my decision and am proud of myself for having the fortitude to follow up with action.

    I am very much feeling that making the decision to start writing and publishing more and procrastinating less is a blessing from God. It just plain feels right. And it's funny how things around me have fallen into place, too. I would, however, function so much better if God would choose to show me the writing on the wall because there are a lot more decisions to make, but I journey on with great expectations, anyway.

    I'm thinking (actually I know) that if all the changes that are happening in my writing life are God's intention then something good will happen. Sure, I have had some tough blows over the past years but in the strength of Jesus alone, I endure and keep dodging that knock-out punch.

    My three-fold advice to anyone contemplating a writing decision is to first pray, then obey and whatever you do - don't run away! You won't be sorry. I had my first paid writing gig in 1986. I was plumb excited - I remember it well. Over the years, my writing life has been slow but steady; sometimes painful (rejected) but often productive (published) and ultimately splendidly rewarding.

    Oh...and the scripture verse I heard this past Sunday?  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! Philippians 4:13.  (Thanks, God. I needed that!)


    August 05, 2013

    InScribers Review: Little Copper Pennies



    LITTLE COPPER PENNIES
    Author: Susan Harris
    Publisher: FriesenPress, 2012

    Review by Vivia Oliver


    Susan Harris has done a great job of outlining the history of the Canadian penny. By giving it the appropriate name of “Copper”, she personalized this little piece of money that has been present in our country for one hundred and fifty five years.

    The little copper penny was first made in 1858, in England. Then in 1908 it was made in Canada for the first time and continued until 2012.

    Many people have heard the tales of 'a penny for your thoughts' or 'your two cents worth'. How many of you have dropped pennies in wishing wells, or fountains, or put them on the railroad tracks to see if the train could flatten them?

    Susan tells many tales in her book of the fun things and the interesting things that pennies were used for and how it will live on in our history for many years to come.

    She pieced the facts of production into the stories to keep us aware of reality. A good read for all generations of Canadians.
     
     

    August 03, 2013

    Where is God in My Writing? - Janis Cox





    I used to have time to write, before I published Tadeo Turtle. Somehow time has become shorter. Why is that?

    Marketing? Blogging? Platform building? Social Media?

    This month God showed me something very important. I don't need to do all that all the time. He showed me that I can spend 40 hours taking an art course, have fun and also have time to blog, eat, and time with my hubby.

    How?

    This past week the same thing happened. Three days were taken away from social media as a family member needed my help. And except for almost forgetting this post, most things were accomplished.

    How?

    I think I have found the answer. I asked myself what is really important? And I remembered that each day God has His agenda - and I am supposed to let go of my agenda.

    I have this quote above my computer. I can't find it online so have no idea where it came from.

    "We have no control over what life delivers to our door. But we have complete control over our response. Let the record show your response brought glory and honour to God."

    God had been taking time to talk to me and I didn't want to listen. He showed me that I am a special work of His but I am in progress. Remember: God isn't finished with me yet.

    If I remember to let go and leave my day to God, He does give me the time, the nudging, the connections and the energy to do it His way. So I can do art; I can write; I can visit family.

    God shows me what is really important to Him. (tweet this)


    "We have no conception of what God is aiming at, and as we go on it gets more and more vague" (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, August 3).

    My only goal is to please Him. 

    Are you writing for God? Are you listening to His nudges?

    What has God been saying to you lately? Are you doing what you love? Are you excited to do it? Why do you write? Ask yourself these questions. Then ask God to show you where He wants you to focus your attention and time. 

    I have learned to continue to follow His Footsteps and He will show me the way He wants me to go.

    Janis Cox

    Janis Cox - Author and Illustrator
    Janis, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. A writer since 2003, Janis co-ordinates a group blog called Under the Cover of Prayer. She is also a contributor to a group blog calledFamily and Faith Matters. Janis is the author of the award winning children’s book, Tadeo Turtle, published by Word Alive Press. She is the author and watercolour illustrator. For more information visit Janis on her website He Cares for You. She is a member of The Word Guild and Inscribe Writers Fellowship.