May 31, 2014

We Writers by Janet Martin







We are delighted to welcome InScribe member Janet Martin as our Guest Blogger today.









Brenda invited me to share this poem in a guest-post, as an example of what I am working on; a poetry blog.

We Writers...
We writers write and bear alike the suffering of it
To breathe in ink those things we think while others simply sit
Without the quest of un-penned best, besot by phrase or form
Or restless heart where hope imparts a sweet and soundless storm

We writers scan the lowing span of new or ancient crypt  
Craving the rush of thoughts that brush, not in pigment but script
The carefree soul saunters and strolls, his thought easy to bear 
While writers thirst, both blessed and cursed by noon's word-laden air

We writers know the high and low unleashed across a page
How want and will perplex the quill and midnight is a stage
To anywhere a pen may dare to revel in the vaunt
Of oceans stirred within a word; of musing's endless taunt

We writers dream and nothing seems to be what it appears
Who knew the color blue could move a writer's smile to tears?
And who are we that poetry breathed by a blithesome breeze
can smite our hand by its command and draw us to our knees?

We writers share the glorious care of searching Heaven's Face
Where we beseech and humbly reach to touch His hem of grace
then; here and there the writer's prayer though inarticulate
enjoys the thrill of words that spill in torrents through thought's gate


When someone asks me what writing project I am working on or what my goals are, I hardly know what to say. The goal for God-fearing writers is much more than an accumulation of words to tell a story or spin a poem. We ponder, pray and pursue a passion only other writers can relate to; a passion purposed to hopefully, ultimately glorify God.

My passion is poetry and my struggle is finding its practical purpose and place in a fast-paced world. That place for now is a blog as I wait for further Instruction … to quote Peter Marshall,* ‘the Lord only knows and He hasn’t told me yet’.

However, the Lord did impress on my heart as a child, a love for poetry. I began writing poetry when I was eight or nine when, being smitten with inspiration while sitting on the barn steps, I repeated the lines until I got back to the house, then sacredly committed them to paper. Thus began a private passion, save for card-acrostics to my friends for birthdays and such.

Then, after being questioned by my son four years ago as to what my purpose for writing is when all I do is keep it in a drawer, conviction over-rode fear and I began posting on a Christian poetry-site. There a reader encouraged me to start a blog. After four years I can say I have learned there is still much I need to learn, but what a joyful, exciting journey it is.

Inscribe is a perfect example of this joy; writers encouraging writers because we need other writers as much as we need words. I thank the Lord for connections made through blogging long before I became an Inscribe member; voices such as Violet Nesdoly, Brenda Leyland and Glynis Belec.

Thus, for the time being, I am content to climb the ladder of learning to see where it will lead. And most recently it has brought me here where, as I read over and over the heart-blood spilled at Inscribe I see so much more than words from writers. I see love. Love poured from the desire to touch people, not with words but God. God is love. That is my prayer as I write and who knows where God will let the ‘seeds’ drift. It would be enough to know that, although ninety-nine didn’t care, one was helped and encouraged through Love shaped into word.

Also, my hope is that if someone out there is held back by fear, yet driven to write, maybe they will feel the love and be drawn to the possibilities that God alone will reveal as we trust Him.
  

 *From the book: A Man Called Peter written by Catherine Marshall, his wife



About Janet: I am a stay-at-home mom/day-care provider who loves to draw inspiration from family, faith and God's handiwork. I enjoy gardening, photography, cooking and anything else that involves my family. My husband James and I have been married for almost 26 years and we have four children; one married daughter who lives close by, two daughters and a son still at home. My husband is a long-haul transport truck-driver and this leaves a lot of quiet evenings which I fill with reading and writing. I blog at anotherporch.blogspot.com


May 30, 2014

Getting There - by Susan Barclay



Drinking in the view at at the end of the day. Who could fail to be inspired?






I planned to work on this post while my husband and I enjoyed a cottage rental this week. Pffft. And when we returned home on the 30th, I thought I could get it done that evening. Pffft again. We arrived to find computer issues that needed attention. So I am writing this June 1st and back-dating it. 

We were asked to showcase a work-in-progress, so that’s what I’m  doing. In fact, I used part of our vacation to work on my WIP. I spent the mornings writing while my husband read, then we took the afternoon to explore the area, and watched a movie together in the evenings before heading to the beach to catch one of God’s glorious sunsets.

I call myself an eclectic writer. I write children’s picture books, personal essays, short stories for adults, poetry. But my focus this year has been on the novel I started ten years ago. It’s a work of contemporary fiction that deals with family dynamics, and particularly the difficult relationship between a mother and daughter. Themes of understanding and forgiveness are also explored. The idea was sparked when I threw together a short piece for a critique group that was meeting for the first time. One of the participants that night thought the nugget contained the makings of a novel. 

I gulped. It did?

So here I am ten years later, still working on it. Granted, I’ve taken long breaks since beginning, the longest stemming from writer’s block. I’d come to point B and knew where point D was, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get to point C. Thankfully, the block has broken and I am moving forward. I don’t work from a detailed outline and tend to go with the flow, an approach that has both its challenges and its joys.

Over the holiday, I worked on revisions for the first ten chapters. I still have a number of chapters to edit before I pick up the story and work my way through to the end. While I had hoped to complete the novel by the end of June, it looks like I'll have to extend my deadline to the end of the year. The main thing is to keep pressing forward.

Here’s a teaser from early in the novel to whet your appetite for more. In this scene, the mother and daughter are having a tense telephone conversation. The story is told in first person, from the daughter’s point of view. 

 I felt sick to my stomach, but somehow I couldn’t stop myself. I wasn’t like this with anyone but Mom. “Nothing’s eating me,” I said. I tapped my fingers on the arm of my chair. “I’m tired, that’s all. Tired of pandering to your emotional insecurities.” Mom drew in a sharp breath, but I pressed on. “Ben and Jackie wouldn’t have asked you to go if they didn’t want you. So, go. Enjoy your grandchildren and have a good time. Is that so hard? Does it have to be such a big deal?”

“Somebody got up on the wrong side of bed,” she answered. “Maybe I should talk to you later when you’re feeling more reasonable.”

“I think this is as good as it gets today, Mother.”

I heard the phone click. “Mother?” I held the phone away from my ear and looked at it in surprise, then brought it close again. "Mother?” The dial tone sounded an accusation. “She hung up on me!”

____________________

For more of my writing, please visit www.susan-barclay.ca

May 29, 2014

Life Lessons: My current work in progress - Ruth L. Snyder


One of the projects I'm tackling this year is a collaborative effort with five other authors. Helping Hands Press is publishing the San Francisco Wedding Planner series, a light romance. Our publisher presented us with the context for the story and the main characters. It's up to our team to fashion a fun, interesting story. To launch the project, each of the six authors wrote one chapter of the opening story. The Initial Consultation was published in February. I will also be writing the complete story for volume 6, but I have to wait until volume 5 is written (the beginning of June) so that I can tie the loose strands together to end this first series. Volume 6 (my story) is scheduled for release on July 3rd.

For the second series of the San Francisco Wedding Planner, each of the authors is writing a prequel about one character from the first series. My character is Heather Donovan, wedding planner extraordinaire. I'm just putting the finishing touches on Life Lessons, which will be published in mid-July. Heather is in her first year of nursing practice, experiences her first love, and comes up against some challenges which cause her to examine her choices.

I am finding this project challenging in several ways. First, there is only one plot which is shared by all six authors. You never know what interesting twists the writer before you will throw into the mix. Another challenge is the quick turn-around time for writing. Each writer has between two to three weeks to write 10,000 words once she receives the story previous to hers. I'm also finding it a challenge to write for the general market - keeping the story light, funny, and interesting, but also offering the reader something to think about.

Here's a teaser for you:

"Ms. Simons is in labor and will deliver soon. You'll assist, of course. She has requested a late-term abortion."
"How far along is she?"
"Twenty-two weeks."
"That far? What if the baby is viable?"
"The fetus will not survive. Do you understand?"
Heather searched Jonathan's eyes. "What are you saying?"
"You will not provide any extra support that could determine viability. Ms. Simons is near the edge mentally and I've agreed to perform a late-term abortion for health reasons."
"But Jonathan. How can you even say those words? Do you realize what that means? Baby Shannon was born at twenty-two weeks and she's viable. How can you not provide the same level of care for this baby?"
"Because my patient, Ms. Simons, has the right to choose. It's our job to meet the needs of our patients."
"But technically, once the fetus is delivered, he or she becomes your patient too. Do we just stand by and let him or her die? Doesn't that make us complicit in murder?"
"Heather, you studied abortion. Didn't you know you'd be asked to provide medical assistance with these types of procedures?"
"Of course, but I never expected to be presented with two babies at the same gestation, with totally opposite requests for care. Did you encourage Ms. Simons to consider adoption?"
"Heather, you know that's not my place. Yes, I presented her with options, but she had to make her decision. I couldn't sway her."
"But what about the Hippocratic Oath, specifically that phrase about never doing any harm?"
"I'm glad you brought that up, because providing treatment to the fetus may prove harmful to Ms. Simons. I have my instructions from her and I intend to carry them out. What I need to know is whether you're prepared to back me up or not. I'm hoping I know the answer to that question, but I need to be sure before we assist Ms. Simons."
"How can you even ask me to do this?" Heather glared at Jonathan.
"Because it's your job." He glared back. "This may be the first time you've been asked to help with this procedure, but it won't be the last." He grasped her firmly by the shoulders."I know it's tough, but as a medical professional you must do it."
"And if I refuse?"
"You don't want to go there."





For more about Ruth and her writing go to ruthlsnyder.com and "like" her Facebook Author Page

May 28, 2014

Just Keep On Truckin' - Bruce Atchison


Have you ever felt like you were flogging a dead horse, yet you believed that the animal would somehow revive and take you somewhere? That's how I feel about my latest memoir. I know that it's a good book and I gave it my best effort, yet marketing it feels like pushing a rope uphill.

In November of 2012, I finally published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Four-and-a-half-years of effort went into that testimony of God's providential work in my life. I hoped it would bless the lives of its readers and sell enough copies to show Canada Pension Plan that I wasn't merely lounging around all day. After sending out press releases and promoting my new book on my blogs, I waited for the orders to come in.

My hopes were dashed when the expected flood of orders was more like a few drops. Thanks to a few kind friends, I managed to sell my paperbacks at various meetings and a crafts sale. Even so, the number of books sold was, and still is, patheticly low. Even my e-book version, which various folks assured me was the new wave of publishing, didn't sell very well.

So why am I still whipping this dead horse? I believe that my testimony shows, not tells, the great mercy of the heavenly Father and the diabolical nature of cultic organizations. My hope is that victims of toxic churches will discover and identify with the story of my years devoted to the wrong cause. Perhaps what I wrote about turning painful memories to Christ will give them the tools to undo the damage done to them by cruel misleaders.

I also believe that the Lord placed the burden on my heart to tell my story of being deceived and then deprogrammed by his truth. Far too many new believers lack discipleship and become easy prey for cults. In my case, I wanted the power and advanced knowledge offered by the house church. I had a great hunger for the Word of God but the mainline churches never provided me anything substantial. In fact, it was the cult which provided me insubstantial spiritual food. I know I'm not the only one to whom these false shepherds offered outlandish promises of power and secret knowledge.

I plan to quit actively promoting my latest memoir at the end of this year. Short-story writing has interested me for years but I only dabbled in the genre thus far. Because I've had a love for making up stories since I was a boy, I'll give fiction a whirl and see what happens. No other form of writing has attracted my attention as of this writing so I'll try writing short stories.


Bruce Atchison is a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of How I Was Razed, Deliverance from Jericho, and When a Man Loves a Rabbit. He lives in a small Alberta hamlet with his house rabbit, Deborah.

May 25, 2014

A Layer of Dust by Vickie Stam

I know they're in there. Behind the closet door. They remain still. One on top of the other. Concealed by a thin layer of dust. I think of them often. They lay in wait wondering if I'm ever going to let them move on. I can almost hear them whispering. "You're not finished with us yet." Do they long to reach their journey's end? Sure they do.

It's not as if I've never felt the pleasure of launching a great story. Some of them have actually made it farther than that pesky little white golf ball that doesn't seem to want to leave the end of my club. I might not be able to drive a ball very far but I have sent a few stories quite a distance. I just can't promise that every protagonist will land smoothly between the pages of a prominent magazine or book. And it's not for my lack of trying on either account. There's a familiar cliché that reminds me to keep trying.

I will admit that I've struggled along the way when it comes to writing fiction. I reach a certain point and the word flow dries up. My train of thought abandons me. I wonder where the story's going. That's when my focus revisits my true desire to write non-fiction.

In saying that, there's a story that clings to my heart much like a child taking refuge behind their mother's legs. They often sneak a peek for one brief second before retreating back to the safety net of her legs. God knows I feel this story tugging at me. As soon as the words spring to life on my computer screen I feel that same urge to retreat. Like the child behind their mother's legs I too have my own safety net. I quickly tap the delete button and seal each word behind the wall of my heart.

For now I'll share an exciting time that occurred three years ago when a white envelope appeared in my mailbox. A contests return address embellished the envelope in bold red letters. I tore a piece from the bottom right hand corner and slipped my thumb inside carefully opening it to expose the letter. The paper swayed back and forth in my trembling hands. I read every word without taking a breath. My short story made it to the second round of judging. Unbelievable! It garnered a second look. That letter encouraged me to keep writing.

From there I wrote a poem, something I wouldn't normally write. It was just a fun little rhyme. I'm not even sure what prompted the idea. Then one evening while I was waiting for my writing class to begin the woman sitting next to me asked, "What are you reading?" When I told her it was a poem I had written, she asked to see it. I reluctantly handed it over. I could hear each word falling softly from her lips and then she chuckled out loud. I nervously gawked around the room.

"This would make a great children's story!" She announced.

I shifted in my seat yet smiled inside. She saw something I hadn't. That poem travelled a long way to a contest in Chicago. It didn't win a grand prize but it did generate more inspiring feedback.

Every now and then I blow the dust off my "great children's story" and enjoy reading it once again.

An excerpt from..... "The Farmer's Clock"

In the foyer there he stands
Sleek and tall he looks so grand
The time he cannot tell no more
Both his hands point to the floor
Every hour he does not chime
All he needs is one good wind
Dust collects on top his head
The farmer thinks that he is........

I'm not currently working on anything in particular and in time God will grant all that I need.

May 24, 2014

Seeing the Potential by Lynn Dove

I've just spent a full week marking Junior High essays.  Over the past couple of months my students have been immersed in studying for their Language Arts Provincial Exam (PAT's).  I had the task once the fifty students wrote their narrative essays and business letters, of marking their work. 

I am convinced marking papers, especially four to five page essays, is the greatest test of endurance and patience for any teacher.  I AM NOT an editor but I sure know how an editor must feel once the red pen comes out and the red ink starts to "bleed" all over a student's paper.  Spelling...non-existent, sentence structure...huh?  Punctuation?...not a chance.  I shake my head and circle another contraction without an apostrophe.  I know I taught contraction usage and spelling over the past few months...was he even listening to me? 

I pick up the next paper.  I do not look at the name.  I want to be surprised.  There have been too many disappointments today.  The first line grabs me.  My red pen is perched above the paper but I'm too caught up with the story to make a mark.  It is like a roller-coaster of emotional ups and downs, a plot-line worthy of print.  Characterization that is meticulous and imagery that transports me into another universe. 

She is a brilliant writer.  She is only fourteen years old and probably a far better writer than I was at that age, and one who has the potential to be even more outstanding as she matures.  I almost wish I did not have to circle the one spelling error.  To put a red mark on the page seems almost obscene, desecrating a near perfect work of art. 

Interestingly enough, I remember her work from the previous year.  Hadn't I marked an essay and riddled it with red ink then?  What happened? 

I smile.  Teaching has its rewards.  I look at the paper I marked before reading hers, my numerous red circles splayed all over it.  At the top of the page I leave a few comments about spelling errors and then I add a check-mark smiley face with words meant to encourage: "Keep trying!  This is a good effort!" 

Yes, this paper is rough-looking but I look forward to reading this boy's work in a year's time.  He'll make a fine writer.  I just have to look beyond the spelling, punctuation and convention errors long enough to just read the potential.  After all, it's in every student!