September 29, 2015

ICWF Fall Conference 2015 - Ruth L. Snyder

A gourmet banquet meal comes to mind when I think of the InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship Fall Conference 2015. I had the opportunity to worship God, be challenged, encouraged, motivated, and equipped. Today I'd like to share some highlights by way of pictures.
Jeff Goins
This year we, as an executive, decided to have a pre-conference session on Thursday afternoon. Jeff Goins not only challenged us to figure out what God wants us to do personally, but also encouraged us to consider how we could meet each other's needs as a community of writers. He encouraged us to think about ways our passions and skills intersect with what people need and want. He also challenged us to share our needs with our InScribe community and see how God could meet those needs through other people we know.

Irish Beth Maddock

Melanie Fischer and Sheila Webster
On Thursday evening we had a delightful time of sharing and celebrating. Many authors shared a piece they had written by reading aloud. Irish Beth Maddock delighted us with her cat shoes and her charming children's book, The Great Carp Escape. We were thrilled to celebrate Melanie Fischer's launch of her book, Ya...But How? Connie Inglis received the prize for our inaugural art contest and we all benefitted by receiving a beautiful journal with her picture on the cover.

Bittersweet Memories by Connie Inglis
Connie Inglis receives art contest award

The Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre provided a welcoming environment which many attendees commented on. The weekend flew by all too quickly as we enjoyed a wide array of quality workshops, browsed the many tables of books available for sale, ate delicious food, renewed friendships, and networked.
Fall Contest Winner


NON-FICTION ESSAY (Contemporary issue from a Christian perspective)
FIRST – “Abortion: Canada’s Unfinished Debate” by Sharon Espeseth of Barrhead, AB
SECOND- “Connecting the Dots” by Violet Nesdoly of Langley, BC
THIRD – “Until Death Do Us Part” by Nina Morey of Saskatoon, SK

FIRST – “Holiday Cheer” by Marnie Pohlman of Taylor, BC
SECOND - No prize awarded
THIRD – “Crash and Burn” by Nina Morey of Saskatoon, SK
HM –“A Shepherd’s Story” by Ellen Hooge of Calgary, AB

Bob Goodnough
FIRST – “If Only” by Sharon Cavers of Cavan, ON
SECOND- “Like a Mustard Seed” by Alvin Ens of Abbotsford, BC
THIRD – “He Was Trouble” by Connie Inglis of Edmonton, AB
HM – “The Pebble” by Katherine Hoffman of Edmonton, AB

FIRST- “Remember” by Ramona Furst of North Bay, ON
SECOND- “Monkeys on My Back” by Marnie Pohlman of Taylor, BC
THIRD – “Trust Your Pilot” by Janet Seever of Calgary, AB

FIRST – “Spirit-Led Writing” by Bob Goodnough of Delisle, SK
SECOND - “Take Up a Stone” by Marcia Laycock of Blackfalds, AB
THIRD – “Ideas” by Janice Dick of Guernsey, SK
Some of the contributors to 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

We celebrated the launch of the paperback edition of 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers on Friday night after the banquet.

I'm grateful for the volunteer team of people God has brought together to serve on the InScribe Executive for 2015-16:
President: Ruth L. Snyder
Vice-President: Sheila Webster
Secretary: Sandi Somers
Treasurer: Bobbi Junior
Membership: Gwen Mathieu
Website: Janelle Baldwin
Local Writing Group Coordinator: Tracy Krauss
Publicity Coordinator: Karma Pratt
FellowScript Editor-in-Chief: Sheila Webster
Contest Coordinator: Eleanor Bertin
Conference Convener 2016:
Spiritual Advisor Team: Jack Popjes and Connie Inglis (Elaine Ingalls Hogg as able)
FellowScript Acquisitions Editor: Pam Mytroen
FellowScript Layout Editor: Janelle Baldwin
FellowScript Columns Editor: Nina Morey
InScribe Writers Online Blog Moderator: Tracy Krauss
Professional Blog Moderator: Stephanie Nickel
Listserv Moderator: Sheri Hathaway
Administrative Assistant: Marnie Pohlmann
ICWF Book Coordinator:
Provincial/Territorial Reps: Tracy Krauss, BC; Tandy Balson, AB; Janice Dick, SK; Addy Oberlin, MB; Glynis Belec, ON; Beverley Nippard, NL/Labrador (Vacant: Yukon, Nunavut, Quebec, PEI, NB, and NS)

Pray that God will continue to use InScribe to encourage and equip writers who are Christians!

September 28, 2015

Ignition: How I Went Professional - Bruce Atchison

Stories were my childhood deliverers. The animals in Fables of the Green Forest temporarily led me away from the pain of my exile in Jericho. The Hobbit transported me into fantasy realms, the like of which I never dared hope for. Black and Blue Magic gave my soul wings during my sojourn in the tilted land. But we live in a practical world where money answers everything.

In the cold  wind of freedom, once my exile ended, my stories hid shivering in my heart. Inspiration went dormant as the struggles of public school and work ensued unabated. Nevertheless, a spark of my childhood fascination with the craft of storytelling survived deep within me.

Though I wrote on an amateur basis, I never dreamt I could be paid for my scribbling's. My abundant  supply of articles appeared in fan "zines" but payment seemed a total fantasy. Practicality held my muse prisoner so I only wrote CD reviews of electronic music albums and recycling tips for the work newsletter. Those utilitarian tear sheets bolstered my pride but remuneration seemed an impossible dream.

Out of the smoldering ruins of a lay off, I received a golden opportunity. The work counselor asked me about my hobbies. On the next visit, I presented him with a small stack of my photocopied tear sheets. Then he fanned my creative spark by telling me I could go professional. What had I to lose?

Certainly the magazine writing course helped me understand the value of my work but many editors rejected my fledgling prose. Then, of all publications, The New Age Journal purchased a Three-hundred-word article about a newly-formed choir of blind singers in Edmonton. I glided on air as I took that fifteen-dollar cheque to my bank. At long last, I became a professional writer.

But the path grew steep and rocky as I struggled to research magazine content and to write catchy query letters. I obeyed all the commandments of my teacher, yet few rewards arrived in my mail box for my arduous labours. In the swamp of despondency, I changed directions in the hope that the trail would grow verdant with remuneration.

So I mined the treasures of my life after taking an online course on autobiography writing.  Realizing my extensive manuscript was far too cumbersome, I divided it into memoirs. When a Man Loves a Rabbit was my first paperback. More than 200 bunny-loving friends purchased it and reported how much they enjoyed the amusing tales of my long-eared companions.

Success soon eluded me. Deliverance from Jericho was my second memoir. It bombed horribly. The sighted world couldn't relate to my narrative of being in a school for the blind for six painful years. So I racked my brain for a profitable and engaging topic on which to write.

How I Was Razed should have been a hit. I presumed Christians would be interested in how God led me out of a cultic house church to the sunlit land of his truth but few bought it.

So I turned my back on memoirs. God willing, I will write about who goes to heaven from the viewpoint of the Bible. I also hope to unleash those restless short stories pacing the back corridors of my mind. Slowly approaching retirement, my fear of being cut off from the pension I slaved so hard for is lessening. Even so, I'm learning to trust in the heavenly Father and to deal with today's evil. May my Lord be glorified by the work of my hands and this labourer be worthy of his hire.

September 26, 2015

It Only Takes A Spark by Marnie Pohlmann

It only takes a spark to get a fire going…”
The spark that started the fire in my creative spirit was my teachers, as so many others have also shared on the blog this month. Although my second post on this blog described the influence of my Mom who laid a foundation of small kindling that could catch the spark, the teachers who commented on and encouraged my use of words gave what may have been the only positive approval I received in my early years. Throughout school, from elementary classes to college, I enjoyed the challenge of finding interesting ways to approach assignments while teachers and professors encouraged me to write beyond classroom work.

High school friends, too, fanned those flames. These girls were artistic in so many ways - drawing, painting, fashion, music, and words - yet they accepted my efforts and rejoiced over my successes. This helped me find the path of journal writing that later became a lifeline.

This post is published in the midst of the 2015 Inscribe Conference, and I must say that from my earlier days in Saskatoon with the His Imprint writers to my present time in the Peace Region, and participating in the Yahoo group and this blog, Inscribe members have been most encouraging to me. Modeling healthy writing habits, sharing struggles and successes, and gracefully encouraging writers, the men and women of Inscribe have invited me (and you) to walk alongside to benefit from them. I’m sure by the day of this post I will be overwhelmed by people and information gleaned at the conference, yet I will also be re-inspired to continue writing. Thank you so much for the Godly impact you are making! Being part of Inscribe is being witness to joyful fireworks from God’s writers!

At one time, God touched me with a burning coal, much like the writer describes in Isaiah 6. God provides forgiveness and cleanses my lips so I can be His messenger. Over the years, my passion for writing has both glowed bright and died down. I have sometimes avoided obedience to God’s call to write, yet He continues to develop His character in me until the time is right. I have not sent much out for publication, so do not have a collection of rejection slips - or acceptance letters. Still, deep red embers continue to burn in my gut, ready to burst into a new conflagration. 

God is stirring the fire in my life, throwing in twinges and twigs of ideas, and adding logs of learning. Even as life rains threaten to dampen the passion, God’s Word feeds the flame. When I look at the Psalmist, David, I am encouraged to keep burning, to keep writing. I may not go from struggling to praising God in a few verses, as David often writes, but the goal of my writing is to light a lamp by being transparent in sharing real life while showing the transformation of God’s grace which gives hope and peace.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing.
That's how it is with God's love once you've experienced it;
you spread his love to everyone;
you want to pass it on..”

September 25, 2015

For Some Reason... By: Vickie Stam

In the beginning....

I can honestly say that it wasn't a teacher, friend, or neighbour who inspired me to write. Not a single name comes to mind; at least not from back then. I certainly enjoyed English class during high school but there wasn't one teacher who instilled in me the desire to write.

It was without a doubt, the difficult events that transpired in those early years. It all boiled down to the complexity of my life. I was a believer but I wasn't walking with God. He wasn't at the centre of my world. For this reason, it was easy to blame him for anything and everything that hurt. "God must be punishing me." I said. It was the only thing that made any sense at the time.

I felt as though the trials in my life always came to stay. They took up residence and wouldn't leave. At times the mountain looked impossibly large and I longed to make things better. Fix them! But deep down, I didn't know how.

My first journal....

For some reason, I bought a journal. All those years ago an empty book suddenly became host to the very thoughts that were swimming inside my head. Every emotion, every discomfort, every wave of sorrow pounding in my chest formed a sea of words between the pages. I released little pieces of myself. I built a foundation. A refuge. A place of my own.

I pressed the pen to the page and watched as it marred the paper like a sharp nail. Still, every now and then, hope managed to find its way in. Thin lines of blue ink seemed to whisper, "You will get through this." 

Eventually, joy and pain co-existed. I gave myself permission for them to straddle the same page. Something was stirring in me. A new outlook! Something that only God could have orchestrated.

I had no idea that writing in a journal would lead me to desire something more; something outside of that familiar place -- that comfortable place where I feel free to write my way over the mountains, one word at a time or to simply bask in the beauty of my life as it dances across the pages.

In all my years of writing though, I never imagined I would stray outside my comfort zone, outside my journals to a place where others might read my thoughts. But I have! After attending my first writing class in 2010, I found myself hooked.  

These days....

I don't only write for myself, but for others too. I'm so glad God gave me the desire to write.


**God often speaks to us in a "still small voice" a gentle whisper to guide and direct us.    

September 24, 2015

Home is Where it Began - by Tandy Balson

The store I work in sells a frame with the inscription Home is Where Your Story Begins.  This seemed perfect for this month’s blog prompt of who started it all for your creative spirit.

My story begins at home.  When I was growing up contact was made with people from out of town by written letters.  Long distance phone calls were too expensive and there were no computers to send email.  

I have a brother who is eight years older than me.  As I was entering my teens, he was at university in another city and sent letters home on a regular basis.  My mother looked forward to these letters and always commented that Rob had a way with words.  I remember reading them and wishing that I could express myself as well as he did.  He has since published a book of short stories and three novels.

In high school I excelled at writing essays.  I also wrote letters to pen pals.  Although I enjoyed writing, it never occurred to me that I could one day be a writer.

My mother became the provincial president of an international service organization and spent a year travelling the province and giving speeches.  She had always been a stay at home mom and I had no idea she had this kind of talent.  Her talks were inspiring and seemed far beyond anything I could ever do.  After all, in order to speak to groups she had to first spend time researching and writing her talks.

Any thoughts of ever doing this myself were quickly pushed to the back of my mind when I married young and soon had children to take care of.  Working, volunteering and taking care of my home and family left me with little time or energy to consider anything else.

When my children left home I realized that I didn’t know who I was or what I was capable of.  A series of events led me to search for and identify long lost dreams for my life.  The only thing I was certain of was that I needed to do something that would point people to Jesus.

When I slowed down enough to really pay attention I saw the signs that God had been placing in my life for many years.  He had been pointing things out to me and giving me the words to share his lessons.  A good friend encouraged me to start blogging these messages.  I didn’t have the confidence but she assured me that God would provide what I needed.

After speaking to my husband I was encouraged to start writing on a regular basis.  He has inspired, supported and prayed for me.  My creative spirit may have received its start from family in my childhood home but the writing was nurtured under the loving care of my husband in our home.  Both cases proved the saying true. Home was where my story began.

September 23, 2015

Movie Clips by Lynn J Simpson

I have what I refer to as a 'movie' memory. I see my past played out like a movie, not words across a screen. Or dream of my future in scenes that in spots might be slightly blurred like backgrounds of photographs using low aperture settings. I can see that something is in there, but it is the foreground subject in perfect focus that my eyes draw to only.

So looking back to draw a memory in of what started my creative spirit, I see a white bookshelf in a child's bedroom, the camera moving in until titles become visible. There are Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh box sets. There is a volume of Grimm's Fairy Tales, and Disney titles of Cinderella and Snow White. There is a paperback of Charlotte's Web and another of the Cricket in Times Square. Above the book case is an open window and the sound of a dribbling basketball is the only sound clip at this moment.

Then the scene changes. And there is a coffee table in a living room with stacks of magazines and newspapers covering every corner.  There is People, MacLeans, Newsweek, and Time.  There is Canadian Living, and Flare, and the Sears Catalog (which makes me believe it must be close to Christmas). The sound of a newspaper page being flipped is heard and the camera exposes who the culprit is. A man (my dad) in his 50's is reclined in a tweed red lazy boy chair, black rimmed glasses edging his nose. He reads. And he reads. And it is silent until he turns the page.

The camera spans across the room and not a corner table, or a chair, or a couch is empty. Each one is graced with a book, or magazine, or section of a newspaper.  They are in every scene, these items that hold stories, some real, some made-up, some opinion, and some persuasive.

The camera spans back to the coffee table. And then I see my name. It is printed in black on one of the books that is the first of a stack of three on the corner of that coffee table. And there are capitol letters, words above my name, but these words are out of focus. I cannot read them, from my movie view. And realize I am now in the future. I am in the dream part of my movie memory, created by a past of scenes that are forever a part of me,

I love movies.

September 22, 2015

Miss Gordon: Oh How I loved You! By Alan Anderson

This blog was incredibly cathartic for me as I reflected on my calling as a writer.  Just putting such words together in a sentence fills me with humbleness that I can say such a thing.  I am a writer!  Wow!

When I think of who started the fire for my creativity and inspiration to write one person readily comes to my mind.  Her name was Miss Gordon and she was one of my teachers when I was a young boy in Scotland.  I definitely was not the scholarly type.  I was so withdrawn and introverted that even when I knew I was having trouble with my schooling I didn’t go to anyone for help. 

To make a long story short my dad, the school custodian, told me that Miss Gordon offered to help me.  I reluctantly went to her with fear and trembling expecting to be chastised for being such a poor student.  To my amazement she accepted me for who I was and to me she became a lifelong model of a person of peace and compassion.  This is what I needed at that time in my life!

When meeting with Miss Gordon I felt that I mattered and I wasn’t familiar with that feeling.  Miss Gordon didn’t just try to help me with my schooling.  She helped me to have a sense of who I am and that it was okay to be introverted and creative

From being with Miss Gordon a number of times during lunch or after school I learned I loved to write.  It was how I spoke into the world. It was how I expressed my feelings.  It was something about Miss Gordon and her care for me that unleashed my writing.

When I was ten years my parents decided to move my family to Canada.  I never saw Miss Gordon again!  My childhood had a number of emotional challenges that continued on when we settled in Canada.  My sense of inadequacy came back and I didn’t have Miss Gordon to motivate and encourage me.  I still wrote but only in school and because composition was part of the curriculum.  I didn’t write at home because I was afraid of being laughed at.  The feeling I had was no one would want to read anything I wrote.

After my emotionally encumbered childhood and teenage years I became a Christian when I was twenty-one.  I soon discovered the writing and ministry of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, an evangelical scholar who gained prominence in the 1970’s.  From his writings I learned how to put one’s faith into action or in other words how to live out faith in our culture and the world.  I especially loved his book and video series “How Should We Then Live?”  One of his teachings that still speaks to me today is that there is no use being against something if we are not willing to come up with an alternative.

I would say it was Dr. Schaeffer who was most prominent in my writing as a believer.  Without trying to minimize the suffering people may experience I write to bring messages of encouragement and hope to those going through challenges in their lives.  Dr. Schaeffer and later in my life, Dr. Henri Neuman, have both helped shape my life’s calling and my writing.  Both recognize the role of suffering in our lives and that we can have hope even in and through suffering.

It is Miss Gordon however who after all these many years remains a precious memory.  She was my first mentor and oh how I loved her!


September 21, 2015

The Reluctant Author ... by Jocelyn Faire

Photos from

What would you have to write about?
I wanted to excuse Mother's comments to her short term memory loss, her dementia, but the words stung. They returned to feed my doubts. What did I have to write about?
But I knew. I knew I had to write.
I came to writing later in life. I recall being a speaker earlier on, the one asked to give bridal and baby shower talks in church. My first official speech had been as a festival entry in the sixth grade, where my nerves twisted the lines. I said Eskimos eat when they are tired, and sleep when they are hungry. Obviously I had to write my speeches, but the focus was always on the presentation, more than on the writing. Many times I was told I had a way with words.
And then ten years ago the clear directive came:
Some day you will have to share your story.
That instruction came from the higher voice. While Isaiah 66:2 says: But there is something I'm looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say. (The Message) Initially I was not very responsive to the writing directive, I was busy in survival mode. And when I considered how to respond to the call, I spent time bargaining with God. He and I wrestled through issues of obedience following disappointment.  Soft words of encouragement came through scripture, a poem, a song or people's affirmation. Knowing that if I was going to do something, I wanted to do it well, I began taking writing courses. The courses taught that writing was a craft that could be learned, and improved with practice. As with most early writers, I feared the vulnerability. My story was very personal, and I felt as though I was standing naked before a crowd, but I realized I had to be authentic. There was no point to plastic words. I felt called to write what I wished had been there for me in my time, the words of struggle I needed to hear as I traveled the grief journey. Brene Brown taught me that vulnerability was a strength, not a weakness. 
*First and foremost I knew I was writing to an audience of one.
My published sister recommended to have my work professionally edited. I felt I could not pay for the second round of edits, and let that be known to the chief editor. But when I spoke to the woman working on my manuscript; she confirmed my writing with her words: “This is a story that needs to be told, I would like to help you bring it to completion, without further charge.” Her final comments were: "I want you to know, I share the same faith background as you." I had randomly selected an editing group in Calgary through a Google search and God confirmed it with a believing editor. Small and large miracles spurred me along the writing way. Unbiased and unsolicited words from editing mentors, course instructors spurred me on. 
I've included a small selection of verses, from Isaiah (The Message) that continue to encourage me along the way:

Is 43 “But you are my witnesses ... You're my hand-picked servant, So that you'll come to know and trust me, understand both that I am and who I am.”

Is 48:(?7) You have all this evidence confirmed by your own eyes and ears. Shouldn't you be talking about it?
Is 49: (2) He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate. He kept his hand on me to protect me. ... “You're my dear servant, Israel, through whom I'll shine.” (4)
(7&8)   ... The Holy of Israel, who has chosen you .... I form you and use you to help reconnect the people with me. ...(13) He has tenderly nursed his beaten-up, beaten-down people.  
My mother has read my book, and in her better moments of clarity she approves.

Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking Out of My Head, Grief as an Out of Body Experience.
She blogs about Hope in the Hard Places at: 

September 20, 2015

It's All About the Words by Joylene M. Bailey

As I read through the blog posts this month in preparation for my post, I read time and again about teachers who awoke, inspired, and encouraged the creative spirit. That got me thinking about any teachers who might have encouraged me.
And I came up with … nothing. 
Zilch. Nada.

My memory of teachers includes the one who argued with me about the way to pronounce my own name (Seriously? It’s MY name. I think I would know how it was pronounced.), and the parade of teachers over the years who kept telling my parents that I needed to be more outgoing. My marks were always good though. Maybe that was supposed to be encouragement enough.

No, when I think back to who (or what) started it all for my creative spirit, it would have to be the words themselves. They caught me and held on to me.

How could I resist One fish two fish red fish blue fish
or Hop on Pop which, incidentally, ends with the words “My father can read big words, too. Like Constantinople and Timbuktu”. Just the sound of Constantinople and Timbuktu shot a thrill through my veins.
Thank you Dr. Seuss!

Lucy Maud Montgomery inspired me in my growing up years, with a strong female character and hilarious situations. But beyond the story, again it was the words - a surprising turn of phrase, or one word that flipped the entire scene from where you thought it was going.

I was an adult with a family of my own when I came across the author who would become my all-time favourite. Here again, it was because of the words she used, but mostly because of the words she didn’t.
Patricia MacLachlan can tell beautiful stories in very few words. Her prose inspired me to take poetry classes so I could learn to say more with less. No wasted words.

The memory is this: a blue blanket in a basket
that pricks her bare legs, and the world turning over as
she tumbles out. A flash of trees, sky, clouds and the
hard driveway of dirt and gravel. Then she is lifted up
and up and held tight. Kind faces, she remembers, but
that might be the later memory of her imagination.
Still, when the memory comes, sometimes many times
a night and in the day, the arms that hold her are
always safe.
(from Baby by Patricia MacLachlan)

From the beginning, words have been my greatest inspiration for creativity.
The sound of them.
The surprise of them.
What they say and what they don’t say.
How they entice and incite.
I dare you NOT to look between the covers of a book entitled 


Joylene Bailey plays with words at her home in Edmonton. You can find more of her words on her blog.