Who are You? (by Wendy Reese)

Jesus knew who He was, but made the point to ask his disciples if they knew as they gathered one night in Caesarea. Only Peter identified Him as Messiah. Before the resurrection, most of Jesus’ followers weren’t sure who He was.  To recall that same night, “… John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matt: 16:14). But after the resurrection, his followers understood who He truly was and why He came.

“But, Wendy,” you ask, “What does this have to do with me?”

Here’s what I’m getting at: Do you know who you are? Unless you truly understand His identity, you won’t understand your own–and with that, the glorious gifts you possess to honor Him.

Yes, there are the spiritual gifts mentioned in Isaiah, Acts, and 1Corinthians that we all know, but what of writers, artists, dancers, and musicians, to name a few? So can we ask, “Are the arts counted as anointed to share with others?” Of course, when surrendered to the One who gave them in the first place. Then they will edify you and others as all draw closer to Jesus.

You are unique! There is only one of you. God designed you long before you were conceived. Check out Psalm 139.

My musings of God’s possible thoughts … “I’ll give her/him long legs to dance. I’ll give him/her agility to finger instruments into beautiful music. There will be writers to express imaginative imagery, challenging the doubtful to find My truth. There will be artists mixing colors to brush creative images upon blank canvases, just as I did when creating the world. And to this one I will give …”

Please forgive my pretense. Only our dear Father knows His own thoughts and words when He spoke our lives into existence for His glory. But in saying that, I feel that we sometimes misplace ourselves into false molds. Do we imitate someone else’s gifts because they’ve been noticed and have become popular?  In many instances, finding ourselves inadequate with the end result instead of drawing from the fresh, creative well of God’s provision placed within us?

What do you write? What do you paint? Do all artists paint portraits? Do all writers pen westerns? Makes me think of scriptures that say, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” Psalm 96:1 as an example.

Frank Peretti broke ground with the subject of spiritual warfare in Christian fiction. I can’t recall anyone else at that time who braved through such a difficult, but needed subject. If anything, I came away from his books better educated and spiritually insightful–hence, my own genre of speculative fiction.

Take a leap of faith! Within prayer, sincerely look at the core of your creative unction. Does it edify? Is it Word-based? Many would say unless you specifically pen Bible phrases in your stories, paint only Bible characters, or dance Israeli folk dancing, you’ve strayed away from the Truth. Really? There’s nothing better than speaking the Word of God, right? Right, but His Word has laid the foundation of everything we experience which glorifies Him.

When I sit on a beach, breathing long breaths of salty air, I listen to the swash and sway of whitewater slapping the sand. My heart swells with gratitude for the One whose creativity made it possible for me to enjoy it all. I view His Word. I smell His Word. I listen to songs that only He could create: His earth’s natural rhythm. Sometimes a soft melody of dancing waves while in another time and place, the roar of sweeping winds that drum across an open prairie, sending animals to burrow into the safety of their homes which He created for them.

Jer:33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Prophetic for Jeremiah? Yes. Prophetic about your place in this world? Yes.

Who are you?

 

WendyAuthor BIO:

W.G. Reese (Wendy) is a Southern California Beach Native who now lives in the mountainous panhandle of North Idaho.  A story teller since childhood, the wonders of God’s creative gifts has always inspired her imagination. As a lover of sci-fi/fantasy (a Trekkie and not ashamed of it)…her metaphoric writings resonate with the possibility of worlds beyond. Blessed with a loving family and friends that walk alongside, she holds no greater awe than the love of Jesus Christ.

 

Links  http://www.amazon.com/Visitor-W-G-Reese/dp/1938708571/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/963527873671518/

 

VisitorBlurb-

Christian Fantasy / Speculative Fiction

The divine blessings of Sior transformed the world of Ariel Leun into a paradise where people enjoy long lives in the company of mystical creatures. Winn, a transplant from the dark world of Draugh, reigns as a beloved King with his trusted advisor Caelan at his side, until the death of his Queen sends him spiraling into despair. Banishing Caelan and neglectful of his duties, King Winn is unaware that an old enemy, Garthpha, plots to take the throne.

Rebelling against their father’s retreat into seclusion, the heirs of Ariel Leun travel the passages of the Red Stone to Draugh where four warring Kings scheme to capture them, exploit their inner light, and deliver them to Garthpha as tribute. Can the children be rescued before their light is extinguished and evil takes the throne of Ariel Leun, plunging it into darkness?

Joyful Writing: How to Keep It (by Catherine Castle)

What a release to write so that one forgets oneself, forgets one’s companion, forgets where one is or what one is going to do next—to be drenched in sleep or in the sea. Pencils and pads and curling, blue sheets alive with letters heap up on the desk. —Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Do you feel the same way about writing as the author of the quote above? I do.

Writing has been a part of me ever since I can remember.  I get great satisfaction out of finishing a poem, writing the end on a story, and even composing blog posts. I’m a poet, a playwright, a journalist, a lyricist and composer, and a romance author. Stories come to me unbidden in dreams. Snatches of original music or lyrics jump into my head. When I see something or someone unusual, read an interesting tidbit in the newspaper or magazine, or even hear a particularly interesting phrase, ideas bubble to the surface of my mind, and I MUST capture them for a future story.

Like reading, where I get so absorbed  that I don’t hear anything that goes on around me, writing pulls me into another place. A place that transports me. A place where I control what happens. A place where what I put on the paper makes the world I create a happier place. Because when you write romance the Happily-Ever-After is important. I guess that’s why I love to write romance and action stories where good triumphs and love conquers all.

For me life without writing is like Oreos without milk, a garden without flowers, a wedding with no bride and groom, happiness and no one with whom to share the joy. I can’t not write. No matter what the circumstances.

But, sometimes I get so caught up in the merry-go-round of striving for writing success that I forget the joy of putting words on paper. The deadlines of blog posts, book edits, and marketing sap my writing joy and dry up my creative well. If that’s happening to you, let me suggest a few simple ways to find the joy in writing again.

  • Take a break from the stress of whatever deadline you’re facing. Unplug yourself from your computer, your cell phone, the internet, and any modern tools you use for marketing. Sit in the sun on the beach, a park, or your favorite place to unwind, and drink in the surroundings.
  • Go to the movies, and don’t dissect the film. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of writing. Instead, let yourself be surprised by the plot twists and turns the writer has planned.
  • Spread a blanket on the grass or deck and cloud watch. Look for animals, faces, and mythical creatures that float in the sky above us. You’ll be amazed at what you see. Watch the creatures dissipate and morph. If you must create, craft a fantastical bedtime story for your children or grandchildren. But don’t write it down. Remember it.
  • Experiment with a different creative outlet. I’m a gardener and nothing loosens my writing stress like pulling a few weeds. I also quilt, and I love getting lost in a fabric store or quilt catalogue, imagining all the beautiful things I could make. I probably won’t ever make them, but it’s fun dreaming.
  • If you cannot stay away from writing, choose a different medium. If you compose on the computer, use pen or pencil and paper. If you write with a pencil, try composing on the computer. Or better yet, let your inner child loose and write with colored pencils or crayons. Then draw a picture to illustrate the story.

The method you choose to keep joy in your writing isn’t what’s important here. The results are what counts, because without joy in our writing, writing is merely a job. That’s not how I want to write, because I like my gardens with flowers and the white sheets flowing from my printer alive with letters-joyful letters.

What about you? What do you do to keep the joy in your writing?

 

CT Bio 8x11About the Author:

Award winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

 

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing is a 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner, a 2014 RONE winner, a 2014 EPIC finalist, a 2014 RONE finalist and a Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist and an ACFW Genesis Finalist.

 

TheNunAndTheNarc2_850Hyperlinked contacts:

You can connect with her at her blog, on FB, Goodreads or Twitter.

Catherine also guest posts at: Stitches Thru Time and SMP Authors blog

Her award-winning book The Nun and the Narc is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble

From Beginning to End–How to Finish Your Manuscript (by Cindy Stewart)

Are You A “Newbie” Struggling to Finish Your First Manuscript? Has the bite of the perfectionist bug slowed you down? Are you tempted to quit?

I consider myself a “newbie” author of Christian fiction. My journey began a little over three years ago when I attended my first writing event – the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference near Asheville, North Carolina. I wrote my first 1000 words of fiction for a practicum workshop I attended, but I was so afraid of failure, I waited too long and missed the deadline for submitting the assignment. That turned out to be a huge blessing because I wrote the entire first page in one paragraph. When I saw my classmates’ work projected on the screen (with many paragraphs on a page), I was thankful mine would not “see the light of day,” at least not yet. The conference was a great blessing, and I returned home motivated to continue writing the story of my heart. Almost three years later I rejoiced as I wrote “The End” for my novel of 395 pages (113,000 words).

 

Why did it take three years to complete the draft of my first novel?

  • Perfectionism brought my writing to a halt
  • Unavoidable life events interfered, such as, a full-time teaching job
  • The huge learning curve for writing fiction
  • Not knowing how to mount the brick wall blocking my path at critical junctures

 

How did I overcome and reach “The End”?

Although there are many sources available for new writers today, and I’ve taken advantage of many of them, I’ve listed those that were most effective in ushering me forward as a new writer.

  • Seeking the Lord’s guidance throughout the writing process and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit
  • Joining American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) http://www.acfw.com
  • Taking online classes:

Margie Lawson Writer’s Academy – I took five classes (each class was one month long).  http://www.margielawson.com/lawson-writers-academy-courses

Writer University – I took three classes taught by Laurie Schnebly Campbell (class length varied from 10 days to one month). https://writeruniv.wordpress.com/classes

  • Paying for a 20-page critique by a published author.
  • Participating in writing contests and receiving comments/critiques:

My Book Therapy’s The Frasier Contest (first 1500 words and a 500-word synopsis)

ACFW’s First Impressions Contest (first 5 pages and a 200-word blurb)

ACFW’s Genesis Contest (first 15 pages, a one-page synopsis, and the first draft of manuscript must be complete)

Oregon Christian Writer’s Cascade Contest (first 15 pages and a one-page synopsis)

SC Writers ACFW First Five Pages Contest (first 5 pages)

  • Regularly attending at local writer group meetings
  • Reading and studying books on the craft of writing – many excellent books are available, but these encouraged me as a new writer and motivated me to press on:

James Scott Bell – 1) Plot & Structure, 2) Revision & Self-Editing, 3) Conflict & Suspense, 4) How to Write Dazzling Dialogue 

Susie Mae Warren – How to Write a Brilliant Novel 

Jill Elizabeth Nelson – Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View

 

What resources helped you reach “The End” of your first manuscript?

 

CindyAuthor Bio:

Cindy Stewart is a high school teacher, church pianist, and historical fiction author. She was the historical category winner for ACFW’s 2014 First Impressions writing contest, a 2014 Bronze Medalist in My Book Therapy’s Frasier contest, and tied for second place in the 2015 South Carolina ACFW First Five Pages contest. Believing that history often repeats itself, Cindy is passionate about discovering and sharing fascinating stories through writing historical inspirational fiction. She resides in North Georgia with her husband and college sweetheart of thirty-four years and has one married daughter and three adorable grandchildren. Her first novel, Abounding Hope, is set in Eastern Europe at the start of World War II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Glad it Took 11 Years to Get my First Novel Published (by A.J. Cattapan)

 

I started my writing journey about eleven years ago when I enrolled in a class on writing for children and teens. Although I’d harbored secret desires of being a novelist since the sixth grade, my initial ambitions were pretty humble: just get published in a children’s magazine. It took nearly six years before I saw my first short story in print.

Around that time, my ambitions (and my courage) grew and I took a class in writing novels for children and teens, but it took another five years before I held my first book in my hands. You might think I would’ve gotten discouraged and given up somewhere along the way. Well, you’d be half right. I did get discouraged, but I didn’t give up. In fact, now that my debut novel is out and has become an Amazon bestseller for Christian teen fiction on social issues, I’m actually really glad it took me a long time to get published.

Why?

Because without all those years of preparation, there’s no way I would’ve been ready to tackle a book launch or even signing a book contract for that matter.

You see, I’ve recently been asked to mentor a few aspiring writers, and what I’ve learned is that many of them just want to sell their book (which they are sure is not just an Amazon bestseller but a New York Times bestseller, too!) and thus hit it big quick. When they tell me about their attempts to get published, I hear about all the mistakes they’re making.

I ask, “Have you joined any writing groups?”

They say, “No, I was waiting until I got my first paycheck from the publisher.” (Mind you, they don’t have an agent or publisher yet.)

“No, don’t wait,” I respond, “Join now! You need to show the agents and publishers that you take your craft seriously, and you can learn so much from them. Do you have any kind of writing platform? Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest followers?”

“Nope, none of those.”

“Not even a personal Facebook account?”

“No.”

“Have you been to any writing conferences?”

“No. Why would I go there?”

“Have you learned the proper way to write a query letter?”

“Oh, I just mailed them my entire manuscript. And if they reject it, they’d better return it because I paid lawyers to help me get it copyrighted already.”

Yikes! And this is why I’m so glad it took me eleven years to get a novel published. It gave me time to learn not just the craft of writing but the business as well. While I never made any of the mistakes listed above, it did take me a lot of time to get my website in order (in fact, I played around with a couple different blog ideas first) and to build up my social media platform.

God had a plan for my writing career. He knew I needed time to be ready to handle the demands and stress of marketing a book. He knew I’d need to meet and learn from many different authors who would help guide me along the way. Honestly, if it hadn’t taken about eleven years for me, I don’t think Angelhood would have made it on the Amazon bestseller list the day it released. I wouldn’t have had the marketing and networking skills to pull that off.

If you’re not yet published and feeling frustrated, please know that most of us have been there. It’s a very rare author who doesn’t spend at least a few years learning their craft and the business. If you haven’t made that book deal yet, take heart. It means you’ve got time to network, build that email list and social media platform, and improve your craft. Then when the big day finally arrives, you’ll be ready to tackle it like a pro!

 

IMG_8231Author bio:

A.J. Cattapan is an author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. Her published works include the young adult novel Angelhood, a guardian angel story in the tradition of It’s a Wonderful Life. She’s also been a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor and had numerous short stories and articles published in magazines for teens and children, including Highlights, Pockets, and Hopscotch for Girls. She will also be featured in a recipe and corresponding story anthology due out later this year.

 

Angelhood2 500x750Book blurb:

Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life.

Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. If she’s going to find peace in the afterlife, she’s going to have to discover what living is really all about.

Links below:

Social Media Links:

Website: www.ajcattapan.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/acattapan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJCattapan

Instagram: https://instagram.com/a.j.cattapan/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ajcattapan/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24553425-angelhood

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+AJCattapan

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/ajcattapan

 

Purchase Links for Angelhood:

Paperback: http://tinyurl.com/nam26ek

Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/nvaphgk

Nook: http://tinyurl.com/q973qz8

iBook: http://tinyurl.com/qya98ya

All ebook versions are currently only $1.99!

 

Please Don’t Faint! (by Ada Brownell)

Clara has always been a fainter. She passes out at the sight of blood. Once she fainted when she bumped her head on a door.

Due to her habit of fainting, Clara is not much help in an emergency. When she was a teenager she worked for her Uncle Matt and Aunt Marge. One day Matt broke his leg. Marge was away, so Matt shouted for Clara to call for help. Clara rushed to see what happened, and fainted. Matt had to crawl to the phone.

Years later, Clara and her family were camping at high altitude on Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, CO. Her son, Dean, had a heart murmur and in the middle of the night and gasped for breath.

Clara’s husband awakened her and said, “We’re going to have to take Dean off this mountain. He can’t breathe.”

She sat up, looked at Dean, and then lay back again. “I think I’m going to faint.”

Her husband laughed. “Don’t be silly. You can’t faint lying down.”

But she did.

Doctors say Clara’s fainting was the result of a depression in the action of the heart. This can be caused by cold, heat, hunger, mental shock, weakness, pain, or fright.

Not many people suffer physical fainting as often as Clara did, but in the church there are many spiritual “fainters.” The Bible reproves those who faint when the going gets rough. “If you faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small,” we’re told in Proverbs 24:10.

Another scripture addresses those in the Lord’s work. “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galations 6:9).

“Spiritual fainting” is not necessary. As long as God lives and answers prayer, there is a way to recover strength, according to Isaiah 40:31, which says “if we wait upon the Lord, we can run and not grow weary, walk and not faint.” Luke 18:1 has further guidance: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

Don’t faint. Don’t give up in your well doing. Pray instead, and God will strengthen you.

Note: Clara Miracle was one of Ada Brownell’s older sisters. A similar version to this story appeared in The Pentecostal Evangel years ago.

 

ada brownellMEET ADA BROWNELL

Ada Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six books, about 300 stories and articles in Christian publications, and she spent a large chunk of her life as a reporter, mostly for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado. A Bible student since her teens and a youth educator, she also taught on the Bible and science; courses from Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict; and other faith-building courses. She now lives in Missouri, a beautiful state except for tornadoes and chiggers.

Among her books: The Lady Fugitive, an historical romance; Imagine the Future You, a youth/parent Bible study;.Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, a novel for middle grade up; Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, includes evidence we’re more than a body; Facts, Faith and Propaganda, a book that unmasks propaganda as well as reveals amazing truth; and Confessions of a Pentecostal, out of print but released in 2012 for Kindle; Most books are available in paper or for Kindle. Imagine the Future You audiobook is available at www.Audible.com  Free book with new Audible membership.

Amazon Ada Brownell author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/adabrownell

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/AdaBrownellWritingMinistries

Twitter: @AdaBrownell

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1654534.Ada_Brownell

Blog: http://inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com

Barnesandnoble.com http://ow.ly/PUWHO

 

 Copyright © 2015 Ada B. Brownell

I Wrote a Novel (by DJ Mynatt)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wrote a novel.

It’s not what I expected to write; yet when I sat down to write, the words just flowed onto the page.

I had lots of ideas … Amish Romance, Contemporary Romance, Sci-Fi, and plans for several non-fiction devotionals. But when I sat down–and began my Amish romance–almost immediately it changed into an Amish Suspense novel. Definitely suspenseful … and I love writing it. Some of the other ideas I had are in the works now, some are still in the planning stage, but the Amish suspense is the one I love to write.

But today I want to talk about my non-fiction book. When several readers asked me to write about my experiences when I competed in the NaNoWriMo event, I felt it was important enough to complete. National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known to its’ users as NaNoWriMo, isn’t looked upon favorably by many writers/authors. I’m not sure why … they don’t claim to teach you how to write, or how to get published, or how to do anything except to teach yourself how to develop a habit of writing.

That’s it. If you’ve always wanted to pen the great American novel, or be the next J.K. Rowling, do whatever it takes to write your novel. And that’s my message to you today. Don’t let anyone–or anything–stop you. And if you need a little nudge, or something to help you create a good habit of writing, NaNoWriMo can help with that.

If you don’t need help with making time to write, then I encourage you to sign up for a creative writing class at your local community college, or find a workshop that specializes in creating the perfect query letter or one-sheet–or join the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization and take their online classes.

There are also lots of books on how to make your writing better … and how to find an agent, or editor, or even a publisher. But the main thing is to get that novel written. And you can do it–I know you can do it–if you really want to. It doesn’t matter if you work full-time, or if you’re a full-time stay-at-home mom, or if you’ve just retired and need something to fill the empty hours.

One of my favorite Bible verses, that has encouraged me many times is “Ask, and it shall be give you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” ~Matthew 7:7

These words are not just words of encouragement … these words have been proven time and again. God promises whatsoever we desire, we only need ask for it to receive it. Now hold on, I’m not talking about earthly fame or fortune; I’m talking about having a desire to write–to reach out to others–words that God has given you to share.

Because honestly, if it isn’t in God’s will for me–I DON’T WANT IT! I make enough mistakes on my own. When I pray, I ask God to direct my path, to guide me in my words, to reach out to others with good news for others. I believe God has given me a love and a desire to write. All I need to do is write and ask God to make a way for those who need to read it – to find it.

Yes, I am coming to the place where I need my writing to support my family, but God has a much better plan than I could have – to help me reach this goal.

Write. Trust God to do the rest. It’s that simple.

1 - Author Photo - DJM - SM - 06-2015Author Bio:

DJ Mynatt is a newly-published author, who works full-time for the State of Tennessee, as well as beginning a new career as an author, editor, and speaker. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization, The Christian PEN (TCP) and the Non-Fiction Authors Association (NFAA).

DJ lives with her daughter and grandchildren in the beautiful hills of Tennessee When she leaves her “day job”, DJ’s time is spent focusing on her writing, editing, blogging, reviewing books (especially for authors featured on her BookShelf blog) and attending workshops and writers conferences.

In her first published book, DJ shares her experiences while participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge in November, and she encourages others to sign up for this amazing adventure!

“If you’ve always wanted to write, but haven’t been able to get started, NaNoWriMo is a great idea for you. It’s not meant to teach you how to write, but to give you the opportunity to create a habit of writing. It might just be the push you need to begin your writing career!”

Overwhelmed? (by Kimberly Rose Johnson)

file1801281015946As I write this, I’m sitting in the dentist office waiting room waiting for my youngest to get a filling. Poor kid. Life can sometimes feel like one big cavity—painful, overwhelming, or too much to deal with. But there is hope. That cavity can be filled and the pain will, or at least should, go away. That’s what it is like with the Lord. He can fill those painful times with peace, healing, restoration, or whatever the need is if we hand it over to Him.

A writer’s life is filled with so many different things that can become overwhelming. Reality is everyone faces things that overwhelm, but today I’m focusing on writers since that was my assignment.

As writer’s we face deadlines that must be met in the midst of marking, social networking, and a plethora of other things that drain our time. What’s a writer to do?

The first thing I suggest is giving the stress to the Lord. He is a big God and can meet you where you are. I’m not suggesting He will write that book for you. What I am suggesting is that He will give you what you need to be able to meet your deadline, or whatever you are stressing.

Secondly, practice good time management. Figure out what is most important and schedule your time accordingly. There are days, when I have a looming deadline and social networking becomes something I rush through in thirty minutes. I do the minimum I can get away with and then move on to what is pressing. Ideally we don’t get stuck in a situation like that, but sometimes life and circumstances get the best of us and it can’t be helped.

Thirdly, recognize you are human. You can only do so much. Delegate if you need to, or simply put some things off that aren’t a priority. We only get 24 hours a day, and we need to sleep. Yes, sleep is important. It is when our body recharges, enabling us to do what we do. So don’t deprive you body of what it needs. Take care if it. Which leads me into my final suggestion.

Take care of yourself both physically and spiritually. You may think you don’t have time, and you could be right. If that is the case, you overextended yourself and need to back off of something, because taking care of yourself is crucial to your success. I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot, but it’s worth repeating. Take care of yourself to be the best you that you can be. Diet and exercise play a key role in this, but so does taking time out to do something you enjoy, spend time reading both for fun and enrichment. Spend time with the Lord.

I hope you will try these strategies. I believe you will find that you will feel better and even be more productive.

 

IMG_4314-2 PublicityAbout the Author:

Kimberly Rose Johnson holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, teenage son, and their yellow lab. She writes heartwarming Christian romance for Heartsong Presents and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She enjoys taking long walks with her husband and dog, reading, dark chocolate and time with friends.
You may contact Kimberly via her website at http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Rose-Johnson/e/B00K10CR6E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1433789058&sr=1-2-ent

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyRoseJohnson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimberlyrosejoh

 

 

 

Ekphrastic Writing–Creative Speed Dating (by Sarah E. Morin)

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Image courtesy of Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When you hit a creative block, maybe you read outside your genre to find new inspiration. Maybe you talk it out in your local writing group. But have you ever considered finding new inspiration, not only outside your genre and writing group, but from another set of artists altogether? Magic can happen when creative people from different branches of the fine arts come together.

Last fall, Karen, a local painter, sat down for coffee with me and a couple poets and painters. (We poets insist on meeting at the local coffee/tea shop. Caffeine makes us more productive.) As we chatted over cheap legal stimulants, she proposed a group collaboration.

We spread the word to our poet and painter friends, and, a few weeks later, about a dozen of us gathered for a brainstorming session. We each brought three poems or paintings to the session to share. Truthfully, we had no idea what we were doing, other than the consensus that “Wow, I had no idea there was such talent here in this other field. It’s really inspiring.”

Immediately, people started to connect with what they read and saw. For example, I saw a painting of Princess Di wearing a hat with a brim so large it looked like Saturn’s rings. I asked the artist’s permission to write an ekphrastic poem based on her work, in which I compared Di’s celebrity to outer space.

 

What is an ekphrastic poem?

An ekphrastic poem is a poem inspired by a work of art.

In our case, the artists also created art based on our poems. One of our most prolific artists was Alys Caviness-Gober. Here is a piece she painted for my poem Carnival World:

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CARNIVAL WORLD

When the carnival left

the fairgrounds bore

the alien imprint

of crop circles in the grass.

The merry-go-round

left the round ghost

of the landing site

of a flying saucer.

Where are the inhabitants

of this fleeting world

that still smells of deep-fried adrenaline?

Where are the monuments they erected

of metal bars and canvas?

What means their last message:

the trampled echo of calliope music?

They flew away

through colorful stars

Ferris wheel galaxies

and left behind the litter of

a space, a time.

 

An ekphrastic piece need not be as literal as an illustration or description. You may imitate the mood the art evokes, or a specific segment of the art. For example, one poet looked at the way three cows in a pastoral scene were grouped and turned it into a statement about gossip.

There really are no other rules. Just inspiration!

Karen’s Poets and Painters group has met once a month since fall. I won’t say there haven’t been challenges in getting a large group of right-brained, strong-minded people to agree on an end goal. But there have also been some collaborations so moving they brought me to tears. For example, one painter (Sojna) depicted two abstract, red birds facing each other. One was right-side-up, one upside-down (think ying-yang). Vince, one of the poets, saw in it his son’s relationship to the world. His beloved son is on the autism spectrum and sees the world in a completely different way.

Eventually we also added a photographer and stained glass artist to the mix. The studio staff liked the idea of collaboration between different artists so much they hosted a whole exhibit in January, which featured pairings of visual art, written word, drama, and music.

No one in our group was limited as to style, number of poems, or number of collaborative partners. You could work with anyone as little or as much as you liked, as long as it was mutually agreeable. Just like in any partnership, sometimes you hit it off (artistically), sometimes you don’t. I began to think of our monthly meetings as Creative Speed Dating. Some poems and paintings were lovely but didn’t find a collaborative match. On the other hand, sometimes one painting triggered five poems. Occasionally someone sparked a chain reaction. A poet wrote a poem based on a painting, a second artist painted a new piece based on the new poem, and so on, like the childhood game of Telephone.

Do you have to write ekphrastic poetry in a big group? No. If you work with one artist, you get to know each other’s style intimately and can form a great friendship. After a while, you will find yourself writing a poem to bring out that artist’s specific talents.

If the artist you want to collaborate with is unreachable (or deceased), you can still use your piece as a writing exercise. When I enter my ekphrastic poems in contest or for publication, I only include images of the art if I have the artist’s permission or it is in the public domain. If you do not have permission, your poem may still be publishable without the art if it is transformative and a very different take on the original. I am not a lawyer, so read up on your copyright law before proceeding.

 

How did ekphrastic collaboration benefit me as a writer?

  • Visual artists are very tuned to, well, the Trying to describe a particular shape and shade made me reach further to find more precise word images.
  • I was particularly drawn to portraits. As a writer, I asked the eternal character and plot questions, “Why is she holding that umbrella? Why is her head turned away from his?” You may find a whole story in a work of art, or gain new insight into your WIP.
  • A visual artist will find angles to your writing you never considered.
  • The art may challenge you to try unfamiliar poetic forms which match the feel or shape of the visual work. A small nature scene may lend itself to a rictameter, or a painting with repeated patterns to a pantoum.
  • Not a poet? Try writing ekphrastic flash fiction. You’ll gain many of the same benefits. Poetry helps me pare down the word count in my prose, and flash fiction would do the same.
  • It can be as quick a process as you like. You find a painting you like, write your poem in a morning, and you’re done. When I was in the middle of putting my 160,000 word novel on a diet, I found it a relief to take a couple hours and just do a writing project from start to finish. Other short-term opportunities include exhibiting your collaboration in a temporary exhibition. A handful of our poet/painter pairings chose this route, which included a kickoff event with food and public readings. It was good exposure for us all.
  • Writing, as we know, demands many hours of solitary work. It’s a relief to gather with other creators of fine art who can share our struggles and encourage us.
  • Face it, we artists and writers love to hear the magical words, “Your work inspires me.”

 

How to Find Your Creative Speed Dating Match:

If you are a writer looking for an artist, go to art fairs and festivals. Not only can you see if the art inspires you before you approach the artist with your proposal to collaborate, you can often meet the artist in person. You can feel out whether you can work with this person, whether your business personalities jive, and get some background information about what inspires them. Also, they are most likely to agree to a collaboration if they see you in person instead of a random email. Pick a non-peak hour and bring your contact info. If the artist is not present (say, at a gallery) write down the name of the artist and google it later.

 

Dates gone wrong: Can you be wrong in your ekphrastic piece?

Yes and no. There is only one time an artist asked me to rewrite my ekphrastic poem. She painted an abstract piece of a snowy ground and red trees. I interpreted it as the transition of winter to spring, and she fall to winter. Generally, if you involve yourself in such a group, you should go into it accepting that your collaborative partner will take your work in new directions. That is both the benefit and the risk. Like dating, if the partnership doesn’t strike a spark, remember it was only one awkward first date. Learn from it (which was the whole point) and move on to other partners with whom you have creative chemistry. Most of all, have fun.

 

1387848_10205686331655788_1864298394_oAbout Sarah E. Morin:

Sarah E. writes unruly fairs and poems. Her first novel, Waking Beauty, asks the question, “What if Sleeping Beauty refused to wake up?” She performs her short stories and poems for local libraries, organizations, and conferences.

The Story of an Author (by Robin Patchen)

 

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This is the story of a successful author.

Once upon a time, a woman decided to write a novel. Day and night, she dedicated herself to the task, skipping parties and meals, rising early and retiring late in order to get another thousand words on the page. She thought about her story all the time, dreamed about her hero and heroine, called her children by her characters’ names, ate, drank, and breathed her story. Finally, a few months, maybe a year or more, down the road, she had a finished product. She sent it to her mom, who loved it. Then, with a spark of hope and a dream of publication, she submitted it for a critique. And her critique partner … was honest.

The book wasn’t good.

“I’m a talentless hack!” declared the woman. She slammed her laptop closed, grabbed the box of Oreos, and plopped herself on the couch for a Mad Men marathon.

Days, perhaps weeks later, she opened the critiqued document from her so-called partner and re-read the comments and suggestions. Grudgingly, she admitted that the woman might have been right about one thing, maybe two. She spent some time editing her novel, making it better, thanks to the input from her partner. Slowly, gently, she made changes and learned from them.

When she was finished, she sent it to her critique partner again. This time when her baby came back dripping in red, our author didn’t slam her laptop, and she only ate a single Oreo. Okay, a single sleeve of Oreos. And she made the changes. And the book was better.

She edited that first book more times than she can remember, and then she put it aside and started the next one. She poured herself into it, let her mom read it and enjoyed the gushing praise, and then sent it to her critique partner.

When she received the first critique, she opened it, already cringing. The document was still dripping in red … but there were fewer red marks. And the marks were on different kinds of mistakes. She made the changes, improved the book, and sent it again.

It was getting better.

So was she.

The second book wasn’t destined to be a bestseller, but it was an improvement. And the third was even better than that. In the process, our writer learned that great writers aren’t born. They’re conceived after hours and hours of hard labor—and lots of Oreos.

The more our friend writes, the harder she realizes writing is, and the more she learns. Yes, time passes. She gets older, wiser, and better, and after awhile, she gets a contract (or self-publishes a great book) And then she’s the critique partner encouraging others on this walk.

This is the story of a lot of writers. As an author, an editor, and a critique partner, I’ve seen this story played out so many times in so many different ways. What separates the great writer from the hack is not the quality of the first manuscript, it’s the time spent improving it. It’s the teachable spirit that gets us off the couch—Oreos or not—and back to the computer to make the changes and learn and be better.

Talent is just the first ingredient. It’s the decision to keep at it, to rewrite and learn and grow, that separates the hack from the true author.

DSC_8915-25edAbout the Author:

Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 

 

Finding Amanda links

Finding Amanda coverMy website: http://robinpatchen.com/

Robin’s Red Pen: https://robinsredpen.wordpress.com/

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Amanda-inspirational-Robin-Patchen-ebook/dp/B00VN0STLI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1428171089&sr=8-3&keywords=robin+patchen

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/finding-amanda/id982982402?mt=11

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/finding-amanda

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/finding-amanda-robin-patchen/1121693795?ean=2940151640039

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25311792-finding-amanda

 

Finding Amanda Back Cover Copy

 

Chef and popular blogger Amanda Johnson hopes publishing her memoir will provide healing and justice. Her estranged husband, contractor and veteran soldier Mark Johnson, tries to talk her out of it, fearing the psychiatrist who seduced her when she was a teen might return to silence her.

 

But Amanda doesn’t need advice, certainly not from her judgmental soon-to-be ex-husband. Her overconfidence makes her vulnerable when she travels out of town and runs into the abuser from her past. A kind stranger comes to her rescue and offers her protection.

 

Now Mark must safeguard his wife both from the fiend who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.

 

3 Truths About the Writing Life (by Patty Smith-Hall)

file9421279373453I’ve always been one to know the facts. Be it in my old job as a research nurse or in my writing life, I’ve always wanted to know what to expect. Television had told me that romance writers lounged around on their chaise, a feather boa wrapped seductively around their neck, clad only in an uber expensive nightgown from Bloomingdales, holding their Yorkie with one hand while the story poured from the pen in her other one. If it’s a tough guy who writes suspense, he’s led a hardened life that gives an edge to his characters.

What a load of crud!

So what is the truth? What can you expect when you become a published author?

1) Writing is hard work!

I don’t like the show, Mike and Molly, because, last session, the female lead decided to quit her paying job as a teacher and become a writer. No writing classes or studying craft books—no,  she just whips out a couple of chapters and sells her book for a boatload of money to an editor she meets at her first eight-week writing retreat (for which she won a scholarship!)

No wonder they call it comedy!

The truth is it doesn’t happen like that for most of us. First, you write, then you write some more, until you’ve finally poured everything into finishing your book. All the while, you’ve studied craft books and gone to conferences, soaking in as much as you could to learn your craft. Then you pull out your novel and realize it’s pretty much 320 pages of crap, so you settle in to do the rewrites. And you edit and write and rewrite until that bright and glorious day when you finish it AGAIN.

Then it’s time to let others see your baby, for them to red line it and mark it up so that you can have an even better and stronger story. Then you’re ready to submit it . . . maybe.

But writing is also the most thrilling ride that I’ve ever been on (outside of marriage, but then marriage is work too!). Those giddy moments when you’ve written something so beautiful that you know it could only have come from God. Or those exquisite moments right after your agent tells you you’ve sold your first book; the first time you see your cover; seeing your book on the store bookshelves for the very first time—heck, even a one-starred review because it means someone took the time to read something you’ve created.

Yes, writing is hard, but it’s so totally worth it.

2) Not everyone will love your work.

I’m ashamed to say that when I first started, I thought every thing I wrote was magical. The characters, the descriptions felt so real to me, as if I’d actually stepped into the manuscript and had made my home there. Then I entered it in a writing contest, and waited, certain some smart publisher would snatch it up.

I was in for a long wait. My manuscript didn’t even final. In fact, the scores were so dismal, I thought someone had made a mistake. And the comments—passive writing, two-dimensional characters, episodic scenes. One judge even said I was the queen of -ly words.

I wanted to smack her. Obviously, the judges didn’t ‘get’ my writing. I even had the gall to go to the contest coordinator and ask if there’s been a screw-up (over fifteen years later, and I still cringe at the thought. Poor woman!) No mistake—the writing was just bad.

That is why it is necessary to grow a thick skin. Learn from the comments of your critique partners or judges. Weed out the good advice. Realize judges/critique partners/ editors/agents have dedicated their time and effort to make you a strong writer. So kick a couple of cabinets, eat some ice cream, then get back to work.

3) Writing is a calling.

A few years before I was published, I was at the end of my rope as far as my writing was concerned. Between my family and work schedule, there never seemed to be time to work on my stories, and when I did have time, the lack of words would frustrate the dickens out of me. All of my writing friends were published, some multi-published, and here I was, still plugging away at the same old book and not doing a very good job of it. I wanted to give up until I read these words from a Bible study a friend had given me.

“You are a literature missionary!”

Those words from Marlene Bagnull’s Write His Heart punched me in the heart like a two-by-four. Here I was, so frustrated and discouraged, and God had been calling me to the mission field the whole time! Yes, it meant giving up my loft ideas of what I wanted from my writing and give them over to Him. To write without any expectations, to trust Him with the very thing that was so precious to me, to allow Him control over my writing life.

There are people only you can reach, who ‘get’ what you’re saying, who feels as if the story could have been written just for them. You could point them to Christ through your words!

IMG_1250Author Bio:

Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical/Heartsong and currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. Patty admits she has been making up stories since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. Now she’s happy to share her wild imagination and love of history with others, including her husband of 30 years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, and her future son-in-love. Her next book, New Hope Sweethearts, will be available on Amazon July 1st, 2015.

Website: http://www.pattysmithhall.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patty.s.hall
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pattywrites

 

Great news! Patty has agreed to give away a copy of her soon-to-be-released novel, New Hope Sweethearts!

Just leave a blog comment below, answering the question, “What has been the hardest part of your chosen career path?” 

Contest closes on Sunday night, winner announced in Monday’s post!