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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week Forty: Nancy Richardson











Remedy For Deadlines and Pressure



“But those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)





When the pressure is on. The story is due. The words are few. Then it is time to wait on the Lord. Here it says, “...those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength.”


You have been struggling to even write one more word. But then as you wait and take time with the Lord and wait on Him Words come. The words flow once again. It’s back, the inspiration. The thoughts come so swiftly you can not get them down quick enough. You are eager to write, eager to finish. You possess desire to share with others. The deadline is no longer tiresome because you know the source of your strength comes from Him.


Can you not feel yourself soaring as the eagle? A flight into the sky. Thoughts soaring right and left until you find yourself already inspired to write the next book. The ideas are fresh. The plot is daring. Hang on, the Lord is about to take you higher. For this is where the eagle flies.


Oh, the joy of waiting on the Lord. Oh, the freedom of not being weary. Oh, the feeling of not fainting. The pressure is no longer a problem. Why? Because you chose to wait on the Lord.






Nancy DuBose Richardson is a born-again follower of Jesus Christ and is living in Camden, Arkansas with my husband and one child, the last of six, left at home. After teaching Sunday School class for many years she wrote and self published a 30 day devotional called "Seek First.." for her class and friends. Currently, she is working on another devotional series called "At the Kitchen Table", and one dealing with choices which is yet to be titled.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week Thirty-Nine: Coleen P. Kenny

Who's In Your Tribe?


“Who’s In Your Tribe?” —McNair Wilson




A thought bubble rose above my head: They all are. Speaking at a Christian Writer’s Guild Conference, McNair Wilson defined a "tribe” as The Right Individuals Bragging Endlessly. The people who lift us up and support us along the footpaths of our dreams. Wilson urged members of the audience to find a few of these folks who will encourage us endlessly.


That afternoon I wrote my first piece of fan mail:




Dear Mr. Wilson,


I am blessed by a tribe who catch my energy and glow. No stifled yawns, no chiding nor laughter as I babble about my writing. Just people who forget I’m a Nurse Practitioner. People who ask for wedding and funeral poems. People who keep notebooks of my articles so they can say “they knew me when.” People who love me for and with God.
 

But the main thrust of Wilson’s message targeted the men and women who don’t have a tribe, whose spouses, families, or friends don’t support their hopes and dreams.


I thought about the people who surround me, the people I’ve collected like ornaments on the tree of my life. How did I get so blessed?


First, as Wilson advised, I make Christ the chairman of my tribe. (And for those whose spouses aren’t on their bandwagons, Wilson suggested staying for the next conference: a marriage retreat.)


Next, I wander like a nomad through the hearts of hiking buddies and Bible studies, and close friends and colleagues. I build communal fires of enthusiasm via email. I open the tent flap to my life, share my dreams, and give my Divine Muse all the credit.


Like a native storyteller, I spread word of publishing triumphs and conference kudos to a cadre of fans seeking good news in
this savage world. The lore of my accomplishments becomes
encouragement to other writers and those pursuing alternative dreams. Copies of my clips become a witness to His work.



Finally, modesty doesn’t stand in my way. Sharing this gift is my God-given job. When asked if they mind the smoke signals
that carry my news, the tribe’s overwhelming responses included: “Please keep sharing. It’s awesome to see someone pursuing
and reaching their dreams.”



“Your emails give me a boost in the morning. I’m always eager to see what God is doing next.”


The tribe grows.


Some members of this circle don’t believe my Divine Muse exists. Yet they read every word God publishes through me. One day I believe they’ll migrate to my camp for good.


So how do you make it happen?


If you have a tribe, writer, nurture it. Keep people posted and praying for you. If you don’t have a band of brothers (or sisters), create one. Gather a group who will love and support you for and with God. You have a gift. Honor it, honor Him, and honor those whose hearts your words will touch for eternity.







Coleen P. Kenny is a freelance-writer whose fans forget she is a Nurse Practitioner caring for the elderly. Positive Thinking, War Cry, and Believe! have published her articles, and twenty-five devotionals appeared in the gift book “Reach for Your Dreams, Graduate. The 2004 Writers Digest Annual Contest awarded her an Honorable Mention, and she completed the Christian Writers Guilds Apprenticeship in 2007. She is also a professional speaker and storyteller and can be reached at irishhiker@vcu.org




Monday, July 07, 2014

Week Thirty-Eight: Molly Noble Bull

 Writing with Sticks and Stones

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that
love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21 (KJV)




We have all heard the saying. “Sticks and stones may break
my bones. But words will never hurt me.” But is this a true statement? Do words hurt?
Yes. Words spoken in anger, with sarcasm or in a mocking
tone hurt. Sometimes our words harm others when that is the last thing
we want to do.


But did you know words also heal?

“A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow
of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15: 13


When I sit down to write an email to someone, I begin by
writing out all the important things I want to say in my message.
Or I reply to what someone else has said by putting in my two
cents. Sometimes I present a need and ask for prayer. At other
times I simply report what I consider to be important facts I read
about or heard in the news.

Let us say that today I want to report something I heard in
the news. My message might sound like this.

Dear Sally,
You might want to tune in to the Fox News Channel tonight at
seven central time. They are going to interview a doctor who once
preformed abortions, but is now pro-life.


Love,
Molly


Often, at this point, the Lord steps in and reminds me to say
something personal to Sally, the one who will be receiving my
message. In other words, it’s time to send my words of healing,
encourage her or cheer her up. It’s time to go back and write
something between “Dear Sally” and “Be sure to tune in...” which
is encouraging or helpful.

Sally might not be able to watch the Fox News Channel that
night. She might have a previous engagement or not be especially
interested in the topic. But everybody needs encouragement.

Here is a sample of what I might add to my message to Sally.

Dear Sally,
Good morning.

I was so glad to hear your daughter placed in that swimming
match she entered last week. Tell her to keep up the good work.
And please know that I will be praying for you when you go
in to have your Mammogram on Friday. Since I always pray in
the name of Jesus, I think it means Jesus will be praying for
you, too.


You might want to tune in to the Fox News Channel tonight
at seven central time. They are going to interview a doctor who
once preformed abortions, but is now pro-life.


Love,
Molly


When you tell someone you will be praying for them, pray.
To do otherwise means you told a lie. I often pray for a person a
head of time. Instead of saying, “I will be praying for you,” I say,
“I just prayed for you.”

Remember, words can hurt even when you don’t use sticks
and stones to write them.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Molly Noble Bull was born in Kingsville, Texas, home of the famous King Ranch, where she and her husband live today. Both her father and her maternal grandfather were ranch mangers (real Texas cowboys) and she lived on a sixty thousand acre Texas cattle ranch for part of her growing up years. Molly and Charlie Bull have never been married to anyone but each other, and they have three grown sons and six grandchildren. All three of their sons are involved in ranching in Texas today. 

Molly has published with Zondervan, Love Inspired and Tsaba House, and so far, West Bow Press published her only non-fiction book.

Though Tsaba House is no longer in business, they published Sanctuary, and Sanctuary, a long Christian historical sent in France and England, won the 2008 Gayle Wilson Award in the inspirational category and also tied for first place in a second national contest for published authors that year. Gatehaven, Molly’s Gothic historical with a strong Christian message, won the Grand prize in the 2013 Creation House Fiction Writing Contest as a manuscript, and it was published in trade paperback and as an e-book in March 2014. Since then, Molly sold a Christian western romance to Elk Lake Press, and When the Cowboy Rides Away will be published in 2015.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week Thirty-Seven: Rhonda Eudaly


Understanding



“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)




I’m a genre fiction writer, mostly galaxies far, far away or future times. It’s fun most of the time, getting to make up planets, people, and civilizations as I go along. There’s also a draw back, the wise old principle, “Write What You Know.” No one has been to those galaxies or really knows what the future holds. No one has yet to prove anyone can even get to those galaxies far, far away, and only God has created a planet, people, or civilization. However, everyone does seem to have an opinion on how best to go about it.


When I was faced with the dilemma of coming up with a method of both “Faster-Than-Light” and time travel. I didn’t lean on my own understanding of Physics. I couldn’t. I never took Physics in school. So I only had a very rudimentary understanding of the general principles physics when what I needed was something much more advanced.


Now, theoretically I could’ve made it all up as I went along, but there would always be someone out there to complain about it. Besides, I had friends who were engineers and access to used bookstores. So I made use of other people’s understanding, and guess what? My path of confusion straightened out. Well, after a while.


The process wasn’t immediate. The math portions still make my head hurt and eyes cross. But some of the theories are actually a lot of fun. Also, those engineering friends? They were tickled pink to be asked to help out. In fact one of them took my question back to his highly classified, Lockheed think tank and during lunches and breaks, and they came up with ideas for me. They were even quite plausible ideas, not possible yet, but plausible. My defense dollars at work.


Therein lies the loophole to the “Write What You Know” rule. Now I have a whole cadre of experts in my address book to lean on when I need understanding.






Rhonda Eudaly is the author of over a dozen short stories and articles. She lives in Arlington, TX with her husband. More details of her work can be found at  http://www.rhondaeudaly.com/.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Week Thirty-Six: Cathy Messecar

Don't Fret, Just Wait


"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7 (NIV)




"New York City!" a bunch of Texas cowboys retort in a TV ad when another cowpoke reveals he bought his salsa in the eastern state.


         New York editors might not make or even eat Texas salsa, but when one confirmed attendance at a Texas writer’s conference, a collective burst of excitement rippled through the eager writers. Crème de la crème. Top dog. Top banana. The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. Texas writers hoped to rope an interview slot when the honored guest would arrive at the conference. Even with a few editor/agent interviews under my belt buckle, never had I met one from New York, New York.


         Months later, I found that my fiction submission made the finals round in the general conference hosting the famed editor. On conference day, I would receive a coveted timeslot for an interview. While I fretted over the upcoming consultation, God reminded me that David penned, "Do not fret – it leads only to evil" (37:8).


         The king wrote this psalm later in life after he’d lived through kicks and kindnesses: bloody battles, traitors in his household, and tragedies, but also adoring subjects, feasting, and good promises from God. His faith and his experiences accredit his words and he had learned that fretting leads to evil.
      
        The wise writer David identified a common problem among writers today—fretfulness. Excellent communicator that he was, he didn't only lecture against fretting. Instead, he identified a problem and gave solutions, too. “Delight yourself in the LORD . . . commit your way to the LORD . .. . Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (4-7).


         David's "be still" meant to keep silent, cease striving, let your arms hang limp. However, he’s not describing a do-nothing life. Rather, he describes a mindset. Don’t wrestle, wrangle, or wring your hands or mind. Tell God about your desire to write for him, and then wait and trust him to lead to writing opportunities. 


         I'm an experienced "waiter." I’ve paid my dues—rejection slips, critique groups with red pens, and many rewrites. Trusting God's timing for works in progress remains challenging, but very doable if we remember that God looks over our shoulders, holds our hands, and walks ahead of us. He remains our constant companion.


         My interview with the New York editor went well. No, I didn't receive a contract, but to God's credit, calm filled my spirit. When the editor and I first shook hands, my focus shifted to her possible needs. Although young and fit, she seemed a bit travel weary after her flight to Texas. I asked the first few questions—about her trip, accommodations—and I offered to bring her a bottle of water. Jesus never doted on self, and on that day, he led me to imitate his approach to others. God allowed me to step away from self and into his plan for treating an esteemed New York editor to some Jesus-plus-Texas hospitality. 


         In Psalm 37, David affirmed that God gives words to those who esteem him, "The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just" (30).


         Through his words, the wizened David speaks to me about interviews with top-notch New York agents, writing a weekly newspaper column, or a note to a mourning friend. From David’s lead, I wrote a Cathy-version of Psalm 37:4-7. See if it fits you, too: "Don't drop your pen, just drop your arms. Stop flailing, twisting your hands. Don't fuss. Plant your writing desires in God’s heart and wait—silent and serene before him.” And when God responds and gives you wisdom—write words to prompt others to better believing and better living.


         I love that God said his disciples would testify before kings, and sometimes God arranges for our Christian fiction or non-fiction to land on the desk of a New York editor.    


 
She lives with her husband, David, in Montgomery, TX. Her family includes a son and daughter, their spouses and five grandchildren. She enjoys Saturday night dates with her husband, poking around at antique fairs, serving hot tea, and of course, writing and speaking.
Check out her author page at Amazon.
 
 



Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week thirty-Five: Marilyn Hilton

Pass It On


“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1, (NIV)


The new year was still new, and I was determined to keep my resolution to make time to write every day. But, as resolutions go, this was easier said than done. Busyness and doubt had already elbowed into my schedule and clouded my optimism.


While cruising the web, I found the perfect article to bolster my resolve. As if the author knew my need, she listed several ways for writers to keep their New Year’s resolutions. Her words encouraged and motivated me to keep going, so much that I wanted to tell her she’d made a difference in my life. I’d never done anything like that before, however, and I wrestled with the idea until I decided to toss aside my normal reserve and send her an email.

She replied within hours, saying my email had encouraged her because she’d been wondering if her monthly columns were making any difference to readers. She then suggested I join an online writers’ group and attend writers’ conferences, among other ideas. This busy stranger, who had reached a level in her career that I strived for, had taken the time to turn around and offer me a hand up. It made me pause.


I took a long look at what I was trying to achieve. Fame? Fortune? Admiration? Acceptance? I admitted that—mingled with noble reasons such as shining God’s light in darkness—I harbored
desire for these less attractive aspects of writing and publishing. In contrast to an encouraging word, they appeared empty and ugly. This author demonstrated what a Christian writer should be: Christlike first. I resolved then to generously lift up other writers, and in doing so, my heart and actions would be more in line with Christ’s example.


That was several years ago. A few years later, I wrote an article about ways in which writers can keep creativity alive when life’s circumstances get in the way. Soon after it was published, I received an email from someone I didn't know.


She’d read the article, and it had encouraged and motivated her. Feeling blessed by this unexpected email from someone who’d gathered the courage to write to me, I wrote back to thank her. And I suggested other ways to keep her writing on track and keep her connected with fellow Christian writers, including joining an online writers’ group and attending a writers’ conference. They were by now familiar words, given with love and prayer.


A footnote: a year after I’d read that New Year article, I met the author at a conference. She was then preparing to launch her online magazine for Christian writers, the very one in which my
article had appeared.


Marilyn Hilton is the author of the middle-grade novel Found Things, two nonfiction books for girls, and numerous short stories, poems, columns, and articles for women and writers. She loves speaking at retreats, conferences, and schools. Please visit her at marilynhilton.com.




Happy Father's Day!

I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant day.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Week Thirty-four: Loree Lough

News Flash




God is faithful, and He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.”  1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)


Winston Churchill once said, “Writing a book is an adventure. It begins as an amusement, then becomes a mistress, then a master, and finally, a tyrant.” When students and readers ask what advice I’d offer unpublished and/or established authors, I think of that phrase, and remember this quote from G.K. Chesterton: “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”


Newsflash: There’s a bit of truth in both writers’ opinions. Trouble is, neither provide any real advice. Maybe that’s because the answer is so multi-faceted:


Do I recommend how-to books? Sure. But don’t invest a fortune purchasing them at the bookstore. Borrow a few first, from the library or friends. Then, if one offers solid tips, make an investment.


What about writing classes? Take some, definitely. But don’t just sign up for any old class. Do your homework before the first class. Call the organization and/or school and ask about the instructor’s credentials...and check them out. The old adage “Those who can, do...those who can’t, teach” might be true of other industries, but in the wacky world of writing, the opposite is true: You can’t teach what you can’t do. I know too many could- be authors whose careers foundered because of the misleading lessons of wannabe teachers.


How do I feel about writers’ conferences? They’re terrific. Not only do most provide numerous helpful how-to workshops, but conferences are a great place to meet editors, agents, and people just like you who want their work published.


And what about contests? Personally, I prefer to judge contests rather than enter them. I know many authors whose contest wins provided a springboard to publication. Again, my advice is do your homework. Make sure your story is right for the contest. Get your money’s worth by entering only contests whose judges are published authors and/or working agents and editors. Otherwise, you’re in the same boat as the people who “learn” erroneous stuff from “teachers.” Judges with no publishing credits can do far more harm than good when critiquing a submission.


Should you become a member of local and/or national writing organizations? Yes. But, again, join a group that can forward your career. The Internet can lead you to associations that specialize in your favorite genre, or to generic groups that cater to fiction and non-fiction writers.


Critique groups? Another resounding yes! But put your energies into a group that has every member’s best interests at heart. Opinions can’t help you create works that are salable, but constructive criticism can...accent on constructive.


Will people steal your ideas? Not likely. Writers are, for the most part, generous and honest. Talented, creative types don’t need to borrow the work of others, for their imaginations grow stories the way Old MacDonald grew animals on his farm. Excellence is never an accident, so if you run into one of these unsavory, spineless, talentless thieves, consider it an honor: They thought highly enough of your work to steal it and try to pass it off as their own. Don’t waste time and energy worrying about the iota they took. Move forward, immediately, with work on your next exciting story. To put a spin on another old adage? “The best revenge is writing, and publishing, well.”


Dream big. Shoot for the stars. Plant your keester in a chair and type. Think you don’t have time? Bah! At the end of a year, one page a day will produce a 365 page novel. Don’t have time
for a page a day? MAKE time.


I’ll pray He makes YOUR way easy to see.




         Bestselling author Loree Lough once sang for her supper, performing across the U.S. and Canada. Now and then, she blows the dust from her 6-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly, she writes novels that have earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards, 4- and 5-star reviews, and 5 book-to-movie options. Her 100th book, Saving Alyssa, #3 in “A Child to Love” series for Harlequin Heartwarming, released in March of 2014. Next up, the “Secrets on Sterling Street historical series from Whitaker House, and “Those Marshall Boys” contemporary series from Harlequin Heartwarming. Both series will release during 2014 and 2015.

         Loree enjoys sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry. Her comedic approach makes her a favorite at writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, and college and high school writing programs in the U.S. and abroad.

         A writer who believes in giving back, Loree dedicates a generous portion of her income to favorite charities. (See "Giving Back" @ http://www.loree lough.com to see the list.) She loves hearing from her readers, and answers every letter, personally.