Friday, December 21, 2012



Designed for Devotion




A couple of months ago, Dianne Neal Matthews was interviewed on this blog about being a writer for the devotional compilation, Mornings with Jesus 2013. Today I am reviewing her latest 365-day devotional, Designed for Devotion.






Dianne Neal Matthews has written her fourth book of daily devotionals and what a compilation of Biblical knowledge. The book is subtitled, "A 365-day journey from Genesis to Revelation," and she has penned at least one devotional from each book of the Bible. If you have a hunger for God’s Word, want to grow in your walk with God or are new in your Christian faith, this book will give you a substantial amount of truth and inspiration each day during the coming year.

A sentence from the back cover sums it up: "There is no better way to know God more intimately than to immerse yourself in his Word and Designed for Devotion helps you do just that."

Each day Matthews takes a portion of Scripture, explains it and then relates it to our daily lives. 

If you are looking for a 365-day devotional this is certainly one to consider.



Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible (Tyndale House) and Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation (Baker Books). She also writes regularly for websites and blogs (such as CBN.com and FindingGodDaily.com), contributes to compilations, and enjoys speaking and teaching at writers' conferences. Dianne is a 2006 CLASS graduate and a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers, Christian Authors Network, and Toastmasters International. She and her husband, Richard, currently live in Salt Lake City, which is too far away from their three grown children and two adorable grandchildren. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Have You Changed Zip Codes?




Do you feel you have used those change of address forms too many times? Can you top twenty-two? Yes, twenty-two. That is how many times Carol Stratton has relocated. She is the author of Changing Zip Codes, Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted. This book of forty devotionals is a terrific guide to those who find themselves in the midst of transition.

            The book is divided into two sections: Preparing for the Move and Shifting to a New Community. With each devotional she shares a scripture to deal with the dilemma.

            She shares her fears, poor decisions and things that helped her assimilate into life at a new address. She uses examples from her own life and those of others who have moved.

            Stratton also understands the weariness, the fear of the unknown and the struggle to provide stability for children, as a majority of the moves have included her four children, in addition to her husband.

            As Christians we want to find a community of faith wherever we live. Stratton shares some of those triumphs and difficulties.

            Whether you have experienced a move of choice, a foreclosure, a family illness or whatever the reason, you will find a friend in the pages of this book.


You can find out more about Carol at:  www.changingzipcodes.com






Carol has written articles for The Grand Rapids Press, Zionsville Times Sentinel newspapers as well as Purpose, The Christian Communicator, Fandangle, In Touch, Women’s Touch, Your Church and Forsyth Woman magazines and has reviewed books for the Christian Book Previews. She won the 2005 Paper Cottage “Smart Women” Essay contest and has taught at the Write-to-Publish Conference and at the CLASS Christian Writers Conference





Friday, December 7, 2012

Inspirational Read







Although I am reviewing devotionals this month to inspire your spiritual growth, I am diverging for one post to share a book with you that is an inspiring read.

I had to keep a box of tissues close by as I read the book, Teaching Diamonds in the Tough by Cleo Lampos. This is an inspirational book of vignettes from the career of a 26-year veteran teacher who taught students from a tough neighborhood. If you love inspirational stories of how one person can make a difference or if you know a teacher who is discouraged in their profession, this would be the book to inspire them.

Many of her students knew what it was like to fear gangs and see people die in the streets. They would come to her classroom and Lampos would show them love and try to bring out the best in each one.

Although the book is only 120 pages, it is long on heart and impact. It reminds us who are not involved in education as a profession, what many teachers experience every day. At the end of each vignette, you will find scripture verses, quotes and a challenge.

If you want to be inspired, grab some tissues and begin to read how God used one woman to touch the lives of a group of students who needed to know someone cared.

To learn more about Cleo, go to cleolampos.com


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Daily Guideposts






I interviewed a devotional writer on my last blog post, and since we are nearing the end of 2012 and looking forward to 2013 I thought some recommendations of daily devotional books might be in order. Over the next few weeks, I will share with you some of my favorite devotional books I have either used or would like to explore. Daily Guideposts is the first selection.



I have been reading Daily Guideposts for many years, but not on a regular basis. It is a daily devotional book written by over fifty various writers, some have written for the book for many years. Last year the publication celebrated thirty-five years.

Each day features an anecdote from one of the writer’s lives which they use to share a truth from the Bible. The devotional ends with a prayer and additional verses to dig deeper into Scripture. Some of the writers have written a special series of devotionals which might span a week or so with a continuing theme. Some of the series subjects this year are “Operation Thankfulness”; “A Mother’s Journey Through Grief”; and “Divine Abundance."

At the back of each book are pictures and bios of the writers, which I always find fun to read.

Above today's blog is a picture of the 2013 book and also a link which will give you further information.


Next week we’ll look at another devotional to assist you in your spiritual journey.



HAVE ANY OF YOU USED DAILY GUIDEPOSTS AND WANT TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE? PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE ANY DEVOTIONAL BOOKS WHICH HAVE BLESSED YOU.




Friday, November 9, 2012

Wake up with "Mornings with Jesus 2013"


THE WINNER OF THE DEVOTIONAL BOOK, MORNINGS WITH JESUS IS KAREN K.

THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED.






I am giving away Mornings with Jesus 2013. This a book with 365 devotionals written by ten different women writers. One of those is Dianne Neal Matthews, who is my guest today.  If you want to read more about this book go to: Mornings with Jesus 2013.






How did you begin writing devotionals?

When I attended my first conference in 1999 (Write-to-Publish in the Chicago area), I’d never thought of writing devotionals. I had no idea what type of writing to pursue. But I set up an appointment with the editor from Warner Press after she spoke on a panel. I showed her a one-page piece I’d written about a lesson from my cat; she said I might be a natural devotional writer. So I applied and was accepted as a Master Writer for the company, and got to submit ten devotionals each year for use on the back of church bulletins. Later, I wrote devotionals for a quarterly periodical and an occasional Sunday School take-home paper. It took me a few years to start thinking in terms of devotional books.

 

You have published four devotional books, each including devotionals for 365 days. The one we are giving away today, Mornings with Jesus 2013 (Guideposts Books), is a compilation, so you are one of ten writers contributing. What are the dynamics of a compilation versus a devotional where you are the only writer?

I didn’t have any contact with the other writers during the project, but I felt a strong kinship with them. Now I’ve gotten in touch with a couple of the authors through Facebook and hope to meet more of them in person at conferences. The greatest thing about being involved in a compilation book was that I had to come up with only 40 ideas instead of 365! I also think readers will enjoy the variety that results from having ten different authors share their own unique perspectives, writing styles, and life experiences.

 

I looked ahead and have been reading your devotionals in Mornings with Jesus 2013. I love the way you weave an experience you have had to relate to the reader. For instance on February 17 you shared your fear of water, which I also have and I immediately related. How do you keep experiences fresh as a reference for future devotionals?

So far I’ve mostly relied on my memory for personal experiences that I use in devotions. With an overactive imagination, I can usually go back and almost relive them. But I’m sure the details would be more accurate if I had written them down. I’m now starting to do that, especially with things that my grandchildren say and do that would make perfect illustrations. I used several of those in Mornings with Jesus and each time I get to visit Lacey and Roman (who live too far away), I get new material. J

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
How do you keep yourself in tune with God so he can work through you and your writing to touch the reader?

Lots and lots of prayer! I struggle with being consistent in a daily quiet time, but whenever I’m working on a project I’m fully aware how much I rely on God’s help. I often ask Him to lead me to the perfect verse or illustration for a spiritual principle. There’s no way I could have completed these four books without supernatural help.


Besides prayer, I think transparency is a must for truly effective devotional writing. I’m naturally as transparent as Glad Wrap anyway, but occasionally God asks me to go deeper—sometimes so deep it hurts. For example, when I had to come up with 365 ideas for The One Year Women of the Bible, I decided to write about the foolish woman in Proverbs 14:1. Immediately, I remembered what is probably the most stupid thing I’ve ever done in my life—and the perfect illustration for that verse. I stopped and said, “God, surely you don’t want me to share that, do you?” He did. So I did. And I decided that sparing myself from being embarrassed is not as important as writing words that share God’s truth. (If you own the book, that particular devotion is in late September.)

 

Do you hear from readers when a specific devotional touched them?

Yes, and those notes are what keep me writing. They’ve come from people of different ages and from as far away as Australia. I’ve often had a card show up in my mailbox or a message come through my website just when I’m thinking how nice a job at the mall would be. The most recent example happened a few weeks ago. A young woman wrote that she had been going through a “rough patch” in her spiritual walk, but one of my books was helping her. She had skipped two days of reading and then read two devotionals at once. She was excited to see that both entries “spoke exactly to [her] struggle”. Comments like that remind me what a privilege this is.

 
What is your greatest challenge as a devotional writer?

Combining all the devotionals in my four books with those I’ve written for other outlets, I’ve now published more than 1500 devotionals. Sometimes I wonder if I have anything left to say! But God’s Word is so fresh and relevant, and there are so many ways to illustrate Scripture, that He continually sends me new ideas. Another thing I struggle with is feeling like a hypocrite. I’ve written all these devotionals about the Word and about Christian living, yet so often I stumble in my own walk. But hopefully, the fact that I’m so imperfect allows the grace of God to stand out in my writing all the more.







Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible (Tyndale House) and Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation (Baker Books). She also writes regularly for websites and blogs (such as CBN.com and FindingGodDaily.com), contributes to compilations, and enjoys speaking and teaching at writers' conferences. Dianne is a 2006 CLASS graduate and a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers, Christian Authors Network, and Toastmasters International. She and her husband, Richard, currently live in Salt Lake City, which is too far away from their three grown children and two adorable grandchildren. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.
 
 

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAWING FOR A COPY OF MORNINGS WITH JESUS 2013. THE LAST TIME TO LEAVE A COMMENT WILL BE MIDNIGHT CENTRAL TIME,

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16.

 

PLEASE LEAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS SO I CAN CONTACT THE WINNER. IT WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON THIS BLOG ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17.

 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm Learning to Love my eReader


I am about to finish my first novel on Kindle this week and I am being sold on the eReader (this was also a dilemma, since there are many spellings of this word). I know many of you already read eBooks, but this is a first for me. I have the Kindle for my PC, and was going to buy a reader, which I may, but then I purchased the Galaxy III mobile and now plan to put the free Kindle App on that device also.

I am a slow reader, but I think on the Kindle I read faster. I still have way too many paper books, but I may be shifting my inventory. I had written a previous post (EBooks: Do You Really Read Them?) and received many interesting comments. When I wrote that post I wasn’t sure I liked to read online.

I am also making a public apology today to the author of the novel I'm reading, (Hungry River, A  Yangtze Novel by Millie Nelson Samuelson) who happens to be a great writing “bud.”  I am just now finishing her first novel, originally written over seven years ago! Forgive the delay, friend. But, I am rooming with her next week at a conference and I was not going to show up not having read her book.  

But, I am enjoying the journey. If you are a lover of historical fiction in the 1800s China, you’ll find this book filled with interesting facts and a slice of the spread of Christianity in this country. The book is based on the lives of her grandparents who were missionaries in China.  

The book is on Amazon and, of course, on Kindle.

 
How many of you have a Kindle or another type of eReader? Why do you like it?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Unexpectedly Inspired



I had an appointment this week with a physician considered one of the top orthopedics in the nation. (This was to deal with an ongoing leg issue; prayers appreciated). I felt honored to be able to meet with someone of his caliber.

I had to wait three months after I made the appointment, but when I met with him he gave me two hours of his time. It has been a long time since a doctor spent that much time with me. Now, yes, I will pay for it, but someone with that knowledge and expertise, I believe is worth it. He was so personable I had to remind myself he was the doctor I read about with all the experience and honors, because most of the time, I felt like I was chatting with him over lunch.

But, then I thought about how he got to this point in his life. I’m sure he has studied way beyond medical school and attended seminar upon seminar. It didn’t happen in a day.

Then I thought about me as a writer. How can I become better in my field? How can I become a writer known for a skill others seek out?

I left his office with some answers, albeit more tests required, but I also left with the desire to study and be more knowledgeable in my field.

Thanks, Dr. D.

 

How about you? Has anyone in another field inspired you to excel in your own?

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thoughts on Legacy


My father-in-law passed away last week. He lived a long, full life, and had been struggling with health issues, but still no one wants to die, nor see a family member pass away. Family gathered and I saw that life ends, but life also begins and continues. At one of the family dinners, we celebrated a four-year-old birthday of one of the children.

While at the cemetery where we had the graveside service, I talked at length with my husband’s cousin, who had lived long enough to know much about the family. He showed me family tombstones and described who they were and his memory of them and how they died. I then fast forwarded many years into the future and wondered if my husband and I were buried in that cemetery, the four-year-old may be walking among the tombstones someday, telling the story of our lives.

And then I thought about what would that story be? Those thoughts should give us the inspiration to live a life worth living, serving and loving others and our God.
 

 

 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Threat


I am reading a fascinating memoir, Joseph Anton, by Salman Rushdie. As you might remember he is the author of the novel, The Satanic Verses,(which I haven't read) published in 1989, and due to the nature of the contents about Islam, the Ayatollah Khomeini placed a threat on his life.

The memoir is about living under the threats. I am only halfway through the book, but it is a riveting account of the fear for his life and his family, especially his nine-year-old son. He moved from house to house and had a security detail, trying to stay a step ahead of the threats.

I am not writing this as a review or recommendation of the book, although it is very interesting. But, I have asked myself some questions as I read:

1.     What if I wrote something and angered others leading to a threat, how would I react? I so dislike angering others, so how would I cope?

2.     It is a lesson on freedom. We need to be able to not be afraid to express our beliefs and feelings. It also reminds me of what my college journalism professor would say about censorship. If we try to ban the materials that we, as Christians, feel are not appropriate whether because of message, language or against our beliefs, then the books we write about God, and a way of life that please Him, could also be banned.

3.     I guess the last is a comment and not a question. I have admired how Rushdie came through this still loving to write and writing while in hiding and now not afraid to share what happened to him, even though there are still threats on his life.


And sometimes I don’t write just because I am too tired.

 

Do you think you would be strong enough to stand against a threat on your life?

 

Friday, September 21, 2012

I'm Not Done Yet!


 
I was sitting outside on my balcony this morning and noticed the chamomile plant that I had ridden off as dead, was a brimming green plant. After the drought of the summer and trying to keep it watered, I realized maybe it wasn’t the plant for a balcony which receives sun all day. I probably just failed to water it enough(sometimes I do that).

But, with the recent rains it soaked up the water and is showing its’ spendor again.

What we think is dead and gone sometimes is just resting and waiting for the right time to return. I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit at my church in August and one of the speakers (Craig Groeschel) gave a talk to encourage the “senior” pastors and leaders in the audience. He said, “If you aren’t dead, you’re not done.” He encouraged everyone that no matter where you are in life you have something to contribute.

With my recent fracture and frustrations in being unable to maneuver, I sometimes feel that maybe I’m done. But, I can still set at my computer and write. Maybe that is where God has wanted me all along.

P.S. I had a nice picture of the chamomile plant, but having trouble uploading my photos. Anyone running into that?

 
How about you? Have you ever felt that there wasn’t a place for you to contribute, but then God showed you a way? 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Evening at the Chicago Tribune


                                                         Photo by William Shaw

                                        

            On Friday evening, I attended an author interview and book signing featuring a former Chicago Tribune editor. This took place at the newspaper offices in downtown Chicago and I was in awe of the beautiful building. In the lobby are quotes carved into the marble walls about truth and freedom of speech. I could have spent time just roaming the halls.
            The event was sponsored by the editors of the paper’s new literary Sunday supplement, Printers Row, of which I am a subscriber. The author interviewed was Julia Keller, Cultural Editor of the Tribune, until a few weeks ago, and now a professor and novelist.

            I have enjoyed and admired Ms. Keller’s writing in the Tribune for quite a few years and wanted to hear her in person. Ms. Keller’s novel she was speaking about, is A Killing in the Hills, a mystery based in her home state of West Virginia (the book does include dialogue which some may find offensive). I am usually offended by this type of language which is one reason I do not read many fiction works not published in the inspirational/Christian market. But, Ms. Keller’s writing, for me, is something to be admired and feel I can learn from her work.

            But, what I was reminded of that evening, as a writer and especially as a Christian writer was that I should never feel less of a writer than those who get more honor or publicity, are read by more readers or because I write for a smaller, inspirational market. I heard her speak and came away, learning new things, while also being able to relate and understand the problems she encounters in her writing and literary life. I also find many times that I understand the publishing process more than those attending because you only need to attend a few Christian writing conferences and you know how to get published and how publishing works.    

We, as Christians, often spend a lot of time thinking about “them” and “us” when it comes to knowing whether we should associate or avoid events for those who write for the general market. Even though, there are very obvious distinctions and we do have some different goals, we probably have more in common than we have differences. I am usually uneasy before I attend events like these, not knowing if I will be comfortable or feel accepted. On the other hand, I would imagine writers outside the Christian market might feel uncomfortable in our gatherings.  
This was a delightful evening that I’ll not soon forget.
 
How about you? If you write and publish in the Christian/Inspirational field, how do you feel when you attend gatherings such as these?
 
 
 

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Last Breath of Summer



The last weekend of the summer is upon us. It has been very hot for many of us, but, since the temperatures have been a little cooler, I am doing one of my fav things.  Just before the sun disappears around the corner of our condo building, I take a book or magazine to read onto our balcony.  Eventually my eyes get heavy and my head falls back on the chair where I sit. I love dozing in and out of sleep; it kind of makes my concerns melt away.

So, enjoy the last weekend of summer, but don’t forget to make a few plans for the Fall season. September has always been somewhat of a beginning for me, probably from all the years of attending school. I remember getting all the new pencils and notebooks and it seemed like a new start. I still like getting away from the computer and writing with pencil on paper.

Later this Fall I’m thinking of attending a writer’s conference (Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference) to meet some new writers and catch up with others. I know I will learn something new and hopefully be inspired to increase my writing productivity after a summer of health challenges.

How about you? What plans do you have for your writing, after a hot summer?


 

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Guest Post Full of Ideas

I welcome writer, editor, and my good friend, Deborah Christensen to my blog. A bit of trivia: In addition to being a writer, Deborah is a pretty good photographer and we met, over twenty years ago, when I bought her first photograph to be used in the magazine where I worked. Since that time she has taught me a lot about writing and publishing.




The Ideas All Around You

One weekend when my niece and two nephews were small, I babysat them. My oldest nephew, Chris, decided to make breakfast for us. It made me nervous because he was only 7 years old. However, he wanted to do it and everything turned out fine. But, it taught me a lesson in servanthood. Out of that experience came an article entitled “The Breakfast Table.” It has been reprinted several times.
What does a weekend of babysitting, a quiet time, an online newspaper, a wedding, Mother’s Day and the Olympics have in common? They all offer potential writing ideas.

The easiest place to find inspiration is from our quiet time. What is God teaching you? How can you apply it to your life? How can you share these insights with your readers?

When you read the newspaper, save stories that inspire you. Maybe you will get an idea for someone to interview. Wildfires may inspire an article about fire prevention or unemployment figures may inspire you to write something about how to look for a job. Read with an open mind. Ask yourself what you can write about the issues you find.

When you attend an event, like a wedding, look for unique ideas you can share with your readers. Can you write something about how to plan a wedding or choose a wedding dress? Think beyond the event. What can you share about marriage? What advice can you give to someone just beginning this journey? What can you share with a couple whose journey is faltering?

Family celebrations, such as Mother’s Day, can get you thinking about relationships. And, events like the Olympics can inspire ideas about courage and perseverance.

When you begin your day, ask God to help you see the writing potential in every experience He gives you. Keep a notebook, recorder or smartphone Notes app with you at all times. When an idea hits you, write it down. Don’t lose it.

Look at all facets of that idea. If you allow your mind to wander around the idea, you may discover unique ways to approach it. A thunderstorm may get you thinking about ways to explain clouds in a children’s article. A visit to the vet may provide inspiration on how to deal with pet health issues.

Think of all the ways you can use that idea. It might be a personal experience piece, a how-to article or a meditation/devotional. How can you use that idea in fiction? Is it the foundation for the story or is it just a scene? Do you write poetry? What about children’s stories?

Ideas are all around you. Keep your mind open and think about all the possibilities.

© Deborah Christensen


 

Deborah Christensen is the writer/editor for Lighthouse Christian Products Co. She also mentors students for the Christian Writer’s Guild and has been a freelance writer since 1989. She writes a blog that inspires writers to find ideas in everyday life: www.plowingthefields.wordpress.com. You can find her on Facebook at Plowing the Fields and Twitter: @dcplowingfields.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

True Inspiration

It has been a weary Summer for me with health challenges and the heat. But this week I am attending one of my “don’t miss” events, right up there with my writer’s conferences. I’m talking about the Global Leadership Summit at my church, Willow Creek. 

The Summit features speakers who inspire you and opens your eyes to ways God can use you to influence your world.  I am ready to be built into. It will exhaust me in a good way and hopefully pick me up to remember I can do things through God’s help.


NEXT WEEK:
Don’t miss reading next week’s guest post by my good friend and fellow writer, Debbie Christensen. Debbie is an idea machine for writing topics and she will guide you through her process. As for me, next week my home is being invaded by an eight-year-old and then I will know the true meaning of exhaustion.




Friday, August 3, 2012

If You Write for Tweens or Teens, THANK YOU!


I work at a library and one of the things I get to do is unpack the boxes of new books that will eventually fill the library’s shelves.

I enjoy seeing the new books. I am especially happy when I know, or know of, some of the authors, and also know they are writing from a Christian worldview, whether fiction or nonfiction.

But, my heart breaks when I unpack book after book of a dark or questionable topic for tweens and teens. Where are the Christian writers of tween/teen books? There don’t seem to be many out there. I have been looking for books to interest kids in this age group which are also written by Christian writers and have had a difficult time finding very many.

There are many books for this age group, and that means they are reading and that is good. This period of time in their life is brief, but it is a very important time, and the words they read can leave a deep impression. We need relevant, well written books that will grasp their attention and deal with the issues they are facing and also let them know that there is a God who is anxious to lead and guide them.

If you are out there and know how to write for tweens and teens, PLEASE DO SO, a generation needs you to guide them into values that will grow them up to be godly men and women.

I know there are things out there in print that are not produced by the Christian market that are decent reads. But, what are they? Let us, who do not have children, but have influence on children, know what titles to suggest.

Children will read what their peers read. And when we see what they are reading, let’s not condemn first, but read it ourselves. And then we shouldn’t be afraid to give them an alternative.



Hey, writers, parents of young people, librarians, how can we help to mold these young people we have influence over? Do you have suggestions for good reads for tweens and teens?




Friday, July 27, 2012

Do You Set Goals?




Original watercolor by my 7-year-old niece, Oliva.



A couple of weeks ago I talked about a book I had found as I cleaned house. It was the Bible study, Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull.
As I am looking through this book, it is so heavily highlighted in pink, I have to laugh. I was so excited about what I read years ago that I seemed to highlight every word and now that I reread them, I know why I couldn’t put my pen down.
Listen to this:  “. . . we need to envision the writer we hope to become and the work we hope to produce for the Lord’s glory.” And, “When my mind is centered on Christ and I choose to rely on ‘his mighty power,’ I discover he is able to do far more’ than my ‘highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes’ “ (Eph. 3:20) This is found in the chapter, Making It Happen.
Marlene also talks about setting goals. We can set long-range goals and then break that down into more specific short-term goals. I can’t tell you how many times I have written down goals and have accomplished some, but not all and have become discouraged. But, then I come back again, a few months down the road and start again and try to set new goals. I have since tried to not set as many goals and work though them, and it gives me more confidence to move on.
This summer has been an exhausting summer for me physically and mentally. I am so glad I came across this book so I can be encouraged and remember how excited I was when I read the book for the first time. I feel the excitement building a little again.

 
Question: Does setting goals help you accomplish more things?






Friday, July 20, 2012

Art Camp a Success




This week I had the privilege of leading a team of volunteers who presented a Bible/Art Camp for twenty-three children from our church community group. It was such a pleasure to watch the children in grades one through six learn about God and explore art and the talents He has given them. Two professional artists volunteered their time and led the students through exercises, while an adult leader at each table assisted.
I had an idea a few months ago to have some type of an art camp for kids based on Biblical content. I had been providing arts and crafts for them to do during our community’s monthly meetings. As I talked the idea around I met people who were interested and then the ball started rolling and people wanted to help and we had a two-day camp and it was AWESOME.


            As I watched them I wished I could go back and be a child again. Here is what I envied:
            They are so excited about life.
They are not bothered by other people’s talent but just put down on paper what they want to do.
They are spontaneous and anxious to show an adult what they have created to hear approval.
They verbalize what they want to do, although it might not be appropriate all the time.
They gave me joy watching them do their art and running down the hall, celebrating life. I want to remember their joy and the joy I had in providing the opportunity for them.

How do feel when you see children enjoying life?

           

Friday, July 13, 2012

Write His Answer




Interesting things happen when I know I am going to have company. One thing I do is clean the house and “unearth” items, like books, that I forget I have. A book I came across this week is, Write His Answer, a Bible Study for Christian Writers by MarleneBagnull. The book is highlighted and underlined with pen and notes written in the margins. As I reread it I remembered why it meant so much to me.

In the foreword, by veteran author Lee Roddy, I highlighted the line “ . . . an unfinished manuscript cannot change lives.” Wow, I remember first reading that line and how I need to remind myself of that today.

The book is divided into 33 chapters of three to four pages and at the end of each chapter is a short series of questions, titled, “Responding to God’s Call,” with space to comment. I had filled out many of the questions almost fifteen years ago and it was interesting reading my responses from so long ago.

The chapters have titles such as Called to Write, Keeping in Balance, By My Spirit, Disappointed by Not Discouraged, In Dry Times, Finding Our Place. I forgot what a treasure this book was to me.

In the next month or so I plan to share some encouragement for writers from the book. Marlene Bagnull, who is also the director of two Christian writers conferences, Greater Philadelphia and Colorado Christian, uses scripture throughout the book to inspire writers.


In the chapter, Called to Write, she referes to Matthew 10:32-33 where Jesus speaks about if we publicly acknowledge him, he would do the same before His father. Marlene then asks the question, “Certainly my refusal to write was not a denial of him or was it?”

Also, a phrase I had highlighted was about vulnerability: “I sensed the most difficult things for me to share could be the very words someone else needed to read.”

This is a just a few of the gems I will share during the Summer from a book written over twenty years ago, that still touches lives.

Have you read this book? What did it mean to you? 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How Do You Fill Your Creative Well?



How do you fill your creative well? One way I do this is to visit an art museum. 


Since I live a short train ride away from the Art Insititute of Chicago I try to do this a few times a year. I always love to take the train to the city. I take my journal and observe people. I watch as they board and disembark, noticing their age, dress and if they sit close to me, I listen to their dialect. I also discreetly listen to snippets of conversations and learn how people are involved in various situations.

As the train winds into the heart of the city, I look at the tall buildings and strain my eyes to look inside an open curtain and wonder what an apartment or condo looks like in the city. What do people think or dream about? I get an idea for a short story about a single woman who lives downtown and before we arrive at the station I give her a name.

I walk down Michigan Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Chicago. I hear cars going by, cabs zooming past with horns blaring. I smell exhaust, tobacco, coffee brewing from a coffee shop. I try to engage my senses.



I finally enter the museum. Conversations are more hushed and people are walking slower. I find a bench and sit down to take a look long at my favorite painting: Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, by Gustavo Caillebotte. I ask myself: Who are the people in the painting? How does the artist paint something that causes us to stop and stare and inspires us to create in our own ways? I could have sat there for an hour, but I move on.

The day ends too quickly and I come home tired, with sore feet, but I am filled up. Back at my suburban home, I pull out the postcards I bought at the museum. On each visit I buy postcards of the paintings that caused my heart to soar. I don’t want to lose this feeling of being filled up, but I know it will pass, but not before I write in my journal and get down on paper those ideas and inspirations I don’t want to forget.

How do you get “filled up" creatively?



Friday, June 29, 2012

The WINNER of the book, Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World, is Mary Potter Kenyon. Congrats, Mary. Thanks to all who participated.










PLATFORM:
Do you have one?

Are you working to build one?




A buzzword around the publishing world is platform. This has become a must for authors and future authors. One of the best resources I have found is the book by the same title:


Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World

by Michael Hyatt



Hyatt will be the keynoter in September at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in Dallas.

I am giving away a copy of the book beginning today through next Friday, July 6 at midnight.

Please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.