Thursday, August 27, 2009

Welsh Cakes


It is turning out to be an exciting summer for me. No, the weather hasn’t been that great and there’s been lots of rain but my summer is giving me lots of joy.

I have just finished self-publishing a book of short stories and am awaiting the finished product so that I can check it over and approve it if it is as it should be. These stories have been in my files for some time and I have long wanted to publish them in book form but I have let fear stand in my way and just haven’t done it.

Welsh Cakes: Book of Short Stories is on its way through the mail and as soon as it arrives I will look it over hoping it will be to my satisfaction. If it is, then I can give my approval and it will be available for the general public to purchase. I am glad that I’ve finally given birth to this new creation—it’s been on hold long enough.

In addition to publishing this book, I have also started a blog to talk about it. Its title is the same as the book and will give some background on the stories. There are three parts to this book and the title comes from Part One, which is a group of nine stories about a Welsh girl named Gwen.

Now that I’ve put aside fear and allowed the stories out of their hiding place, I hope that many people will take enjoyment in reading them.
© Judith Lawrence

www.judithlawrence.ca
http://welshcakesshortstories.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Author (and Speaker?) – Payne



As an author, you may be asked to speak.

I’ve been doing presentations for over 15 years and have learned many tips that I can share with you today. Let’s start with a tip I feel is very important:

Tip: Cater to learning styles

You are most likely to succeed as a presenter if you are aware of your audience’s different learning styles.

There are three main styles of learning: visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners. Try to use a style to suit every member of your audience.

Visual learners need to see the presenter. They learn through seeing.

· Write down instructions, use pictures, and time lines
· Give handouts and allow time for them to take notes
· Use visual displays such as posters, diagrams, overhead transparencies, videos, and flipcharts

Auditory learners need to hear the presenter. They learn through hearing.

· Offer verbal lectures and repeat words and concepts
· Organize small-group discussions, brainstorming, and debates
· Keep background noise and distractions at a minimum

Kinesthetic learners need to move and touch. They learn through doing.

· Offer hands-on activities and games
· Take frequent breaks to allow movement and not sit for long periods
· Work in groups and use role-play


By using a variety of teaching methods from each of these categories, you can accommodate different learning styles, and help your audience to remember more of what they learn.

Put down your pen and pick up your microphone to give the best presentation ever!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Watch For and Name the Treasure – MANN


What is a wild berry plant doing growing in a pocket of bark, six feet off the ground? The bird that frequents her house, locked in the V of the old tree behind this plant, probably thinks every bird has a gourmet menu at her front door.

I saw this remarkable set-up while gardening today. Birds often sing prior to a rain and I heard one as I hurried to replant some hostas. She was noisy and I glanced her way just in time to see her finish her berry-treat. I wonder if she realizes how special her little home is, with a front garden.

Sometimes as writers, we risk taking our circumstances for granted rather than looking for treasures within them. We might find a tempting, seasoned tidbit just right to finish a thought we’ve been struggling with for a day. Perhaps a particular incident or situation is ours to draw nourishment for a story or poem. Maybe an object that is very much a part of us can provide fodder for an illustration, plot or summary. We hear the term, “Write what you know.” We could add, “Use what is given to you to write.” On the other hand, maybe, “Watch for riches in your midst.”

I was particularly encouraged when I read a comment on Revision about getting back into the writing mode. Summer months can rob a writer from routine, yet even reading that statement gave me a jump-start to begin thinking of new beginnings for my writing habits. An email friend listed several things she had done since coming from Write! Canada. I used that as an initiative to get in step.

Look around and take note of what’s looking back at you. See it as a gift and ask yourself, “Now where does this fit in my plan for writing.” And, like the bird who enjoys her front garden of berries, we too can feast on what is there for us and let it strengthen our writing. Happy watching.

Take Time to Make Memories
WinterGrief
Aggie's Storms: the childhood of the first woman to be elected to Canadian Parliament

Keep in touch www.homestead.com/the_meadows/mann.html
New (a little more each day) http://www.donnamann.org/

.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Forced Change? - Black


You never really know what you’ve got till it’s gone, we say. This echoes Joni Mitchell’s cute an’ sassy song classic. Bemoaning commercial and financial change at the expense of nature, she sings, "They paved paradise and put up a parkin’ lot ..."
It’s also true that we don’t know how blessed we are until we see someone worse off than ourselves. Such sentiments may be clichĂ©, but are also true. Dark-bodied, malnourished children with bloated stomachs, as featured on sponsorship programs, scoop a drink from larvae-infested mudholes, and we think that it’s such a pity they don’t have running water. And it is. Then click, we switch the channel.
At the old manse we were without hot running water for five days, then, for a day and a half, the main water supply was shut off. A mild inconvenience. We were not in any dire emergency, and had water available to us. It just took a little thought and effort. Neither did we have to rub sticks together or strike a match to heat up water or cook. Saucepans on the electric stove did the trick. We learned to conserve water, though, and managed to do all that was necessary using a fraction of the normal water volume.
Change is sometimes forced on us unexpectedly by circumstance, yet some changes can be made in advance, if we see the need. Jesus said (in Matthew 18:3): "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
This is a call to humility, dependence, and trust in the Lord God. A change of focus leading to a change of disposition, of lifestyle – and destiny.

~~~
© Peter A. Black. This piece was first published in the The Watford Guide-Advocate, a Southwestern community newspaper, July 30, 2009.
Peter's children's / family book, "Parables from the Pond" ("written for children, read and enjoyed by all ages") is published by Word Alive Press. He can be contacted at
raisegaze@execulink.com and www.freewebs.com/authorpeterablack

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Foolish Dreams

A $25 cheque launched me. A published writer, I was on the way to fame and fortune.

As publishing credits slowly accumulated my first book went through 40+ rewrites. Every time I learned something new in those early years I reworked the manuscript start to finish. The math alone, that is now condensed to a brief appendix and a few paragraphs scattered through the manuscript, consumed hundreds of hours. I was more addicted to the EAGLE than the main character in the book. It took 32 pages of calculations to plot the first 90 seconds of flight.

Foolish? Undoubtedly. A waste of time? I’ll dare say no. I’ve read more than enough books where I know the subject matter better than the author. Books lose credibility very fast if basic principals of physics are ignored. Because I’ve done the math I know the EAGLE cannot do the loops and flips I dreamed of. Because I’ve done the math I know how painfully slow it accelerates. I know it flies like a bloated whale and never, ever flattens you into the back of your seat. That doesn’t limit my imagination so much as focus it, for the same weight that makes the EAGLE so cumbersome in the air allows it to submerge. Named and modeled after the Eagle Ray, it is in fact a submarine that can just manage to take to the air for brief periods.

I’ve done my homework and the math actually works. Except for the power-plant, the EAGLE uses off-the-shelf technology and elementary physics. It’s not out-of-this-world fiction. In theory at least it is entirely possible.

Foolishness? I won’t argue the point. Thousands of hours have gone into the book. Whole sections, multiple chapters have been written and discarded.

The manuscript reached a certain level of quality, for it was short-listed in 2003 when the first Best New Canadian Author award was launched. I thought it was pretty good at the time, and I confess that I hoped desperately to win.

I have learned so much since. I have been working on the manuscript again. “The story grips my imagination. But the writing doesn’t quite shine.” That’s probably the core of a review I might write if it was another author’s work.

So much time invested and I’m not sure it will ever see publication. A foolish dream perhaps. I think most first novels are. But is there any better way to learn to write a book than by actually sitting down and writing a book? Is there any better way to hone the craft of writing than by putting in the hours, getting words on paper or into a computer file – and then getting feedback – those painful critiques or “Thank you for submitting, but. . .” responses?

I don’t regret the hours invested. It has not been wasted time. I cut my writing teeth on that manuscript. I come to it now with so much more skill as a writer that the weaknesses are painfully obvious. Unfortunately obvious does not mean easily fixed. I’m not at all sorry the book wasn’t published in its earlier form.

Foolish dreams? I’d dare say that is part of every writer’s life. But I’ll keep dreaming.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Home — A Novel To Be Savoured — Martin


In order to talk about Home, it’s impossible to not talk about Gilead (2004),Marilynne Robinson’s wonderful Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. That’s because the home spoken of is in the imaginary town of Gilead, Iowa, and the characters are those from the previous novel. When I read Gilead, I didn’t want it to end. Robinson has, thankfully, added to her earlier triumph.

The differences are subtle. Gilead is a beautiful, literary novel, written from the perspective of an elderly Congregationalist minister John Ames. Beginning in 1956, he is writing about his life to his young son, who he fears will have few direct memories of his father, if the minister’s heart condition continues to deteriorate. Ames had lost his first wife in childbirth, and has recently married a much younger woman. Ames’ best friend is Gilead’s Presbyterian minister, William Boughton. Both men have named a son after each other. John Ames Boughton (Jack), unfortunately, became a wayward man who left his family in disgrace when he left Gilead. Gilead moves slowly but surely because Robinson’s powerful characters wrestle through important life issues with both weakness and deep faith.

Home takes place in the early ‘60s. It comes from the perspective of Glory, the youngest of William Boughton’s children. She has returned “home” to care for her aging father, after her own life hasn’t turned out as she had hoped. Significantly, Jack also returns “home” after a twenty-year, uncommunicative absence. He hadn’t even appeared at his mother’s funeral. Jack’s life has moved from disappointment to disaster, and now he has alcoholism and years of broken relationships to deal with.

Glory struggles with the faith she learned from her parents, Jack’s narrow rejection of salvation despite his intellectual acknowledgement of Christian truth, and the town’s readiness to write Jack off for his sins. She views things through a more complex lens. Glory has her own sins to deal with, and has such compassion for her troubled brother because she understands how circumstances sometimes turn against us.

I highly recommend Home, but suggest you should start with Gilead. If we’re fortunate, Marilynne Robinson will write yet another sequel. I know I’ll be ready to buy it.

Home is published by Harper Collins (2009)

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pepper Flecks - Laycock

“In holes and lostness I can pick up the light of small ordinary progress, newly made moments flecked like pepper into the slog and the disruptions.” Anne Lamott

I watched The Soloist the other night and it made me think of the quote above from Anne Lamott. It made me think about all the brokenness in the world and how easy it is to be overwhelmed by it. Some of the images in the film brought tears to my eyes and made my spirit cry out, “O Lord, how long will you linger?”

Yet, as Lamott says, there are those flecks of pepper, those “newly made moments” when the light of Christ breaks through, when men and women succeed in overcoming the selfishness in their nature enough to reach out and be part of the “small ordinary progress.” Perhaps that’s why He lingers – to give us the opportunity to receive the blessings of such moments and such service.

Writing is vital in that process. Words created in obedience and submission to Christ can help to stimulate and even create those newly made moments in someone’s life. Like the young girl who was raped as a teenager who read my novel and said, “I think I finally believe that God really does love me, in spite of everything.” Small, ordinary progress, a step toward the love and light of Christ, a step toward truth.

That is why we, as believers in Christ, must keep writing, keep broadcasting the flecks of pepper God gives us. We may get discouraged by low sales, by all the changes happening in the industry. We may even be bitter because we don’t have the support we feel we should have from friends, family and even our churches. But we must fight against these barriers. We cannot quit, because it is the pepper flecks that count - the tiny specks of hope we throw out every time we write in Christ's name. Until His return.

“And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at this coming” (1John 2:28).
Marcia's novel, One Smooth Stone (Winner of the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006) is available from Castle Quay Books. Her devotional book, The Spur of the Moment (winner of the Award of Merit, 2003), is about to be re-printed. See www.vinemarc.com

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Irreplaceable Sandford Fleming-HIRD

By Rev. Ed Hird+

Recently I dropped over to my friend Keith Cameron who had inspired the ‘Captain Robert Dollar’ article. Keith was so pleased by the Deep Cove Crier article that he gave me another tip: “Write about Sir Sandford Fleming, a Scottish Canadian. Fleming was a thinking renaissance man, organizing time for the world. Fleming was a man’s man, bold and adventurous”

When I ask many people about Sandford Fleming, they are tempted to confuse him with Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin. At age 17, Sandford Fleming emigrated to Canada from his hometown Kirkaldy in Scotland.

Sandford Fleming’s remarkable discovery was time, Standard Meridian Time. In the 19th Century, there were 144 different time zones in North America. Every city was its own Greenwich, having its own personal time zone. As Clarke Blaise put it, “Every self-respecting town on the continent had a right to its own newspaper, its own baseball or cricket team, and its own individual time.”

Sandford Fleming served as the Chief Engineer and Surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He was an amazing visionary, first proposing a sea to sea railway in 1858, well before people would take him seriously. Several top Canadians told Fleming that since Canada already had sixteen miles of railway, there was no longer a need for engineers! He should just go back to Scotland. A few years later, Fleming became the sole engineer to oversee the survey for the Intercolonial Railway linking the Maritimes to Quebec. As an engineer, Fleming loved anything to do with engines and railways. .

Railway engines brought unimaginable new speed to the vast land of Canada. They also brought new disasters when locomotives crashed into each other because of different time clocks. Sandford knew that it was time to figure out what time it really was. Going to the UK to argue for standardized time, he was snubbed and not even allowed to present his scheduled paper. Jealousy between European nations for a long time paralyzed initiatives to make Greenwich Time the standard time around the world. Sandford showed remarkable perseverance in bringing us the Standard Time that we now take for granted. As Hugh MacLean put it, “Fleming never knew when he was licked.”


Sandford was there at the 1864 Charlottetown Conference which birthed the nation of Canada. He was there for the Last Spike at Craigellachie in November 7th 1885 when Canada was joined by rail from sea to sea. Sandford Fleming has been called ‘the outstanding Canadian of the nineteenth century’.


Where would Canada be today without dedicated engineers like Fleming? Engineers have built Canada from the ground up. Clark Blaise comments: “The engineering profession, always a high calling – and often a source of profound despair – for Fleming, is the link between science and society. The engineer calculates the cost of change, understands debentures and interest rates, the politically possible, the socially beneficial. He reads the future.” As a person of faith, Fleming saw the Engineering profession through the eyes of Isaiah 40 which talked about every valley being exalted: “It is one of the misfortunes of the profession to which I am proud to belong that our business is to make and not to enjoy; we no sooner make a rough place smooth than we must move to another and fresh field, leaving others to enjoy what we have accomplished.”

In 1872 Sandford and his good friend the Rev. George Grant led an expedition to BC in order to survey the future Canadian Pacific Railway. The travelogue they wrote about their adventures became a Canadian best-seller. Both Sandford and George shared a deep Christian faith that sustained them through many trials and tribulations. Wherever Sandford went, he always found time to worship on Sundays, even if it was simply kneeling by the railway tracks and giving thanks to Almighty God. Sandford even wrote a simplified worship service that travellers and busy construction crews could use.

Sandford was always inventing. He created Canada’s first postage stamp, the three-penny beaver. In 1849, he founded the Royal Canadian Institute which became the Royal Society of Canada, a leading scientific institute. He wrote twelve books and served as Chancellor of Queen’s University for thirty-five years. Despite enormous opposition, Fleming built the world’s first sub-Pacific cable bringing instantaneous communication around much of the world. It was for this amazing feat that Queen Victoria knighted Fleming in 1897.

My prayer for those reading this article is that we too like Sir Sandford Fleming may be creative, persevering, and ground-breaking.

The Reverend Ed Hird+
Rector, St. Simon’s North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
http://www3.telus.net/st_simons
-published in the September 2009 Deep Cove Crier

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weeds - Nesdoly

He soon discovers
that first morning
outside Eden
that Thorn and Thistle
are a meager beginning
in this new assignment.

Barberry, Briar, Burdock, Buttercup
Campion, Cockle Cress
lead to an unaccustomed
weariness -- Careless Weed, Stagger Wort
and lack of creativity --
Dog Mustard, Foxtail, Sheep Sorrel
Lamb's Quarters, Pigweed, Fat Hen
White Goosefoot, Snake Grass...

With no end in sight
to pain, annoyance
discomfort and vexation
loathing enters the taxonomy --
Stinking Willie, Quack Grass, Fleabane
and with Lady's Thumb and Sourgrass -- dissension
with Smartweed -- pride
Poverty Weed -- fear
False Flax, False Ragwort -- lying
Wild Barley, Wild Flax, Wild Oats -- lust
and finally with Poison Ivy and Poison Hemlock--
murder.

© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly

*******************************
Website: www.violetnesdoly.com
Personal blog promptings
Writerly blog Line upon line
Kids' daily devotions Bible Drive-Thru
And just for fun -- Murals!



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My writing looks a bit different these days - Lindquist

Being a writer used to be about sitting at a desk with a notepad and pen, or perhaps a typewriter, thinking of interesting words and phrases and paragraphs, and either writing them down or typing them up. Then tearing up the pages and starting over. And hopefully coming up with something wonderful in the end.

And then the computer entered the world and writing changed. Well, it became less of a workout for one's arms and more a matter of getting down all those wonderful ideas and playing with them and reworking them until they made sense.

As someone who never learned to type properly in spite of several attempts, I expect my output would be about a quarter of what it is if I'd had to type everything out using a regular typewriter. Just the thought of trying to create all those perfect pages of my two mysteries, one of which underwent 17 drafts, makes me feel very faint.

So as far as I'm concerned, the move to computers was a wonderful thing, even though it took away some of the mystery and romance of being a writer.

But now, we're looking at another change. Instead of just sitting here putting in words, I'm learning about jpgs and gifs and pngs, power point and video streaming, RFF feeds and tracking.... It's not enough just to write words these days.You need a multi-media presntation. You need a blog as well as a website. Or maybe just a blogsite. And then there are teleseminars and webinars and-- Ouch! I don't know that my brain can take much more.

But it will have to. Because I also need to know about marketing - what works and what doesn't. I need to know my target audience. And if I have more than one target audience, I need to streamline my message for each audience.

So this week, I've been working on 8 (Yes, 8!) blogsites. Each one hopefully appropriate for its theme.

comingofagenovels.com - for teens, their parents, youth leaders, and teachers

manziukandryan.com - for fans of classic mysteries

bluecollarwriter.com - for anyone who wants to know my opinion on anything

njlindquist.com - for people looking for speakers

hotapplecider.ca - for anyone looking for encouragement

releasethecreativeyou.com - for anyone who is struggling with being able to follow his or her dreams

writewithexcellence.com - for writers or aspiring writers

joyequipping.com
- for Christians who feel stifled or frustrated

No, none of the sites are completed. There are hours of work still ahead of me as I add content, fine-tune, and double-check to make sure everything works.

And true, I haven't had time to do much of the old-fashioned kind of writing. But, the funny thing is I do feel kind of good about what I'm creating. It's just a different form of writing.

And on the side, I've been thinking hard about what I want to write. Hopefully as soon as my blogsites are all functioning, I'll be able to do some more work on my many writing projects, and upload them, either as blogs, with some appropriate pictures, and maybe a little music; perhaps as ebooks or audio; possibly in teleseminar format; even as part of a WEB TV program.... The options are truly staggering these days. The ability to choose a format to suit each type of writing is at our fingertips if we're open to learning.

And one of my key rules for sucess as a writer is "Never stop learning."

N. J.
bluecollarwriter.com

Friday, August 07, 2009

Sad Words Indeed - Bob Scott

What are the saddest words in the Bible? Here is my choice: “It takes eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea by way of the hill country of Edom.” (Deuteronomy 1:2 GNB)

If you’ve ever read the story of the Exodus (or watched The Ten Commandments) you will have learned that the people of Israel wandered for 40 years before arriving in the Promised Land.

What the verse from Deuteronomy tells us is that the trip should only have taken eleven days. Selfishness and disobedience led to the Israelites taking a whole generation to make what should have been a trip of a week and a half.

The people wanted comfort, peace, and victory over others. They wanted God their way and either adopted the false Gods of other nations or created their own image of what He should be in order for them to get their own way.

Jesus clearly says we can't expect to have our own way if we want to know and benefit from God's way. All we have must be gladly yielded when Jesus asks for it. “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 GNB)

It's time to decide if we can be satisfied to never have our own way ever again so that God can revive his church. Is our legacy going to be 40 years of wandering or do we want to enter the Promised Land today?

If God's way is what you really want, you will receive your heart's desire. He is waiting to bless today.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Robert Scott is a pastor and the author of Advertising Murder, Lost Youth, and Murder Express, titles in the Jack Elton Mystery series, Published by Avalon Books, New York.

Murder Express has been made into a play by the Prairie Dog Central Railway in Winnipeg and will be performed on one of their trains on Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

God’s Treasure Pouch – Lawrence


Sometimes, when I am doing my morning Bible reading I come upon a verse unexpectedly—a verse that surprises me with delight and startles me anew with the wonder of God’s graciousness to his creation. One such verse had this effect on me this week.

“Your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch.” 1 Samuel 25: 29 (New Living Translation).

Just imagine—God loves each one of us so much that he keeps us secure in his treasure pouch. No matter what happens to us, whether good or bad, events full of joy or suffering, our lives are safe in God’s care—he keeps us secure in his treasure pouch.

Keeping us secure doesn’t mean that God imprisons us under lock and key. It is the kind of security that keeps us safe and allows us the freedom to develop our talents and gifts in such a way that we can make a totally new creation from the raw materials that God gives us without fear that he will reject us for our efforts.

God delights in us, treasures us, encourages us, and keeps us safe in his treasure pouch. Being kept safe close to God means that we can risk new adventures and explore new avenues of creativity with the talents he has given us. Multiplying our talents by investing them in innovative and fresh ideas brings delight to God’s heart.

We don’t need to be afraid of failure for, even if our ideas don’t quite reach the outcome for which we had hoped, God will be glad that we tried, and we will hear God’s words to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25: 21 (N.L.T.)
Please join with me in praising God for keeping us safe in his treasure pouch.

© Judith Lawrence

Read and listen to Judith’s monthly meditation on her website and make a comment if you wish. www.judithlawrence.ca
Visit Judith at www.authorsden.com/judithlawrence

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fear of Transparency - Eleanor Shepherd

Ipsos-Reid, in a survey undertaken by for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada discovered the majority of Canadians who are not practicing Christians expect Christians to talk to them about their faith. At the same time, the majority of Christians fear people will respond negatively if they talk about their faith. Sometimes we create our own barriers to the spiritual richness of sharing with our friends.

Armed with the knowledge most people want to hear about our faith, we need to approach them respectfully and never stridently proclaim what we believe. Our desire to listen to their real questions and hear the cry of their seeking hearts must be genuine. That attitude demands we put aside our preconceived notions about these strangers and choose to risk hearing their real questions, for which we may not yet have satisfactory answers ourselves.

We want so much to be sure, that we find it frightening to risk this kind of vulnerability. We need to reflect about the nature of our faith. By definition, faith requires us to live with an element of mystery. If we knew everything about our faith, it would not be faith but rather absolute certainty. Faith is not based on a collection of data that can be proven true beyond the shadow of a doubt. Nor are most of the assumptions that we believe and base our life on every day. I cannot be certain that I will safely go to work and return every day. The probability is in my favour that I will, but it is not certain. That does not stop me from leaving my home.

While we do not have all the answers and we must live with mystery, as Christians, we intimately know One who does have the answers. It is our confidence in Him that gives us the courage to act on what we do know. As we explore faith, we discover He is our all-loving, all-knowing and completely reliable and faithful Heavenly Father, Lord and Saviour and Spirit who inhabits us. In the triune God are found answers to our most profound questions, but these are not readily accessed. Sometimes the answers are more profound that our ability to understand with our finite limitations. We must be honest about our limitations in understanding God. To pretend to our friends that we have all the answers is to pretend to be God for them. They will see the absurdity of that.

What we can offer to our friends is our availability to listen and consider together possible clues that move us closer to some answers to their questions and our own. We have to be honest about our incomplete understanding of faith and be willing to expose our own doubts appropriately. We need to share our anxieties as well as our hope, offering a balanced perspective on both our fears and our joys. In the context of this kind of transparency, our dependence on God and the truths we believe from His Word ring true.

This transparency is in tune with the current highly regarded value of tolerance in our society. Attitude studies show that tolerance is the most highly regarded value in our present Canadian culture. Vulnerability rather than dogmatism creates a setting that allows others to adopt tolerance to our perspective. By modeling this approach we invite them to take the same risk and disclose to us their values with the expectation that we will greet these with a tolerant attitude. One of our challenges will be to prepare ourselves to listen to their perspective with the same kind of tolerance that we want them to show to us. That means exercising the discipline to refrain from offering our solutions to what we perceive to be their problems. To do so would deny them the opportunity to work through issues that will arise in their lives from embracing non-Biblical values and will impede them pursuing the path to faith.

This weekend, I read again, the story of Gideon and the way that God used him to bring peace to his environment in Judges 6 – 8. The people of Ephraim were annoyed with Gideon because he had not asked them to help him in his conflict with the Midianites. Gideon had chosen to go with a small army, according to the instructions of the Lord. Instead of responding to their anger with a superior approach that he had been acting on God’s instructions, Gideon responded with humility and praised these people for their accomplishments. He even told them that they were superior to him in their achievements. That kind of approach opened the way for genuine dialogue. Their anger was diffused.

When we show that kind of honour and respect, to those who want to know about our faith, God will be able to touch their lives with His love through us.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Starting a writer's group? - Payne




Have you ever thought about joining a writer’s group? How about starting
your own group? There are many different ways to do so; as varied as the
writers who'll join the group.

Let’s start with the basic questions; how often and where do you meet? Writers from Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship share with us:

Laurie says, “We meet the second Tuesday evening of each month except for December when we sometimes meet the first Tuesday if the second one is too close to Christmas. In previous years we have met for July and August but this year the concensus was to have a break. We meet in a room in Martha's apartment block as she has no means of transportation. Prior to her living there we moved from place to place. We start at 7 p.m. although we may wait a few minutes for stragglers. We finish about 9.30 depending on how many are there.”

Val Coulman’s group also meets in-person at someone's home but they rotate. She tells us, “We share the hosting responsibilities. It's usually Saturday morning once a month for a couple hours.”

Like Laurie, Ken Kilback’s group meets in the same place each month. He shares, “Our in-person critique group meets once per month in my home. Since this group meets under the SCBWI umbrella, it's best to keep it at the same location, especially for new people or occasional drop-ins. We typically meet on the second Saturday of each month (or third if there's a long weekend to avoid) from 1:30 to 4:00 pm.”

Is it a good idea to host the meeting at a different location other than writer’s home? Ken doesn’t think so. “A long time ago we used to meet in a restaurant, but in the end it was too noisy and difficult to critique manuscripts. We tried meeting in a private room in a library as well, but the problem with that was that we couldn't reserve the room more than a few weeks ahead of the time so it wasn't great for promoting the meetings far in advance.”

Joanna Mallory agrees that it’s nice to stay in the home but there are pros and cons to it. She says, “We meet in different homes, trying to spread it around so nobody has to always drive long distances. When our group started we met in a church meeting room and were almost structured to death. We had minutes, officers and everything. Yuck. But I will say that meeting around a table brought an air of professionalism and/or focus. I wish we could go back to that without the formality. Meeting in homes, we always seem to wait for the stragglers, then spend too much time chattering. When we do get down to focus we have a good meeting. It's just harder to do in soft armchairs. We meet once a month except December, and often take July and/or August off. This year we skipped July and are having an August barbecue.”

Meeting once a month for a few hours in the homes of each writer appears to be the preferred method for each group. My own writer’s group, the Writer’s Crucible, meet the third Tuesday of the month and rotate to each member’s home. We open with a prayer and the leader then reads a writing-related article. We share any publishing news, markets and questions we have. A short writing exercise follows. We then critique our work that has been emailed to all members in advance of our meeting. We serve refreshments during critiquing and close in prayer.

Thinking of starting your own writer’s group? Start with the basics: give thought to how often and where to meet.

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