Saturday, April 18, 2015

Road Signs for Living: Focus

[Note from Mary: Good word -- before we speak and before we write.]

Road Signs for Living: Focus  by Joyce Lester Powell


Have All You Want | For His Glory

[Note from Mary: Apparently God has given us a theme of exhortation today! This concise post helps us to get real with ourselves in Christ.]

Have All You Want | For His Glory by Steven Tom Sawyer


Book Review: “Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church-Growth Culture”

[Note from Mary: This well-written article stands on its own. Even as a book review it exhorts us to review our church life in Christ.]

Book Review: “Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church-Growth Culture” by Bob San Pascual


Intersections4Life | Quiet Time

[Note from Mary: Quiet or chaos? Here's The Way to start a day!]

Intersections4Life | Quiet Time by Steve Becker 


Friday, April 17, 2015

How do you want people to respond to your writing?

These questions posed to members of our Christian Poets & Writers group brought insightful comments on what we want/ need as poets and writers:

1. When you show your poems or manuscripts to your family and friends, how do you hope they will respond?

2. What kind of responses do you want from other poets or writers?

John Any kind of response would be helpful. Even “Likes” would be nice.

Dorothy I like insights. …Not many of my family know how many poems I write because my family is just not poet-minded like me. I wish they could (help me) find my mistakes.

Jonathan I'd like my family and friends to give me a real response whether they like it or not. You cannot move forward when surrounded by yes-men. The same goes with other writers, although I expect a little more. They are allowed to say they like the piece, but I hope they might respond with positive criticism. As with anything I do, I like to get better and be more refined. I am far from the best at writing, so I try to write better, and though I don't write for prizes or to get published, I do write for fun. Anything said won’t be taken personally but as a friend trying to help me grow in this area.

Dorothy I started a website to help others and so my family can see poems I wrote over the years because my online family know what I have written more than my blood family!

Jonathan The downside of putting things online in an open group (comes from) publishers. I have talked to a few and though they don’t mind things online, they have a hard time wanting something that has already been seen by many others. So, how do we post and receive feedback for growth without shutting doors or making doors harder to open for publication later if that is the direction we are going?

Jeannie I read my post "She Crashed My Dinner Party and Showed me the Way to Freedom" to my husband the other night. Didn't tell him I wrote it, but he said it sounded like me! I was a bit surprised at that! None of my siblings are believers, so I don't think they read my blog at all. My mom asked for a copy of my book though and asked my sister who was visiting to bring a copy home for her. When I handed it to my sister, her reaction was as if I'd handed her a hot potato! That said, I truly appreciate encouraging criticisms and comments from my online writer friends.

Mary When I first began to write, my family encouraged me and had only good things to say until I told them I really, really wanted their feedback. A couple of loved ones got it and have been very helpful ever since by giving me honest responses to my poems. When I began this group, I tried to do the same for members, but there's only 1 of me and over 4,000 of you all! Then one member, who asked for honest responses on her post, got annoyed with me for not responding in private! Frustrating, but my point is: Each person might want something different, which is why I posted the above question.

Jonathan The problem I see with…groups full of poetry…is that a large amount of poems (are) posted on each site, and I probably miss some good poems because they get buried.

Helena Honestly, a standing ovation would do just fine!! I think poets don't get enough credit or support.

William Expectations are a slippery slope! Each person will take written words in an individual light as they see them. …How they are perceived is up to the reader or listener. My expectation of their reaction means very little to them for the words have already been put down. With that said, I would hope there would be an understanding of my intent with regard to those words, whatever they might be at the moment.

Laurie I like encouraging honesty. If my family and friends don't understand my poetry or don't understand why I like certain types of poetry, I'd like them to ask questions instead of acting like it's a weird unapproachable subject, which sometimes happen. After reading one of my poems out loud to a small group of friends, a couple of them let me know they didn't understand the poem itself but found the descriptions and sound of it beautiful. That was a welcome and appreciated response. Questions about what the poem means would be welcome too.

What I'd appreciate most from fellow writers, in addition to the things I just listed, would be repeat readings and direct and honest comments. I'd like to improve my writing, so I'd love a critique. I seldom understand or appreciate my favorite poems by other authors after only one read-through, so to me, a critique after a cursory reading is only minimally helpful. For that reason and because of time restraints, I am unable to read everything posted here, so I read what and when I can. I don't offer critique here unless someone directly asks for it, and even then I'm cautious because I'm uncertain about what is really meant by those requests. Lately, I've been considering starting a small, closed, Facebook group for those who want to give and receive constructive critical feedback on their poetry, and possibly read articles about poetry together and discuss styles, methods etc. I want my interactions with other writers to be encouraging, but, ideally, what I want to encourage is hard work and growth towards creative excellence since those are the things I want to be encouraged in.

Keren All writing, but especially poetry, is from a deep place, and it's really hard when that place is misunderstood or ignored. Facebook isn't always that great a place for sharing poetry, even in a poetry group! People are short of time, and the words fly past on the screen so quickly, mostly no “Likes” has absolutely nothing to do with how people feel about the poem. It is more that I got swamped or passed by other stuff. I agree with Laurie that I'd prefer questions to blank looks or some kind of engagement. Nothing is worse than "that's nice, dear," when you just poured your heart out and spent ages crafting the words!

Marie I always pray that my writing will minister to people wherever they are in their walk with the Lord! Encouragement is always great to hear from others whether it is from family, friends, or other poets and writers!

Nellie I have a sister who doesn't get it at all, but when I read to her she says: "Explain please." I explain it to her, and then we discuss it. I told her that she didn't need to understand to enjoy poetry, because the words can be so beautiful and peaceful. To my great surprise, she told me recently that she now listens to me read with a different mindset. I have many poetry friends, so I get some very good feedback, both negative and positive. So, to answer the question, I like honesty and constructive criticism. I don't get offended by an occasional oohh and ahh!

Gary My wife is not impressed with my writing and doesn't really want me to spend the time I spend on it. My daughters are not impressed, but the rest of my family is very supportive and encouraging. I think it to be the "prophet" is not recognized in his home syndrome that Jesus spoke of, but they put up with me and my "oddities." My writing hasn't slowed down yet.....God hasn't revealed the whole picture, (but my wife) supports me more than she realizes by some of the comments she has made.

Jonathan How can we keep encouraging?

Sophie This question and everyone's responses remind me of how we should respond to other people's writing – with a humble, supportive, and encouraging attitude. I believe most people who write have a beautiful soul to love others through their words, and God has given them that gift for His glory.

Mary True! And we can look for something positive to say. However, responding to each other's writings with suggestions for improvement works only if the poet or writer asks and, as Laurie said, after we've given more than one reading.

Gary A writer looks for approval from those whom he would like to be his peers. Without the encouragement of my Sunday School teacher, former band director, song minister, and my pastor, my writing might have fizzled out. Then the chief editor of our local newspaper gave me the opportunity to write a column or poem weekly for the Church page for over 4 years. God will put the right encouragers in the life of a writer, and when discouragement arises, it is within yourself to believe that what you write is good – not being egotistical, but you must believe in yourself that what God has given you is good. The circulation or boundaries of our writing is up to Him, and if it is only a few we reach, how important is that few? To God and them, it is everything if for His glory, and so I write. Discouraged at times, yes, but I still write.

Sophie Well-said, Gary. When even just one person – friend or stranger – told me that my writing encouraged them in their situation, I feel the hours spent were worth it. We have to believe that God leads us in this direction for a good reason for His purpose. Never give up.

Katherin First, Thank you for welcoming me here – in a place to communicate with other expressive hearts. Writing is a reflective journey that offers a closer commitment to our Lord Jesus. With the Holy Spirit's leading we can build a stronger community of believers throughout the earth, being witnesses to the Heart Of Christ and offering hope, strength, and definitely love. My purpose is to share His Love and plant seeds. This given gift of creative writing is a gift to share, to touch as many hearts as God permits.

Brian (I’d like) honest feedback and helpful suggestions.

Glynn I usually post a poem without first showing it to anyone. I can think of only one time I showed the poem first, and it was…written as a request for a Sunday Easter service.

Jeff It seems my friends and family are burnt out…. This is why it is so important to reach out to others and allow influence to develop naturally without obligation.

Brian Critical friendship (helps me) avoid making silly mistakes and launching insensitive or muddled ideas in my poems.

Chanda I want my poems to inspire (people) to hope and lead them to the God of all comfort and hope.

Songaye Open rebuke is better than secret love. My poems and writings have usually garnered positive response, but I sometimes wish (people would) quit the niceties and be honest already! I’ve always been a firm believer in learning from my mistakes.

Cherrilynn (I’d like) total honesty. I desire to grow as a writer and a believer. I pray that people would be honest about my work. God deserves excellence.

Sandra I want to hear the positives first, flowing into honest suggestions.

TR If they say it's good, I hope they can say what made it good. If it needs work, I hope they can say what the lack is.

Mamie From those who aren't writers, journalist, etc. I usually don't get them to look at my writings. That is, if they aren't somewhere within the writing arena, I have a time trying to get them to read my writings.

Anne I think it's important to tell others what it is you want from them. I once had a painful experience when I failed to do this. I had shown what I thought was a finished piece to an instructor. It was even illustrated and matted. Finished, I thought. Because I didn't tell her what I wanted she told me every little thing wrong with it. I did make the changes and was thankful she told me, but not at that moment. At that moment, it was hard.

I can tell when I've hit the target when I hear my daughter's reaction. She knows I really want to know areas to make it better. And as far as children's stories, my grandsons give me rankings. If I say one to ten and I get one million, I'm there. And just so you know I've been given an eight as well.

Mary You’re trained them well, Anne! And that’s exactly what I believe we must do to get helpful responses from our family and close friends. Our best responses, of course, will come from people who like to read! However, many people just don’t time to give a poem or manuscript the thorough reading needed, or they might feel put on the spot since they don’t want to hurt our feelings or discourage our creativity. Being sensitive to the other person’s moods and busy-ness is crucial before we ask, “Would you read this and tell me what you think?” If the person seems hesitant or puzzled, it might help to ask if another time would work. Then, when he or she has had a chance to read the poem or manuscript, specific questions can very instructive, for example:

• Is there something you particularly liked?
• Was anything unclear?
• How did you feel when you read this?
• Could you envision what was happening?
• Did you notice any mistakes in grammar or punctuation?
• Would another word or phrase work better?
• What would you add, omit, or say differently?

Whatever response you get, remember: You asked! If you respond graciously to each person, you'll be more apt to get feedback the next time you need to know how people will respond to your writings. A simple, "Thanks for your time," or, "Thanks for being honest with me" can help. If someone says something you don't like, it's truthful to say, "You've given me something to think about, thanks." And, thank you all for your responses here and in our good group! God bless.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, Director of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, provides one-on-one feedback on poems, devotionals, children’s picture books, and book proposals for a minimal fee through her blog. However, you might also ask other members in our Facebook group to consider a manuscript swap. Then tell each other what kind of feedback you want to receive.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Writing on the Wall: Pressing Upward

[Note from Mary: Book signings can open all sorts of doors for you - and fun too!]

The Writing on the Wall: Pressing Upward by Vicky Kaseorg


In a Christian Writer's Life: How to deal with writer’s block

[Note from Mary: Writer's block! It happens to almost every poet or writer, but this post helps you to chip away at that ole block.]

In a Christian Writer's Life: How to deal with writer’s block


Oh to have a heart like Stephen! | livingmoreabundantly

[Note from Mary: May God give us the power to love and the words to write in Jesus' Name.]

Oh to have a heart like Stephen! | livingmoreabundantly by Lorraine Sharkey-Wright


Earth Day Prayers

[Note from Mary: We think of Earth Day as a secular occasion, but God's first command to us was to take care of the earth. May these prayers remind us and inspire us to write in Jesus' Name.]

Earth Day Prayers by Christine Sine


The Things That Should Break A Leader's Heart - Joseph Lalonde

[Note from Mary: As Christian poets and writers, we have the awesome responsibility and blessing of leading leaders, teaching teachers, and ministering to ministers through our writings! This post gives us much to think about, pray about, and write about as we let God Our Heavenly Leader lead us.]

The Things That Should Break A Leader's Heart - Joseph Lalonde


Praise Him! - Joy Psalms

[Note from Mary: Here's the essence of our best work as Christian poets and writers!]

Praise Him! - Joy Psalms by Carole Castagna


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

“No perfect people allowed.” | lorisprayercloset

[Note from Mary: The reason the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook began was to encourage poets and writers to draw people to Christ and the church through our writings in all genres. This post reminds us that we might also need to draw ourselves! Thanks, Lori.]

“No perfect people allowed.” | lorisprayercloset by Lori A. Heyd


The Write Stuff: Grandchildren: Those Cute Things They Say!

[Note from Mary: Apparently God wants us to follow the lead of children into artistic and poetic endeavors as this is the second time today for a well-written post on this theme.] :)

The Write Stuff: Grandchildren: Those Cute Things They Say! by Eileen Hinkle Rife


Living in a Four Year Old’s World | Glenys Nellist

[Note from Mary: Praise God for the example of children, who show us how to paint, write, and live in the joy of Christ!]

Living in a Four Year Old’s World | Glenys Nellist


Monday, April 13, 2015

+ Tekoa + - �the YOKE +

[Note from Mary: Are you a prophet? This post may help you to discern that calling in your life and writings too.]

+ Tekoa + - �the YOKE + posted by FrLarry Woodsmall


Bible Reviewer: Holman Rainbow Study Bible

[Note from Mary: The Holman Rainbow Study Bible published by Holman Bible Publishers gives us unique features that effectively encourage our reading, aid Bible study, and accentuate 12 major themes, making this an excellent choice for writers interested in writing on biblical themes.]

Bible Reviewer: Holman Rainbow Study Bible


Meditation Monday – Garbage Into Gold

[Note from Mary: Excellent analogy in this post! One of the beauties of being a Christian and being a poet or writer is that nothing is ever wasted.]

Meditation Monday – Garbage Into Gold by Christine Sine


THE BUDS! | Single Mom Survival SUCCESS

[Note from Mary: May Spring bring forth budding writers and ideas ready to ripen!]

THE BUDS! | Single Mom Survival SUCCESS by Linda R McCutcheon


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Blog - Mary Harwell Sayler

Blog - Mary Harwell Sayler - a recap of posts for Christian poets and writers


Poetry Editor & Poetry: From the New World: Poems 1976-2014 by Jorie Graham

[Note from MaryAs we focus on reading, studying, enjoying, and experiencing poetry during NaPoMo (National Poetry Month), let’s start at the very top with this new collection, From the New World: Poems 1976-2014, by Pulitzer Prize poet Jorie Graham.]

Poetry Editor & Poetry: From the New World: Poems 1976-2014 by Jorie Graham


The Power of Story - Ava Pennington Ava Pennington

[Note from Mary: Your story - your personal experience and encounter with Christ - are something to thank God for and write about in all genres!]

The Power of Story - Ava Pennington Ava Pennington


Friday, April 10, 2015

How do you juggle writing projects in the works?

QUESTION: Do you have more than one writing project going at a time? If so, how do you know what to write next?

John Yes, I have more than one project at a time. I am not organized. I have tried to shoehorn myself into some semblance of organization, and it just does not work for me. I hold down two part-time jobs, manage my own (online) store, treasure hunt, and, of course, write. I find myself bouncing among projects like a run-away ping pong ball.

Lynn I always have more than one project going, often way too many. This can impact my efficiency negatively because sometimes it takes me a while to get back into a project when I've been working on a different one. I've tried to commit to finishing some projects before beginning yet another one, and sometimes listing how many things I'm halfway done with helps me do that. On the other hand, just as I've been working on multiple projects at once, I'll often finish multiple projects all around the same time.

Mary I also have several books going, but if I outline each, it’s much easier to get my head back into wherever I left off.

Samuel I’m planning to write two books at a go, but I haven't started. The question is how do you separate your mind between two books with two different ideas -- one for high school youth and the other for those preparing for ministry? Is it possible to write many projects at a go and still have the expected results?

Mary Samuel, if you write down your theme, purpose, intended readers, summary, and a chapter outline for each nonfiction book, that will help you to keep each one on track and be able to work back and forth without confusing the two. This same information, along with a couple of chapters, is also what writers need for a book proposal to send to the editor of a traditional or indie publishing company.

Dianne I just finished an heirloom gift book for granddaughters of all ages, and the same day I mailed it out, I worked diligently on an inspirational book I have pondered all winter for tweens. As well, I'm always writing greeting card lines. To answer your question about how I know what to write next: I just look around at all the amazing resources life has to offer!

Keren Yes, I currently have about 18 ideas on the boil, of which about 5 get regular attention and the others get added to now and again. It is strange but seems to work for me. I only started writing with real intent 4 years ago and have 8 completed works. Whether they are any good or not is another matter! I hope they are. I pay close attention in prayer as to what the Lord is guiding me to write, but I also have some less serious stuff on the go.

Deborah Yes, I have a work in the writing process and a work in the publishing process going at all times. I also have other projects I do in between. If I come up with an idea, I put enough information down to know where to pick up when I get back to it.

Alan Out and about I see potential pics, but it can be months before the full poem emerges.

Vicky I always have several (projects going.) I am usually in the edit of one while working on another. And most of the time, there is a third or fourth in the beginning stages. I find this helps prevent writer's block.

Wanda 1. Sometimes, but not currently. 2. It might sound cliché, but it is the truth. The Holy Spirit tells me what to write.

Dorothy I write so many books at once and I get so many requests, my poetry is always there (when) any poem (is) needed. I rely on Jesus to provide.

Brenda (I) always have several (projects) going. I write on whichever one comes to the surface at the moment. I work on one for several months, then often put it aside to work on another, unless, of course, I have a deadline. Then I stick to it until it's finished. Deadlines make all the difference. And yes, prayer is a big factor.

Anne Yes, because some (manuscripts) just scream till they are written, and others patiently wait their turn. The squeaky wheel often does get the grease. And the truth is, some need time to simmer, so the words get in their rightful place.

Cherrilynn Wow! I was just praying about what to write or continue writing. I have 5 books in the works, all nonfiction – acrostic Bible study (and) life application books. The Bible verse God gave me (is) 2 Corinthians 8:11, “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.”

Marcie Prayer is definitely the biggest process of my writings. I do have several things in the works. It really depends on how my creative juices are flowing and what I believe God is asking me to do right now.

Lesley I have several going now, and I'm working on understanding how to prioritize.

Glynn Almost always (I have more than one project going.) Right now, (I have) a couple of writing projects for The High Calling, my blog, a poetry manuscript, and ongoing work on a novel. I usually "write by deadline" – work on that most imminently due.

Jeff I am a one-and-done kind of guy.

Bobbie Yep, but I can only actually focus on one.

Patti I usually have two or three going at one time, different genres. I find it helps to leave one project for a while then work on another. Going back and forth gives me a fresh perspective on the work I've done. As far as how I know what to write next – whenever an idea pops in my head I put it on a list (a mini-synopsis, so to speak) and after one project ends, I go to that list.

John I have a few. I write until I decide to continue on a different one. Since I produce one article a week, I have to stop certain projects to continue on bigger ones before I can get back to my original project.

Dorothy I work (on) lots of books at the same time. I have so many projects going, I have 128 written and am working on (many) others, (but I) usually try to work on different (ones at the) same time. They are all genres, and people ask me to do tributes.

Joan I am a journalist, poet, and author, so I have projects in each category and am always thinking of new ones.

Joyce Yes, I have devotions, conference topics, and fiction floating around my computer at all times. I prioritize in order of deadlines – either my own or mandated – and that is how I do it.

Linda (I have a) nonfiction book completed and edited, ready to pitch when the Holy Spirit drops the green flag. (I’m) counting 16 hymn texts in the works (tracked in a spreadsheet); various poems, devotions, and design/editing projects besides my "regular" bookkeeping work and other obligations. If there's a submission deadline, that's a factor, but otherwise I rely on my Holy Ghost Writer to direct me with an irresistible (urge) to work on a certain thing. And, of course, if a hymn lyric or poem line or devotional premise jumps into my head, I grab the moment to record it. I finish it before moving to something else if it flows reasonably well, but often I get so far and need to let it marinate before finishing.

Karin Yes, I have two book projects going. I can sometimes tell when to focus on something when one writing project progresses faster than another.

Yolanda I’m truly relying on God. For one of the books I am currently writing, God gave me the title at the end of the first. It now makes sense over 7 years later!

Cate I can't split myself in two, but that's just me.

Kathryn I am never at a loss for writing projects. I have them in various states of disarray or completion. Currently, I have a list of previously (performed) plays and dramas I need to put in a print-publish condition…. Then, (I’m also working on) the second book in the Fable Springs Parables series, a chapter book series of performance storytelling I am doing with my husband, a woman's devotional or two, and somewhere in there, I have two blogs to write. (I’m) trusting God to pay the bills as I do what He put me on this earth to do – write!

Mamie I have two book projects I'm writing. I often wonder how am I going to complete them, but I will. When I'm into the core of anything, it just comes (down) to what to write and how to organize it.

Christine Too many!

Andrea Three projects going at any stage at once is about my limit.

Angela Yes, I am writing and editing my next collection of poetry and trying to write my memoir. The memoir is going slow because it requires more thought. The poetry is inspired by God, so to write it is easy, but organizing takes time…. I want to set a theme for this group.

Beth I have twenty! What do I work on first? The one with the most notes in its folder…. (Then I) turn the notes into outlines, scenes, and/or chapters, flesh out the work, then edit. But I do work on several at a time in different genres, because I like variety – though it takes longer to get a book finished that way!

Gary Post, compile, and edit......I have no explanation of my madness. I just know that the first part is always fun, but becomes a drudgery. Motivation must be applied to have a "vision" for the finished product, or it just sits on a memory chip collecting cyber dust. Faith must come alive, I pray, in God's time.

Eileen Typically, I like to focus my writing efforts on one project at a time, but once in a while I have two going. Right now I'm working on my Savvy Sisters series and a Missionary Kid series. I get ideas from quieting my heart, seeking the Lord, and doing something else creative after I've finished a project. It refreshes my brain to give myself time to reflect, regroup, and relax between projects.

Yahshuah's Tabernacle As I experience "writer's block" on one book, I transition to another. Creativity continues to flow; productivity is also in effect, and God will continue to inspire along the way. …I have always multi-tasked for many years, so it helps me to transition to something else but maximize my potential on timelines I have established for myself. Many blessings from the Lord on your journey to success!

Mary Thank you for that blessing! And thanks to all of you for responding. I hope it helps you, as it does me, to see how most of us have so many ideas, we can hardly get to them all! God surely provides those ideas and our writing gifts, so I pray we readily discern when and what to write in Jesus' Name.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, the founder of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, posed the above question as she, too, has been juggling poems, devotionals, blogs, and book manuscripts for many years. Besides having 27 books in all genres published by traditional and indie publishers, Mary has self-published 3 Kindle e-books for poets and writers, including the Christian Writer’s Guide. For a minimal fee, she also provides one-on-one feedback on poems, devotionals, children’s picture books, and book proposals through her blog.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What Does It Take To Be A Writer?/ | Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books

[Note from Mary: Writers do well to observe, perceive, and receive before writing. This post points out what writers are apt to be and do!]

What Does It Take To Be A Writer?/ | Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books by Eileen Hinkle Rife


Don’t Leave Yourself Open to Confusion and Deception! | livingmoreabundantly

[Note from Mary: Really knowing God's word is vital to every Christian, but Christian poets and writers also have the responsibility of writing about Bible truths with truth, beauty, and accuracy.]

Don’t Leave Yourself Open to Confusion and Deception! | livingmoreabundantly by Lorraine Sharkey-Wright