Showing posts with label Christian writer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian writer. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Interview with Christian writer Brian Taylor, aka APreachasKid

Brian, I always look forward to the posts on your blog APreachasKid! What other writing project do you have going?

Currently I’m working on a couple of books. One happens to be a dating/marriage book. Another is a devotional for people who live with Sickle Cell Anemia. Also, I just started hosting a streaming video show on a new streaming platform known as Blab on Thursday nights at 9 p.m.EST.

I am using that platform to discuss many of the same topics I blog about, but the ability to engage people gives more feedback and interaction with those who are my audience. My latest topics of discussion have been on legacy and marriage. My next program, which will be in January, will probably be focused on family dynamics.

Besides family, who or what inspires you?

I draw inspiration from many places. First and foremost is my faith in God. I also draw inspiration from current events and things going on in my life. I find that the things I read, listen to on the radio, and watch on television are sources of inspiration. Being active in the community and in the local church often spark topics of interest too.

Do you see your writing as a gift or calling?

I absolutely see my writing as a gift and a calling. I don’t really separate the two. I honestly believe that I have a gift from God to write and that my call in the use of this gift is to bring glory to Him by speaking life and hope to all who would read it.

I believe that in the medium of the written word, we are to restore the mountain of media by speaking truth in love and proclaiming “Thus says the Lord.” The media often shares too much negativity and lies contrary to what God says this world should look like. I believe we are called to change that in whatever way God, through the Holy Spirit, inspires us to do.

Does the Bible influence your work as a writer?

Yes, I definitely am influenced by scripture when I write. There are few things I write about that at least one scripture doesn’t somehow find its way into it. I try to make sure that much of what I write has some sense of a biblical worldview or foundation. I think it’s important that, as someone who hopes to be an influence on culture, I have the authority of scripture to anchor what I write.

Amen! Do you also hope your writing will help to unify or strengthen the church Body of Christ?

I hope that some of my more spirited writings will not only cause the Body of Christ to pause and think but to see ways to change, improve, and have greater impact on the world.

One future project I hope to release deals with the issues facing the Body of Christ in the area of why the church has not been successful in drawing the unchurched to a relationship with Christ. I think some things the early church did when Christ left the formation of the Church to the early Apostles have been missed or negated by the present culture but need to be reawakened so that the true harvest of souls can be manifested.

I see you’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Do you find the Internet helps you to reach others for Christ?

The Internet has most definitely been helpful. I think of the difference of how ministry looked for my father’s generation over 30 years ago and compare that to how things can be done today. There is an absolute difference in access to people. I could not imagine being able to go to all of the places that the Internet affords me to go as easily or as cheaply.

Yes! Our words can reach people in the far corners of the earth online in nanoseconds! So I pray for Christian poets and writers to see the possibilities for spreading the Gospel and ministering to people through the written word on the Internet.

Before we go, what other thoughts would you like to leave with Christian poets or writers?

I think that if there is anything I could say to other Christian poets or writers, it would be to reach out to others who are like you. Scripture tells us that iron sharpens iron, and if the pen of the scribe be as sharp as any two-edged sword, we ought to seek others who are like us to strengthen us, encourage us, and even mentor us through the stages we are in, so we can become and produce the best works possible. We should endeavor to work together and connect, so our voices grow stronger through every possible means God allows.

Amen! Thank you so much, Brian, for giving us your inspired and inspiring words.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, founder of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, writes books in all genres for Christian, educational, and indie publishers. Her current calling is to write and post Praise Poems on the Internet.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Interview with Christian poet, writer, and songwriter Elaine Creasman

Elaine, I know you’re a prolific writer, maintain a website, and have contributed to many gift books, but tell us more about your published work.

I have a passion for helping couples stay married since God has done a miraculous healing in our marriage of 40 years. I have had over 20 articles about marriage published in magazines and newspapers. I also have had articles on parenting, spiritual growth and social issues such as racism published. I worked as a guest columnist having a monthly column, “Family Matters,” for over a year at my local weekly newspaper, The Largo Leader as well as writing features for that newspaper. The opportunity ended when the editor left, but I have also written several opinion pieces for the St. Petersburg Times and had multiple letters to the editor published.

I have written for over 30 Christian publications including Decision, Light and Life, Marriage Partnership, Today’s Christian Woman, and The Lookout. I have also written for teen publications such as Campus Life, Encounter, and Devozine. I have had many poems published in magazines and some as contributions to books.

I also write songs which I have performed or had others perform at Bible studies, women’s retreats, my church, and small church gatherings. My latest calling with music is to play at open mic nights and on Clearwater Beach to bring the good news with my songs and classic hymns to the tourists who come from all over the world. Much of my published work is writing about my personal experiences. I tell the what of my darkest night, but more importantly I tell Who was there to shine His light.

What has helped to prepare you for this work?

I took composition courses at the college level where I was first encouraged to become a professional writer. I also took continuing education courses at my college where local authors taught classes for no college credits and were willing to critique the work of the students. I received the most and the best education for writing at writers conferences.

I have attended the Write to Publish Conference in the Chicago area several times, a conference at Warner Pacific College in Oregon once, and I attended as well as taught at times at the Florida Christian Writers Conference. I attended FCWC 23 out of 25 times. There I met editors, took classes, and learned from fellow writers. I turned in manuscripts and learned so much by what editors and fellow writers wrote on them. Meeting with editors and having them review my writing projects made such a difference and opened the door for publication at many different magazines. I also read lots of books about writing as well as magazines such as Writers Digest and The Christian Communicator.

Do you see your writing as a gift or calling?

I see my writing as a gift that God has called me to use for His glory. My calling is to proclaim truth, and the verse that God gave me to go along with my writing is Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ,” Amplified Bible. Most of what I write urges readers to let go of the world’s ways and the lies received there and embrace Jesus and His truth and His ways.

I sense God is pleased when I write and pass along my writing to others—even if there is no payment involved. There is a danger even in the Christian world to measure our success by how much money we make at writing. God has given me a definition of success as a writer: Success = obedience. God has also called me to help other writers use their gift of writing. I have led the Suncoast Christian Writers Group in Largo, Florida since 1986.

Lately my ministry as a writer has been to help others be set free. I see how much bondage the Lord has set me free from, and I want to help others be set free. The theme verse for my previous radio show and my Hearts Set Free blog is Psalm 119:32, “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free,” NIV, 1984. God has called me not just to enjoy my freedom, but to help others be set free.

Does anything ever discourage you from writing?

When I face tragedies in my life—dealing with prodigals, repeated crises in my marriage or with my children or grandchild, two suicides by siblings, new traumas that threaten to undo me, or my own battles with sin and weakness, I can think, “I’m not qualified to write; my life is such a mess.” But God has told me again and again something that another writer often proclaims: “God will bring a message out of your mess.” And He always has.

When I write despite difficulties and am transparent about what I’m going through, it seems people are touched in a deep way. I attend a secular writing group, and they have communicated to me when I write about my deep struggles and how God is intervening, “It is your struggles that invite us in.”

Writing a blog has helped me to write despite any hurt in my life. Because it’s a weekly post, I tell about what I’m going through and even discover truth as I write. I remember someone once told me that we learn to write, but we also write to learn. God has taught me so much as I sit down to write on a difficult subject. I start out saying, “I have no idea how to handle this crisis in my life,” but He gives the answer as I write. And I can pass that answer along.

Does the Bible influence your work as a writer?

The Bible is the number one research book for my writing. I want everything I write to be in line with the Word—to echo what it says. Most of what I write has Bible references, because I want people to turn to the Word. I don’t want them to think that what I have to say is what’s most important. I want them to hunger for what God has to say. If what I write increases a person’s love for me and my words but is not increasing a person’s love for God and His Word, then I feel I have failed.

Often a piece starts with a verse or passage of Scripture that touches me or is doing a transforming work on me. Sometimes I discover a concept in the Word that thrills my soul, and I want to pass it on. As a writer, I try to be in the Word daily. There is so much more to learn and discover there—especially about how much God loves us.

What helpful suggestions or encouragement would you like to offer other Christian poets or writers?

It is important to have a deep prayer life where you are communicating with God about what to write and how to write it. God does speak to us today. Often I sense that God is dictating the truth for an article or poem to me—that I’m not a writer but a receiver. I need to have an open and humble heart to receive from God. Discover from the Lord what kind of writing He wants you to do rather than trying to copy the type and style of writing that someone else is doing. He has specific instructions for each of us.

It’s also important to maintain your integrity in the writing world. Even Christians may encourage embellishment to make your story more exciting. Do not give in to that temptation.

It’s essential to meet with other writers who are an encouragement to you. Join a writing group. Attend writers conferences or workshops. Be humble enough to receive critiques and instruction. Always seek to improve at your craft. Avoid becoming discouraged by rejections or harsh comments from people who are hypercritical of your work. Care about and even love those who will be reading your work. Never see yourself as better than they are.

Good words, Elaine! Thank you. May God continue to bless you and your writing life in Christ.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, moderator of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, writes books in all genres for Christian, educational, and indie publishers. Recently, she began writing and posting Praise Poems, which are almost ready for a book.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Interview with devotional writer Jewell Utt

Jewell, members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook have most likely read some of your published work, but in case not, tell us about the writing you’ve been doing.

Devotions, poetry and blogs are included on my website, and I've had articles, devotions, and poetry included in such compilations as Power For Living, Rise, Penned From The Heart, and Exhaling the Gospel. I'm a regular contributor to Christian devotions and Ruby for Women. I also published and edited a monthly newsletter, The Faithful Witness.

What inspires your writing?

I'm inspired to write because I want to encourage people through the trials of life. Knowing I am nothing without Christ yet have everything because of Him, I want to motivate other people to keep moving forward.

Has anyone encouraged you to write?

Teachers, friends, family…. Writing has been a creative outlet for me since I was a teen. I'd soak up writing assignments and bask in the world of thought and development. Poetry helps to express myself in a code that's for me, while articles and devotions are geared towards others.

Do you see your writing as a gift or a calling?

Writing is a calling for me. My aspirations do not include fame. Nor do I feel especially gifted at the craft. I am a unique creation with a set of experiences that will minister to specific needs. I believe if one person is touched it's been a successful day. Writing is a way to enter the presence of God and stimulate people, who need hope, to seek that presence.

Any creative field requires lifting yourself up and moving forward because there's a lot of self-doubt. When that sets in, I realize I am working in my strength and not His. Writing requires constant dependence on Christ.

What has helped you improve your writing?

Creative writing, expository writing, journalism courses, and also writer's conferences, critique group, and Internet courses were valuable building blocks, but the best preparation has been surviving the hard times and crisis moments with a will to move ahead. These provide material, compassion, and a desire to lift people up.

Does anything ever discourage you from writing?

On this, I could write a book! The first writer's conference I attended overwhelmed me. There were so many dos and don'ts, I thought surely I chose the wrong vocation. But the fact is it chose me.

Critique groups, while helpful, are humbling. You go with a clean, double spaced masterpiece and leave with a marked-up red mess. But from critique comes growth.

Periods of uncertainty, dry days, writer's block, and no feedback from readers (can be discouraging too.) This is the most important aspect of our CP&W site for me. It gives encouragement from people who understand.

Does the Bible influence your writing?

Absolutely! The Bible offers real and lasting hope. As I write, I'm mindful of passages that will point my reader to Christ.

In what ways might your writing help to strengthen the church Body of Christ?

We are a family and experience similar hurts and disappointments. Writing is a way to encourage people back into the church community. By sharing weaknesses we help those hurting realize they are not alone. A battle is raging all around us, and sometimes we get sucked into the fray. We stand strong when we stand together. Writing is a way to strengthen people past hurt to healing and serving others.

What helpful suggestions or encouragement would you like to offer other Christian poets or writers?

Never Quit!

Amen. And, thank you, Jewell, for helping us to see what your Christian writing life is like, which also gives us insights into our own.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, moderator of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, writes books in all genres for Christian, educational, and indie publishers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Interview with inspirational writer and poet Shira Garnett

Shira, members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook see your name because you’re so faithful about nurturing their faith and writing. Thank you. And thanks for giving us a chance to find out more about you and your writing life.

I know you have a website with uplifting blog posts and writings, but what other projects are you working on now?

At present, my writings consist of inspirationals, poems, and an autobiography of my life experiences.

When did you first suspect you wanted to write?

When I was in the kindergarten, I would sit on the floor and listen as the teacher would read books for our “Reading Time.” During that period of my life, I was experiencing a tremendous amount of pain and abuse. My mind would drift into the stories being read. This was a coping mechanism for me.

Once I knew I was able to forget about my present situation by becoming one of the characters in the story, I vowed to speak out and encourage others. Writing affords me this opportunity. My writings give readers the ability to step into concepts of resolution, challenge, healing, and hope.

Did anything encourage your writing?

Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s gave me the wonderful privilege of a wholesome era. Authors such as Judy Blume, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the Holy Spirit, of course, have been the inspiration that set the tone of my passion for writing.

Shows that focused on characters who were writers in the script has been an encouragement as well. Richard Earl Thomas (John Boy) from the “Walton’s,” George Robert Newhart from the “Newhart Show,” Lauri Ingalls Wilder from “Little House on the Prairie” – each has been a major influence to me. Also, I must mention the “Hallmark” television station.

The media certainly does influence us! And, I thank God for the influence we can have on others through social networks. Where will we be apt to find you on the Internet?

I’m currently spread throughout the major social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, Tumblr, and Pinterest. My aim is to reach as many people and writing professionals as possible. Social Networks have afforded me to do so at the level I’m presently at in my writing career.

Do you see your writing as a gift or calling?

Gifting for me is something that’s cultivated by one’s motivation to fulfill Gods divine purpose, because I do believe God has graced me with gifts of compassion and fearlessness. Yes, writing is a gift granted me.

As for being called to write, my heart’s desire is to be obedient to God’s commission for believers to spread the message of love, hope, grace, and forgiveness of sins unto the world. This is a call for those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, so I embrace the commission of the call.

What do you hope to accomplish in your writing?

Many people suffer in silence. Speakers, Writers, Ministers, and people from all walks of life often mask real life issues. Because of this, I attempt to bring a serene and encouraging word, desiring to share a boost of simple reality to brighten one’s day.

Those who follow my readings are not always Christians or, for that matter, believers in God. With this knowledge in mind, I prayerfully ask God to give me seeds of wisdom to plant words that express His Undying Love for humanity and for someone else to water what has been planted. In this way God gets the increase. For believers, they’re able to appreciate the sincere milk, and for those who are not, I pray the Holy Spirit does what I can’t.

Amen! Thank you, Shira. Before we close, what would you like to say to other communicators for Christ?

This simple one-liner has carried me through ups, downs, and uncertainties, “Success starts with a great idea, a passion for what you believe in, and a desire to carry it out.”

If writing is what you do, do it! Everything else will fall into place, and remember to always stay encouraged.

Yes! And, may the Lord help us to receive God’s ongoing encouragement to us in Jesus’ Name.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, moderator of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, writes books in all genres for Christian, educational, and indie publishers.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Interview with Christian writer Jeanne Doyon

Hi, Jeanne. Welcome! Fellow members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook will be especially interested to hear about your current writing projects. Give us an update.

I host a blog series called Treasure the Quiet Moments and have a number of guest bloggers sharing aspects of how to pause to see Jesus in the midst of the chaotic holiday preparations.

Also, I am working on a booklet called B.O.L.D. Living that I hope to have ready for publication in 2016.

Tell us about your published work.

My non-fiction articles have been published in Evangel, Live, Proverbs 31, Nebraska Family Times,, Vibrant Life and other print and online venues. I have true stories included in various books too.

I also write a weekly blog called The Stream’s Edge. You can find me at my new website and also access five years of blog archives.

Has anyone in particular inspired your writing?

I have always been inspired by women authors like Lucy Maud Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Beatrix Potter and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I can get caught up in their stories and feel like their best friends. Those children’s authors have encouraged me to dream as I hold their books. Somehow it feels doable to write when I see the fruit of others.

Did you start writing as a child?

I have always written, but I haven’t always been a steward of it. I used to hide my writing until a wise woman at our church said, after looking over my spiritual gift inventory, “What’s this writing thing all about?” I stammered something about its being a hobby and not really having time to spend writing. She handed me the phone number of a writer’s workshop and said, “Call them.” I did. I went. I sobbed. And I came away with a clearer call to pursue writing as a gift.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

In high school during a children’s literature class, I wrote and illustrated a children’s story. I had so much fun. Then I took it to a first grade classroom to read aloud to the kids, and I was hooked.

What helped to prepare you for the job?

Writer’s conferences really helped me to gain confidence. I also love my critique groups for accountability, stretching me out of my comfort zone, and helping to polish my writing.

Being a student of God’s Word has prepared me in a way that I can’t explain other than the Holy Spirit has been my teacher. I don’t have a college degree or any formal training other than what life has brought to me. I am thankful for the insights I have gotten as I study, pray, and expound on the word God has given us.

Do you see your writing as a gift or a calling?

Both; it is a gift I need to share with the body of Christ. As a calling, I look at it as one of God’s purposes for me to share Him.

What do you hope to accomplish in your work?

I’d love to write a book but am not sure if that is in God’s plans for me. A wise editor told me I had mastered the short piece, and it was time to reach for something bigger. Writing tight is a comfort zone for me, but I know God might want more.

Does anything ever discourage you from writing?

Life circumstances can put a stopper in the flow for me. Back in 2006, I couldn’t write much of anything and began to think God had taken the gift away. I prayed, telling Him I was willing to lay it down.

Then in 2010 I saw that Blue Ridge was offering scholarships to their conference. I prayed a fleece-type prayer and basically said, “God, if I am to continue to pursue writing, I ask that you show me by my getting this scholarship. And, if I don’t get it...” I was awarded the full scholarship (Thank you, Cec Murphey) and also won first place for my article in their writing contest. I felt the Lord speak loudly.

Does the Bible influence your work as a writer?

Absolutely – it probably has the biggest influence because of the type of writing, teaching, and speaking I do. It truly is the plumb line.

In what ways do you hope your writing will help to unify or strengthen the church Body of Christ?

I hope my writing helps people to pause and think. I also pray that it points to Jesus so they can see Him clearly.

Have you found the Internet helpful in reaching others for Christ?

Absolutely! My blog reaches around the world. My website is visible anywhere. Email is invaluable. The learning curve for some of these things is steep, but what a wonderful way to continue to proclaim the message to a hungry world.

Do you use social networks to interact online with other Christian poets, writers, editors, or publishers?

I do. I have accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google +

What helpful suggestions or encouragement would you like to offer other Christian poets or writers?

#1 Keep Going.

#2 Don’t compare yourself, your ministry or your way of proclaiming your message to anyone else. We can get caught up in thinking we need to mimic the successful authors out there. We can learn from them for sure, but not everyone is supposed to be doing webinars, podcasts, videos, writing books, etc. God has given you a special blend of gifts, life experience, and personality, then placed you where you are for His glory.

#3 Ask God for a prayer team who will pray for your ministry.

Oh, wow! I'd never thought of the latter but would surely welcome one! Thanks, Jeanne. And thank you for being with us. May God continue to bless your work in Jesus' Name.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, moderator of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, writes books in all genres for Christian, educational, and indie publishers.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Interview with Christian poet and writer Marla Shaw O’Neill

Marla, as one of the administrators for our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, your encouraging words have helped many members, who will be glad to hear about your writing life. Tell us about your published work.

Sing Sarah Sing is a story of a ten-year-old girl of mixed race, who is raised by her granny in Cedar Bluff, AL, in 1956. Sarah has an amazing musical ability and beautiful voice, which take her to Nashville, TN, where God uses her to touch many lives. There is a kidnapping, a murder, a battle with angels and demons, a love story, and a glorious ending.

Who or what inspires your writing?

Being a Christian I have to say that my Father God, Jesus my Savior and the precious Holy Spirit inspire me. There is a passion I can’t explain that flows from deep within my heart, a knowing that God loves me more than I can comprehend, and from that love stems a relationship that compares to no other. There is a place in God I’ve come to where I feel most people stare in wonder at me sometimes, but He’s so real, I can’t help myself. I’m caught up to the third heaven with Him where He reveals mysteries I’m learning others might not have, but it’s for everyone who will surrender totally to Him.

Who or what encouraged you to write?

I don’t know who encouraged me, but I had a desire to write. Then I found out a few years ago that George Bernard Shaw was a distant relative, so maybe it’s in my genes.

At first my passion was reading, then I’d write songs and poems. I was extremely shy around other people as a child, and well into adulthood, I found comfort in stories. In 1998, I wrote my first book on how real heaven is, and I finished but never published it.

What experiences have helped to prepare you?

This has been a challenge for me because I only have a twelfth grade education with a few college credits. It’s frustrating sometimes because I feel as though I don’t have the skills it takes to write the way I want, so I read books on writing.

Do you see your writing as a gift or calling?

I see it as both. God gave me the gift and called me to use it for His glory and purpose. That is one reason I take it seriously. I don’t want to disappoint the Lord.

Does the Bible influence your work as a writer?

Oh yes, I reference scriptures a lot. God’s word is alive; it quickens, convicts, and sets people free. It is the inspired word of God. Jesus said when He went away He’d send us another comforter and to wait for the imparting of Holy Spirit (Luke 24:48-50.) He is our teacher and comforter.

When I was twelve, I had a glorious infilling of the Holy Spirit. We were all around the altar praying, the musicians were playing songs, and people were dancing in the Spirit. Ladies were all around me with one praying let go and another praying hold on. Finally they moved on to someone else, and I found myself laying on the floor of the little church as a young woman knelt beside me praying softly. I prayed and said, “Lord what’s wrong with me, why can’t I have what they have.” The Holy Spirit gently whispered to me and said, “Don’t seek the gift. Seek the giver of the gift.” I understood, so I began praising Jesus and thanking Him for being my savior. All of a sudden I started praying in heavenly languages! I could hear what was going on around me, but I was caught up in a heavenly place and remember all through the night speaking in languages I didn’t know. I asked God one time, “Lord why did you give me such a glorious experience, and yet my life has had so many trials and tests.” He said, “I knew you would need the Holy Spirit in your life to help you go through all those things.”

In what ways do you hope your writing will help to unify or strengthen the church Body of Christ?

Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me,” John 12:32. There is so much turmoil in the Church today, but if I can write and show the Love of God in a real and personal way, and it touches just one soul, then my writing was not in vain. I think too many have this image of God as being a mean taskmaster, but He’s not like that at all! He loves us so much! Who else would give their own child to die for haters, murderers, prostitutes, or sick, greedy, selfish, vain, egotistical, carnal-minded people – or even nice churchgoing citizens who wouldn’t hurt a fly but don’t accept Jesus as the Son of God? Who would do that? It could only be a God who has mercy and grace for humanity and a love that seeks to save those who are utterly lost. It would have to be a God who doesn’t want to kill us, but who wants to protect us and deliver us from the one who really is the enemy of our soul. To have an anointing on my writing that will draw people to Jesus is the kind of writing I long for.

Have you found the Internet helpful in reaching others for Christ?

I have a group on Facebook called, A Call to Action. God gives us our gifts and wants us to use them for his purposes. I believe God inspired me to start that group so that He could be shared with others. We are to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19.) Habakkuk 2:1-3 says, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets that he may run who reads it.” And when we use our gifts and talents for God’s glory He multiplies our efforts. Some plant and some water, but God brings the increase (I Corinthians 3:6-7.) So, it’s not about the one who plants or waters; it’s all about God.

What suggestions or encouragement would you like to offer other Christian poets or writers?

Join a writers group. The Christian Poets and Writers group on Facebook has been a life-saver for me. Reading what other Christian writers write is inspiring and educational. The posts give you food for thought and trigger an abundance of topics for me to write about too.

Don’t let yourself or anyone discourage you from writing. Self-doubt, kick it out. Inadequacies? Don’t let that stop you. With many resources available, Google is a writer’s friend. When you have a passion for something, nothing can stop you. It’s always there in your thoughts and in your heart, gently and softly compelling you to do it!

Yes! Thanks, Marla, and may God continue to bless your writing life.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, moderator of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, writes books in all genres for Christian, educational, and indie publishers.

Sing Sarah Sing, paperback, by Marla Shaw O'Neill

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Interview with Virginia Lieto

Christian author and theology professor, Virginia Lieto writes novels for children with the hope of bringing to light the need for moral virtue in our lives. Ginny, tell us about your published work.

Adventures of Faith, Hope and Charity – Finding Patience, as a series, centers on three sisters named Faith, Hope and Charity who learn the virtues from their parents with a little help from the friendly next door neighbor. In the first of the series, Finding Patience, the family moves to a new town which means new schools for the girls. Friends can’t come fast enough for Faith. In this story we see how she changes from day to day growing in patience.

What writing project are you working on now?

In between school visits and marketing promotions, I am in the process of working on the second book in the series, Adventures of Faith, Hope, and Charity – Finding Acceptance. This book will center on the middle daughter, Hope, who needs to learn how to accept others as they are. The book will also address bullying and the need for diversity.

Who or what inspires your writing?

My inspiration truly comes from the Holy Spirit. I sit in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament once per week and simply listen. In that time of quiet and peace, ideas come to me.

Who or what encouraged you to write?

I stumbled upon writing within the past few years while studying for my Masters in Pastoral Theology. I found that I liked researching and writing term papers! I didn’t feel confident enough to write a book on anything seriously theological because I was just realizing what I didn’t yet know and had so much more studying to do before I could ever become a subject matter expert within any specific area of Theology. Yet, I thought that maybe I could write children’s books to express the Christian faith.

What helped to prepare you?

I earned my Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Theology from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in 2014, where I am now an adjunct professor of Theology. I teach two courses: 1) Catholic Spirituality and 2) Liturgy and Sacraments.

Does anything ever discourage you from writing?

Marketing! Not my strong suit. I find self-promotion comes across as cheesy. I definitely have not mastered the art of self-promotion yet.

Does the Bible influence your work as a writer?

The Bible heavily influences my writing. It serves as my guide; my blueprint.

In what ways do you hope your writing will help to unify or strengthen the church Body of Christ?

Virtue has existed since the time of Adam and Eve. It provides common ground between all denominations and is a main component of all faiths. Although my book is written from a Christian perspective, the message of the story is universal: God, our Creator, made each of us in His image and likeness to be good, to be virtuous as He is virtuous. As Creator, He is the giver of all virtue.

Have you found the Internet helpful in reaching others for Christ?

Yes, and it never ceases to amaze me how people from all around the world find me! About 20% of my followers are from outside the United States; from Europe, to Africa, to Asia. I think that is just awesome! We are all one big family. Maybe that is because virtue speaks to every heart, longing to be happy.

How can readers find you or your work online?

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Pinterest. I also have an Amazon Author Page, and a Goodreads Author Page.

What suggestions or encouragement would you like to offer other Christian poets or writers?

Listen to the Holy Spirit, and write what He tells you to write. One day I was in Adoration, thinking about what I would like the second book to be about, and I heard a clear and loud response, “No, the second book will be about Acceptance.” I replied, “Okay, Boss, whatever you say!”

Good thinking! Thanks, Ginny, for giving us a glimpse of your Christian writing life.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, interviewer and moderator of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, has placed 27 books in all genres with Christian, educational, and indie publishers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Christian writers on writing

QUESTION recently asked of the members in our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook:In what ways do you need prayer and encouragement in your writing life?

Michael-Lori (I need prayer and encouragement) to write my lyrics with God leading me in the way to touch and help others.

Donna Rewrites! Although part of writing, I feel like (revisions) sap my creative energy and stifle me. I'd rather get it right the first time.

Mary The problem with getting it right the first time, Donna, is that puts you in two separate jobs at once: writing from the right brain and editing or revising from the left! Hopefully, you have a computer, which makes revisions much easier, so you might try letting the writing flow without censoring yourself. Then wait a day or two before going back and seeing what needs to be changed - if anything.

Cassie Sticking with it! I have limited time to write due to kids, so I'll get excited and start something, but then I don't have time again until later. Because of this, I start a lot of things I don't finish.

Mary Oh, I know the feeling, Cassie! I was a stay-at-home mom with my kids and am now a stay-at-home grandmom. However, my first published poems, articles, devotionals, and children's stories arose from these times.

Anointed To get a book published I sometimes wonder too much about who will like it and who won't! Will they give good or bad judgement?

Mary Your emphasis on being Anointed and chosen is the ideal faith and focus to have from start to finish! If God gives us something we're drawn to write, surely God can draw our readers too.

Barbara (I’m) physically unable to sit for long periods of time, and therefore, it's difficult for me to collect my works together, edit, and prepare a book. I so desire to publish. God willing, this too shall pass.

Mary I'm sorry to say I have that problem too. May God give us all the strength and energy we need to do what we've been given to do in Jesus' Name.

Eve Courage to step out…. I've spent 3 years writing and editing, and now it's about faith – to step out and allow God to bless others with this word He has given. I am not worried about selling copies; I just want to hear His voice say, "Well done."

Mary Yes! And every time I read where Jesus said, "It is finished," I get God-bumpy. May God en-courage us all.

Janet (I pray) that the book would honor God and only speak truth.

Mary Janet, yours is surely a God-blessed goal! Reading the Bible cover to cover again and again gives us the mind of Christ, praise God, but I try not to depend on my faulty memory. Isn't it wonderful to have so many translations on the Internet where we can easily check quotes and context?

Christine (I need) to step out and take risks, write what God wants when He wants, and in general, let Him lead and my heart follow, even when my head tells me differently.

Mary Tricky one, Christine! I kept fretting over that, too, and thinking I wasn't trusting myself to hear God even though I'd prayed and prayed. Then it dawned on me: I can trust God to speak loud enough for me to hear. May the Lord bless our minds and ears with God's Word to and through us in Jesus' Name.

Cherrilynn Time for prayer and steadfastness…. Praying for all….

Mary Thanks, Cherrilynn! We need it. And may God remind us each morning and throughout the day to pray for one another.

Shira For me it normally always is the same thing: How can what I write make a difference in the lives of others? What would you have me to say, Lord?

Cherrilynn Shira, what has changed your life or made a difference with you? Write about that. Many people will be blessed. My blog is all about how God changed me. It is raw and realistic.

Mary Shira, I find that whatever troubles or blesses me will most likely speak to others too. Then keeping it short, to the point, and honest will keep readers interested. But, from what I've seen of your work, no problem! You're doing it.

Shira I try my best to keep it real at all times. Thanks for the advice. God bless you all.

Cyn My devotions today were in 2 Corinthians12:8-9. I have chronic illness that causes episodes of nonproductivity, and I beat myself up over it. Add my distractibility, and nothing gets done. Here's where He is glorified: when I push through and do what I can.

Mary Oh, no, no, no, Cyn. No beating up allowed! Only upbeating.

Cherrilynn Cyn, I did not know you had chronic illness I will pray for you. I have chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. It is difficult to push through, but I do. May God breathe strength and life into us as He did with the bones in Ezekiel.

Shari I write Mystery Dinner Theater (scripts) with a twist – not only write them but cast, direct and produce them too! They're biblically based, and some of the general themes include God's timelessness. Each year, they sell out, and I know they are spirit-led because, when I sit down with each cast for the first time for the first rehearsal and read-through, I often find myself saying to myself in amazement, "I wrote that?" I pray for God's continued inspiration and that He continues to motivate and speak to me because there is no way without Him. I also pray that God will continue to guide our steps and encourage struggling writers, including myself, to keep stepping outside our comfort zones. (God) is with us always, and how abundant is His love for us!

Mary Interesting work, Shari! Have you approached Christian publishers who might be open to submissions of scripts? If you've found some whose work you like, they'll be apt to like yours too.

Mark I'm asking for God’s favor as I market my books.

Mary Welcome to the book world! It takes time, time, and more time, Mark, and I pray God guides us all who find ourselves having to spend more time marketing than writing!

Kelly (I need) the courage to step out – and to know what stepping out means.

Mary Your honesty eases the step out, Kelly. I guess it comes down to praying for God to guide then trusting the Lord to do just that.

Margaret (I pray) that my published book will reach those who need to hear its message. In God I trust.

Mary Amen! I suspect we all hope that, Margaret, so let's keep each other in prayer.

Beth No time to write! No funds to get a cover done! One book is (posted) on a forum of publishers, and all I got was, a “Pay me this, and I'll do it" kind of response. The other book that needs the cover also needs formatting for self-publication – frustrating!

Chanda Praying...

Mary Beth, sometimes it's about timing and using the wait-space to get to know your genre and potential publishers. May God bless and guide.

Marla I need to continue the process of editing my book, but I'm having a hard time right now focusing (as I’m) still grieving. I just pray that God will give me grace and gentle laughter in my spirit! Thanks.

Cherrilynn Praying!

Chanda Praying for grace....

Lisa Grace and gentle laughter… Such a sweet request that no doubt brings a smile to our Father's face.

Mary Amen! God bless you, Marla! Grieving is essential and, while it's fresh, it might help to journal, write notes to yourself or your loved one, and read Psalms. When it's time to edit your book, you'll know, and you'll be ready.

Nellie When I look and look at markets, and none of them seem to fit my need – that is the greatest downside to writing. I struggle with it constantly. Sometimes I take a stab in the dark, and get a big surprise of acceptance.

Lisa I know just what you mean, Nellie. I'm right there with you.

Mary I wish I could say it will get easier, but.... Prayer helps, of course, but sometimes I have to put a manuscript aside and work on the next one while I’m waiting for the next round of deadlines or the next editor or people’s interests to change or….

Judy Apart from Christ I can do nothing!

Mary Amen.

Beckie I need to stick to it! Also (I pray for) open doors for publishing a YA faith-based novel that deals with some tough girl issues and spiritual warfare.

Linda (I’m) trying to get money to publish a book that's not quite finished.

Beckie Praying.

Mary Linda, CreateSpace (print) and Kindle (e-book) are both free. Since they're on Amazon, they're also easy for you to list and for potential buyers to find.

Linda This book will touch and inspire Christians with addictions…. Writing a book…is for God's honor… and to realize you are obeying God to write your book.

Tonya (I need) to finish other written projects and find publishers or self-publish.

Mary Tonya, I pray God brings to mind the project you're to do first. Sometimes I get so many ideas, I don't know where to start! May God guide us always.

Tonya That's exactly how I feel. Bombarded with where do I start first?

Christine (I pray) to have the guts, transparency, and faith to let God lead with my new nonfiction book.

Marla If God be for you, who can be against you? Like Joshua – be brave and courageous. You can do this!

Christine Amen! I needed to read this today! What a blessing those words are. Thank you.

Jennifer I have been led to write a course and use it to teach my teenage daughter. It will be about who God is, who we are in and outside of Him and how to walk the journey when you are in the middle of a storm causing you to doubt. I need prayer since this is highly important to get right.

Shira (I’m) praying God's Divine Wisdom and Instruction for you in all your ways. Blessings to you and stay encouraged!

Jennifer Thanks so much.

Mary Jennifer, your daughter gives you an in-house editor! She'll help you get it right.

Okorie (I want) to bend and finish what may indeed be the corner and turning point of my life achievements to His glory. I have procrastinated for too long on the completion of my first fictional project.

Mary May God bless and guide.

Candy (I need prayer) to attempt to put my music out there as I have been told my whole life "you are not a musician.” I trust that God will lead me in that direction. Please pray for guidance (for me) to know how to put my poems and music out there. (I’m) thinking of a website just for my music. I would appreciate any feedback.

Shira Candy, starting out with the basics has always worked out best for me. Write your vision, make it plain. Blessings to you always.

Mary Wise words, Shira. Candy, in most bookstores or online bookshops, you can find the annual songwriter's guide published by Writer's Digest, which I highly recommend.

Glenys (Pray) that I write the words the Holy Spirit places on my heart, so that whatever I write, God may be given all the glory.

Marla Amen – yes, Jesus!

Linda Even though I have every confidence that the Lord will continue to honor His promise to be my partner and executive director in my writing ministry, I find myself needy for human encouragement. It's so invigorating when someone is touched by a piece I wrote or (when) a church uses one of my hymns and is blessed by it. Knowing that human friends are praying for me and my work helps me through long dry spells between acceptances by publishers.

Shari Beautifully said!

Linda See, there's that human encouragement right there! Thanks, Shari.

Shira Amen. Linda, the Word of God tells us to prefer others above ourselves – to edify and build up. This brings about peace, assurance, and confidence toward others, thus releasing a person's motivation to continue, persevere, endure, and finish the race. Stay encouraged! God is with you.

Linda Thank you, Shira!

Robin (I pray) that I would have the physical strength and mental clarity to focus and concentrate on my projects and get something done when I sit down to write.

Beckie Praying!

Ruby (I need prayer for) motivation, inspiration, and a cure for procrastination. I need to finish editing my devotional too.

Mary Ruby, the word "enthusiasm" comes from "en theos," which means "in God." May God give you the enthusiasm you need to write what you've been given.

Ruby Thank you! I receive that.

Sue (I’m) trying to build a platform through my blog and Facebook writer’s page. It is going much slower than I would like. Pray I continue to be faithful in the small stuff.

Beckie I'm with you, Sue! Praying for you.

Shira Stay Encouraged. It will come with diligence.

Sue Thank you, Beckie and Shira. Blessings to both of you.

Jason Writing is easy but trying to sell is very tough, and l’m out of ideas.

Beckie Praying that doors open for you….

Lisa I sometimes wonder why God gives words to share to those of us who struggle so with marketing. It's so hard! But perhaps that's just why He does it – so we'll have to rely more on Him to lead the way. I'm praying for you, too. And for all of us who struggle mightily in this area.

Mary Jason, you might notice publishers of manuscripts similar to yours, then visit their websites, and see if they've posted writer's guidelines to follow.

Lillian (Pray) that I write the story He wants me to write and keep focused on the story and not the sales.

Mary Amen!

Maxine (I’m praying) to be faithful to write as the Holy Spirit leads me and not worry about days when nothing seems to appear.

Mark Amen. The joy of writing is that God has gifted you with the ability to put together a book to glorify Him. (Sometimes) I get away or put on some worship music, and it calms me and brings peace to my mind

Joan (I need) discipline, direction, devotion to God, reliance on Him…. (And I want to) give Him the glory.

Mary Amen!

Kathryn (Please pray for me to) overcome a foggy mind with clarity and focus. So much on the publishing and project plate….

Mary I relate, Kathryn! The more overwhelmed I am, the less focused I get. May God help us to see clearly and think sharp!

Judy (I pray for) ideas, concepts and insights into God's plan and His anointing!

Mary When I'm too busy, Judy, or need a break from routine, poems don't come to me, but if we take a drive – yeah, with me as the passenger – or go somewhere with fresh surroundings, I start looking around for a pencil and paper!

Jeanne (I pray to) be diligent without self-reliance, and (I pray for) discipline to see the goal and work toward it. (I’d also like) feedback from others to sharpen me and the project.

Mary Jeanne, you've well described how most of us feel! May God help us to encourage one another in Jesus' Name.

Marcia I'm working on two plays at once and editing book three of my fantasy series. Prayer greatly appreciated!

Shira Praying!

Terry Mostly I just (need) to start.

Jonathan (I pray to) form everything into words that lift up God, encourage others, and draw people to Him.

Mary Yes.

Carla My muse is MIA.

Mary Sometimes that means it's time for a break, Carla, like a mini-vacation – a walk in the woods, a trip to a museum, almost anything different with everything soaked in prayer.

Brenda I need motivation and inspiration – and direction. Where do I fit in this industry, anyway?

Kelly I think as you do. In fact, I'm not sure I want to be "in the industry," yet I want my work seen by those who need it!
Mary My first writing projects were for the publishing headquarters of my church denomination, which gave me a good fit and good place to start – until we moved, and I changed churches! Then I wrote Bible stories for an interdenominational press.

Brenda Thank you, Mary. How can we, in turn, pray for your writing life?

Mary Oh, thank you, Brenda! I'm also looking for a place to fit again – Bible-based poems in a non-poetry-reading society.

Shira Be of good cheer. The Word of God reassures us that God wins. As we move forward, we can put our confidence in the Holy Spirit that guides us into all truth. One thing that I have realized in my faith walk is, as long as I keep seeking God's face for direction, He shows me the right way.

Dolores (I pray) to have insight as to how to complete my manuscript. I know that when God connects the dots for me, the word picture I see will cause me to say, "Ahh! Of course, it was before me all along!"

Marla I say God connects the dots too! All it takes is faith in Him and being faithful to what we need to do. God bless you in all you do.

Patti I pray the Holy Spirit provides me the words to touch the hearts and minds of readers, inspiring them to establish or strengthen their relationship with God.

Joe I'd say direction. I need to know how to move into monetizing and growing the business.

Mary Joe, it's funny that you wrote this while God was bringing you to mind for a project! Placing a book with a traditional aka established Christian publisher will usually bring an advance and periodical royalty payments. The downside is that it might take months to see a cent! However, I believe you have what it takes to be a leader of leaders in what you write. May God guide.

Chris I pray to be worthy of Christ's message.

Mary Chris, if you love the Lord, you are worth Christ's resurrection power! May God help each of us to see ourselves as God sees us and find our worth in Him.

Sherrie (I pray) that God will show me how to be confident to speak the words He has given around leaders with "titles." I feel like some try to discredit the words given because I don't carry a title (such as) Pastor or Minister.

Mary Sherrie, I know exactly what you mean! Yes, the lack of a degree in Bible studies or theology can hinder us, but since that wasn't a possibility for me, I turned to the Bible for ever-increasing degrees of understanding. I read almost every translation, asking the Lord to help me. Eventually, the words in The Word make their way into poems, novels, articles – whatever and wherever God leads. I believe our part is to trust God to give us what's needed to do the work He wants us to do.

Dolores If I might humbly suggest: pray for passion and excitement for the word He gives you that will take you past any insecurity. I believe the Word says that a person's gift can take him or her before kings and leaders. May His Word, His truth be like fire shut up in your bones so that what He speaks to you in private can be shouted upon the housetop as He gives you the unction to do so.

Sherrie This made tears come. I will pray that. May the fire and passion for the words God has given me surpass or outweigh or eradicate all insecurity.

Dolores Amen! "So it is written, so let it be done!"

Theresa I am in need of uninterrupted time to write. Some circumstances in my life have taken that time away and are beyond my control. I am believing that God will give me several days before the year ends to just be and write.

Lisa As a mom of 6 within 8.5 years, I found there were long seasons where alone time seemed far out of reach. But I also found that when God had something to share with me, He found a way to get me alone. Many lines came in the shower. If only someone would invent a water-proof voice recorder! (I’m) praying right now that God will make a way for that precious time away for you.

Marla I'm on the other end of the spectrum – retired, and living away from my family. My husband is away at work all day, so I have lots and lots of time. It has been difficult being completely alone – just me and of course God! My neighbors all work, so I have found it to be quite isolating. My mom's illness kept us on the road most weekends – back and forth 4.5 hours. Now she's gone, and here I am. Yesterday at our Bible study I realized God has given me a great gift – time to spend with Him. I'm learning no matter how much we beg for what we don't have, we’re to be grateful for what we do have. It seems difficult either way, but I know God does make a way! And when He is leading and guiding us, He will make the way for us to accomplish what it is He wants from us. God hears your cry!

Mary Amen

David Thanks, Mary, for this discussion. I am new to this group, and yours was the first post I read. I must admit that it goes right to the heart of what brought me to this group. For the past twelve years, I have worked on my book, and like many writers, I’ve had a hard time trying to get it traditionally published. Eventually, I yielded to the promises of Amazon and decided to publish the manuscript as a trilogy. The first book was released (recently) in both e-book and paperback, and now I am in a season that much has been written and said about – promotion. I need the Lord's favor in this regard. I must say that I am really glad the message is finally out for people, but as the Lord actually stated, the laborer is worthy of his wages. So much has gone into the work – finance, effort, time, prayer, and more – and now I need your prayers for the Lord's favor on this work in the "marketplace," as well as encouragement and advice from fellow writers here. This is especially so considering my present location in Africa, my hearing challenge, and the limited funds available to me for promotion. The book has attracted several exceptional reviews from around the world, but it would take the Lord's favor to make a success of it in every way possible.

Lisa David, I'm learning that writing, and especially the marketing and promotion, can be overwhelming and frustrating at times. That's when having the support of others who have been there is so important. (I’m) praying we will be that for you.

David Thanks, Lisa.

Beckie Praying for you too, David, and for God's favor to rest upon you and the rest of these authors who write in His mighty name!

David Amen! Thank you very much, Beckie.

Robin In addition to my earlier comment, I need prayer for a clean house because I am constantly picking up and cleaning up and cannot settle my mind unless the mess is cleaned up. I can't stand dirty dishes in the sink and dried eggs on the stove top! By the time I get through with the 24/7 cleanup, I have no strength to do anything else – especially writing. I’m trusting God to open the door for me to find a person to help me with heavy, deep cleaning, so I can stress less and write more. But for now, I am not able, physically, to sit still long enough to write, and I cannot write with a messy environment. Even if I go into another room or the patio, the mess is still there and my mind, spirit, and body know it! So, please pray for the "right" help to come along at the right time, or (pray) for me to gain physical strength and a sustainable routine to keep the house clean. Sorry for the long-winded post, but this is what I am struggling with and you did ask how I needed prayer/encouragement.

Shira I can't function period, Robin, in an environment that's not clean. I can identify with you on that!

Lisa Praying for you now, Robin, that God will send the help you need, give you the strength to do it yourself, or give you blinders to help you focus, regardless of the circumstances. I hope you don't mind my adding that third option. It was all I had when my kids were little.

Cyn My husband knows I have a limited amount of energy, due to (health issues) and there’s only so much I can get done. If I have to mop the floor or clean up dirty dishes on the counter or cook dinner, I can't get artwork and writing done too. Throw in a day with a doctor’s appointment, and I'm about done! So I hold onto Judges 6:14, "Go in the strength you have…. Am I not sending you?"

Anne (I need prayer) to trust God to open doors. (When) I had a speaking opportunity a couple of days ago, I enjoyed being able to share God's goodness no matter what goes on in our lives, and I felt alive as I spoke. I want prayer that I can wait on God's timing for my writing (and) speaking. I want to trust Him and not my own thoughts. And if God wants me to pursue something, I want to follow His lead.

Shira Amen to that!

Reese I believe there are such men and women of God, that you don't even have to tell them of the issues or situations you need prayer for, because the spirit of God in them will lead them into all truth, even the truth of why I need prayer.

Jeff I need prayers for wisdom in finding a good critique group – preferably one that meets in person, but a good online one could help. Also, (I need) wisdom in deciding if, when, and where to submit my writings, and whether or where to find my own website to post my writings and experiences as a writer.

Mary Other members in our group might be willing to do a manuscript swap, so look for those who are also starting out and writing in your genre. If you post your writings on the Internet, paying publishers will seldom accept the same manuscripts, so I don’t recommend that as a first choice. Instead, notice who’s publishing what. If you read a book you like, notice who published it, and check out their guidelines on their websites. Or, if you enjoy a particular magazine, consider where your work might fit. Each publisher has specific needs and reading audiences, so it’s a good idea to look for ones you like a lot first. Then consider what you need to revise to fit their guidelines. Or write something with that company in mind. In any case, pray for God’s guidance, and be on the alert for anything related to writing and publishing.

Mamie I need prayer like I need water. I don't get far without going before the Lord in prayer.

Mary Amen! Praise the Lord, and thank you all for this good discussion.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, moderator, is a poet-writer for traditional publishers and poet-author of 3 Kindle e-books on poetry and Christian writing.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Blogging what, how, why, where

[QUESTIONS discussed by Members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook:]

Do you have a blog? Which Internet site do you recommend and why? What advice do you have for new bloggers or those of us who aren't techno-whizzes? And, just in case our readers don’t know, how do you define a blog?

Steve I like to think of a blog as an irregularly published magazine. Blogs typically revolve around one main idea, and all posts are articles with that idea as the main driver. I actually use the WordPress framework as it is expandable and allows for a lot of automation. For new bloggers? Well, just write. Get a simple site and just post your writing. Lean on blogging groups for developing new ideas. The content is the most important part. The rest is fluff.

Patti I use Blogspot (Blogger) and love it. A blog, to me, is a journal of sorts. Some focus on one idea while others cover a variety of topics.

Joyce I use Blogspot too. I am less than technically skilled yet found it easy to use and have had success, reaching out to the world. Write what you know and love – after much prayer. I find people like it when a photo is included on the post.

Marie I use WordPress. They have free blogs as well as paid themes, but you can pay for your own domain name if you choose. There are free Themes for blogs too! Mine is free.

Lynn I use WordPress, primarily for a website, but I also use the blog function to post reviews of contemporary poetry. I'm not very technically skilled or confident, but I have found WordPress easy enough. I had someone help me do the initial set up. I use the paid version (it's a very low fee) because I like the extra flexibility. If you want people to read your blog, I think it's most effective to have a particular focus. Think about the blogs you read that you like. What is it about them that you like?

Theresa I would describe a blog as a public platform for anyone to share their interests and opinions, and connect with others who enjoy reading your view or who share a similar view. I use to think blogs were limited to a particular type of platform like Blogger and LiveJournal, but over the past two or three years, it seems like most of those "blogs" are becoming more like website services. I chose to build my blog into a content management system that is centered on growing as new technology emerges. For the non-techie people, I would encourage them to checkout real simple blogs like LiveJournal or Blogger.

Miisrael I would define a blog as a communication tool for professional and amateur writers. The blog can associate ideas, projects, personal and/ or professional experiences. Blog topics have no end of diversities. There are many sources online that have free blogging. I suggest one do a little research to start with a comfortable place to share your writings. Try to use a location that's user-friendly. If you are new at it, start out with simple topics with good sentences. Advantages will grow, and before you know it all becomes easy – and most rewarding to you as well as others who read your blogs. The mainstay is sharing what God has given you in ways of expressions, helpful hints, or lifestyle experiences. The key to your beginnings is getting the knack to pursue! Go bloggers!

Lynn If someone didn't know what a blog was, I would tell them it's like your online Internet home where you send out letters or posts to your friends and soon-to-be friends! I used Blogger until I went to WordPress, paid side. Blogger is a little easier to use, but use the one that best suits your comfort and knowledge. However, if your aim is to have a professional looking site in the future, you will more than likely need your own domain name, which means you pay for it. Therefore, using WordPress free is easier to move your blog to the paid side. (Also) if you are going to blog, be consistent, whether you post once a month, once a week, or every day. Do what fits your schedule.

Jeff My blog is my clay, my hammer, my labor, my skill. As some drive trucks, my fingers pave the path to the cross. My blog is not just a blog; it is a ministry to elevate my Lord Jesus. It blesses others and myself. It is a privilege that I do not take lightly. My motive will be examined one day; all I ask is that I do well. God bless.

Lynn Amen, Jeff! Me, too!

Dawn A blog is short for web log. I have a couple of faith-based blogs: In Spirit and In Truth and Dawn Freeman. I use a couple of different hosting sites for my blogs---Blogger and WordPress. I believe Blogger is more user-friendly, and it's free for bloggers. WordPress is not as user-friendly to me, but it is also free unless you get the paid version. WordPress does also offer options to have a paid hosting service for blogs and/or websites. Just try out one or both of those hosting services for blogs to see which one you like the best.

Jeanne My blog is hosted on Blogger right now. Blogger is free and easy to build yourself, but I do teaching blogging workshops for hands-on help. My blog is a way of reaching my world with a message. It is a way to reach people I would not normally reach (except for) the Internet. Blogger has more capability than the free WordPress version.

Patti Writers have opinions on practically everything, and if nobody's asking for them, well, we now have a way to put the brilliance out there for the world to marvel at, use at their will, and make us feel better about ourselves! It is such a good thing – like a letter to whomever, whenever, wherever! Win! Win! And prayerfully, carefully, hopefully God is totally glorified!

Shellie I didn't "get" blogging at first. Then, I learned I could give through my blog. I could share there and give little bits which might help others. That's when I began loving blogging. We use WIX, which is not free. My husband manages it because I'm not a techie, but I love getting feedback from readers, and I love seeing what I've written shared with others. For new bloggers I'd say, take your time finding your niche. What is your core message or theme behind all you speak about or write? Find that common thread. Then, write two or three month's worth of blog posts at once. That will help you get your voice and a rhythm. Finally, set your schedule, prepare, write ahead, and stick to it. Persistence and consistency will pay off. Hope this helps!

Mary Good responses everyone! Keep it coming! Jeanne, you made a statement I'd like to know more about – that Blogger has more capability than the free WordPress site. Could you give us a for instance? I've been thinking about switching back to WordPress because I heard it could do more, but maybe bloggers always mean that the paid version does more. If so, I'll stay put. Thanks for any info you can share on the subject.

Evelyn Blogging for me is an extension of the book I'm writing. My memoir chronicles the first six months of my son’s life which he spent in a hospital. The blog shares my experience raising a child with dwarfism. I use WordPress. As far as advice, I highly recommend Michael Hyatt's book, Platform. He suggests a blog be no longer than 500 words. Use 2 to 3-sentence paragraphs. Engage your readers by asking them questions.

Cherrilynn Blogger is easy to use. A blog has a different focus. It can be someone's daily diary, educational site, musings. Mine is based on Bible scripture lived out.

Susan I used Blogspot for several years, then switched to WordPress, where my blog became one part of my website, which I like much better. (I’ve) been blogging for almost 8 years, posting 3 times a week. A couple of years ago I created "themes" to organize my blog: Mental Heath Monday, Writing on Wednesday, and Faith on Friday. I try to keep posts under 1,000 words, and I use lots of art/photos. Using tags and links to your posts on Facebook and Twitter will help draw readers to the site.

Janis I keep a poetry/writing blog at WordPress. I teach creative writing online and require my students to blog. I believe it's an important way to preserve your work and extend your audience, if that is your wish. Also, it's a fun, creative outlet. I feel like it's easy to learn, and I would be willing to mentor someone if interested.

Beth I use WordPress and (to learn more about it, I) borrowed a lot of books from the library. I watched video's and learned as I went. I still am learning.

Dorothy I haven't blogged, but I have my own website to help others and to show my poetry too -- over 30 pages now I have whole books on there and some poems.

Gail A blog is my voice – a place to share my heart and to teach. I use Blogger / Blogspot and find it very easy. They have tutorials to help you get started. Very user-friendly, and I highly recommend it to new bloggers.

Donna A blog is what the content posted makes it. I began mine on WordPress four years ago on the advice of a blogger who used it to get his started. I'm no computer program wizard, but I sprang for a paid site for my own domain name. It started as devotional/ essay posts with occasional poetry posts. When I realized my poetry drew more new readers I began just posting poetry 3 to 5 times a week. It's all Christian poetry from a female believer's point of view. My limits of understanding the ways to market my blog hampers its growth, but I'm doing what I can to write for the purpose of furthering God's kingdom.

Mary Learning time usually means down time from writing, so I went with Blogger aka Blogspot because it's Google-owned. As it turns out, that did not help catch the interest of search engines, but the blog was so easy to set up, I set up several, each with its own theme. For example, I review new Bibles on the Bible Reviewer blog and post prayer-a-phrased Bible Prayers. My blog In a Christian Writer's Life discusses various aspects of writing from a Christian perspective, while the Poetry Editor & Poetry blog focuses on poetry forms, techniques, and poets. I have a couple others, but those are my most active blogs.

Jeanne Quickly, (to answer your earlier question, Mary), the free version of Blogger gives you more options, gadgets, etc. than the free version of WordPress. And, I have found Blogger easier to navigate. I will get back to you soon, but the other WordPress is good for those who want more. I am getting ready to make the jump because I want my blog and my website under the same site. I am a newbie at WP, so I really am anxious about this but think it is time for that step.

Allie My blog is through WordPress. I look at my blog as one way to influence the world for good. Our adult Sunday school class at church is studying the effects of social media and ways we can positively affect the culture. There's so much bad out there on the net, but rather than hide our heads in the sand, individual blogs allow us to light a candle in the darkness. I focus my blog on how I see things as a mother of four, wife, Christian, recipe developer, thinker, and pastor's wife. It's not necessarily a Christian blog, although one of my goals is to help people think and logically come to right conclusions about God. I also share many poignant stories about our adventures living with our youngest son who has Down syndrome. I've always loved telling stories because truth is stranger than fiction, and humor and storytelling are a big focus of my blog. The humor wins friends and in turn gives me the relationships to say the deeper things. It seems Jesus was the Master storyteller.

Nellie I went to Blogspot because it was easy to setup, and I would recommend it for newbies like myself. I would not recommend Weebly because mine was blocked from Facebook, and I know several others who have said the same thing. My Weebly was a Christian devotional blog, so I have no idea why it was blocked. FB blamed it on Weebly, and Weebly blamed it on FB, but I like Blogspot really well.

Meredith A blog, as far as I am aware, is a good thing to have if you are a writer. It is a place to share work and build an audience for that work and can often be a springboard for other developments. I will definitely be reading other comments on this, thanks!

Mary I just discovered that Blogger does not provide access to my posts written prior to 2012! I'd saved some of those hotlinks, which I gathered onto a new post for the Poetry Editor & Poetry blog, but if I didn't record the full URL address, it's gone! Thought you all might want to know this info.

Jeanne Here is an article about vs. that might help. And this article looks at all three, Blogger, WordPress. com and Hope this helps. If you are looking for free with no ads, I suggest Blogger. The free WP doesn't allow plugins, and you do get pop up ads.

Mary Good to know. Thanks.

Lynn As a side note: if you want to use WP dot com, you can always use AdBlock.

Jeanne I will soon be going to a site because I am ready for that step. But I am feeling a little daunted by the learning curve.

Alan I used to use WordPress but found difficulty in making it look like a 3-column newspaper. Then I (set up a blog with) and kept to the free bit. Seems excellent and easy to me, though to add new items it is usually easier to pretend to edit old one first rather than add direct.

Vctory I run a Christian blog on WordPress. I chose WordPress because after much research and questions, I found out that it was one of the top platforms in the world, and they are ever improving. I am still running on the free WordPress platform intentionally.

Samuel Thank you, Mary but how to you set it up (on Blogger)? Please step by step will be very helpful.

Mary Samuel, go to the Blogger site to set up a blog and just follow their instructions.

Kate I use WordPress because my posts get circulated if I tag them properly. I purchased my domain name for $13 per year.

Jeanne Thanks, Kate . I have also bought my domain name and will have a WP site soon. I do have help from someone with the set up because I am a bit boggled by it. But, I will learn it--eventually. Blogger is a great place to start, and for some it will meet their needs quite nicely. But with my ministry I felt it was time to upgrade

Lillian A blog can be anything you want it to be! It can be about you, your writing, your life, or all of the above! I have 2 different blogs; one is for devotions, and the other is about me and my writing life. I use WordPress, but when I first started I also tried Blogger but found WordPress to be easier. That might just be me. Either one is good!

Meredith Do they bring in any kind of an income, Lillian?

Lillian I haven't tried to go that route. The purpose of the devotional site is to share God's Word. The purpose of the other is to have a place for my readers to connect with me and to learn more about my books.

Beth It can be a diary, a place to vent, tell life stories or tall tales, or even a place to gush over your favorite people, places, or things!

Mary Thank you all for your helpful responses. To make it easy for us to find this discussion again and also share with your poet-writer-friends, I'm posting this lightly edited version. God bless you all.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church. As a freelance and assignment writer for Christian and educational markets for many years, she has 27 traditionally and indie published books in all genres, 3 Kindle e-books for poets and writers, and over 1400 poems, articles, devotionals, or children’s stories. She also discusses writing and various Bible topics on several blogs as listed on the Writing Resources page of her website.

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.