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

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Interview with Christian poet and devotional writer Lisa DeVinney

Lisa, when did you know you wanted to write?

Funny thing is I never wanted to be a writer!

I was coasting comfortably along as a homemaker and mom of 6 when God stepped in and began a new thing in me. My college major was Mathematics, not Writing in any way, shape, or form. So when God began filling my head with poetry at the age of 45, it was a bit of a shock. I had no idea what to do with the stacks of poems that began filling my house, but over the past few years, God has been revealing ways in which I can minister primarily to fellow Christians through my writing.

Tell us about your published work.

I have four books that have been published by a friend I met while writing for Two are compilations of those Sunday School lessons. The other two are daily devotionals with a poem and Scripture verse for each day of the year - I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes and Rivers in the Desert. A few of my poems have also appeared in Power for Living.

Who or what inspires your writing?

Most of my poems have been directly inspired by the Bible or Bible study lessons. Others come from sermon illustrations, personal experience, and observations from nature. My Great Pyrenees has also been an occasional source of inspiration.

Does anything ever discourage you from writing?

When I take my eyes off of the Lord and begin to look at other more “successful” writers, I sometimes grow discouraged. I realize my poems are not as lyrical as most. So they don’t appeal to those who generally enjoy poetry for its depth and richness. And since my writing is poetry, it doesn’t appeal to those who shy away from the genre. But then the Lord reminds me that I’m not doing it for anyone other than Him, and I can trust Him to get it into the hands of those to whom it will be a blessing. He simply reminds me that His words never return void.

What do you hope to accomplish in your work?

I see my writing as mostly ministering to those who already know the Lord – encouraging them to draw closer to Him, bringing words of comfort based on Scripture. But I pray, too, that the Lord will also use it to draw those who are lost to Himself.

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

As a stay-at-home mom from a very small town with a very small church, I find the Internet to be an incredibly helpful tool in sharing my poems with others. It’s also the place where I met my publisher, along with many other writers who have been a great help and encouragement to me.

How can readers find your work online?

I'm on Twitter, but I spend the most visible time on Facebook where I try to check in daily. However, a large number of my poems are on my website, Lifting My Eyes, where they are arranged by topic. If readers are looking for my books, they are all available at with some listed on

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

The most helpful encouragement I can offer is something I learned at a writer’s conference this past fall. As Christian poets and writers, we’ve got to remember that we’re not only to be writing for the Lord, but we’re also to be writing with the Lord. If we’re doing it on our own, we’re missing the whole point. God gives us the gift of writing so we’ll spend more intimate time with Him, listening to His heart and following His lead. That’s what it’s all about – not the platforms or the deadlines. If those are what drive us, we are of all writers most miserable.


God wants it to be about Him, and our relationship with Him. He certainly deserves all of our focus and praise. For without Him, we wouldn’t even be able to lift a finger or form a single thought. And then He turns around and blesses us for our faithfulness. How incredible is that?!

Amazing and wonderful! Thank you so much, Lisa, for taking time to give us a glimpse of your writing life in Christ. May God continue to spill His insights into you and your work in Jesus’ Name.

© 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, August 31, 2015

Books by Christian poets and writers

QUESTION: Do you have a book that will help to build up the church Body of Christ, strengthen faith, or improve writing? If so, tell us about it.

Mary Harwell Sayler Well, I guess I'll go first. After beginning our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, I realized that many of our members didn't know how to go about getting their work traditionally published, which I still prefer, so I wrote the Christian Writer's Guide e-book and uploaded it to Kindle.

Joan Leotta The father-daughter relationship is a key one in a young woman's life. A godly father is so very important. My new book, a simple story of a father and daughter on a snow day at a park, like the book of Esther in the Bible, does not mention God specifically, but He is everywhere in it.You can order it directly from the publisher.

Lisa Kesinger DeVinney I just love devotional books to help guide me through my quiet time with the Lord. So I took 366 of my poems with the Scripture verses that inspired them and arranged them in a daily devotional book entitled Rivers in the Desert. My hope and prayer is that those reading will simply use each day's entry as a jumping off point for further study and meditation.

Joyce Lester Powell Grace for Living: Listening for the Voice of God is written to engage readers to hear God's voice through everyday observations. Page by page readers will be encouraged to stop and find God's grace in the midst of everyday life by observing the world around them and applying simple insights into God's Word.

Marian Harriso MN But I Don't Feel Nothin' is a new book just published about 2 months ago. This is a non-fiction book about a few exchanges I personally experienced with people who were hurt, misunderstood, mistreated, etc., by church folks. I added suggestions to improve leadership connections and ways to deal with those hurt feelings.

Jo Helen Cox The Bible describes God’s ways as a light burden, simple enough to teach children. Yet this contradicts what most Christians experience. That needs to change. Without complicated theology, God Makes Us Holy guides the reader through restoration, regeneration, sanctification, and resurrection. The process is not always easy, but joy comes each time we find God’s great love, abundant mercy, and willing forgiveness.

Patti J Smith The meditations in Moments With God focus on a variety of topics and are based on my own struggles.

Ginny Lieto Thanks for running this thread! Much appreciated. My book Adventures of Faith, Hope, and Charity: Finding Patience (Volume 1) is for children ages 4-8 who need to learn the value of the virtue of patience.

Mary Harwell Sayler If you all like to read poetry, I have 3 poetry books published by 2 indie publishers - nature poems for adults, nature poems for "big people," and Bible-based poems in Outside Eden, published last year by Kelsay Books.

Deborah Hutto Bateman I have written many books in the Daily Bible Reading Series. My newest release is: The Book of Psalms: Part 3 Chapters 61-90.

Carole Castagna My book, A Kiss from God, is due for release on Oct. 1st. It is a book of Christian poetry and song, the words and notes of which have been gifted to me by the Lord, so that people may come to know Him or be strengthened in their faith. The book will be sold on Amazon and self-published and processed through Kindle, so check my website. God bless each one of you.

Roxanna A Kazibwe Wow, it seems there are many poets here. I'm looking forward to reading your work as I haven't been exposed to Christian-based poetry so am super psyched to be in this group. Keep up the good work. A Kindle version of my book My Love Is Not Afraid has poetry to do with love and marriage.

Mary Harwell Sayler What an eclectic group! Thank you all for telling us about your good work. Some of the hotlinks might not translate well, so if yours didn't, please add the full URL in the Comments section below. God bless.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Christian Poets and Writers: writing routines

QUESTION: Do you have a routine for writing? What keeps you on track? What hinders your work?

Lynda I can keep writing if there are no distractions.

Brenda Sundays I make a list of what I want to do for the week. It helps to be able to see my progress as I cross items off the list. Hindrances: life in general. I'm easily distracted.

Mary Me too! Life takes time! When I’m working on a book, though, I find that having an outline or synopsis will help me to get back on track quickly.

Rosetta I usually keep myself interested in what the project is and stay focused. I like to read over my work and brain-storm new ideas. What hinders me is not staying focused!

Patti (I have) no routine, and everything hinders me now! I'm just rather "stuck," but one of these days....

Anointed Sometimes (the Holy Spirit) wakes me in the middle of the night, and I get up to write when it flows. (Also) I carry a notebook and pen at all times.

Robert I have a routine. I write every day, six days a week. Sometimes my routine gets disrupted, but habit keeps me on track. Not planning beforehand for my week often disrupts my work. By planning I mean, assigning ideas for writing on each day and jotting down an outline for each idea.

Shira My routine is sticking to a scheduled time and following through. I build momentum and continue to follow through by repetition and prayer for God's strength and direction…. I hinder my work if I allow myself to be sidetracked or lazy.

Gerald I try to write something everyday, but severe pain makes that difficult.

Mary God bless you! Other members have mentioned the hardship of writing through pain, and fatigue can be a problem, too. Moving around a bit and having a highly adjustable chair helps, but sometimes I think God is reminding me to take a break or a nap. When I sit on our deck and rest a bit, poems often come to me. Then it’s a matter of writing them down before I forget!

Pat A pen and paper helps. Having a small notebook, keeping it nearby (as) with a checkbook or calendar…. Life interrupts, but if I try to snatch the idea or line and write it down, then I'll have it later, so I can let it go for the moment and be all there in the moment. …I give up TV or sleep sometimes to play with poems. I consider it "my work" and call myself a poet working. Actually, it may be my play. However, it is important to me, so I jiggle around to make it happen. If I don't write one day, I am miserable. I find reading a poem helps me when one does not come my way. (And) I ask God for poems. He is amazing: a good giver.

Maxine I try to write each morning, but there are times recently when other things had to become first place, yet I still try to write something. Even if it’s not for my blog or my current novel, it will be used somewhere at a later time

Kathryn I write everyday. Too many projects make it hard to focus sometimes, but I try to plan my week on Monday and deal with miscellaneous things. Tuesday is blogging day. But, if something comes up, I will often miss my postings and get behind. The rest of the week is for project work. In between, I have speaking gigs and mentoring meetings randomly throughout the week, so I have to be flexible. Probably the most useful thing is to not kick myself too hard when I miss my own writing plan routine. Life happens--and it just might be fodder for my next masterpiece. God's got my schedule, so it's all good.

Mary Yes! That’s hard for me to remember when I feel on overload. Interesting that you divide your work by projects. I’m more apt to divide mine by hours in the day. i.e., If I have a book contract, I’ll start to work on it first thing and wait to check email or Internet as those hinder my writing time.

Christine Housework and children hinder (mine.) I wish I could say I had a routine right now, but not yet. I'm working on it.

Mary When my children were small, I wrote during their naptimes and, later, school hours. Sometimes I’d scribble notes while waiting in the car. Even so, things came up that needed tending as God, family, and church are my first priorities.

Patti I need a plan. Everyday, (I’m) in my chair even if it's not the same time each day (with) my list by my side. I need to plan beforehand (to) make my own routine. Oddly, I do this for my life and always have but have never done it for my writing… I've been published many times in many books and mags, have a monthly column in a Christian newspaper, and have just been "floating" here due to life, living, excuses. Time to begin again.

Mary Yes, and aren't these times like new seasons.

Robin I don't have a routine, but I did find two books at my local bookseller. One has 300 writing prompts and the other one 500…. So far, I've worked on three prompts, and for me that is something!

Wendy I seriously seek God's Word first thing. If the verse of the day doesn't inspire me, I read something else. I usually find something that speaks to me and before I know it, I have completed another post!

Sharon What helps is having a plan to write every day. What hinders is all the many things that knock plan A out the window. But what encourages is knowing that He is Lord of all and that if it's His Will for me to write, it will be done in His time. I can trust Him with it all.

Mary Amen!

Patti I actually did think about this last night and decided the plan, the daily-ness of the writing, and routine are all good, but not so that it has to be exactly the same time every day or in exactly the same way, and that mixing up my routine regularly will be okay.

Joe I'm not sure if I'd consider it a routine or not, (but) I tend to have a specific time…I write, typically at night.

Judith I can't seem to get into a good routine. I just write whenever I have time and try to make time. Usually 10pm to 2am works the best.

Robert I have two jobs, so my time is limited. I write when I can, but prayer and the Bible are my greatest inspiration.

Martha My mornings are for the gym and household chores. As I post a bi-weekly blog, I set my writing time beginning right after lunch and try to keep several days ahead of the next post. When I was finishing up my most recent novel, I wrote every afternoon without fail. Of course, before beginning any writing, I go to God in prayer that my words will glorify Him. A hindrance to my work? If I allow myself to get distracted by Facebook or email during my dedicated writing time. My suggestion to anyone who is a serious writer is to leave behind all frivolity until you've reached a reasonable goal for your writing day.

Chanda I try to blog once a week, journal daily, and work on other writings the rest of the days.

John My routine is panic at the last minute. What keeps me on track is that panic. What hinders me is procrastination, TV, apathy, and the general doldrums. Looks like I have some work to do.

Lorie My New Year’s promise…was to stop procrastinating and hold myself accountable to finish what I start. The only thing that would hinder me is my health issues when pain gets in the way with my wrist.

Joyce A messy office hinders my work. That reminds me; I need to clean today.

Mary Thank you all for your responses. And praise God for guiding us and giving us the time we need to do the writing the Lord wants us to do!

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, founder of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, and lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What Christians write for a scared and scary world

Question discussed by our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook: All over the world, people are feeling scared and worried about war, violence, and natural disasters, but, as communicators for Christ, our words can surely bring comfort and healing in Jesus' Name. So let's think about it, pray about it, and discuss some of the ways we might make our poems, books, and other manuscripts relevant and healing to those who are afraid.

Kate I would tell them what I needed to hear myself: That God has a plan. The things that frighten them are in His plan. He knows how the story ends. We just have not read that chapter yet. I would tell them that their task…is to believe. Believe what all scriptures say in Romans 8:28, Matthew 24, Revelation 22:12. Fight fear and lies, for they're our greatest enemies. Trust that God is Almighty.

Linda People are very worried about the natural and man-made disasters all around us. Whether in poetry, hymns, or other writings, it's essential to acknowledge that we all, including believers, experience terror and dread in the face of such things, but also to uplift (our readers) with hope based on the Lord's goodness and ultimate sovereignty. Our writings need to say these things to readers in a way that puts us right into each other's arms.

Oscar "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep to the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," Romans 8:35-39, King James Version (KJV.)

Meredith “How sweet amid earth's wild alarms/ to feel the everlasting arms.” Georgie Snead

Dorothy I always lead them to Jesus, but I tell the story and the need.

Crystal ...a message of peace, hope, love, and forgiveness through the power of faith in Jesus Christ.

Marie When I have experienced extremes of fear and anxiety, the only thing that helped me was when I read scripture and prayed to the Lord, asking Him to set me free from fear and worry. There are times when I would go everywhere but to Jesus, and each of those times I have always been brought back to Him as the answer for freedom! So I say, point them not only to God but His Word, the Bible, as it is the blueprint we should live our lives by.

Ola I would tell them that we have every reason to be joyful, more now than ever before in any time in history. Jesus Himself declared that when we see the world falling apart to “be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." Since our Lord has overcome the world, we have complete confidence that we too are overcomers through our faith in Him.

Coral I'm attempting to do that with my gift of the written word. I just set up a website to widen my borders. It's a tragic world. Christ is the Triumphant answer, the ONLY answer to any of it.

Glenys When her uncle was recently murdered while on holiday, I taught the 9 year-old girl in my Sunday school class a five-finger Bible verse. "I will be with you." Exodus 3:12. Just like your hand is always by your side, so also is God, no matter the circumstance. The wonderful thing was that a few weeks ago, when I had a death in the family, that little girl quoted that verse back to me.

Christine I've been doing a lot of thinking and praying on that these days as I juggle 3 current works-in-progress. As believers, I don't think we should ignore the realities going on in the world, but I do think we should lead readers to Biblical truths. I like to point out in my writing that everything the enemy intends for harm, God can use for good, as in Genesis 50:20. There are so very many wonderful truths for people to hold onto in the midst of so much suffering. But first we have to meet them where they are – and that may be in a dark, scary place.

Samuel Whatever is happening on the outside should be tackled by faith – not great faith but just simply faith in God and meditation on the word of God. With God, we can overcome the dark happenings, but without God, we are overcome with fear and panic. So God is the only Hope to our victory over darkness.

Mary Amen. Thank you all for your faith-filled responses in Christ. May God guide our work and our words in Jesus' Name.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church. Besides being an active poet, writer, and author, Mary offers one-on-one feedback on poems, devotionals, book proposals, and children’s picture book texts.

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.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Online Resources by Christian Poets and Writers

These members of our Christian Poets and Writers group on Facebook provided their full hotlinks with a brief word about the sites they maintain on the Internet. To ease your search for a particular site, the titles have been arranged alphabetically:

Ava Writes books, blog, and devotionals.

Christine Rhyner discusses infertility, adoption, and adopted kids from a Christian perspective.

Judy Davis website is on Christian living and features her books, blog, and devotions.

Dreaming Beneath the Spires intersects faith and daily life.

Every Single Dad provides parenting strategies for the single father.

For His Glory is Christ-centered, family friendly, and devoted to glorifying God and encouraging the saints to know, understand, and live our true identity in Christ.

God's Creative Gift provides inspiration, resources, and Bible studies for creative Christians and artists as well as the bio and book God's Creative Gift--Unleashing the Artist in You.

His Master Scribe empowers Christian leaders.

Joy Psalms explore biblical truths, poetry, music, and art.

Mariane Kvist Doktor, Servant and Writer is a journey in creativity and faith.

Mary-andering Creatively shows where creativity and love meet.

Mary Sayler lists her current books and writing resources for Christian poets and writers.

Pelican Promise encourages and shows that living a sacrificial life for Christ is worth it.

Pilgrim Out of Water discusses faith, family, fitness, travel, and literature.

Proverbs & Wisdom is on making choices, whether we want to or not!

Recipes for Success encourages others through pen and performances.

SecondIron is on faith-based leadership and lifestyles.

Surviving Midlife Miscarriage is a log of adventures in faith.

The Father Holds My Pen features the work of Christian poet and writer Nells Wasilewski.

The Literary Snippets of S. Robert Cyre has his poetry, short stories, essays, and humor.

The Man and The Wall aims to help people enhance their relationships with God through the difficulties He allows.

Tim Gioia's Online Brain focuses on grace, above and beyond all.

Check them out!

If you’re a member of our Facebook group or have an Internet site from a loving Christian perspective, you’re welcome to add your hotlink and a quick word about your site in the Comments section below.

May God continue to guide and bless our work in Jesus’ Name.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Writing from a Bible view

When asked how central the Bible is to their writings, many members of our Christian Poets and Writers group on Facebook had much to say!

Those responses have been combined in this post with only a few changes such as omitting last names, correcting punctuation, or adding words (as shown in parentheses) to complete a sentence. If words or phrases had to be omitted, ellipses (…) indicate that.

QUESTIONS: How central is the Bible to your writing? Do you look up scriptures or research with more than one translation? In what ways can the Bible help to unite us in Christ?

Lynn Oh, my! Since I write devotionals and inspirational stories, scripture is always central to what I write. Some devotions are filled with scripture, while a story may only include one. I do love to search all the versions to see what best fits what I'm writing. I couldn't write unless it's based on scripture.

Keren My writing is peppered with scripture. I tend to stick to one or two translations.

Stan I always use The Bible, directly and indirectly. I prefer the NKJV (New King James Version) translation, so I don't always check others, but I do occasionally. The Holy Bible is the only written Word of God… explaining "God's Free Gift of Salvation"…found through Jesus Christ.

Diane Wow, great questions that will generate helpful responses. Each vignette in my 40-day devotional, "My Resurrected Heart: A Codependent's Journey" ends with Scripture related to that day's story. I used the NKJV, NLT (New Living Translation), The Message, CEB (Common English Bible), and others in the final draft. I love how scriptures come alive in our everyday life.

Kathi The Bible is totally the center of my writing. I often search other translations…for one that best conveys my point. Mary, you asked what ways the Bible can help us unite in Christ. I think of a passage I've prayed for myself and my family (from) Ephesians 1:17-19 -- that God would give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened to know the hope, riches, and power…. Ultimately, it's God's Word that speaks to us and unites us – not our messages to each other.

Mary Sayler Yes! Thank you for mentioning that.

Karin The Bible is absolutely essential to my writing since I write devotionals and Bible teaching articles. Yes, I do look up verses from several different translations to get a better understanding of the verse. I also look up words in the Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. The Bible will help unite the Body of Christ as we all strive to understand and obey it.

Mary Sayler Amen!

Marylou Without the Bible, I wouldn't be the person I am. Not that I am anywhere near perfect, but without God's word in my heart, how could my writing reflect the truth?

Ernesto The Bible is my story, and all my stories are part of God's bigger story.

Lorraine Without the Bible I wouldn't be writing. It is definitely essential.

Sue Without the Bible and God's amazing grace, His unstoppable love, and His mercy, I would have no reason to write. I write devotions and articles to inspire people about God's love for them.

Joy It's essential. Without it, my writing is just words.

John After one eats a meal, it becomes life to them, it becomes a part of them, and the nutrition that is taken in…. The same is true with the word. As we…get it down deep inside us it becomes a part of who we are; it is life unto us. This is where my writings come from. They flow out of me because they are a part of who I am inside. The research is already done and has been proven through life itself. At that point, It is more then just words or teachings from the word; it is life, and who I am.

Fran We need the scriptures to feed our readers.

Theresa I love these writing prompts and being a part of this group. I just want to say that I am so encouraged here. Thank you for this group.

Mary Sayler Thank you for being part of it!

Theresa I am convinced that the word washes our hearts and aligns our mind. The more I intake the word, the purer I find my writing and writing process to be. Even when what comes out doesn't sound like paraphrased scripture, the essence and heart of scripture is there. There is no doubt that the Bible is the best accumulation of content concerning the character, will, heart and mind of God.

1. Therefore, to be intimate with the Bible in the midst of a yearning heart is also a form of intimacy with God. I am discovering that the more time I spend in the Word, the more intense my voice for God becomes -- whether it comes out through (writing) sermons, songs, poetry, devotions, blogs or even developing the administrative vision for ministry. It literally affects every aspect of my scribal ministry. For me, it's that central.

2. I use the Complete Jewish Bible for my studies primarily. It is the combination of a functional and formal translation with a twist: It presents the scriptures from a Hebraic perspective... breaking bearers in my understanding that are centrally westernized. I tend to also use two formal translations as well: NKJV and ASB. I lean more toward wanting to grasp the original intent of the scriptures and then working my way out from there when writing Bible studies or scripture-based blogs.

3. The Bible unites us in Christ... by revealing God's heart for his reunion with mankind. I try to read it as a love story from beginning to end instead of an instruction manual of dos and don'ts.

Mary Sayler Oh, I love that! God's love story....

Vicky (The Bible) is the crux of every word I write. The desire to glorify God and draw others to Him motivates all my writing. When it doesn't, I fail.

Ian The Bible is the only source of absolute truth on earth (because) it is the word of God. If I don't cite it directly, it is the philosophy underneath everything I write.

Christopher I don't always look up passages, but it's in nearly everything I write one way or another.

Ashley My writing usually comes from being inspired or learning something new while reading. I usually use the NLT, and then read the KJV because I like to look up the words' original meaning in Strong's Concordance.

Mary K. I use the Bible concordance to find prompts for my poetry. I am completing a series on my blog now.

Deborah (The Bible) is central to all of my Daily Bible Reading Lessons. I usually start with the KJV of the Bible and then use other versions and concordances for clarity.

Nellie I look up scripture in many translations. God's word is key in everything I do, whether it be writing or other things. Reading the Bible is the central truth behind our whole belief. If we are to be united, then we must know and practice the commands set forth in the Bible.

Joy As Christian poets and writers, the Bible is the ballast and wisdom of our days, Holy Spirit breath speaking inspiration into our ways, and the bulwark against selfish ambition and self-motivated works as we commit words to page. A variety of translations aid deeper understanding and offer a fresh perspective to the text.

Patti Ditto everybody! It's me 'n Him, and Him 'n me--I know no other way to be! How could I write, without his Words? Why, that would be the most absurd! They breathe the life, the sorrow, joy to everyone, each girl, each boy. It's just the way it really is--God's wrapped inside, my writing biz!

SafetyNet Mary, it is an interesting question. My E-Prayers always spring for a Biblical text.

Annie As for me The Word of God or the Bible… is my Life and lifestyle. Therefore, it is central in my writing and the things I do. Yes, indeed, I look at many translations when I am studying, reading, writing, and preparing to minister.

Barbara Jesus is the Word so not sure you need much more than that to help us unite with Christ. Yes, I look up verses and sometimes more than one translation. (The Bible) is central to my writing.

Linda If the Lord hadn't shaped my relationship with him through scriptural dialogue, I wouldn't be a writer at all. I mean, what else is really worth writing about (directly or indirectly)? I use the Bible a great deal in my writing. It's the ultimate writing prompt, full of themes and evocative phrases for poems, hymns, and devotions, and of course sermons and Bible studies. I study the Bible as a resource to portray biblical people and situations authentically in my dramas, which I consider to be important even when drawing them into fictional premises. I often compare multiple translations on Bible Gateway, especially to find just the right phrasing for a hymn. I love it when people share scripture verses to encourage one another. I don't love it when people wield scripture verses as a weapon of reprimand.

Walter Even in my sportswriting field, I use the Bible more than most, but in my personal writings, it is one of the most used references.

Popeye I never write without it -- blogs or books. Personally, I'm enjoying Eugene Peterson's The Message Bible.

Regina Two NIV (New International Version) translations, the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, Amplified Bible, Strong's Concordance, Strong's Concordance online, Bible Gateway, and Biblehub are all around me and at my fingertips when I'm writing my blog posts, the book I just had published, and my stories for The Hand of God show.

Gary I use several translations. (The Bible) is the foundation from which I write, even though my article may be about incidents or something not even pertaining to Scripture. I try to keep in mind its "soundness," and I use Google a lot in searching for verses.

Dawn Even when not quoting a specific scripture, …I read and meditate on the Word (because) it infuses my writing…. I am grateful for the web for making scripture so easily accessible in a hurry, although I love my concordance and paper Bibles best!

Mary Sayler Me too, but for my favorite translations, I love quality leather covers. They endure longer than paperbacks but also stay open on my desk.

Prayer S. There are those who say this translation or that is the only one which should be consulted, but unless we are able to read the original texts, whatever we read is a translation. Any attempt to translate is subject to the comprehension and interpretation of the translator. Whichever translation we consult, as we read, we ourselves must interpret and subsequently discern the the meaning and truth within the scripture.

If we are confused as we consult different translations, we must remember John 14:26. Before we read, we should pray the Holy Spirit reveals to our heart the truth of the message of God which He intended. Before we write, we should pray the Holy Spirit will guide us so that we may help share, reveal, reinforce, and not obscure His truth. Blessings to all who see these words, and may His peace and love be with you all.

Mary Sayler And also with you!

Wanda All of my books are based on Bible scriptures…. I read both the King James Version, and the NIV. The Bible instructs us to follow Christ, if we obey the Bible we are united with Christ.

Janiece The Holy Spirit is… my own guideline. He directs me where I need to go by His Word, circumstances, or events in my life and others. I learn and grow from others and from His word, and then I give it to the world.

TR I like comparing about a dozen versions. The easiest way to do this is with Bible software. The commercial programs are very good, but there are also some really good free ones. I have used eSword and liked it very much. Currently I am hooked on the Word Bible Software.

Gil I have recently returned to the KJV for another go round with the scriptures. I have used the NIV, the NKJV, the NEV (New English Version), and NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) for years but have been part of a KJV study group for some time now. I am also studying Apocryphal works.

Mary Sayler Me too.

Cynthia Recently I have been reading the new Passion Translation, beautifully done and poetic, but translated from Aramaic and old Hebrew, by Brian Simmons. The comparison I am doing is with NLT and NKJV. He calls the Book of Psalms “Poetry on Fire,” but the Bible is central to my writing as Jesus is central to my faith. …The only way I know that true unity will ever exist (is) with Jesus the Center.

SafetyNet Scripture is always my kick off point for my daily E-Prayers.

Philip I use and highly recommend the New American Standard Bible for study, but the KJV is necessary for use with the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance as it "keys" its numbers off of the KJV. I also recommend the use of Vine's Greek Expository, the Interlinear Bible, which is a translation of the Masoretic Text and Textus Receptus from the original Hebrew and Greek into English, the Matthew Henry Commentary, The Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus, the New Unger's Dictionary and Bible Handbook, Lectures in Systematic Theology by Henry Thiessen, and, of course, the Thompson Chain Reference KJV.

Lynn I use most of those plus Thayer's and others in my Bible program. I love all the resources!

Cynthia On the subject of unity, I believe Jesus wanted us to continue in one focus regardless of the translation, denomination, or doctrine. He wanted us to focus on learning how to love one another – first to let Him love us and then to love others – as we have been freely given, then give. My mind plays connect the dots often with all that He said and all that He is to me. If you will follow my train a moment: Beginning in the beginning, God said let there be light, (Jesus is the light.) When God said Let there be and there was, His word was true (Jesus is the word of God made flesh.) Jesus is the truth, the life, the way, and nothing made was not made without Him. Everything God said, Jesus is. God is Love, and Jesus demonstrated that Love by His suffering and dying. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.We are the creative masterpiece that is the object of His Love.

Life is not just to be born. Life is to be connected by His love, to be transformed into the image and likeness of His Son, to be His sons and daughters. We are family and that makes us all connected. Unity is to maintain a connection of Love from the heart of God, and to maintain that connection no matter what. Disconnection causes disunity just as discouragement causes a loss of courage. Disunity is the loss of the connection of Love with each other and with our Father who is Love.

From Genesis to Revelations, He is saying over and over: Come to me. I love you. And you kids (need to) love each other and get along.

Philip Cynthia, you have spoken well the truths we find (as in John) that Jesus is "The Word," that He is "The Light," and that our first, best duty is to love the Father of whom we now are truly His (our "Abba's") children! Then to love others as we love ourselves. As Paul admonishes in I Corinthians, no matter what we do or who we are, without love we are nothing!

(We need) to "root" ourselves in love – that Agape love that God's Spirit sheds within our hearts, that we may be fruit-bearing branches of the "true vine" of Jesus. And what fruit would that be? The "fruit of the Spirit" - love, kindness, peace, tolerance (forbearance) of others, gentleness, and self-control. How did Christ say we would be recognized as His followers? By our love! "We" are now His body, imbued with the power of His Spirit that the ministry of Christ to all the world continues until His return!

Mary Sayler Amen! Thank you all for your valuable responses. May your words join The Word in your writings, and may our lives join as One Body in the fellowship and love of Jesus Christ.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, who began the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts. She’s the poet-author of 27 books in all genres for Christian and educational markets and wrote the e-book, the Christian Writers’ Guide to writing and publishing. Mary also reviews new editions and translations of the Bible on the Bible Reviewer blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Writing to serve others in Jesus' Name

Thanks to Ashley Ormon, we recently had this helpful discussion in our interactive Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook:

Ashley: What are ways we can use our writing to serve others, besides posting on our blogs?

Robin One thing I've done is taken three of my best poems and printed them out in bookmark form. I give them as little gifts to bless new parents and grandparents.

Janiece (We can serve others through) prayer, writing letters to them, and creating new things like Scriptures printed out with a design to give to them on Christmas or a poem that is Christ-like

Timothy Two things to add to the mix: (1) the waning, but still with us, medium of the print newspaper, specifically, the letter to the editor, which is often less than uplifting, so perhaps we can make a mark there; and the guest column in the religion section; and (2) the advocacy letter to elected representatives. Again, this is an area that is often highly politicized, but where Christian love and truth can be expressed in a winsome way by writers who have the gift of the Spirit, know Scripture, and know the Lord.

Heather Write a book. Write a Bible study. Send a note of encouragement to someone. Write a thank-you letter complimenting the service they have done for the Kingdom.

DavidAnn (We can serve by) building up, encouraging, and showing the Love of God through our testimonies. Glory Hallelujah!

Judy I have left copies of my books in motels, restaurants, cruise ship libraries, dr. offices, and other places. You never know who may need to read what you have written, and many people will never pick up a Bible.

Heather (We can write stories about) characters who are flawed, because we are and God isn't.

Joyce For me, the purpose of writing is to encourage, inspire, and remind others that the love, mercy, and grace of God is available to all who are willing to accept His gift and that He can meet every need. Therefore, I pray to be sensitive to those who are in the midst of life's battles. I give away more books than I sell and am blessed when told a certain devotional has touched someone or made a difference in a personal situation. For me, prayer is priority in making sure that I never forget that it is all about HIM and never about me. Prayer is key in ministering through our writing.

Mary Yes and amen!

Ian I think we can tell stories that enlighten the lost to biblical thinking.

Dr Wilma Thanks for this encouragement and confirmation to tell our story and how God brought us through and the importance of overcoming.

Marie I have read things I have written to others particularly my elderly lady friends - "my Grandmas" - or to young children. I have even had a session with a group at my church where I joined "my Grandmas" in how to write poetry! We approached it from different angles and even gave an exercise where they wrote their own poetry.

Barbra I used to write long letters to older friends, and they said they looked forward to them.... I would also like to do devotionals.

Robert Tackling the endeavor of writing a type of compilation or some literary work for publication is a good idea. Creating poetry and vocalizing it at local poetry slams/events are becoming more common is some cities. That would be a witty and simple way to evangelize in an arena other than a church-related event where reciting our purposeful poetry would be like preaching to the choir, so to speak.

Cynthia We have a coffee shop meet for all writers, usually poetry, and not all (are) Christians. It gives you a chance to hear what is important to the world and gives them a chance to see Jesus in your work.

Patti I love God for giving me a gift of words to bless others. I don't take it for granted but am thrilled every time I can combine it with simple calligraphy (as done for the past 30 years), and it makes me happy and hopefully pleases the Lord!

Ian To reveal the Christian worldview... (in) literature

Shanna I write for a few ministries as a volunteer.

Mary Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. If our words uplift, our writing can serve others even through a Post-A-Note. It's not the form of publication that matters so much as what we're writing about and why. For instance, if we're writing to express ourselves with no thought for our readers – as happens to most of us in the beginning - the impact will be much different than if we're writing, say, a how-to.

As Christian poets and writers, we have the responsibility and privilege to draw readers to Christ and the church, but too often we see rants! If we only point out the problems in the church and offer no workable solutions, then we contribute to the problem. And if we come down hard on our readers or try to shake them into knowing Christ, we've lost them. With love and prayers and a little humor, our writings can work wonders in Jesus’ Name.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, who began the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts. She’s the poet-author of 27 books in all genres for Christian and educational markets and wrote the e-book, the Christian Writers’ Guide to writing and publishing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good writing guidance from Christian poets and writers

Poets and writers often have helpful tips and advice to pass on to their writing peers, and so began this discussion in our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook:

QUESTION: What suggestion do you most want to give other Christian poets and writers?

Dudley Never give up on your dream. Everyone has to start with that first word. Remember the only words lost are those never written.

Karin I want to encourage Christian writers to follow the instructions in Romans 12:1-2. I believe that if we strive to put on Christ in our everyday lives, we'll be more full of the Lord's presence, and the fruit will pour onto our notebook pages and computer screens.

Nellie Listen very carefully to what God is telling you. If your inner voice says write it down, then do so. Watch for road signs from God along the way, and write, write, write.

Habakkuk 2:2 (ESV) “And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it’.”

Joy Write from your heart. It's risky, but vastly more rewarding.

Terry Don't get discouraged when you don't sell a lot at first. Remember that we write for more than money and remember that it takes time for people to discover your writing gift.

Judy Be led by the Spirit. Study the Word of God, study the craft of writing, and pray, seeking God's direction.

Sandy We are followers of Christ and children of God first and foremost. The gifts and talents God has given us are to be used for His glory and to bring lost souls to Christ. Whether we are paid or not, we should stay true to God's word and the Great Commission in our writing.

Stan Let God flow through your fingertips, and He will do the rest!

Marie Always seek the Lord as you write in both prayer and study. If writing poetry as I do, use prayer and praise as a conduit for writing. Be genuine in your written word as in speech and life.

Edie In a somewhat different direction than the posts above – one of the things I wish I had done earlier in my writing was to get publishing credits in secular publications as well as Christian publications. There are some excellent opportunities in the secular publishing world, but secular publishers are a little leery of hiring someone who may have lots of experience, but only in the Christian market. I suspect that some think that Christian publishing requires less skill than secular. Maybe they fear that Christian writers lack the kinds of skills needed in their particular area of publishing. In any case, it's a lot easier to get into secular publications once you have some good secular credits in your resume.

Patti Oh, you dear Godly writers! Everybody, never lose your first love! Keep the wonderment, the passion, the fun, the joy of it all in your very being, and it will show in your writings.

Cynthia I think the best advice I can give any writer is that first of all he/she must realize that writing is a gift from God, a gift we continue to sharpen and use, to bless and touch others with the sole purpose of giving glory to God. The result would be joy for us as writers and for the readers.

Aleshia Allow the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct you when it comes to delivering your gift of writing. Always remember that those words that flow and manifest out of you come from the Spirit of the Lord Himself. We are vessels of honor unto the Lord, and it is an honor and privilege to be blessed with such a beautiful gift. Words have the power to heal, touch, and lead to one's deliverance. Words encourage and plant seeds of faith. Words have life. Let your words be live and active. Let your words penetrate deep down into the souls of others to revive and give hope. Let your words inspire. Let your words be a light in the midst of darkness. In all things, as we grab our pens, our papers, and we begin to brainstorm for our next pieces of writing, allow the Lord's spirit to flow through you to be a blessing unto others!

Glenys If God gives you a dream, an idea, the inspiration to write, never give up on that dream. Once you have started writing, finish it. God cannot use half a poem, half a song, or half a book. And Noah could not have sailed in half an ark.

Stan Don't wait until YOU find yourself in your own "belly of a fish" because YOU have not done what God Commands YOU to do with your Spiritual Gifts.

Marylou My suggestion is to be careful of your title. Some people write a Christian themed story. Then, mistakenly thinking they will get greater readership, they (use) an offensive title. Don't offend God. It is a mistake.

Diana Don't give up.

Nissa Work on your craft. Lots. Also, don't expect the same book to be a 'hit' both with secular audiences and Christian readers. Secular readers these days contain a large number who won't tolerate a hint of Christian content and will find the mere mention of your personal faith (on a FB page or the like) as reason to not read…. Wary Christians on the other hand like to know that you are a Christian author or that your book has Christian values before they'll try anything of yours. Pick your audience and write for that audience.

Chanda Don't give up no matter what! Persevere!

Rita Be Patient! (Writing) is truly a LABOR of love.

Joyce Wonderful words of wisdom have been given. I would add to those that we should be skillful in what we do. Know the rules of grammar and punctuation, know how to capture the imagination in fiction and capture the heart and spirit in non-fiction, and above all else spend much time in prayer.

Anne Push through the hard parts. Just keep going one word after another. I have to say, there were times it was so difficult when I was writing my memoir..., but I kept going with it. And God blessed me with the stories that were underneath the pain. If I had given up, they would still be hidden.

The suggestion I would give other writers would be prayerfully seeking God's help and expecting the Holy Spirit to show up and direct your thoughts and continue to direct you until your writing is complete. Rest in Him, listen to Him, and just let the Spirit of God flow through you.

TK Write in the spirit of compassion and trust in your story. If it’s given from God then others will be blessed by your works. Instead of trying to write as another, simply utilize the gift or gifts that God has endowed you with and they will expand your borders.

Matthew 5:16: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Letina Always let your writing be guided by your love of Christ. It should point the way to the cross and Christ.

TR Write in a manner that finds people where they are but does not leave them there.

Mary Excellent! Once again, you all have a diverse range of helpful responses. You've touched so many bases, I'll just add my thought that started this group:

As CHRISTIAN poets and writers, we have the unique opportunity to influence others FOR Christ and the church and to build up the WHOLE Body of Christ -- not just the individual parts (aka denominations.) If you have a concern about a church denomination, try memos, phone calls, letters, prayers, but please, please, please do not attack any part of the Body of Christ in public writings.

We're in troubling times, and Christians all over the world need to band together as ONE Body, acknowledging our ONE Lord Jesus Christ, and encouraging readers to love and forgive ONE another. Your words can help! Your words can make a difference! And, oh, what a tremendous impact we can have together -- as ONE in Jesus' Name.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, who began this discussion and the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts. She’s also the poet-author of 26 books in all genres for Christian and educational markets

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Interview with book reviewer Valerie Caraotta

Valerie, your work as a book reviewer brings tremendous encouragement to Christian poets and writers! I want to thank you for that and ask you about the projects you’re working on now.

I am currently reviewing a memoir of an individual who succumbed to drugs and an ungodly lifestyle but through Christ was able to overcome these setbacks. She lives today with a powerful anointing to give back to others.

Who or what inspires your writing?

My writing is inspired by a deep yearning to both encourage and expose good authors. One of my spiritual gifts is the gift of exhortation, and as I matured in Christ, I found that, in addition to the spoken word, the written word is a powerful tool to help encourage and build up. In the busy world we live in, encouragement is often lacking, and I firmly believe that in Christ there is a great feeling of fulfillment when we give of ourselves toward others.

My book reviews are voluntarily done with no strings attached but a love to help. I seem to get more rewarded each day by the blessings the Authors send through the inspired word.

What do you hope your reviews will accomplish?

My hope is that my writing will not only encourage Authors but serve as a platform for readers to further inquire into their work and hopefully benefit from all the Author has to offer. An introduction of one’s work can possibly be a step toward a breakthrough in another person’s life.

What do you most like to read?

I especially enjoy reading Christian nonfiction that informs us of Biblical aspects of practical living, and I enjoy reading memoirs, too, as many have great success stories despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I have recently been reading some fictional works with wonderful Christ-centered themes.

How does the Bible affect your work as a writer?

The Bible is the framework by which I center a lot of my writing. I certainly do not boast of great ability as a writer, and I have no formal training, but I do draw upon Scriptural verses and their application as the Lord gives me insight.

I begin each reading with the heart and prayer that the Lord will expose to me His heart and how to best reflect it. His insights and inspiration have sometimes amazed me with perspectives I have been allowed to see.

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

Christian Authors have a message(s) that will point others to Christ through various angles. I love to expand on themes I see emerging and present a piece to audiences who will ponder the goodness of God and have a thirst to seek Him more on an intimate level. We serve the only true God, and by pointing one closer to Christ, since He knows our making, He is able to finish the good work begun in us.

What helpful suggestions or encouragement can you offer other Christian poets or writers?

I believe seeking God first is paramount to success in gaining greater vision and perspective in one’s writing. I firmly believe Christian inspiration can take on new levels through prayer and disciplined Bible reading. Satan would love to make us feel we are too busy to set aside time for God, but God honors us when we put Him first. I have felt and put it to the test in my own life that, when we trust God, we are able to accomplish much more in less time. His revelations and inspiration are far greater than what our finite minds can produce. Before great breakthroughs occur, discouragement and setbacks can get us off the correct advancing path.

Before we close, tell us where we can find your reviews online.

On my Amazon page

Thank you, Valerie, for giving us a glimpse into your work. To encourage you and your reviews, I hope readers will click “Yes” when the Amazon site asks, “Was this review helpful?” Your reviews have surely helped me.

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Prayers for 2014

Thank God and Michael Monica for this prayer list with its highly appropriate requests for Christian poets and writers to make throughout the year:

First, that I will live a life worthy of the calling I have received.

Second, that God is glorified by everything I do and say.

Third, that God will open necessary doors as I continue to meet local pastors.

Fourth, that God will open the necessary doors for a faith community.

Fifth, that God will give me the boldness to step out in faith and reach out to others, in person, and build community.

Sixth, that God will begin to shape his vision and plan for my life.

Seventh, that God will bring unity of Spirit and unity of mind to those with whom I interact.

Eighth, that God will allow honor to flow and that a culture of honor develops in this area.

Ninth, that God will provide the financial assets and the resources needed to accomplish community for his glory.

Finally, that God will continue to bless and move in and through the Church and continue to be glorified as the Kingdom of God is advanced mightily.

[Note from Mary: You can find Mike's full article on his Beyond the Walls blog.]


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Writing and publishing in any genre

Pray for God’s guidance in using the gifts you've been given.

Read, read, read well-written works in your genre.

Notice what draws you to each poem, story, article, or book.

Study publications you like to read. Get familiar with the magazines, e-zines, journals, and book catalogues of publishers whose work you like.

Look for gaps in the market that your writing might fill.

Plan your work before you begin. Decide on a theme, purpose, and reading audience.

Research each topic thoroughly.

Outline each article or nonfiction book. Write a synopsis of your novel in present tense.

Let your writing flow without criticizing yourself. Let it rest. Later read the pages as if someone else had written them.

Identify each problem. When you see a problem, you’ll most likely see a solution too.

Revise your poems or manuscript as needed before sending it to one editor at a time.

Follow writers’ guidelines carefully as you submit your work. When using the postal service for a submission, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) to cover its potential return.

Keep track of where, when, and to whom you sent your work.

While you’re waiting to hear from the editor, query other editors about your next idea.

Start researching and planning another project.

If your work comes back, consider getting professional feedback on your poems or manuscript.

For poems, poetry chapbooks, books of poems, children’s picture books, and book proposals of full-length novels and nonfiction books, my website describes various options for feedback at the same fees I’ve charged for 30 years.

May God bless and guide your good work in Jesus’ Name.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jesus prays for Christian poets and writers

The Daily Bible Readings accepted by most denominations often include Bible prayers that I prayer-a-phrase for the blog, Bible Prayers, Poems, and Promises. Today, however, two prayers arose in the readings: one from Daniel, which, Lord willing, will go into the above blog, and one from the Gospel of John, which speaks for us as Christian Poets and Writers.

In His lasting prayers on earth, Jesus prayed for us, His followers, asking God to be in our words and in those who believe because of our words. So I encourage you to read the whole chapter and, indeed, all of the “High Priestly Prayers” Jesus prayed between the Last Supper and the Cross.

May Jesus' prayers help us to love our readers and one another and empower us to write in Jesus' Name.

Father, My prayer is not only for those who follow Me
(and speak for Me and write for Me.)
I pray also for all who believe in Me because of their words.

May they all be one.
Just as You are in Me and I in You, may they be one in Us,
and may (their readers) also believe that You have sent Me.

I have given them the glory You gave Me –
the spirit of wonder that comes to them as one –
I in them and You in Me,
so, united, they can show the world,
who will then know
by their words
that You sent Me to love them
as You love Me.

Father, I want everyone You have given Me to be with Me
(in truth, in spirit, in heavenly places, in love) –
wherever I Am
and to see
all You have given Me – the glory of Your love given
before the world began!

Righteous Father, the unrighteous people of the world
do not know You,
but I know You, and My followers surely know
that You have sent Me.

I have made You known to them,
and I will keep on making You known to them,
so that the love You have for Me may be
in their work and words
as also You are and
I Am.

© 2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, prayer-a-phrase of today’s Gospel reading in John 17:20-26


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Christian Poets and Writers now on Facebook and LinkedIn

Christian Editors and Publishers belong in this group, too, as we work to address traditional print publishing trends and needs and the many forms of media outreach available to us in song lyrics, contemporary hymns, POD (print-on-demand) books, publishing co-ops, e-books, Kindle books, Nook books, blogs, websites, pamphlets, booklets, newsletters, church bulletins, postcards, love notes to our families, Post-A-Notes on the refrigerator, and anything else God brings to mind.

On Facebook, the Christian Poets & Writers Group can especially help us to get to know one another and encourage each other as we post links to our work or invitations to upcoming events where we plan to speak about Christian publishing, lead writing workshops, do poetry readings, or something else that gets our word out there about The Word.

On LinkedIn, the Christian Poets & Writers Group gives us more room to talk about the many aspects of our work or writing ministries. We can also Post Jobs. Post hotlinks each week in the Promotions section, and pose questions or topics that will interest most members for Discussions.

Joining is free, of course, and prayers appreciated!

May God continue to guide and bless us in all we are meant to do.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christian Poets and Writers, past and present

Past and present, Christian poets and writers influence our thinking, strengthen our faith, encourage Christian unity and community, and deepen our roots in Jesus Christ, The Vine in Whom all Christians live and grow.

In all times and places, Christian poets and writers also help to carry on the work of the church, which is just as important today as in the time of Paul and the other Apostles of Christ.

How do we do this? We ask God to give us a larger view – Christ’s view – of the work we can do to communicate faith, instruct believers, and build up the church around the world.

Working together, in the winsome, ecumenical Holy Spirit of love, we can make a difference! Our poems and writings will have a powerful impact as we stay connected to Christ and one another. Hopefully, these resources will help:

To pray timeless prayers with Bible people and claim the promises and strength of Holy Scriptures, follow the Bible Prayers blog.

To consider the holistic (body, mind, and spirit) healing power of Jesus Christ, follow Christian Healing Arts.

To connect your Christian writing life with other Christian poets and writers, follow In a Christian Writer's Life blog.

To discover poetry techniques, forms, and styles that can help you take your poems to a literary level that might even appeal to secular readers, follow The Poetry Editor blog.

To keep up with other Christian poets and writers – past and present – follow this blog! And, if a Christian poet or writers – past or present – has written poems, stories, devotionals, or other writings that greatly influenced you, let us know in the Comments space below or contact Mary Sayler.

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.