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

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, Crosswalk.com, 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, 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

Friday, July 10, 2015

If Jesus had a blog, what would He post?

The above title repeats a question considered by members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook. As you read the responses, notice if any remarks aim to gain your attention. If so, that could be the Lord’s leading you toward what you’re to write! May God guide us as we think about what Jesus might write about today:

Robert The Beatitudes.

Paul Parables - a Teacher or Rabbi teaches.

Keren Oh, I like Paul's idea, and not just because I am blogging parables and fables this year!

Helena The Word!

Sharon Beth The Truth in ordinary situations and yes, I like the idea of parables, too.

Jewell That we should love one another: Put aside pride and self-righteousness, let go of legalism, and simply love one another.

Susan (Jesus might say) "Hi, Friends!!!"

Linda Jesus would post "I love you” to the moon and back - always and forever!

Marla Write what is right: You will know them by their love. Do not judge. Keep your heart clean. Put on the mind of the anointing.

Annie Oh, my that is a great and mighty question. Well, He would say “I Am is always speaking to you and desires for you to listen intently with understanding. Now go do what I have spoken.”

Lisa Such a great question! Wouldn't that be awesome, if He'd just step in now and then with a post? I like the parable suggestion, but I'd be happy with anything. Can you imagine the day when we can sit around His throne and listen to Him speak throughout eternity?

Christine The Beatitudes come to my mind.

Samuel He could post about love because He is Love. There is so much hate everywhere, so He could post about love to make a distinct difference between love and hate and show us how to love everyone despite who they are and what they have.

Crystal Wow! I would say that He would speak on Eternal Life because He is just that, LIFE.

Donna I came to post the same thing Samuel. Love is the only way – love for God, love for self, love for others.

Samuel I have seen Christians without love, but who then do they represent? Christ? I don't think so. Jesus is Love and Love is Jesus. Without Love we can't receive from Jesus. Everything about Jesus is Love.

Dawn (Jesus might post about) the adulteress woman (See John 8:1-12); The Samaritan woman (See John 4:1-42.)

Cherrilynn (He might say) “be back later – having lunch with the harlots, drunkards and wayward and teaching them I love them and to follow Me."

Glenys I pondered this same question myself a couple of years ago in a post on my Children's Ministry website.

Joyce "Come unto Me, and I will make you fishers of men. Love Me and love others.”

Pamela Rose I think He would regularly have "I Love You" kind of stuff (posted on His blog.)

Marshel Would He "like" anything you posted? Would He have to unfollow you due to the ungodly things read or seen on your page?

Beckie Jesus would post the truth.

Julien So would His people.

Harry He would say "You might claim to like Me, but I know the truth. If you really liked Me you'd follow My commandments."

Joyce “I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11. More in number than the sand are God's thoughts toward us. His thoughts and ways are greater than our own. We cannot comprehend His intentions and actions out of His wisdom, yet He thinks of us. He has thought about us from the very beginning of time. He has not forgotten us, and He is aware of everything we do. He is even aware of where we are at all times. He says,“I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you.” His eyes and hands have been toward us. Everything has been arranged for us to enjoy. His intentions and actions are toward us. He fights against our faults and works things toward His good. David once said, “I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinks about me.” He thinks thoughts of peace toward us. He offers us His salvation and eternal life. He remembers us night and day. He prepares us a future and a hope with Him. He shows us His mercy and compassion.

Marla You can read His blog in the Bible!

Lisa Marla, you're so right!

Samuel Marla, that’s a perfect answer.

Ibidun I love Marla's response! (And) Jesus would blog everyday about love because God is love. He would conquer every barrier with love.

Kelly Parables

David "Come unto me all ye that are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest."

Eileen I was just about to post the same verse, David!

Carole Jesus would say: "I am the Resurrection and the Life."

Judith “Follow Me, and love one another.”

Linda I'd love it if Jesus would tweet a verse of scripture every day to bring it to everyone's attention, and then use His blog to explain its meaning to us dense humans – as He had to explain His parables to His disciples – and apply it very clearly and unequivocally to the life issues of our day. Wouldn't it be fantastic to squelch the disputes over what would Jesus really do and what does the Bible really say?

Marla Jesus' blog: John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever-lasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Linda I think of what Henri Nouwen said, “I love you because I love you because I love you.”

Ginny “Be not afraid!”

Patti (Jesus’ blog would have) messages of love, hope and compassion.

Mary Right on! And write on! May the Lord give us the topics to address and words to speak for Christ as we blog in Jesus’ Name.


©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, founder of the Christian Poets & Writers group, and lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interview with poet, writer, lay minister Tim Good aka Tiwago aka The Naked Alien


Tim, I enjoy seeing your posts on the Christian Poets & Writers group page on Facebook and notice other members “Like” your poems and postings too. Tell us about your work.

A couple of years ago, I joined a Facebook Group called Agalliao where people share their spiritual poetry. Periodically, an anthology is created and publishes of some of those works, and I have been blessed to have had three poems published in each of the first four volumes. Volume 4 is currently available at Amazon.

It has also been an honor to see some of my work highlighted on this blog, and my Naked Alien faith blog is sometimes re-blogged in Methoblog. Besides my blog, Photography by Tiwago, some of my nature photographs have been published in online magazines or print. It is a special joy to see something that came from within you out there for the world to see.

Who or what inspires your writing?

Much of my poetry (especially the haiku) is inspired by nature and often complements my nature photography. I am a professional conservationist, yet nature also touches my soul and brings me into a closer relationship with God. It gives me a better understanding of the concepts of stewardship and environmental justice. Sometimes, an event is so painful that I grab a pen to let it bleed for me.

My religious writing is inspired by the humanity of the Bible and the events in the daily news - and how the two relate to each other. I am strongly moved by the pathos of the Psalms and strive for that same realism and honesty in a modern context.

You achieve that too! So tell us: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I have always enjoyed reading and playing with words. I was a sarcastic clown as a child who loved puns and one-liners. I enjoyed writing essays in school, but after years of working in the government where creative writing is frowned upon, I lost that joy. It was not until I started blogging that I had an outlet. I no longer cared if anybody wanted to read it. I could just send it out on the Internet and feel a release.

For me, writing is a meditative spiritual discipline. My words are written with my tears as prayers of joy and pain. When I was young, words were a sharp sword. Now, words are my fleet shoes.

Do you see your writing as a gift or calling?

I feel called to preach and help pastors take sabbaticals or take time to rest and heal, but I feel I have a gift for the communication of truths that can't be told by facts. Ironically, I have a hard time interacting with people one-on-one. When I preach, I sometimes don't remember what I said. I am called to serve congregations, but I have a gift to tell stories to the world.

I have done several spiritual gift inventories where prophesy and teaching were high scores for me. I am a Certified United Methodist Lay Servant and do pulpit supply preaching at numerous churches. Preaching, writing, and taking photographs help me share some of the many thoughts and visions that flow through me via the Spirit. I feel that, as we are all made in the image of a creating God, there is a creative impulse in us all. The secret is to find the appropriate channel.

What do you hope to accomplish in your writing?

Sometimes when I am depressed, my writing has a cathartic effect, like the blues. I call myself The Naked Alien, because that is how I felt as a geeky, awkward kid – exposed, vulnerable, and an outsider. I want people to realize that, throughout the Bible, it is the loser who is often called to serve for God's glory rather than the jocks and beauty queens! I want people to know it is okay to question God or yell at Him. It is better to have doubts than to think you have all the answers! I want people to stop being afraid of a vengeful God and become comfortable with Him. I love to challenge our inherited beliefs and preconceptions: to force us to think; to let God out of the box we built for Him.

Today’s blog post on “The New 10” certainly brings new light to the old ten! I mention this now to encourage our readers to check out the page but also to remind me, after posting this, to go back and leave a comment.

Thanks. Lately, people on Facebook have commented on some of my writings too. For some, they are grateful for a light that allowed them to see God in a new way which was helpful to them. Others have mentioned that they had thought they were alone and strange, and it was reassuring to hear someone put their thoughts on paper (digitally speaking!). This is something new for me, but the idea of being graced with the ability to give utterance to the fears and pains of those who do not have a gift for words is both humbling and mind-blowing.

Yes! That’s the larger vision we receive as we seek God’s guidance for our writing. Reading is part of that writing life too. What do you most like to read?

I used to be a chain-reader, consuming mass quantities of Fantasy and Science Fiction books. But now my greatest joy is reading books to my granddaughter!

I know the feeling! Lord willing, Kelsay Books will soon publish my book of nature poems for children that you both might like, hint, hint! May God and your granddaughter continue to inspire you, Tim. Thanks and blessings for taking time to chat with us.


© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, interviewer and poet-author of the Christian Writers’ Guide e-book and Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry e-book


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Interview with Christian writer Diane Stortz


Diane, you've written numerous books for traditional Christian publishing companies, so I’m sure other Christian poets and writers will want to know, as I surely do, how you got started.

As I earned a BA in Journalism from Arizona State University, I realized I loved to write but lacked the confidence and sophistication needed to succeed as a newspaper reporter, which had been my goal. After graduation, God moved me (long story!) to Cincinnati, where Standard Publishing hired me to develop a new Sunday school curriculum for twos and threes. Eventually I led the book group at Standard as editorial director for ten years. In 2007 I left to pursue freelance editing and writing. Suddenly, I was on the other side of the table at trade shows and conferences, pitching my book proposals instead of listening to pitches.

Quite a change! In case our readers don't know what a book proposal includes, I'll insert a link to a post on that, but tell us what your workday is like now.

I wish I had one! Working from home has so many distractions, and I tend to be more go-with-the-flow than structured anyway. This year I’m working on being more organized, however!

What writing projects are you working on?

I just completed a bedtime Bible storybook that will be out next year, and I’m under contract for another book of Bible stories too. But before I begin that one, I’m focusing on improving my online presence and engagement.

Define your main focus.

I’ve used the tagline “Encouraging you to know, read, love, and live God’s Word, the Bible.” That’s still true. I changed the tagline recently to Psalm 78:4, “Tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonder,” because I’m focusing, for the time being at least, on writing for children.

Obviously, the Bible influences you greatly. How do you go about deciding on the next theme or topic?

I participate in a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year women’s group, and last year I tried to blog each week about something related to that week’s readings. I have an interest in Scripture memory too.

Publishers sometimes refer in house to their books as “product”—and it helps me as an author to think that way too. For book projects, I study what’s out there and what’s missing and try to develop proposals that fill in the gaps besides being a good fit for me. Some projects, like Parents of Missionaries and A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year filled gaps and also came from my personal life experiences.

Tell us about those experiences. I’m wonder, for instance, if anything ever discourages you from writing.

It’s never fun to have a book proposal go to a publisher’s acquisitions committee and be turned down. And comparing myself to other more prolific bloggers and authors can be a real downer. But I am learning, I hope, to value and enjoy the gifts and the path God has given me and not concern myself too much with what others are doing.

Has the Internet helped at all?

I sometimes hear from blog readers I don’t know personally who were encouraged by something I wrote. I’ve received e-mail and Facebook messages from parents of missionaries and from women reading through the Bible using my book as a guide. And the Internet certainly offers an abundance of ways to provide information about my books, whether through blogging, social media, online retailer sites, or book reviews. I pray my books do help cultivate the hearts of children to enable them to receive Christ.

Where can we find your work online?

I have a website, an Amazon author page, and am on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. I’m on Google+ too but still trying to figure it out ...

Me too! Before we close, I want to ask what suggestions you have for Christian poets and writers who aim their writing toward uniting Christians or finding ways to help strengthen the church Body of Christ.

Realize that the size of your ministry is quite relative. What’s small in your eyes or in the marketplace or online might be big in God’s eyes. Be confident yet humble and teachable. Be diligent and then leave the results up to God. He’s the one who makes it all work together.

Amen! Thank you so much, Diane. I had the pleasure of reviewing The Sweetest Story Bible and look forward to seeing your new book. God bless your good work.

(c)2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer


A Woman's Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year: A Life-Changing Journey Into the Heart of God, Paperback



A Woman's Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year: A Life-Changing Journey Into the Heart of God, Kindle Edition e-book



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Do we have Christ-Clout?


When BookSneeze announced Clout by Jenni Catron, I wondered if this new book from Thomas Nelson might offer options to embolden Christian poets and writers and give us a clearer view of the impact our ministries can have through the written word. Usually, I review only new editions of the Bible and traditionally published books of poetry by poets whose work I've followed for years, but the subtitle “Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence” piqued my interest and hinted of the help we need to recognize and utilize the Holy Spirit power we have in Jesus Christ. So I requested a review copy to see if the book might speak to our needs as individuals and, ultimately, to the needs of the church.

Concern for those needs began the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook as a way to bring together people from all cultures, countries, and denominations in mutual love of God the Father and belief in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior. Although we have highly diverse backgrounds and personalities, the Holy Spirit works in each of us as we welcome the Lord into our writing lives – not to pump up ourselves or hawk our products beyond sharing our personal good news, but as individual cells and persons ready to build up the Body of Christ and spread The Good News around the world.

We can, you know. But how do we go about this?

Reading Jenni Catron’s personable book, I like routes she recommends. First, we can address the “Clout Killers” as she did in Part One before proceeding to “Clout Cultivators.”

What does this mean?

As the Introduction says: “Clout is the influence that God has given to you and to no one else…. You have a specific purpose, a calling, that only you are qualified to fulfill.”

Some things just get in our way! But, with “Discovery Steps” to exercise us, the book wisely suggests how to work toward shaping up:

Confront fear.
Stop comparing ourselves to others.
Be aware of the impact of jealousy.
Accept God’s provisions.
Identify our insecurities.
Purge out pride.
Throw ourselves on the mercy of God, letting the Lord control the outcome.

Getting our bodies spiritually healthy will surely affect our effectiveness as we help to heal and up-build the Body of Christ. As the author suggests in “Part Two: The 4 Clout Cultivators” –

Discover your identity in God.
Develop confidence.
Define your mission.
Determine your passion.

And then get ready to unleash your clout as an individual, a powerful poet, an outstanding writer, and a vital "body cell” – a truly needed part of the Body of Christ.


©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer

Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence, hardback



Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence, Kindle Edition



BookSneeze

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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, December 10, 2013

The high calling of Glynn Young: an Interview


Hi, Glynn. Thanks for taking time to talk with us about writing. I'd like to start by getting you to tell us about your published work.

I have two published novels, Dancing Priest (2011) and its sequel, A Light Shining (2012). My nonfiction book, Poetry at Work, which includes new material and columns I’ve done at Tweetspeak Poetry, was just released last week. The idea behind it is that poetry is inherent in the work we do, no matter what that work is.

Sounds interesting and relevant to our readers! Would you tell us more about it?

Some time ago, I was sitting in a meeting, one that happened every week and covered largely the same thing. Trying to keep focused, I began to listen hard to what people were saying. And that’s when I heard it – the poetry of the repetitious meeting. A number of writers have published books about what poetry can do in the workplace; none, so far as I know, had ever imagined the poetry might have already been there. And of course it was. I call it poetry; some might call it the presence of God.

Speaking of God's presence, who or what inspires your writing?

The truthful answer is, I don’t know. The idea for Dancing Priest was born while listening to a music program on a flight from St. Louis to San Francisco. One song evoked an image of a priest dancing on a beach. The beach eventually disappeared, but the priest stayed.

I’ve learned that music can be an influential factor on my fiction writing. And movies, too – several people have said the two novels read like movies.

What other experiences have helped your work?

I had three excellent English teachers in high school. In college, I was in journalism but took the English classes English majors had to take. I loved the poets – the Romantics, the Victorians (i.e., Tennyson) and the Moderns (T.S. Eliot). I loved Dickens and Hardy. On the American side, I loved Twain, Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, and then Faulkner. (My wife still can’t accept the fact that I like reading Faulkner.)

Poets and writers do well to read a wide range of works in every genre, including works unlike their own. But what about your own work, Glynn. Do you see your writing as a gift or calling?

Writing, like any skill, is a gift. I believe it takes both a predisposition to it and some rigorous training, whether that be informal or formal training. I don’t consider writing a calling though. The “how,” not the “what,” is one of the means through which I exercise what I’m called to do.

What do you hope to accomplish in your writing?

Tell a good story. Inspire. And encourage. The emphasis may be on the last one in that list.

How long have you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote my first story, a mystery, when I was 10. But I didn’t think of myself as a writer until my sophomore year in college. I had switched from a pre-med curriculum (too much chemistry required!) to the School of Journalism. It was a natural fit. I knew it was where I belonged after only a few weeks.

Who or what encouraged you to write?

For most of 40 years, writing has been my professional life. A good chunk of that was speechwriting, mostly corporate work but some political work as well. What led me to the novels, though, was something different. For three years, I wrote the manuscript for the first one in my head – I never wrote down the first word. I wasn’t sure where I was going with it.

And then, in 2005, I decided to write it out, and it came pouring – some 180,000 words, the equivalent of two novels. What prompted that was a very specific event – Hurricane Katrina. My then 82-year-old mother refused to leave and rode out the storm. It took days to get her and her older sister out of the city. When we had them safely out, I began to think about what was in my head, and began to write.

Does anything ever discourage you from writing?

Actually, not for very long. And I’ve never suffered from writer’s block.

What’s your favorite writing genre?

First, contemporary fiction. Then poetry.

Is the same true for your reading interests?

I love good mystery stories. But my reading is actually eclectic. Right now, I’m reading The Genius of Dickens by Michael Slater, a short literary study of the ideas that influenced his writing. I read a lot of poetry, and I especially like Wallace Stevens. Sitting on my nightstand is Apricot Jam, a collection of short stories by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. And lots of poetry – I’m always reading poetry.

Me too – poetry and the Bible! How does the Bible fit into your work as a writer?

One third of the Bible is in poetic form. And the language of the King James Version, along with Shakespeare, gave us the language we speak and write today. The Bible also relies on telling stories, and there’s something about stories that speak to us as human beings – and speak very powerfully. Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but the Bible also contains a plethora of plot ideas.

I agree! Great story plots abound – especially in Genesis! But when you’re not reading away or writing, what activities do you enjoy?

My bike, when I can make the time. And my grandsons. I have two, one three-and-a-half and one one-and-a-half. I love being a grandfather.

My wife and I also love watching British crime and suspense shows. In fact, we enjoy watching just about anything that’s British. We’ve spent our last two big vacations in London, and either the shows inspired the vacations or the vacations inspired the shows.

What a great idea! Before we close, Glynn, tell us how other members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook and anyone else who happens by can find your books or blogs. Do you have a website?

I write a weekly column for Tweetspeak and a monthly article for The High Calling. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and a number of distributors in Europe list my books. My blog is Faith, Fiction, Friends, and I’ve been blogging since 2009. I do have a web site, but it’s badly out-of-date.

I won’t add a hotlink to the website then, but is there anything else you’d like to add? What advice would you most like to share with other Christian poets or writers?

Having a good editor is absolutely critical. Everyone needs an editor. Everyone can benefit from a good editor. Even if you self-publish, you need to have an editor. It will make a huge difference.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler


Poetry At Work, paperback




Saturday, August 31, 2013

Who, what, where of writing

This summer I’ve been reading Henry Nouwen’s wonderful book, Discernment, in hopes of finding The Work to which I’ve been called. For most of my adult life, that work has been freelance writing with occasional assignments for traditional publishers of books and other materials for Christians or educational markets. I suppose I can keep writing this way as one idea leads to another, but I want to be sure - surer God does the leading.

I want to know what God wants.

I want to know what God has been preparing me to do, whether writing – or something else.

And, I know I want to please God and help people, but how?

In my lumbering progression toward discernment, the little book by that name offered insights that helped, immediately and immensely. Since I pray you also discern your calling as a poet or writer, these three questions evoked by the book Discernment may offer all of us something to consider:

Prayerfully, ask:

1. To whom do I most often feel drawn by God to speak?

2. What am I drawn to speak about with as much skill and appeal as possible?

3. Where will this work need to appear?

Most likely, your answers will differ from mine, but I’ll use mine as an example:

1. For most of my life, I’ve felt drawn to speak to other Christians – first in “my church,” which later expanded to include every mainline Protestant and Catholic denomination I’ve come to know and love. Although this ecumenical inclination made it harder to write for any one denomination, it made it easier to welcome, learn from, and embrace diverse Christians from the many countries and church backgrounds who come together in our Christian Poets and Writers group on Facebook. Even more wonderful is that each person in this group has something unique to bring to almost every Christian or church, using almost every genre.

2. For most of my life, I’ve felt drawn to speak about the love of God, made obvious in the forgiveness and salvation we have in Jesus Christ. Not only do I want to pass along this “what” of my writing life, but I hope and pray Christians will focus, more and more and more, on the love of God that binds us together as one Body of Christ, one Family of God in Jesus’ Name.

3. So where does this work need to appear to have full impact? Where can I stretch my arms to open wide and find another hand to touch? Again, the Christian Poets and Writers group and blog provide a wonderful “where,” and Lord willing, upcoming book projects will too.

Lord willing, we’ll begin to see how we can and do affect one another for good. Lord willing, we’ll become a unified Body of Christ, accepting one another for who we are in the Body, rather than trying to change an arm to a leg or a pancreas to a heart!

We’re part of one another, and we’re in this together, but not just for ourselves. As poets and writers, we are the thinkers, the feelers, who influence how other people think and feel. We might be called upon to teach the teachers or lead the leaders in our communities and churches through what we write, but, regardless of the who, what, or where to which we’ve been called individually, we are the contemporary Voice of Christ in the world.

May God teach us to speak lovingly, accurately, and well – in all genres – in and for Jesus’ Name.


©2013 Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

~~


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Traditional publishing for Christian poets and writers


Christian poets and writers often start their writing careers with self-published books or blogs because they don’t know how or where else to begin. This works well for those of us with a following through, say, radio or television appearances or a built-in audience because of a popular seminar or well-known ministry in a large city. For most of us though, self-publishing quickly turns our writing time into time now spent on editing, typesetting, and marketing, marketing, marketing our manuscripts.

That approach can work for a multi-talented person with an artistic eye and a gift for sales, especially if you have a book or two you want to write and publish but don’t see yourself primarily as a writer. If, however, you have ideas for all sorts of books, poems, devotionals, novels, children’s stories, or articles, the help of a traditional publisher of books or periodicals will give you more time to write and, quite likely, more encouragement in your work too.

The headquarters or publishing arm of your church denomination can be an ideal place to start as you already know you connect with the beliefs that go into the books, magazines, or curriculum published. Also, your educational background and church activities such as teaching classes or leading outreach programs can help you to gain writing assignments or other publishing options. To find out exactly what your church needs, visit and study the official website for your denomination.

For manuscripts that don’t fit your church’s needs, just widen your search. Again, the Internet will help as you research companies who publish books or periodicals you’re most apt to buy. This takes time, and even then, a publisher who’s open to your novel might not be interested in your great idea for a Bible cookbook. The more ideas you have, the more confusing this can be!

For years Sally Stuart’s annual market guide helped me to find traditional publishers open to my work without the help of an agent. Recently Jerry Jenkins took over that big task, keeping up with publishers and providing annual updates for the Christian Writers Market Guide. From what I’ve seen, the book continues to do just that – guide you and your manuscripts into the good company of traditional publishing houses and, hopefully, open doors for your writing ministry.

To order the Christian Writers Market Guide, click the ad below:




©2013 Mary Harwell Sayler, a traditionally published Christian poet and writer in all genres, offers in-depth critiques to help you improve your poems, devotionals, children's picture books, and book proposals for a minimal fee. For more information, see the Feedback, Fees, and Contact page of her website.

~~~

Monday, June 24, 2013

Isaiah speaks to poets, writers, and peoples of God


Today’s Daily Bible readings bring a word from the prophet Isaiah we can take as a word to us as Christians Poets and Writers, who yearn to heal and up-build the church Body of Christ and to speak well for Christ as we write in all genres.


Comfort, O comfort My people,
says your God.

Speak tenderly to My Holy places
and say:
‘You’ve served the sentence.
You’ve paid your dues –
double duty for all your misdoings.’

And now
let your voice cry out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the Way of the LORD!’

Cut a straight path where none existed.
Make a highway for our God.

Lift readers from every valley.
Make real every place lifted up.
Find common ground. Keep it plain.

Then your work shall reveal
the Glory of the LORD,
and all types of people shall see!
They shall hear the LORD speaking.

And a Voice says, ‘Cry out!’
And I say, ‘What? How?’

But remember?
All of us are like grass –
as frail and soon gone as a flower.

Like grass, we wither.
Like flowers, we fade, but
the Word
God gives
will stand
forever.

O, let’s go as far and high as we can!

Let’s herald God’s good tidings.

Let’s lift up our voices with strength and beauty
and not be afraid!

Let’s say - in our homes, in our
writings, in our cities:
‘Here is your God!’

See? The Lord GOD
comes to us with mighty power!

With God
comes recompense and reward.

Our God will tend us like a good shepherd,
carrying the young and the vulnerable,
holding us close,
settling us down with kind hands,
gently guiding us
like a good mother.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler prayer-a-phrase for Christian Poets and Writers of Isaiah 40:1-11 from today’s Bible readings

~~

Saturday, May 4, 2013

About writers’ conferences


Each writers’ conference has its own flair, but most have a similar schedule. Usually you get to choose which of the many sessions you want to attend during each time slot throughout the day and sometimes into the evening. Larger conferences offer more choices, of course, but with more people to sign up and fill a class, you might want to put in for your preferences as soon as you can.

As you investigate upcoming conferences in your area, check the schedules to see if you find the fiction, nonfiction, or poetry workshops you want. Do the titles or focus for each session interest you? Who will lead the workshops or classroom style discussions you want to attend? Does the workshop leader or speaker have ample publishing credits in your chosen genre?

Besides a staff of well-published writers and poets, larger conferences often bring in literary agents from reputable firms and editors from traditional publishing companies. If so, you might have the option to schedule a private consult with the person of your choice for one-on-one feedback on your manuscript for an additional fee.

A private consult can help you to reach the next level in your writing, but if you’re just beginning, the classroom or workshop sessions may be all you need to improve your work and learn about marketing too. That will most likely happen if you attend a writers’ conference that fits your writing interests and level of expertise – not only because of the sessions but also because of the many opportunities you have to network with other poets and writers, especially after classes or during meals.

If you’ve already begun to place manuscripts with publishing houses or print journals, you might just need to get away to get some work done and gain a few pointers too. If so, another option is a writer’s retreat that provides a serene setting for you to write without distractions. At this type of conference, you and other participants might come together only for meals or group discussions on your chosen genre. However, the retreat will probably include a private conference (usually an hour or so) with the main speaker, which gives you one-on-one tutoring to help you improve your work-in-progress and also those manuscripts you have yet to write.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. If you cannot afford a writers’ conference or can find none nearby, consider getting a one-on-one writing consult or poetry critique for a minimal fee. For more information, visit “Feedback and Fees.

~~

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our work in a worried world


Christian Poets and Writers, we have prayers to pray, words to write, and people to draw to Christ. Movies move us to worry. Books bleed. Television shows graphically show destruction, anarchy, and end times. Far worse, the real news screams with the reality of terrorists, bombs, and threats of war. Today especially, many of us may be wondering, “What do we do?”

Crowds and crowds of down-trodden people went looking for Jesus to ask a similar question:

“What are we to do, that we may [habitually] be working the works of God? [What are we to do to carry out what God requires?]

“Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger],”
John 6:28-29, Amplified Bible.

With or without the meaning amplified, the Word of God says the work of God we’re to do is to believe in Christ. Really believe, and we will be doing the very work God gave us to do. Is it that simple? Yes, but it's not always easy.

Each of us responds differently at different times with differing levels of trust, depending on how our day goes. Regardless of changing times and feelings, however, our belief in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior does make a difference.

By trusting – really trusting the loving, forgiving, redeeming grace, and truth of Jesus Christ, we can consistently choose to reflect those beliefs. Even when we write about troubling topics or terrible times, our belief in Christ will affect the outcome and the ending as we choose to:

Bring God’s hope to people who have none.

Give forgiveness that frees.

Show God’s way as we pray over every headline that comes to our attention and pray for every enemy.

Present God’s Word as the antidote to fear and worry.

Give God’s love to all peoples and ourselves.

Do the work of God by believing, believing, believing in the Light of Christ as power – Holy Spirit auxiliary Power – to enlighten the darkest times and lighten up the world.


©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler

~~



Thursday, October 11, 2012

What do we write next?

Mary Harwell Sayler
In this group, the first given is prayer! We all want God to guide us in our God-given ministries as Christian poets and writers, but sometimes several good ideas come to us at once for writing projects. The question then is: what do we write next? If all of our writing ideas are Bible-based and all speak well for Christ and the church, how do we know where to start?

Alice Shapiro
A friend told me to write down what your ultimate goal is and then work backwards, writing down a list of each step to take that would get you to that goal.

Aaron Spencer
I agree with Alice's basic idea, I think. I often have to stop and rethink, just what is it that I am wanting to accomplish by writing? That sometimes makes me put aside some ideas that are of lesser value (not necessarily bad, just lesser.) It helps me focus my energies on a (hopefully) more productive project.

Sometimes it helps me to think about what idea/message is more needed in our day. Some messages of great inherent value are very common today already and others are much neglected. That sometimes makes me think to give priority to that which is not heard very much today.

Mary Harwell Sayler
Thanks. All of your responses also let me know I'm not the only Christian poet and writer with this problem!

Janice Ducker Green
That is the issue of my life. I want to write Bible storybooks and make Bible quilts to go with them, but trying to decide which one to tackle first, second, third... is totally overwhelming.

Ashley Ormon
Sometimes I start writing the message I feel is most important or needs to be heard most.

Mary Harwell Sayler
Hmmm. I'm seeing two primary points arising from your comments:

Urgency – or timeliness of the topic

Consideration of our ultimate (and often unique) goals as communicators for Christ

That goal might be a life theme such as an ongoing desire to minister healing to individual Christians or to the whole Body of Christ. Or, the goal could be something in line with one of the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has given us according to Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 -- either of which brings us back to praying, waiting for a sense of peace, and looking for God to encourage us in that particular direction for that particular time in our very particular ministries as poets and writers.
~~

If you or other members of the Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook or on LinkedIn have other comments to add, please do so in the Comments box below. If you're not a CP&W member, join us! and invite your poet-writer-editor-publisher friends.