Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Idea Starters for Writers—Calendar Days—October’s Crazy Holidays & Special Occasions

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Idea Starters for Writers—Calendar Days
Are you looking for a unique article idea to pitch to a magazine? What about a different blog post or a social media update that gets everyone's attention? Today may be just what you're looking for—it’s time again for Calendar Days. These aren't just fun to read. They’re also a great way to jumpstart our creativity and a fun writing prompt idea. 
In addition, calendar days are great conversation starters for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, especially when two contrasting holidays fall on the same date or if you can personalize them to someone you know. Here are some that stood out to me this month: 

I can't help but giggle at the holidays that fall on the same date this month, like October 30 has Create a Great Funeral Day and Frankenstein Day. That just hits me as ironic. And personally, I think of Cathy Baker, a wonderful poet,  on October 1, Poetry Appreciation Day, Lisa Jordan on October 3 for Card Making Day, and finally, I can't help but remember Julia Tomiak on October 16, Dictionary Day. I just love her Diary of a Word Nerd blog

Monday, September 28, 2015

How Fast Should a Blog Grow—Blogging for Writers, Part Five

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson 

How fast should a blog grow?
There are lots of exceptions to how fast a blog can grow. All I’m giving you is reasonable expectations for blog growth. 

We can all find examples of blogs that have grown incredibly fast, but we should never judge the growth of our own blogs by the exceptions.

That said, I do believe there are reasonable expectations. That growth is predicated on certain variables:

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kindness Leads to Joy

by Brenda McGraw @BrendaMMcGraw

Kindness leads to joy.
Because of her kindness, she saw Jesus.

Have you ever heard of Joanna of the Bible?

She is not preached about, nor am I aware of any books referencing her story; however, God felt she was important enough to be mentioned in His Word. He apparently thought her kindness deserved a note in the scriptures.

Would you like to know more about this mysterious woman? Let’s see what the Bible says:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Comparison Trap

I was at the ACFW conference this past week and through all the amazing speakers and bits of wisdom, one simple quote stuck out the most to me. It was something that author Rachel Hauck shared during worship. I thought I'd share it with you today.

Thank you, Rachel!

Someone Else's Success does not Insure Our Failure - Rachel Hauck
Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

I invite you to use this image any way you like online. Post it to your blog, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you'd like. All I ask is that you keep it intact, with my website watermark visible.

Don't forget to join the conversation!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Write Hard and Pray Harder

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Jackie lives a charmed life. Writing opportunities fall into her lap, she wakes up with creative thoughts, and she always seems to be in the right place at the right time when publishers are looking for a new project.

Seth is the same way. Big name bloggers invite him to guest blog. Focus on the Family magazine calls him for article ideas, and people line up to promote his book. Like a modern-day Midas, everything he touches goes viral.

Other writers, however, sing the chorus of the old Hee Haw song about bad luck.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

the Writer & the Green-eyed Monster

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas

All writers need to beware the Green-eyed Monster.
Here I am a born-again Christian, a published author, full-time writer, writing coach and group leader, speaker and teacher at writer’s conferences. I can look you in the eye and say, with all sincerity, I am living my dream. The dream God gave me.

And yet, there are times—way too many times—when jealousy and envy clench my heart. I’m scheduled to teach one class at a writer’s conference and hear a fellow writer will be teaching two. Why her and not me? I’m published and she’s not.

I’m working to get my second book published and I hear where someone has signed a three-year contract for nine books. To quote Charlie Brown, “AAUGH!”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tried and True Ways to Attract Readers

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

We writers can become so involved with our stories that we forget we’re writing for readers—not agents, editors, marketing and promotion types, or sales staff.

Entertainment is our aim,
And writing is our game.

There are 7.2 billion people in this world. We will never meet each person, but we have the opportunity to contact them and make a friend from anywhere. How amazing to reach others with a well written story—to give and not to take. That’s a challenge, and one I welcome.

Where does a writer find sound ways to bring people under the umbrella of a reader . . . and a friend?

Monday, September 21, 2015

How to Label and Tag Your Blog Posts—Blogging for Writers, Part Four

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

One thing every writer with a blog wants to know is this.

"How can I get my blog found?"

Of course there is no single answer—but one of the major part of the get-my-blog-found question is to learn how to label and tag your blog posts correctly.

When I give this answer, I get a lot of blank looks. This is one critical step a lot of blogger miss when posting a blog. Today, I’m going to give you the tools that make labeling/tagging a breeze and immediately help your blog move up in the search engine rankings.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Time to Refocus My Life

You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. Psalm 51:16

I don’t know about you, but I’m a doer. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to help myself. And while I have made some improvement over the years, unless I’m really focused, I’m going to judge my day, my progress, even my worth, on the things I’ve accomplished.

I know in my head that a check mark by everything on my to do list isn’t synonymous for how good I’m doing. Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to get my feelings to switch over to this way of thinking. This unhealthy outlook permeates every part of my life, especially spiritually. I keep acting like I can win God’s favor by doing more.

And it's time to refocus my life.

Being a Christ-follower has its emphasis on the state of being verb, rather than an action verb.

God has always been more interested in the process rather than the product.

To me, that means that statement reminds me that God is relationally, not task oriented. Whatever needs doing, He can do. He uses us to accomplish His will not to keep us busy or because He Himself doesn’t have the time. He allows us to join Him where He’s working because of the relationship.

God wants to spend time with me. He wants me to be so familiar with His voice that I can instantly hear and respond when He calls my name. But when I fill my life with things I have to do, my focus drifts, as things and tasks capture my attention and draw me away from the relationship.

So once again, I’m readjusting my life. I’m looking at the person of God and making concrete plans to spend more time with Him, instead of for Him. Care to join me?


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Autumn—My Favorite Time of Year

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Autumn is my favorite time of the year—the crisp air and beautiful colors pull me out of doors at every opportunity. What is your favorite part of the fall? 

"Autumn . . . The year's last, loveliest smile." William Cullen Bryant
Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

I invite you to use this image any way you like online. Post it to your blog, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you'd like. All I ask is that you keep it intact, with my website watermark visible.

Don't forget to join the conversation!

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

As we move into fall, a lot of us begin to anticipate upcoming movie releases. For those of us with geekish bent, we look forward to those like the new Star Wars. In honor of the movies to come, I’m going to share some insight into the difference between Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Often times readers and writers will lump science fiction and fantasy together without realizing the difference. And in an attempt to differentiate, they’ll often come up with arbitrary rules about what makes something fantasy or scifi. Truthfully, there are very few books that mix the two.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

When Weed Words Creep into Your Writing

By Cyle Young @CyleYoung

Have you ever read through your manuscript only to realize the same words keep popping up like weeds in a garden?

If your answer is yes, relax—we all do it.

In the flurry of keystrokes, some words just appear. You didn’t want them. You don’t remember thinking them. But nevertheless, they sprout like common weeds.

Your mind can often add unintentional words to your writing. Especially when you are rushed to meet a deadline, or when you are specifically trying to avoid writing certain words.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Define Your Audience—Who Are You Writing To?

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

I thought of them as I wrote my first book—my best friend who has four children, another good friend who has survived trial after trial, and the women in a Sunday school I once belonged to. 

I wanted to remember their everyday struggles and concerns. I didn’t want to give pat answers or offer easy fixes. Remembering “real life” helped me as I wrote my first Bible study.

Who are you writing to? 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tips to Help Meet Your Writing Deadlines

By Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

This week I submitted the manuscript for my twelfth book. On time. Whew!

Because it was contracted late in the season, and I had already made several travel plans that could not be cancelled, I wondered if I could do it. 

Through God’s grace, prayer support, diligent hard work, good health, and a strategy I will share, I made it!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Dos & Don'ts of Blogging—Blogging for Writers, Part Three

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Dos & Don'ts of Blogging

I love to blog, and I try to share my love of blogging when I teach at writing conferences.

I also know that many of you aren’t such fans. Many try to love blogging because it’s a good way to connect with readers and build an online presence. Others, don’t even try to love it, but do it out of necessity. The rest are like me, and enjoy the process as well as the connections it brings.

No matter where you are with blogging, it’s important to do it well. Whether you blog twice a month on a group blog, or daily on your own site, there are some essential dos and don’ts of blogging that I’d like to share today.

Blogging is a great way to build relationships with our audience. 

But a lot of people forget that, just like building relationship in person, it’s never a good idea to talk so much that others don’t have a chance to share their thoughts. 

I often visit blogs where I want to ask the blogger, “Are you blogging or lecturing?” There are things we can do to make sure our posts encourage conversation. And there are things we can do that discourage interaction.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Tree Up Ahead

by Sarah Van Diest

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Up ahead there is a tree. The path goes right up to it. It’s the only tree for miles. Its limbs reach far and its shade is deep. I hope we’ve made it there. We’ve walked so far and for so long. I wish to be there so we can take off our heavy packs and lean them up against its trunk; so we can rest and eat our lunches. Maybe close our eyes a little while.

I hope we are there, because if we aren’t then we still have miles to travel, we still have battles to fight and cold, dark nights to endure. If we aren’t there just yet, I hope we get there soon. We can leave everything under its shade and go freely, lightly on our path, hearts full and eyes forward. I hope we are there now. Do you see it? Please tell me you see the big tree. I am ready to lay my burden down.

Maybe after we rest and as we go on our path we should switch bags. I will carry yours and you carry mine. There seems to be something better about that idea. I don’t mind carrying your burden, my friend. In some ways I think it fits me better anyway. In some ways I own your burden. Yes. I will carry your burden and you carry mine. If you would, please.

This way may not be the norm when it comes to carrying one another’s burdens; usually we talk about them as we unpack them; we try to figure out what it all is and means; where it came from and why it’s in our packs. No, this one is silent, but the sound of our burdens’ weightiness pushes through the air and begs the ears to bend low and listen. Hear its whisper and heed its beckoning cry. Kneel on the soft earth and bow down. Slide the pack off my back and I will slide yours off as well. We will carry each other’s from this point on. This quiet transaction is a sacred act of friendship and devotion. How odd love looks in this light, with packs and trails, and silent exchanges, but it is a beautiful oddness.

My heart is already lighter as I stand up and take the first steps. Your pack is much lighter than mine and much easier for me to bear. And by the smile on your face, it is the same for you. That is good for my soul to see. Your smile brings me life.

It’s not that I don’t still carry some of my own, my pockets are full, but the bulk of it has been lifted from my shoulders. It’s as though I’ve grown up a little on this trail. I see my responsibility as it relates to others. It’s not just about me taking care of me and my issues, it’s about living in such a way as to honor others, in this case, to honor you. And God has provided me with energy and strength to do that in the love I have for you, dear friend. When it was just me, lugging my heavy load around by myself, my drive to do so waned, but because this is for you and for your good, I am eager to follow through. Love does that, you know?

That doesn’t mean I won’t stumble and drop your pack from time to time. I may. It happens when I forget why I’m carrying it for you and start thinking only of myself. It happens when I decide I want to fulfill my desires and forget my commitments. Those are heavy days. But there is rest to be had in the shade tree of the Lord and He will renew my strength when I seek Him. He will renew yours, too.

I don’t know how long we will be carrying each other’s burdens, but I’m happy to do it as long as you need. It fits me well. I don’t know if you know this, but you gave me a gift when you handed me your pack. Your trust in me, even though I won’t be perfect at this, is the gift you’ve given. And oh, my. It is a wonderful gift.
Sometimes we wait too long to carry one another’s burdens. We see our friends and loved ones struggle, but we are afraid to come along side and quietly slip their packs off. It’s not that we can’t talk about those burdens, sometimes talking and sharing is the rest which takes place under the tree, and the burden may even disappear after that time together, but so often it is a look we see on our friend’s face that tells us their burden is so very heavy. We don’t need to wait for them to ask us for help.

Since carrying one another’s burdens is fulfilling the law of Christ, and the law of Christ is that we love as He loved, it is something we do as the law of Christ works its way through us. It is not another rule or behavior we must adopt, or another task to add to our checklist for being a good Christian, it is the outworking of the Spirit in us. And there is life here. As I picture you taking your pack off your back and I see relief fill your face, I am energized. That’s the way God wired us. (Here’s an article that talks about that: )

Don’t forget the blessing of letting someone else carry your burden. If it is a blessing for you to carry theirs, then it will be for them to carry yours, too.

I think I see that tree just up ahead.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is there for times of trouble. Proverbs 17:17.

Sarah has worked in Christian publishing since 2005 as both and editor and an agent. 

Currently, she works with her husband, David, in their agency, the Van Diest Literary Agency. Writing is a growing passion for her as she hopes to bring hope to hurting hearts.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Words and Names

By Beth Vogt @BethVogt

Words have MEANING and names have POWER.
There were a lot of names being tossed around my house.

Not bad names—baby names. My daughter and son-in-love had found out they were having a second daughter, and of course we all started the process of “What do think of ______”?

All sorts of names were offered and some suggestions were even added to their list of possibilities. It was fun, especially when someone found a peculiar name or an indecipherable name—think minimal vowels and an overabundance of consonants.

Being a novelist, I’m more attuned to names than most people. I’m naming the imaginary people populating my books—and then I have to remember those people’s names just as if I were going to send them a birthday card or a Christmas letter every year.

Names are powerful—given names that are often pondered over by our parents before we are born, as well as nicknames and endearments. I’ve loved some of my nicknames—and hated others. And yet, I considered nicknames important and made certain each of my kiddos had one—a special way of saying “I love you” that was all their own.

Yes, words have power—and names can be the most powerful use of words, for better or for worse.

In Your Words: What’s the meaning of your name? If you could change your name, what would you change it to? What do you think of nicknames?

Words have meaning & #names have power - thoughts from @BethVogt on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

#Names are powerful - would you change yours if you could? Thoughts from @BethVogt (Click to Tweet)

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” 

A nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth is now a novelist with Howard Books. She enjoys writing inspirational contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Connect with Beth on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or check out her blog on quotes, In Others’ Words.