Tag Archives: Write Canada

The Word Awards

The Word Awards 2016Did you know that The Word Awards, presented each June in conjunction with The Word Guild‘s Write Canada conference, aren’t just about books?

This year’s categories included articles, song lyrics, and script-writing. For the first time, this year also expanded beyond English work to host two French categories. Next year’s awards will see the addition of the Debra Fieguth award for writing addressing social justice issues and Castle Quay’s Best New Canadian Manuscript Contest.

The 28th annual Word Awards Gala was held in Toronto on June 24th, drawing guests, writers and editors from across Canada.

From The Word Guild’s press release:

Debut author Susan Doherty Hannaford’s A Secret Music (Cormorant Books) captivated judges earning the Grace Irwin Prize, a $5000 literary award and the evening’s top prize. The judge’s panel said, “This entry fit well with the pioneering spirit of Grace Irwin whom the prize was named after.” Hannaford also won in the Crossover Young Adult category.

The Word Guild was pleased to have in attendance Dr. James Houston who was the recipient of the Leslie K. Tarr award for a lifetime of achievement. He wound down our evening by reminding us that our God is who we must give all glory, honour, and praise.

Among the Word Award winners was the Global Ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, Brian C. Stiller; writing retreat partners Tim Huff and Greg Paul; and co-collaborators Karen Stiller and Patricia Paddey. [Click to view the full release]

WINNER LIST – THE 2016 WORD AWARDS (for work published in 2015)

Short-listed books

The Grace Irwin Prize, Canada’s largest literary prize for Christian writers, celebrates the best book published in 2015. Sponsor: John and Eleanor Irwin

Winner: Susan Doherty Hannaford of Montreal, Que. For A Secret Music (Cormorant Books)

Honourable Mention:

Craig G. Bartholomew of Hamilton, Ont. for Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics:  A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture (Baker Publishing Group)

Greg Paul of Toronto, Ont. for Simply Open (Thomas Nelson)

BOOK CATEGORIES

CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES: NON-FICTION

Book – Academic

Craig G. Bartholomew of Hamilton, Ont. for Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics:  A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture (Baker Publishing Group)

Book – Apologetics/Evangelism

James A. Beverley of Pickering, Ont, and Craig A. Evans of Moncton, N.B. for Getting Jesus Right: How Muslims Get Jesus and Islam Wrong (Castle Quay Books)

Book – Biblical Studies

Stanley Porter of Hamilton, Ont. for John, His Gospel, and Jesus: In Pursuit of the Johannine Voice (Baker Publishing Group)

Book – Children

Paul Boge of East St. Paul, Man. and Faye Hall of Winnipeg for The Biggest Family in the World (Castle Quay Books)

Book – Christian Living

Greg Paul of Toronto, Ont. for Simply Open (Thomas Nelson)

Book – Culture (tie)

Brian C. Stiller, of Newmarket, Ont., (chief editor) and editorial team Karen Stiller, Todd M. Johnson, and Mark Hutchinson for Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century (Thomas Nelson)

Karen Stiller of Port Perry and Patricia Paddey of Mississauga, Ont. for Shifting Stats Shaking The Church: 40 Canadian Churches Respond (World Vision Canada)

Book – Inspirational/Devotional

Tim Huff of Toronto, Ont. for The Yuletide Factor: Cause for Perpetual Comfort and Joy (Castle Quay Books)

Book – Instructional

David Sherbino of Toronto, Ont. for Renew: A Basic Guide For A Personal Retreat (Castle Quay Books)

Book – Life Stories

Robert Jones of St. Albert, Alta. for Ornament (Word Alive Press)

CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES: FICTION

Novel  – Children

Karen Autio of Kelowna, B.C. for Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter (Sono Nis Press)

Novel – Contemporary

Valerie Comer of Creston, B.C. for Dandelions for Dinner (GreenWords Media)

Novel  – Historical

Rose Seiler Scott of Surrey, B.C. for Threaten to Undo Us (Promontory Press)

Novel – Speculative

Peter Kazmaier of Mississauga, Ont. for The Battle for Halcyon (Word Alive Press)

Novel – Suspense

Sandra Orchard of Fenwick, Ont. for Desperate Measures (Revell Publishing)

CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES: FRENCH

Fictives

Anne Cattaruzza of Longueuil, Que. for À la recherche de Shéïda (La Maison de la Bible)

Vie Chrétienne

Jean-Sébastien Morin of Saint-Eustache, Que. for Mariés et heureux? (Ministères mult)

CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES: SCRIPTS

Full Length Christian Script

Dennis J. Hassell of Toronto, Ont. for “Shell Game”

CROSSOVER CATEGORIES

Book – Culture

Christina Crook of Toronto, Ont. for The Joy of Missing Out (New Society Publishers)

Novel – Romance

Bryan Norford of Lethbridge, Alta. for The Silent Remainder (Pebble Press)

Novel – Suspense

J.A. Menzies of Markham, Ont. for Shadow of a Butterfly: The Case of the Harmless Old Woman (MurderWillOut Mysteries)

Novel – Young Adult

Susan Doherty Hannaford of Montreal, Que. For A Secret Music (Cormorant Books)

ARTICLE, POETRY, SHORT STORY AND SONG LYRIC: CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES

Article – Blog

Thomas Froese of Ancaster, Ont. for “Fear and Childbirth in Uganda” (http://www.dailydad.net)

Article – Inspirational/Devotional

Carolyn Arends of Surrey, B.C. for “Our “Holy” Sins” (Today’s Christian Woman)

Article – Long Feature

Ray Wiseman of Fergus, Ont. for “Until Death Do Us Part” (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon)

Article – Personal Experience

Kimberley Parker of St. Thomas, Ont. for “The Mission on My Street – When Love Comes Back Around” (testimony)

Article – Poetry

Stephen Kennedy of Peterborough, Ont. for “Afar Feast” (Presbyterian Record)

Article – Profile/Human Interest

Angela Reitsma Bick of Newcastle, Ont. for “Every moment holy” (Christian Courier)

Article – Short Feature

Lisa Hall-Wilson of London, Ont. for “Violence Against Women – Stories That Need To Be Told and Listened To” (testimony)

Article – Short Story

N.J. Lindquist of Markham, Ont. for “Mary’s Dream” (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon)

Column – series

Josh Valley of Toronto, Ont. for “Donald Trump and other madness Evangelicals fall for” and “Seeing Jesus as a refugee” (Christian Week)

Column – single

John H. Redekop of Abbotsford, B.C. for “An oppressive ruling” (The Garden Park Journal)

TERENCE L. BINGLEY AWARD FOR BEST SONG LYRICS

Carolyn Arends of Surrey, B.C. for “Just Getting Started” (Running Arends Music/ASCAP)

ARTICLE, POETRY, SHORT STORY AND SONG LYRIC: CROSSOVER CATEGORIES

Article – Long Feature

Christina Van Starkenburg of Victoria, B.C. for “Taming the TV: Turning TV Time into Teachable Moments” (Island Parent)

Article – Personal Experience

Heather Rae Rodin of Selwyn for “Angel At Our Door” (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon)

Short Story

Bobbi Junior of Edmonton, Alta. for “Chapter Book” (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon)

Column – Series

Thomas Froese of Ancaster, Ont. for “Of lions, children and innocence of lives given” and “Life is in the small pleasures, the simple moments” (Hamilton Spectator)

Column – Single

Michael Coren of Toronto, Ont. for “The Real War on Christmas Comes from the Right” (The Toronto Star)

Harvey/Mackey Award (celebrates the best of Canada’s up and coming Christian journalists)

Christina Van Starkenburg of Victoria, B.C. for “Taming the TV: Turning TV Time into Teachable Moments” (Island Parent)

IN THE BEGINNING (for unpublished writers)

Grand Prize Winner:

Ellen Hooge of Calgary, Alta. for Ruth (first three chapters)

First three chapters runner up:

Diana Holvik of Guelph, Ont. for Love in the Storm

Non-fiction short piece runner up:

Beckie Evans of Abbotsford, B.C. for “I did learn something”

Poem runner up:

Mike Bonikowsky of Melancthon, Ont. for “Daughter Songs”

Short Story runner up:

Annie Carpenter of London, Ont. for “Livvy & the Queen Bee”

First fifteen pages of a Short Script runner up:

Nicole Arnt of St.Catharines, Ont. for How about L for Love

FRESH INK (students)

University Category:

Grand Prize Winner:

Carolyn Felker of Brantford, Ont. for The Desert’s Secret

First three chapters runner up:

Heather Shore of Milton, Ont. for Sands of Kemet

Short Story runner up:

Anna-Marina Giurin of Chatham, Ont. for “The Music of Life”

High School Category:

Grand Prize Winner:

Lindsay Evans of Trenton, Ont. for “Forever Love” (poem)

The Write Thing to Do

The Write Thing to Do

by Steph Beth Nickel

Tomorrow I will have the privilege of attending Write Canada. Although I wasn’t able to attend the entire conference this year, there are still many benefits of attending Saturday only. It was the write thing to do.

"Do the Write Thing"

Photo credit: Pixabay

Why?

Learn New Things

Just in case you ever wondered if I’m truly eclectically interested … this year I’m taking a couple of fiction classes, “Structuring Your Fiction” with Davis Bunn and “Deep Point-of-View” with Marcy Kennedy; “Do Good Not Harm: Writing to Empower,” a class whose description begins like this: Christians are uniquely positioned to bring a message of hope and redemption to a world broken by poverty, oppression and injustice (sounds great, doesn’t it?); and finally, a panel discussion on vlogs and blogs.

Refresh and Re-ignite

It may seem strange to say that after a jam-packed day, including approximately five hours of traveling, I anticipate returning home refreshed and re-ignited to devote several hours every week to writing. There’s something about hanging out with dozens of other writers that does that to me.

Discover What’s New in the Industry

In many ways, the journey to becoming a writer isn’t what it used to be. And it certainly doesn’t look the same for every writer. Finding out what’s new in the industry is invaluable. While it may seem overwhelming, it also helps the writer plot the course that best suits him or her.

Make Professional Connections

We hear a lot about networking these days. And of course there’s the old saying, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” While that is only true to a certain extent (after all, it’s each writer’s responsibility to become the best he or she can be), those connections can help you get from where you are to where you want to be on the journey to publication.

Be Challenged to Write Something New

This is probably a good reason for me to stay home, but it’s still a great reason to attend a writers’ conference. I never imagined writing a memoir. Yet, I had the privilege of co-authoring Paralympian Deb Willows’ Living Beyond My Circumstances. Deb and I are now working on a follow-up book. (I attended my first conference with the lady who introduced Deb and me. I also met our publisher there.) Because of this project, I had the joy of co-teaching a class with Carolyn Wilker on memoir writing at the 2015 Write Canada. You just never know what doors are going to open for you.

And probably the number one reason for me …

Reconnect with Friends

Write Canada is the only opportunity I have to reconnect in person with some dear friends. It also provides the opportunity to make new friends. And when those friends are fellow writers (and other industry pros), it is truly amazing. I will be flying for days—and hopefully, energized to go home and get writing.

Attending a writers’ conference or workshop just may be the write thing for you as well.

Tweetables:

[Scroll down to join the conversation.]

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel (Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Highlights from Write Canada 2015

I spent part of last week at Write Canada, an annual conference for Canadian Christians who write and/or edit. This is my happy place, where I gain practical teaching and build friendships, in an atmosphere that renews my spirit.

Write Canada 2015 Canada's largest conference for Christians who write

After many years at the Guelph Bible Conference Centre, the conference moved to a Toronto hotel this year to be more accessible. This was a positive step, although a few logistics need tweaking for 2016.

I missed the restful beauty of the grounds in Guelph, but the open-air market behind the hotel provided fresh Niagara strawberries and there was a lovely little park a few blocks away.

Best thing about this year’s conference, for me?

Janet Sketchley and Matthew Sketchley at Write Canada 2015

One of my sons attended with me. Matthew was a runner-up in the Fresh Ink Contest at the university level. He can write circles around me, and that makes me proud. If you like dark fantasy from a Christian perspective, keep an eye out for him in the next few years.

Other best thing? Early morning and impromptu prayer times with treasured people (you know who you are.)

What did I learn?

From the panel on book launches (I was one of the panelists): One panelist recommended the short ebook, Hosting a Virtual Book Release Party by Shanna Festa. Another reminded me to contact the local cable TV channel with my book news.

From the Titles, Keywords and Blurbs workshop with NJ and Les Lindquist: The homework gave me a decent beginning on the back-cover blurb for Redemption’s Edge #3, and the workshop suggested No Safe Place may not be the best title for this one.

Indie Author/Publisher class with suspense author Linda Hall:

  • Free “simplenote” app for note-taking, syncs from one device to another.
  • Beta Readers: give them a few questions (sequence, believability, characters etc)
  • Android tablet: Google Play Books will read your manuscript aloud in epub format – read along silently with it to see what you catch.
  • If your ebook includes internal graphics, reduce them to 500×700 pixels or less. Link them to full-sized images on your website if necessary.
  • Cover: Can you read the print cover from 10 feet? Can you read the ebook cover in a thumbnail? Keep the title at/near the top so it won’t be lost if print books are stacked in a tier.
  • theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/ is a list of reviewers of indie books.
  • Goodreads for Authors course

Marketing Best Practices with Mark Lefebvre from Kobo:

  • The “3 P’s of Self-Publishing Success: practice, patience, persistence” – to which I add a fourth: prayer.
  • Your “street team” is your secret weapon. Treat them well.
  • Set up an Amazon Central page for the Canadian and international sites, not just the US one.
  • Book signing tip: have a stack of books ten feet away from you, so people can check them out without fear that you’ll “sell at them.”
  • Wattpad can be a great place to find beta readers and reach your target audience, but it needs an investment of time.
  • $1.99 is the worst price for an ebook online.

Going Global: Write Locally, Publish Globally, with Mark Lefebvre from Kobo: In the US, most ebooks sold are for Kindle, but Kobo outsells Kindle in Canada and in the rest of the world (Kobo started in Canada and is now part of the Japanese Rakutan company).

Writing from the Middle with writing teacher and thriller author James Scott Bell: I need to read this book. He made a lot of sense in the one-hour workshop. (No surprise. I’ve learned a lot from his other books on writing.)

The Word Awards Gala (for work published in 2014): My romantic suspense, Secrets and Lies, didn’t win in the suspense category, but to be a finalist is still a positive endorsement of the book’s quality. The suspense winner was Sandra Orchard’s Blind Trust, (Book 2 in an excellent series. I suggest starting with #1, Deadly Devotion.) You can read the full list of winners on The Word Guild site or by clicking the photo below.

Book finalists in The Word Awards, for work published in 2014

Book finalists in The Word Awards, for work published in 2014

Write Canada: 5 benefits, plus 1

One of the best things a writer (or wanna-be writer) can do is invest in a conference. Consider these benefits:

  • practical teaching on the craft
  • connection with other writers
    • making new friends and growing existing friendships
    • learning from those ahead of us on the trail
    • passing on what we’ve learned to those behind us
    • affirming that we’re not alone in our writerly oddness
    • opportunities to cross-promote our work, guest post on others’ blogs, etc.
  • connection with faculty
    • pitching ideas to editors and/or agents
    • critique feedback
    • advice on how to take the next step
    • learning about the publishing industry
  • recharging and inspiring our creativity
  • new ideas

Write Canada 2015 Canada's largest conference for Christians who write

Write Canada offers all that to Canadian Christians who write, and it adds another essential benefit:

  • spiritual refreshment through group worship and prayer times

This is my favourite conference, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve attended. This year I’m excited about something special — I’ll tell you about it when I come back with photographic evidence 🙂

I’m looking forward to the courses I’ve selected, and I’ll be part of a panel (Book Launches that Sizzle). My newest novel, Secrets and Lies, is short-listed for the 2015 Word Awards, which will be presented at a banquet closing the conference.

This year the conference will be held in Toronto, instead of its former venue in Guelph. I’ll miss that environment this time (and miss my friend Mary who lives nearby, who I won’t see…) but transportation will be easier, and the Novotel site looks great.

If you’re considering the conference, be warned that the early registration ends May 10. Why pay more? For more information on the conference and registration, click here: Write Canada.

What benefits can you add to my list?

What I Brought Home from Write Canada 2014

I love going to Write Canada because it’s like three events in one: professional development, a getaway with friends, and a spiritual renewal.

Here are some of the highlights:

The Word Awards Gala: Heaven’s Prey was a finalist in the suspense category, and while it didn’t win, being chosen as a finalist is good affirmation. And I got to cheer for a number of my friends when their work won. (Winners’ list here)

Writing: R.J. Anderson gave me a broader understanding of the ways my individual roots and experiences give a unique flavour to what I write. I’m looking forward to more intentionally discovering my “singular storytelling voice.”

Marketing: Sherry Stahl and a round-table discussion led by Lisa Hall-Wilson gave me some specific tips to help more readers of Christian suspense discover Heaven’s Prey and the rest of the Redemption’s Edge series as those novels are released. Definite homework here.

Friends: It was so good to reunite with old friends and to meet new ones. Some faces were conspicuously absent, since life does interrupt us, and they were missed.

Spiritual: Or is it writing? Or life? Mark Buchanan and Ted Dekker are widely different individuals whose messages overlapped in some key areas. I feel liberated to more fully embrace the gift and calling of writing, to write from a deeper sense of who I am (and Whose), and yet to not tie my identity to writing or to any other aspect of my life.

This and that: I also came home with Aimee Reid‘s new picture book, Mama’s Day with Little Gray (autographed “To Janet’s grandchildren” – not that I’m rushing that event!), a knitting pattern for the little sleeves you put around cups of take-out tea, a little teapot with knitted cozy, and two jars of rhubarb chutney from a friend of a friend.

I am blessed, indeed. For more snippets from the conference, check out my friends’ blogs below. And, in case you’re wondering, a sheep did make an appearance on the final day. Eowyn joined me for a photo-op.

Janet and Eowyn the sheep at Write Canada

Janet with Eowyn the sheep. Photo credit: Susan Stewart.

What other Write Canada attendees are saying:

My Surreal Life Continues

Strawberries and Sandcastles

When is Tension a Good Thing?

The 10 Best Things About Write Canada 2014

Rediscovering the Joy of Writing

Following Up: Victory on the Road to Recovery

Tears

A Glimpse Into the Writers’ Life

Memories of My Involvement with Write Canada… 

The Sheep Who Attended a Writers’ Conference

It started as a joke.

One of my sons offered his stuffed sheep as a travelling companion when I packed for Write! Canada in 2012. I have a sheep of my own (named Acton) but he’s big enough to count as carry-on luggage.

Stuffed sheep in a Busy Beads toy

Taking a break between flights in Montreal

Wilhelm, on the other hand, stands maybe 4 inches tall. And he’s cute as all get-out.

He came along. We had some fun on the way.

Then I decided to smuggle him into the first conference session, just so I could say he’d been there.

I listen at Write! Canada. To the faculty, to my fellow attendees, and to God. This theme showed up early: Look. Listen. Recapture wonder and curiosity. 

Look at that face. Could it get more wide-eyed and wonder-filled?

Wilhelm rode in my shoulder bag all conference, peeking out as a visual aid to remind me of the lesson. Unprofessional? Maybe. Quirky? Yup. Conversation starter? Definitely.

We came home with two new books on writing. Have you read either of these? I confess I haven’t read the fantasy one yet, but my review of Unleash the Writer Within is here, and I highly recommend this book.

Unleash the Writer Within cover artThe Write's Complete Fantasy Reference

Writing Friends

It’s ironic that a solitary path like writing involves so many companions along the way. The act of stringing words into paragraphs (or poems) may involve only one brain and set of hands, but writers need–and acquire–friends along the way.

We have our regular friends, wonderful and supportive. And we develop friends in the industry: other writers, editors etc. Some of them are local, but many are scattered around the world.

We encourage one another. Share information. Critique, challenge and cross-promote. We may write alone, but we’re not alone.

It’s a special treat to meet a writing friend face to face after a long-distance friendship. Yesterday I had the chance to meet a fairly new writing friend, suspense author and blogger R.A. Giggie. We’ve traded Tweets and Facebook messages, but now we’ve heard each other’s voices and seen the full person instead of a Facebook avatar.

A thoroughly organized blogger would, at this point, insert the photo of Renee-Ann and me (myself?) that I should have asked her husband to take. I did think of it ahead of time, honest! I just forgot. If my husband or sons read this post, they won’t think this is at all unusual.

Instead, here’s a random photo of another meeting:

Marmalade cat meets a stuffed sheep

Mr. Whiskers meets Wilhelm

And here’s where the aforementioned blogger uses this seemingly random photo as a bridge from one writing-friends story to another:

Two weeks from now I’ll be at Write Canada amid old and new writing friends. When I last attended, in 2012, the little sheep Wilhelm came along for the ride. (Not professional, I know, and not recommended, but it happened. Come back next Friday for the rest of the story.) For the conference, I stayed with another writing friend, blogger Mary Waind, and her housemate, Mr. Whiskers.

Face-to-face friends are best, but online friends are great too. If you’re a new writer, it’s easier than ever to find others of like mind online, through Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Groups etc. Do yourself a favour and make some writing friends.

My favourite writing groups: The Word Guild, InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, American Christian Fiction Writers (yes, they let international members join too!). And if you want to virtually “meet” some of my friends, R.A. Giggie’s blog is There’s Just Something About Writing and Mary Waind’s blog is Beech Croft Tales.  If you’re curious about R.A. Giggie’s suspense novel, I’ve reviewed it here: Stella’s Plea.

Advice I’d Give a Newbie Writer

Following the biweekly series of writing-related posts on Ruth L. Snyder’s blog hop, here are my thoughts for new writers:

You

You are a writer. Don’t wait until you have something published to call yourself one. We tend to be afraid others will laugh at us or think we’re being pretentious, but the truth is, if you write, you’re a writer. Owning that facet of your identity, and giving yourself permission to be that part of who you are, is a step forward, and if you don’t take your writing seriously, no one else will.

You’re not just a writer, though. Don’t neglect the other areas of your life, even if this one’s the most fun.

Write

Take regular time to write. Little bits will add up. If you want to stick with this long-term, learn to write when the muse is silent and when you’d rather be doing anything else. Writing is work.

Keep writing. When you finish a project to the best of your ability, write something else. Don’t tie your hopes to one thing.

Remember the difference between writing for personal expression and writing for readers. They’re both valuable, but if you want others to read your work you need to revise with their interests in mind.

If you decide to self-publish, do the research first. And hold yourself accountable to produce a quality product, including cover art and editing. Don’t sabotage what you’ve written by packaging it poorly.

Connect

Get to know other writers online or in person. Learn from their experiences and their mistakes. These are the people who will encourage and understand you, and you’ll do the same for them. Help other writers, with no agenda. Some of it will come back to you anyway. My favourite online writers’ organizations: The Word Guild, InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, American Christian Fiction Writers.

Connect with other writers, attend conferences if you can. Be teachable, and don’t turn getting published into an idol. Enjoy the journey, and remember that anything worth doing will take time and practice. If you’re good today, imagine how much better your writing will be after you’ve put in your “apprenticeship”.

On conferences: don’t wait until you’ve “earned” the right to be there. The sooner you go, the less bad habits you’ll have to un-learn later. And the more writing friendships and contacts you’ll develop. My favourite conference: Write Canada. Choose a conference based on location but also based on faculty and course options. If you can’t get to one, there are online offerings like WANA International, and many conferences offer mp3s or CDs of their teaching sessions.

Learn

As well as conferences, check out books and blogs on writing. A few books I’ve reviewed and recommend: You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins; The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke; Unleash the Writer Within by Cecil Murphey. Blogs I find helpful: How to Write a Story by Valerie Comer; Write With Excellence by N.J. Lindquist; The Seekers (group blog). There are, of course, many more resources. Feel free to leave your favourites in the comments! 

Quality

Do your very best. Don’t let fear of imperfection keep you from sharing your work, but remember to make that work shine as brightly as you can. Serve the art. Don’t be careless with it. This goes double if you’re a Christian. Yes, God may have given you the idea. But He gave you the task of presenting it well. He can use poor writing, but good writing gets into the hands of many more people who He may want to touch with it.

The only way to know you won’t succeed is to quit, so persevere.

Follow

I mention this last, but if you’re a Christian it actually needs to come first: pray. If God has gifted you to write, He will make a way to use what you write. It may not be what you have in mind, nor on your timetable, but His way is best. Follow His leading, even if it’s into areas of writing that aren’t your top choice. He knows where this will go, long-term.

To read what other writers are saying about this, follow the blog hop: Just click on the image below.

Blog hop for writers

Celebration Month

Celebration cake with candle.The earliest notes for my foray into the mad adventure known as fiction writing carry a March date. I’ve chosen March as the “birthday” month of my fictional characters imaginary friends, even those who have told me their “real” birth dates. My family thinks I’m crazy, but they never turn down free cake.

This blog began in March, too, and in 2013 I’m celebrating 5 years. Names have changed (the blog used to be God With Us: Finding Joy, and I used to write under the pen name of Joanna Mallory) but the focus is much the same.

God has given me a devotional every week. For five years. I love the chance to share what He’s showing me, and to see how sometimes He uses it in readers’ lives.

I’ve enjoyed spreading the word about books I’ve read and authors I’ve appreciated. Especially Canadian authors who are Christian…

And the blogging friends I’ve made, a few of whom could be my sisters separated at birth… some of you I won’t meet before Heaven, others I’ve met at Write! Canada, but it’s our online conversations that have rooted the relationships.

In celebration of it all, I’m giving away a free copy of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. To find out more, visit the Blog Birthday Party page. [Comments left on today’s post won’t be included in the draw… you need to go over to the giveaway page. Edit: The party’s over, and the page is gone now.]

So… join the celebration, and help yourself to a slice of virtual cake!

Relying on the Truth

I know the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
Psalm 16:8, NLT*

Sometimes we just need to declare the truth and choose to believe it, whether it feels true or not.

God is patiently retraining my responses to stressful or fear-inducing situations, and my part is to remember—and rely on—the truth.

Travelling to and from Write! Canada the other week let me practice. My route to the conference involved two planes, a commuter train and a bus. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I actually suspect God allowed me to miss my train stop as part of the lesson. Not that He caused me to forget, but it was just after that stop a thought popped up: check where you’re supposed to get off.

It really was good practice to get off at the next stop muttering “I have a good Shepherd” and using the truth to subdue the muscles that wanted to clench. I repeated it in my mind when I had to ask a transit information worker for help.

My Shepherd had a friendly person on the desk, who didn’t yell at me or make me feel stupid. Instead, she told me what bus to take from there. No backtracking, no paying a second fare.

This retraining will be ongoing for some time, but after all, it took years for the problem to get this deeply entrenched. And it’s getting easier as long as I stay on guard.

God who rules the universe and yet who knows our smallest need, thank You for Your care. You love us, You save us, and You don’t leave us in the messes where You find us. Thank You for the truth in Your Word. Help us use all the armour of Christ and to cooperate with You in working out our salvation. Thank You that who the Son sets free is free indeed.

As an echo to today’s verse, here is Vineyard Music’s “I Will Not Be Shaken.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.