Tag Archives: InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship

Janette Oke Award 2016

InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship added a new award to their Fall Conference event: the Janette Oke Award, created to honour a long-standing contributor to (and pioneer in) the genre of Christian fiction. Here’s the description from InScribe’s website:

Janette Oke is a lifetime member of Inscribe and some members of Inscribe have long wished to honor her faith, writing career and Christian commitment that have impacted millions around the world. The committee is blessed to be able to start to offer this award at Inscribe’s Fall Conference 2016.

The award will be given to someone who demonstrates a strong Christian commitment, a desire to impact society with family and Christlike values in their work, belongs to Inscribe, and is innovative or brave in their chosen genre. The committee is not looking for a similar theme or genre but a sense of commitment, conviction and a strong desire to persevere in their field.

Janice L. DickOut of all the applicants, the inaugural winner was a natural fit: Janice L. Dick, author of historical sagas featuring Russian Mennonites.

Like Janette Oke, Janice Dick crafts novels with a strong sense of place and with characters whose faith affects their choices and their lives. The faith thread is never pushy, but instead it’s a part of the Christian characters’ identities, and as they live it out, it offers a powerful witness to the other characters (and to readers).

Janice Dick’s most recent release is Other Side of the River, with In a Foreign Land anticipated as the next book in the series. Her previous 3-book Storm series is currently out of print, to be re-released in the future.

Blog Hop: 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

Writers need people. We need family and friends, and of course readers. We also need other writers.

There’s nothing like the sense of belonging that comes from being with people who understand you. That’s one of the things I love about writers’ conferences and my local writing group.

We may all write different types of material, but at some level, we connect. We can encourage one another, share experiences and information. Commiserate, when needed. We can inspire each other, even brainstorming to develop ideas.

The new anthology, 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers, is like a portable writers’ group, one we can take home and enjoy at our leisure.

7 Essential Habits of Christian WritersReading it feels like sitting with other writers and listening to them share advice… stories… poetry… all about aspects of the faith-filled writing life.

The seven habits it addresses are:

  • Time with God
  • Healthy Living
  • Time Management
  • Honing Writing Skills
  • Crafting a Masterpiece
  • Submitting
  • Marketing

There’s something for everyone, from the beginner to the seasoned writer. Here’s the Amazon purchase link.

The Kindle version has been available for a while and is a Canadian bestseller. (Other ebook formats are coming soon.) The print version of 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers will launch at the InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship’s Fall Conference, Sept. 25-26. To celebrate, InScribe has organized a blog tour to introduce some of the contributors.

Today’s my turn. InScribe has been a key part of my growth as a writer, and I’m thankful for the chance to collaborate on this project. My contributions are both non-fiction: “Writer. Ready. Pen.” and “The Writer’s Newsletter: Do You Need One?”

If you’re visiting as part of the blog tour and we haven’t “met” before, here’s a quick introduction: I live in Atlantic Canada, and I write Christian suspense novels and blog about faith and books. I love Jesus and my family, and enjoy reading, worship music, and tea. If you’re a fan of Christian suspense, you’re invited to join my writing journey through my monthly newsletter.

I hope you’ll take time to check out the other stops on the blog tour. They’re listed below:

Have you read 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers? If so, what did you think? Please consider leaving a review at myBook.to/ChristianWriters1Review or on Goodreads.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

Introducing a new resource for Christians who write:

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

Available for Kindle (July 2015). Coming soon in print and in other ebook formats.

There are plenty of how-tos out there addressing various aspects of the writing craft, publication, marketing etc, but there aren’t many books that cultivate the writer as a whole person.

The editors of this anthology chose seven key areas that are essential for a Christian who writes:

  • Time with God
  • Healthy Living
  • Time Management
  • Honing Writing Skills
  • Crafting a Masterpiece
  • Submitting
  • Marketing

How often do writers concentrate on a few of these while letting others slip away? Or forget that the time invested in spiritual growth and maintaining health actually contribute to the depth and quality of their writing?

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is produced by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, with contributions from 28 Canadian writers (including me). Writers, I encourage you to take a peek at the table of contents (click here and scroll down the page) to see what’s on offer.

At present the book is available exclusively for Kindle, but there will be a print version released this fall and the ebook will also be available for Kobo, Nook, iTunes etc. In Kindle form, the book is already an Amazon bestseller in Canada and has been gaining traction internationally as well.

Amazon.ca listing: 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers #1 bestseller

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 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.


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.


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.


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! 


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.


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

What Do Writers Need?

List of things a writer needs, including writing friends.

To be a successful author (define that how you will) a writer needs talent, experience, perseverance, opportunity, readers, etc.

Writers also need friends.

We may do the actual writing alone, even if we do it best amid the background chatter of the local coffee hangout, but it’s the writing community that lets us thrive.

Another writer will get it if you scribble notes in the emergency room because “I might need this for a story.” Or if you’re crying because you just had to kill someone in your fiction. Or if your editor’s comments are right, but “it’s too hard and I’ll never be able to do all this!”

Other writers understand the struggles. They understand the “unusual” mindset, too, because they share it.

Writing groups, workshops and conferences let us cultivate positive acquaintances, and some of those turn into deep friendships. Even at the acquaintance level, we can learn from one another, encourage, keep one another accountable, and build one another up.

We can be that “second pair of eyes” that sees what’s missing, confusing, or out of perspective in an article or story. Or we can spot the typo or punctuation error before it reaches an acquisitions editor.

We can cheer for one another. I love it when someone I know gets published or wins an award. If their work was chosen over mine, the rejection still hurts, but it doesn’t cut as deeply. There’s a positive aspect to focus on instead of dwelling on the negative.

After all, a friend’s good news is a lot better than no news or bad news, and sometimes if I had to wait for my own reason to celebrate it would be a long time coming. Now that a celebration’s on the calendar for me this November with the release of my novel, Heaven’s Prey, I’m glad to have writer friends who’ll share it with me and help spread the word.

Writers can encourage one another. We can share market opportunities, recommend helpful resources, warn others about scams. We can talk up one another’s blogs, articles, poetry or books. It’s a lot easier for me to tell you how great my friend’s writing is than to promote my own.

I don’t know if I’d still be writing without a network of writer friends. They’re mostly online, but I’m glad to have a few face-to-face writing friends too. In the early days, my local critique group not only encouraged my tentative start, they were my unofficial accountability group. I hated admitting I hadn’t written anything in the past month.

Then I found InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and connected online with other writers who shared my faith. Looking back, that was the moment “the lights went on, colour flooded black-and-white, and I was connected.

The place I’m most active these days is The Word Guild, and I’m enjoying our new Facebook group that lets us put faces to names. Wherever we find them, writers need writing friends.

Writers: where do you most like hanging out to connect with your writing friends?

Non-writers: do you have friends who write? How do you best support them?

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

More Kudos for A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

A Second Cup of Hot Apple CiderPositive reviews and reader comments started appearing soon after the release of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider last year. You can read some of them on the Hot Apple Cider Anthologies website (follow the links above).

I didn’t do a review because I have a story in it—didn’t seem proper, even though I really enjoyed the other selections and would love to tell you how great they are. There’s something for everyone, though: true life, fiction, poetry, spoken word, allegory/parable, serious, reflective, humour and more.

The reviews and author appearances continue (37 of us across Canada) and now that the book has been out long enough to be considered for awards, those are starting to show up too.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider was named 2012 Book of the Year in the gift book category by the CSPA (Christian Small Publishers’ Association).

My story, “The Road Trip That Wasn’t,” received first place in InScribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship’s 2011-2012 members-only contest for published work. You can read an excerpt here.

Expect to see a lot of Second Cup selections on the short-lists for the Canadian Christian Writing Awards later this spring.

Review: Abundant Rain, by Marcia Lee Laycock

Abundant Rain, by Marcia Lee Laycock (Smashwords, 2011)

The subtitle of this ebook is “Inspiring words for writers of faith.” It’s an 110-page collection of short pieces designed to encourage and sustain writers (and perhaps to help their loved ones understand them).

The articles in this collection have appeared as Marcia’s weekly devotional posts on the popular Novel Journey blog.

Topics cover perseverance, pride, writing about life’s ugly bits and hard questions, self-promotion versus bragging, art and perfectionism, praising God, and what happens when we compare ourselves with other writers.

One of the selections, “Little Songs,” particularly warmed my heart. In it, Marcia describes a string of emails in an online writing group, all on the theme of “whatever our circumstances, bless the Lord.” I’m part of the same group—InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship—and I remember that conversation thread well. In fact, one of the quoted prayers may well be mine.

Writers, like any other group of people following a particular passion, are a misunderstood lot. It takes one of our own to know which words will encourage us. Abundant Rain is a book designed to bless writers. It’s one to read and then read again, in small sections, as needed.

Look for the free ebook, “A Small Patch of Blue,” on the author’s Smashwords profile page if you’d like to preview an excerpt from Abundant RainAbundant Rain is available from Smashwords in various ebook formats.

Marcia Lee Laycock is an award-winning Canadian author of non-fiction and fiction. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies (most recently in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider) and she has written two devotional compilations, Spur of the Moment and Focused Reflections, as well as the novel One Smooth Stone. A Tumbled Stone, the novel’s sequel, is due to release soon.

Marcia can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website, which also has links to her various blog presences.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship

I joined a writing group because my husband squealed on me. “Janet writes,” he told a new friend at church.

Well… I used to write little stories, until university papers killed them. By this point in my life I’d flitted near burnout in the workplace and found my purpose as an at-home mom to a toddler. Now there was a second child on the way, and the last thing on my mind was writing.

But our friend wanted to start a writing group, so I went along in support. We were a small gathering of published and wanna-bes, interested in poetry, articles and fiction. Eventually I started writing personal experience pieces, and one day the fiction drive kicked back in.

Public use of the Internet was just beginning. Our group learned about magazine markets by sending away for samples and writers’ guidelines. Compared to now with almost everything online, we were really isolated.

And it felt isolated, although we didn’t know what we were missing. Nova Scotia is home to a lot of writers, and the Writers’ Federation of NS has a large base of members. Some are Christians, but the only writers I knew, of faith or otherwise, were the handful in my group.

One night someone in our group brought a little newsletter called Exchange, put out by Audrey Dorsch. I recognized a good thing and subscribed. Exchange was discontinued a few years ago, but I owe Audrey a huge debt for the nuggets of information, market news and encouragement that she shared four times a year. She even published me once or twice in the later years.

One issue included a pamphlet about a group called Alberta Christian Writers’ Fellowship—Canada Wide. Wow! This body of Christian writers in Alberta were willing to accept members from as far away as Nova Scotia, and farther!

I joined.

Before long, the organization changed its name to InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. And fellowship is what meant the most to me. For the price of my membership I received a quarterly, magazine-length newsletter called FellowScript to teach and encourage me.

More than that, I stumbled into email and the Internet around that time, and connected with InScribe’s member listserv. Suddenly I could communicate with Christian writers from all across Canada.

The lights went on, colour flooded black-and-white, and I was connected.

InScribe was my writing lifeline for a long time. In 2000 I had the privilege of attending the Fall Conference in Edmonton and meeting some of my friends face to face.

I’ve entered InScribe contests over the years, even won a few, and learned from the judges’ comments. One year I gathered courage to apply for the Barnabas Fellowship (“enabling a member of InScribe to further his or her progress in writing”) and my name was chosen. The money let me take an online course on developing characters and gave a good kick-start to my second novel manuscript.

Along the way I’ve added memberships with The Word Guild, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia and American Christian Fiction Writers, and my online “writing family” has expanded. But InScribe will always be special as my first connection with the wider writing world.

The InScribe listserv and FellowScript newsletter are well worth the price of membership. You can learn a lot more about InScribe and browse its members’ links at the InScribe website.

This month various Inscribers are posting some of their thoughts and stories about ICWF on their blogs.  The tour kicked off on July 4 with a stop at ICWF President Jack Popjes’ blog, INsights & OUTbursts, and will wind up on July 27 at Janice Keats’ blog, The Master’s Path. I’ve had a great time following the tour and getting to know some of my fellow InScribers a bit better.

You can see the full tour schedule on the InScribe blog. The most recent post was at Violet Nesdoly’s Line Upon Line and the next one will be July 25th at Laureen Guenther’s Reenie’s Resources.

Leave a comment here and on the other blog tour posts to be entered in the grand prize draw: an InScribe book bag with a free annual membership and a copy of InScribed: 30 Years of Inspiring Writing. The more blogs you comment on, the more entries you’ll get in the draw—so if you comment on 10 blogs, you’ll get 10 entries in the draw (but one comment per blog, please). Contest is open only to non-InScribe-members (members are encouraged to comment but will not be entered in the draw).

Canada’s Top Christian Writing Awards for 2011

On June 15, 2011, The Word Guild will present the Canadian Christian Writing Awards for work published during 2010. Contest Administrator Jane Twohey reports a record 260 submissions in the 35 award categories that include non-fiction books, novels, articles, columns, blogs, poems, and song lyrics.

Some of the books up for awards have been reviewed on this blog (see category list on the right-hand side of this page) and I’m pleased to have met many of the finalists through The Word Guild, Write! Canada and InScribe. Check out the complete shortlist of finalists for The Word Guild 2010 Writing Awards.

Finalists are distributed across eight provinces. British Columbia writers account for 8 finalist placements; Alberta 6; Saskatchewan 6; Manitoba 7; Ontario 51; Quebec 1; New Brunswick 2 and Nova Scotia 2. Canadians living in the U.S. and Africa are also represented among the finalists. Each winner will be presented with a cash prize, a certificate and a specially designed lapel pin to mark his or her achievement.

The judges looked for underlying evidence that the writer’s Christian worldview informed and influenced the writing. Entries were judged according to excellence of writing; impact (the inspirational or informational value); fulfillment of stated purpose; suitability to target audience; originality and freshness of style.

The awards are sponsored by The Word Guild, a national association with the mandate of connecting, developing and promoting Canadian writers and editors who are Christian. Formerly known as The God Uses Ink Awards, these writing prizes have been awarded annually since 1988. The Word Guild assumed responsibility for the awards in 2002, revamping and expanding the program from its original eight categories to the current 35.

The Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Awards gala in Toronto is open to the general public. (Get more details here.)

[Adapted from the original press release from The Word Guild.]