Tag Archives: poetry

Interview: Canadian author Violet Nesdoly, part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of an interview with Violet Nesdoly, multi-talented writer from British Columbia, Canada. (Click for part 1 of the interview.)

Janet: Violet, last week we talked about the varieties of writing that you do. That’s a lot of work! What would be the perfect writer’s lair for you?

Violet Nesdoly with her new novel, Destiny's Hands Violet: Janet, I have it! When we bought our townhouse in 2007, I laid claim to the largest extra bedroom as my office. I have two desks (one for the computer, one for longhand writing), lots of shelves, a file cabinet. All I need is a lair-fairy to clean it up for me, and to go through and shred all the paper I no longer need to keep.

Janet: A lair-fairy—ooh, I could use one of those too. How does it feel when someone tells you they’ve changed because they connected with something you’ve written?

Violet: As you can imagine, this is huge! One of the reasons I chose to spend my days writing is because the writing of others has made a big impact on my life. I can think of many times a book has brought me to tears with the sense that God is in the room right beside me. The thought that God the Holy Spirit can inhabit words so that they communicate across time and distance is one of the mysteries of life.

When someone tells me that my words have helped them connect with God in some way, I feel a snap of rightness (like when puzzle pieces fit together) and am immensely grateful that I can do this thing that has the potential to impact people for eternity. 

Janet: I like that “snap of rightness” illustration. Those are the satisfying moments that make a writer’s work worthwhile. What do you like best about the writing life?

Violet: The variety. The independence (being my own boss). The challenge to always become a better writer. The vast opportunities because of advances in technology. The fact that I can connect with people all over the world at minimal cost.

Janet: What do you like least?

Violet: Marketing and publicity. Building a ‘platform’ via the social networks. Blowing my  own horn. Knowing that I’m responsible for selling a lot of books. Want to really know? I wrote about it here.

Janet: What do your family think of your writing?

Violet: My family has been so supportive. My husband is the best! He subscribes to my devotions, and gets my back when he finds typos. In all the years I’ve been freelancing, my career has never been a substantial money-maker. But he lets me muddle on, not begrudging me the time or shekels. He even cooks!

Janet: You have a keeper! Let’s step back and meet your non-writing side. What’s the rest of life like?

Violet: My husband and I attend a wonderful church (Christian Life Assembly), and I also attend and have taught at our women’s Wednesday morning program, Women By Design. 

Visiting our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids (a three-hour drive away) is always a treat, as is driving into the big city to dine with our adult son in restaurants of his choosing.

Not to be missed, of course, is the daily hour-long walk hubby and I go for each morning that it isn’t pouring rain. 

Janet: What are some of your favourite things?

Violet: Our grandkids (three beautiful pre-schoolers). Walks in the beautiful outdoors. Bird watching. Identifying wildflowers. My camera. My Kindle e-reader. Scrivener. My New Spirit-Filled Life Bible.

Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Violet: My life passage is Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

A song that has impacted me hugely is “You and Me Alone” by Norm Strauss. Norm is a Canadian singer-songwriter (roots style) and there’s not a lot of his stuff on YouTube. I did write about this particular song on my personal blog way back in 2005. If you’re interested in reading the lyrics and a bit about how the song has impacted me, the article is “marker stone – part 1.”

Janet: That’s a powerful story (I had to read “marker stone – part 2” as well.) I’m glad God has kept you writing! What are you reading these days?

Violet: Since I got my Kindle e-reader, I have more books on the go at one time than ever! The last piece of fiction I read was August Gamble by Linda Hall (downloaded from Smashwords). I also recently finished With Burning Hearts by Henri J. M. Nouwen (that was in hard copy),  Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo, Collections From a Forest – Volume 1, a book of poems by Charlie Van Gorkom, and Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles by Steven Stiles. I’m somewhere in the middle of The Transforming Power of the Gospel by Jerry Bridges and Rumours of Water by L. L. Barkat.

Janet: What are you listening to?

Violet: I got my husband a Jason Crabb CD for Christmas (Jason Crabb: The Song Lives On – Southern Gospel). I discovered I love it too. Other favourites are The Journey, a project by Stuart Townend, A Way to see in the Dark by Jason Gray, and whenever I’m doing our household’s number crunching, I tune in to Grooveshark Radio, search Andrew Peterson and line up a list of songs by him.

Janet: A number-crunching playlist. That’s a new one. As long as you’re not playing “Mission Impossible” I won’t worry! What do you like to do to get away from it all?

Violet: Hawaii!! We went this January. What fun! We also love to travel in British Columbia and explore out-of-the-way places. I’m always scouting for more murals and funky public art.

Janet:  There are murals in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia too (hint, hint). Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Violet. May the Lord continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life.

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Destiny's Hands cover art

Destiny’s Hands is available now in print and e-book. You can read the opening chapters of Destiny’s Hands (Kindle version).

You can also find Violet Nesdoly via her main website (previous link) and at the following blogs:

Interview: Canadian author Violet Nesdoly

Today’s visitor is Violet Nesdoly, from British Columbia, Canada. Violet, I often include links to your Other Food: daily devo’s blog, and I realized that’s giving my readers a limited view of who you are. Yes, you write insightful devotionals for adults (and for kids at Bible Drive-thru). But that’s only part of what you do.

I first heard of you as a poet. Care to give us a peek at that part of your life?

Violet NesdolyViolet: First, thanks, so much, Janet, for your support of Other Food: daily devos, and your interest in general.

As you mention the bits and pieces of my writing life, I’m more aware than ever that I’ve built my career the wrong way. Common wisdom is that you choose a subject or genre and become an expert in it. However, it seems I’ve become more of 21st century Renaissance woman, with fingers in lots of pies.

Now, to your question about poetry—I’ve always viewed it as a sideline. But what a fun sideline! My poetry-writing time is my time to play and experiment. Poetry provides the perfect outlet for my love of words and my philosophical bent. It gives me a way to express my enjoyment of nature and dovetails with my hobby of photography.

I’ve put together two poetry collections (available as books) and currently post original poems once or twice a week on my poetry blog  Violet Nesdoly/poems. In addition, I’ve had the satisfaction of seeing my poems published in a few other print and online publications (e.g. Prairie Messenger, Rejoice,  Good Times, Your Daily Poem, Utmost Christian Writers, qarrtsiluni).

I’m also part of a local poets’ group, the Matsqui, Sumas, Abbotsford Poets Potpourri Society (MSA PPS). I am the society’s website administrator and take part in regular readings, open mics and club projects. (Actually, keeps me pretty busy. Maybe it isn’t as much a of sideline as I thought!)

Janet: As well as your own poetry, you’ve written columns on the subject and served as Utmost Christian Writers International Poetry Laureate (2006-2008). And one of your blogs, Line upon line, is writing-related. Teaching seems to be part of your focus too.

Violet: The experience of being Utmost Christian Writers’ Poet Laureate was a huge honour and the wherefore of my second book. 

Writing poetry how-to columns has motivated me to study the craft. I still write a regular (four-times-a-year) poetry column for FellowScript. Writing it forces me to think about how the process of writing poetry works and how I keep motivated so I can pass these things on to others.

As for teaching in general, I guess I have a little of that in my DNA. I have a degree in elementary education and taught in the public school system for a total of five years. Actually, my writing for children has been largely educational too. 

Janet: You also review books at Blogcritics, write a personal blog promptings, and run another blog Murals and More, where you post photographs of murals and public art. Have I left anything out?

Violet: One more thing comes to mind: a little storefront at Constant Content. That’s where I sell content for the web.

Janet: What got you started writing in the first place?

Violet: I started writing when I was in high school. A paper that we got when I was a kid (The Western Producer) had a section called the Young Cooperators Club that published the creative writing of children and teens. To join you gave yourself a pseudonym and submitted writing to the editor of your age group. I got my first taste of publication there as “Nell.”

I didn’t write much for public consumption during my early adult years but the dream of becoming a writer never died completely. After my children were in school, I decided to revive it. At the end of 1995 I enrolled in the “Writing for Children and Teens” course at the Institute for Children’s Literature and  sold my first piece of writing—a Keys for Kids devotion—in March of 1997. I’ve been freelancing ever since.

Janet: And what are you working on now?

Violet: Around 2002 I got an idea for a Bible fiction story (book-length). Over the years I’ve worked on that project, mostly doing research. In 2009 I spent the month of November (NaNoWriMo) writing the story that was in my head. Last spring I worked on it some more and entered it in the Word Alive Press (WAP) free publishing contest.

I was surprised when it made the list of finalists (released in September 2011). Destiny's Hands cover artI have decided to self-publish that book (called Destiny’s Hands, a fictional rendering of the story of Bezalel, the head craftsman of the tabernacle and its accessories—Exodus). I have just finished doing a six-week edit of that manuscript and got it off my desk and into the hands of my editor at WAP  mid-March.

Janet: Congratulations on reaching the publishing stage! Destiny’s Hands is now available, and I’m looking forward to reading it. The cover is beautiful.

Here’s the link to part 2 of this interview with Violet Nesdoly.

Friday Friends: Janice Keats

Janice Keats is a Canadian author and poet. She’s also a photographer, blogger and a full-time worker with the Salvation Army.

Janet: Welcome, Janice, and thanks for stopping by. You self-published Poems of Inspiration and Occasion as well as your Bible study, Covering The Bases, then chose to go the traditional publishing route with your third, A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism. What prompted the change?

Janice: With my first two books I was eager to see them printed and I knew that the traditional publishing route takes time. I really wanted to seek a publisher for this book, firstly because of the satisfaction and accomplishment that is associated with it.

It’s a good feeling knowing that I have accomplished what I have set out to do. (Although it had taken 3 major attempts of searching the right publisher and then sending out queries and waiting for their responses.) So in this case it was a period of 4 years.

Secondly, I was ready and prepared for the task, I guess I could say that I have matured and have grown as a writer in recent years.

Thirdly, a writer has a far greater advantage of promotion with traditional route than the self-publishing method. Meaning it would be found on numerous websites etc.

I’ve learned a lot about promotion however, with my self-published books. In fact, I have applied those skills with my latest book.

Janet: Tell us a bit about A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism. Why did you write this book?

Janice: It really is because of my personal faith experience. I struggled so much with the need to make a decision for Christ that my heart literally ached. I didn’t have a church background.

When I became a Christian, I experienced a complete transformation. I was so overjoyed of the genuine peace and I knew that Jesus was real so I had to share it with people. It wasn’t the direct approach as some may think, it was a simple explanation of how Jesus changed my life. (My personal faith story is detailed on my blog).

I became involved in Bible studies and later facilitated many groups. As a result, I developed my own material. In the book, I have detailed how to create a personal faith story by following a few easy steps and writing it out. Also, I have included charts for the reader to keep progress of his/her faith as well as outreach suggestions.

Janet: The word ‘evangelism’ has picked up a taint from some of the methods people have used, but the need to tell others what Jesus has done for us—and how much He loves them—is key to the Christian life. How would you define it in terms people would understand today?

Janice: Sometimes I wonder if I should have used the word ‘evangelism’ because I had already encountered an obstacle. I contacted one particular magazine in hopes of submitting a piece from my book and was told that evangelism doesn’t sell. Wow, I was floored. How can someone make a judgement like that without knowing what the book is about?

It’s true, the word evangelism may be tainted but since God’s Word doesn’t change that doesn’t mean we can’t try different methods. We have to keep trying new methods of exposing the Gospel message.

Perhaps back in the day, there may have been more of a force of persuasion among the body of Christ but just as technology changes, so too, the church makes adjustments.

What the world needs to know is how much God loves them. Who will share the message? Who will go? And…who will teach? I will go Lord. I gave Him my life and I will listen to God’s direction as far as I am able.

This subject is my passion. I don’t necessarily need to use the word, ‘evangelism’ as long as I am willing to share my faith. The journey is with Jesus to His heart – the heart of evangelism.

Janet: I’m sure you have many chances to share your faith in your work with the Salvation Army. You have a helpful page on your blog for people who want to learn how to tell their own faith story. What would you say to someone who freezes at the thought of sharing their faith?

Janice: I would tell them that they have a faith story to share. They don’t have to prepare a mental script at all. I could freeze at the thought of that.

In my experience, I’ve been challenged with, “How did Jesus change your life? or What difference does Jesus make?”

I always begin with the old me, what my life was like before, and then share the new me, my new-found joy! There has to be a difference. It is possible that a person may not know exactly where they are in their faith. Sometimes Christians grow cold and weak in their walk with God. In my book, there is a chart which helps the reader understand where he/she stands in his/her faith.

Janet: What has reader response been like for A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism?

Janice: It’s been great so far. I have heard from a Bible study group who has purchased my latest book and I received a testimonial from the leader saying that they are growing spiritually. They originally had a timeline of studying one chapter each week but they decided not to rush it because the group was opening up and sharing with one another. One lady said that she could now share her faith without being fearful. Another reader said that she now has a heart for the lost and this book was stirring something within her. That’s great news! I was so excited to hear those comments.

I was most excited when I saw my book in a retail store recently. I was browsing around a Christian store while on vacation this summer and looked up to see my book on the top shelf. It’s the only one my eyes were fixed on: my book. It was as if all the other books became shadows. A friend took some photos of me with the book. It was meant for me to see it, I’m sure. Out of courtesy, I wrote a thank you note to the manager for stocking my book.

Janet: Even one encouraging response can mean so much. And how cool to be surprised by your book on a store shelf! What got you started writing?

Janice: The first piece I wrote was a poem entitled, Where is He? It was my personal thoughts on God as I was searching for Him. Believe it or not I hadn’t written or had any interest in writing before that time. I was at the age of 30.

My poetry writing took off and as a result I published my poetry book. From there it was my Bible study material. As my writing career began to take shape I decided to study Creative Writing, which was a two-year program.

It’s hard to believe that all this was taking place after my decision to follow God. It goes to prove that His plan for my life was playing out.

Janet: It’s amazing to see His plans unfold as we grow in Him! Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Janice: My favourite Scripture verse is Psalm 20:4, which says, “May He give you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” That Scripture verse stood out to me in church one morning and I thought about all my desires that I wanted to achieve.

I love the songs, “Worthy is the Lamb” and “Rescue the Perishing”. I have a different version of “Rescue the Perishing” than the traditional one you see in hymnbooks. It’s on a praise and worship CD that has a contemporary slant.

Janet: I’m sure you have a few more book projects in the works. Any you’d like to tell us about?

Janice: I’m working on a devotional book as well as another Bible study book on the subject of church wounds, which is sensitive, but I’m going to do it. Also, I am half way through recording an audio book of my poetry and half way through another book I am co-writing.

Janet: Church wounds… that’s a touchy one indeed, but where there are wounds, there’s the need of healing. Too many times we ignore church wounds and hope they’ll go away. With all this on your plate, what’s your favourite creative outlet for renewing your mental energy? And what do you like to do to get away from it all?

Janice: I love to create things. When I know I need a break, I will deliberately take time out to make various crafts. I enjoy creating photo stationery and sewing and country crafts. I also make bookmarks using my poetry. I had better get those craft containers out.

As a getaway, I love to walk along a shoreline or just sit beside the water’s edge and listen to the sound of waves rolling in and splashing. There’s nothing like nature. My husband and I have done a lot of traveling on motorcycle around Nova Scotia and we have seen many beautiful shorelines. I also listen to my nature CD’s and the nature radio station.

Janet: What do you like best about the writing life?

Janice: When a piece comes together easily it excites me. When I prepare a devotional, God always provides me with the needed Scripture, and I sometimes say aloud, “that’s amazing, God!”

I enjoy getting ideas from everyday life. Many people give me devotional and story ideas. Oh no, I just had another idea!

Janet: What do you like least?

Janice: Editing and polishing, and trying very diligently to reduce a piece of writing to fit a publisher’s guideline of word counts. I dislike cutting out good sentences. I’m so glad there are editors out there who know their craft.

Janet: What do your family think of your writing?

Janice: My husband and children are very supportive and encouraging. I send many of my articles to my daughters for critiquing. My husband created the layout for my poetry book. Oddly enough, he doesn’t read much of my work, perhaps because we have separate computers. I have a cousin who is a professional scriptwriter; her name is Gail Collins, just for the record.  When we get together the majority of the conversation is about writing.

The writing life can be somewhat lonely, as you know. Very few of my family members knew of my writing stint when I was employed with a newspaper. I’m so glad I am a member of a writer’s group and an online group.

Janet: Connecting with other writers can make all the difference. Another thing we’re told to do is to read widely and voraciously. I think that’s one of the perks of the deal. What are you reading these days?

Janice: I am finally getting to read The Shack. I am about one quarter way through so far. Don’t tell me about it! I may be the only person who hasn’t read it yet. The writing is superb.

I have several books on the subject of Revival. I want to know about how God works in that way. I have a favourite new author, Mark Hitchcock. I have read What on Earth is Going On? and Seven Signs of the End Times. There are a few more of his books I would like to purchase.

Janet: I know there’s controversy over The Shack, but all I can say is it blessed me more than most books do.What are you listening to?

Janice: During my 45-minute commute to work I listen to praise and worship music and the Christian radio station. Of course I enjoy all types of music but I don’t really have a favourite Christian artist, I usually purchase any praise and worship compilation CD. I also enjoy iWorship DVDs.

When I attend a live performance I love to hear vocal groups, or at least a singer who has back up vocalists. I just love harmonies. Of course, I enjoy listening to my daughters’ singing and my son’s band. On my 45-minute journey home from my work place I listen to the 70’s music. What a contrast, but you know, I am an avid music lover and listener. I usually win at guessing the songs that are played on the radio.

Janet:Your daughters’ singing and your son’s band… tell us more!

Janice: My son, Troy, is the drummer for Grounded. They are a Christian rock band and quite powerful for only a 3-piece band. They have been performing for a few years and is gradually getting a number of bookings. My son-in-law, Kurtis, is the lead singer and Matt is the bass player.

As a matter of fact the band is the backup band for my daughters. The Keats (my daughters, Sharlene and Jolene) have been performing for several years and have been working really hard professionally as country performers. They are on the way, I believe. They have recently been selected to perform at the Rising Star Showcase during Canadian Country Music Week in Edmonton on September 9th. My husband and I will be attending the events.

Janet: There’s a lot of talent in your family! I hope The Keats get a great reception in Edmonton. One last question, just for fun: what’s the most surprising thing you’ve ever done?

Janice: I attended a morning church service with my daughters in Moncton a few years ago. We went early because they had to practise their duet. The choir director came out from her office carrying choir gowns. She gave each of us one. She asked what part I sang, I didn’t know so I secretly asked my daughter and she replied, “alto”.

The director slid me in the line with the rest of the altos and before I knew it I marched out with the choir and took my place. It all happened so fast I didn’t have time to protest. I enjoy singing but I’m not exactly in the public eye. With no practise or preparation I sang along, sometimes mouthing the words. I have never been invited back to sing. Is that a surprise?

Janet: At least they didn’t put you on the spot for a solo! Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Janice. May the LORD continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life.

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To learn more or for information on ordering her books, visit Janice Keats’ website. A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism is also available through your local bookstore as well as the usual online ones. Janice’s blog is The Master’s Path, and she also posts monthly at InScribe Writers Online. You can read my review of A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism here.

New Places I’ve Found on the Web

Here are some of the new or new-to-me places I’ve found on the Internet:

My Utmost for His Highest provides daily devotionals by Oswald Chambers

Under the Cover of Prayer shares insights, revelations and stories that will show the power of prayer.

Kyria is an online, subscription-based magazine for Christian women. You can check out a free sample here: Kyria: December 2009: Rest.

Listening to My Hair Grow is a new blog from Rose McCormick Brandon with posts on various topics that arise from “a search to regain quietness in my life”.

Live Green, Live Better is a garden-related blog by Kim Burgsma, offering “tips, tricks and true confessions from a landscape designer”.

Heartfelt Devotionals offers a variety of “Thoughts for Common Sense Living” from Brenda Wood.

Return Home and Tell is a new blog from Kimberley Payne, acting on Jesus’ words in Luke 8:39, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”

Free2soar offers flight-themed poetry and Scripture.

Talk on the Way is a website “dedicated to helping our generation know more than just facts about Jesus–to know Him personally” with articles and conversations to deepen personal spiritual growth and relationships.

Maureen’s Musings is the art-and-words blog of Nova Scotia folk artist and writer Maureen Newman. Maureen’s Rural Moments site will let you see all of her paintings.

Dreaming Big shares “reflections about identity, freedom and dreaming with God” from Christian speaker Heather Boersma.

And a hearty thank-you to Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience, whose blog is not new to me but whose Write! Canada workshop on blogging challenged Christian writers to remember Jesus’ upside-down definition of success and to serve with our words.