Tag Archives: The Word Guild

The most extensive launch ever done for a Canadian Christian book

Since A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stimulate the Mind and Delight the Spirit was released in May, the anthology’s 37 writers have participated in more than 150 readings and signings in seven provinces.

This all-Canadian book, which is receiving five-star reviews, is an inspirational collection of stories by writers who share a Christian faith perspective. It contains short fiction, poetry, and personal experience articles, all chosen to provide hope and encouragement.

The contributing writers have held launch events at venues ranging from bookstores, public libraries, churches, and conferences to farmers’ markets, craft shows, summer camps, and apple harvest festivals. The authors are carrying out promotional events throughout autumn—the perfect season for relaxing with a heart-warming book while enjoying a cup of hot apple cider.

I’m the sole Nova Scotian contributor to this all-Canadian anthology, and I love being part of this team of writers from coast to coast. And I cannot say enough good things about our editors, N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles, whose attention to detail goes above and beyond reasonable service.

Janet Sketchley and Evangeline Inman at Miracles Christian Store

Miracles Christian Store in Halifax, Nova Scotia, hosted a book signing this fall with Evangeline Inman (New Brunswick contributor) and me. Owner/Manager Heidi Nelson says, “A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider is a wonderful read and a great gift idea for any reader on your list. The stories are both heart warming and inspiring, from a wide array of talented Canadian authors.”

Everyone involved in the Hot Apple Cider anthology series is a member of The Word Guild, a national association of over 400 Canadian writers and editors who are Christian (www.thewordguild.com). Editors N. J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles co-founded this organization in 2001.

The first book in this groundbreaking series, Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul, has nearly 45,000 copies in circulation. A Second Cup is well on its way to bestseller status as well.

Both books received five-star recommendations from the respected Midwest Book Review. It calls the stories “touching and poignant… a reminder that there is something good in the world.”

The books are published in Canada by That’s Life! Communications.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider and Hot Apple Cider are available through most bookstores and other retail channels, and make ideal choices for Christmas gift giving. To find out about upcoming author events in your area, or to download free Study Guides for book clubs and discussion groups, visit http://hotapplecider.ca.

[Post adapted from a press release created by Wendy Elaine Nelles.]

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.]

Review: Promises You Can Count On, by Natalie Gidney

Promises You Can Count On, by Natalie Gidney (Word Alive Press, 2009)

Bible promise books, complete with a helpful index, are great resources, and every Christian’s bookshelf should have one. But you only need one.

That’s why Promises You Can Count On takes a different approach. Natalie Gidney focuses on ten essential promises, including peace, salvation, grace and joy, and invites readers to “claim them and watch and see what He can do.” (p. 6)

This slender book is ideal for new believers or for those considering faith in Jesus Christ. It’s also a good refresher for more seasoned Christians. Each chapter draws on a number of Scriptures to explore one of God’s promises. With an easy conversational style, Natalie looks at what this promise can mean in our lives, and she offers candid examples of what it’s meant in her own.

Naturally, salvation is one of the early topics. It may surprise some readers, then, to see forgiveness rounding out the number ten spot as the final chapter. But as Natalie explains, forgiveness is something that’s required of us as well as something we need from God. That can be a hard truth to hear, and I think she’s wise to build up to it.

In some ways, forgiving others—or ourselves—isn’t possible until we’re sure we can trust God’s promises. So it makes sense to immerse ourselves in them first and grow our faith.

Promises You Can Count On was a finalist in the Relationships category of The Word Guild’s 2010 Canadian Christian Writing Awards (for books published in 2009).

Canadian author and speaker Natalie Gidney blogs at Promises for All. You can watch her interview on 100 Huntley Street: part 1 and part 2.

[book source: my personal library]

Writing Contests

The Word Guild sponsors contests for published and unpublished Canadian writers who are Christian.

Unpublished? Check out the God Uses Ink contest, which could win you free registration to the 2011 Write! Canada conference (well worth attending!). This year’s topic is “Changing the World with Words,” and the submission deadline is January 14, 2011. That gives you plenty of time to write, rewrite, and polish!

Published? In articles, short stories, book-length, blogs, etc? Check out The Word Guild Awards page for details on categories, submission process etc. Submission deadlines: first round: postmarked no later than November 15, 2010 (any work published between January 1 and September 30, 2010) and second round:  postmarked no later than January 15, 2011 (for work published October through December, 2010).

2010 Canadian Christian Writing Awards

The Word Guild’s 2010 Canadian Christian Writing Awards were presented on June 16 in Mississauga, Ontario, recognizing work published in 2009. For a complete list, see The Word Guild Awards site.

The awards cover articles, blog entries, reviews, short fiction… and books. Some of these books I’ve reviewed, and others are on my ‘to read’ list. If you’re looking for some good reading this summer, you might check these out:

Apologetics: Red Letter Revolution: If We Did Revolution Jesus’ Way by Colin McCartney (Castle Quay Books)

Biblical Studies: Jesus, the Final Days by Craig Evans (Augsburg Fortress Canada)

Children: Terrific Tuesday by Wendy van Leeuwen (Gumboot Books)

Christian Living: Beyond the Clutter: Discovering Personal Authenticity by David Wiens (Word Alive Press)

Christian Living Award of Merit: Master Mind: Thinking Like God by Dwight J. Olney (Word Alive Press)

Culture: Ninety-Nine Windows: Reflections of a Reporter from Arabia to Africa and Other Roads Less Travelled by Thomas Froese (Essence Publishing)

Culture Award of Merit: The Tender Heart of a Beast by Michael “Bull” Roberts (Trimatrix Management Consulting Inc.)

General Readership: The Tender Heart of a Beast by Michael “Bull” Roberts (Trimatrix Management Consulting Inc.)

General Readership Award of Merit: The Little Ones by M.D. Meyer (Word Alive Press)

Independently Published Fiction: The Lathe of God—A Quest For Noah’s Ark by Angus L. Franklin (iUniverse Inc.)

Independently Published Fiction Award of Merit: The Little Ones by M.D. Meyer (Word Alive Press)

Independently Published Non-fiction: In the Arms of my Beloved – A Journey through Breast Cancer by Sandra Crawford (independently published)

Independently Published Non-fiction Award of Merit: The Bishop or the King: How the Anglican Church of Canada Has Failed to Defend Its King by Ron Corcoran (Essence Publishing)

Instructional: The Leadership Edge: Seven Keys to Dynamic Christian Leadership for Women by Eileen Stewart-Rhude (Castle Quay Books)

Instructional Award of Merit: Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You by Bonnie Grove (Beacon Hill Press)

Leadership/Theoretical: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation by James K.A. Smith (Baker Publishing Group)

Leadership/Theoretical Award of Merit: 1 and 2 Peter: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible by Douglas Harink (Brazos Press)

Life Stories: In the Eye of Deception by Nikki Rosen (McMaster University: Innovative Press)

Life Stories Award of Merit: The Bishop or the King: How the Anglican Church of Canada Has Failed to Defend Its King by Ron Corcoron (Essence Publishing)

Relationship: Majesty in Motion: Creating an Encouragement Culture in All Your Relationships by Stewart Brown (Word Alive Press)

Special: One Goal: A Praise and Prayer Journal by Gerry Organ (Word Alive Press)

Novel—Young Adult: If Only You Knew by Mags Storey (Kregel Publishing)

Novel—Contemporary: Talking to the Dead: A Novel by Bonnie Grove (David C. Cook)

Novel—Futuristic/Fantasy: After the Flood by Shane Joseph (Hidden Book Press)

Novel—Mystery/Suspense: Captives of Minara by Eric E. Wright (Word Alive Press)

Novel—Romance: If Only You Knew by Mags Storey (Kregel Publishing)

Novel—Romance Award of Merit: Shadows on the River by Linda Hall (Harlequin/Steeple Hill)

Review: Christianus Sum, by Shawn J. Pollett

Christianus Sum, by Shawn J. Pollett (Word Alive Press, 2008)

In third-century Rome, Christians have enjoyed a time of relative peace…until the installation of Emperor Decius. One of the emperor’s key supporters is Publius Licinius Valerianus, a cruel man who schemes to be next on the throne—and whose hatred of Christianity has already cost many lives.

To refuse to deny the Christos, to adamantly declare “Christianus Sum”—I am a Christian—is to die a martyr’s death.

Roman Senator Julius Valens disagrees. In honour of his dead wife’s faith, he allows a group of Christians to worship in one of the many rooms of his home. Equally indifferent to all deities, he designates other rooms for the other gods his slaves may want to worship.

He doesn’t expect to fall in love with a slave—a Christian slave, at that. The beautiful Damarra and her friends teach him about their faith. Although he’s not convinced, his efforts to protect the Christians from persecution draw him into danger.

Canadian author Shawn J. Pollett has created a complex plot with vivid characters and a strong sense of place and time. I was hesitant to read a novel set in such a troubled era, but the story quickly drew me in. When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about it.

With long Latin names and authentic details, Christianus Sum (the ‘u’ in ‘sum’ sounds like the ‘oo’ in ‘cook’) isn’t a fast or light read. It slowed me down and made me feel like I was there in the past, in this ornate and formal time of Roman rule. It also let me see a bit of the life and times of the culture.

The novel has plenty of drama and emotion to keep you turning pages, and I appreciated the author’s sensitive handling of the brutality. Much of the suffering is off-camera, so to speak. Readers know what’s going on without being traumatized. The ending does get quite intense, but no more so than necessary and there’s nothing gratuitous about it.

The story is told in the third person with shifts into omniscient, and although occasionally I wasn’t sure of a scene’s point of view it always became clear within a few paragraphs.

As well as the spiritual, persecution and romance threads, Christianus Sum also explores friendship, duty, battles and political intrigues. There’s a lot in these pages to satisfy a reader.

I’m not strong in history and I found myself wondering about these characters, especially the emperors and generals. Were there actual people by these names? How much of this actually happened? The author thoughtfully included an afterward to answer these questions and more.

I’ve finished the novel, but its characters have stayed with me, and I find myself wondering how well I’d stand in such a time of trouble. How my brothers and sisters in Christ would stand. These fictional characters share such a vibrant love for one another and for the Christos, and mine feels so pale in comparison.

As well as love for God, the characters have a strong trust in Him. After one rare, happy experience, we read, “Sometimes, [Damarra] wondered if God worked in unexpected ways for the sheer pleasure of watching his people look up to the heavens, scratch their heads, and ask, ‘How did you do that?’” (p. 49)

In 2009, Christianus Sum received The Word Guild’s Canadian Christian Writing Awards in three of the novel categories: Historical, Mystery/Suspense and Romance. Before that, as an unpublished manuscript, it won Word Alive Press’ 2008 free publishing contest in the fiction category.

Christianus Sum is book one in the “Cry of the Martyrs” trilogy. Book two, What Rough Beast, released in April 2010. I look forward to reading it. Both are available through local bookstores and online. Ebook versions are available through various online stores although not from my favourite, fictionwise.com. I notice a variety of ebook pricing, so shop around.

If you visit Shawn J. Pollett’s website, you’ll find an interesting introduction to the “Cry of the Martyrs” series.

[Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Praying for Connections

As prayer team lead for The Word Guild, one of my responsibilities right now is to organize advanced prayer for the upcoming Write! Canada conference.  A small group of us will pray regularly for the faculty, staff and attendees, from now until the conference takes place this June in Guelph, Ontario.

We’ll be praying for safety, preparation, logistics and technical issues, open hearts and spirits, and anything else the Holy Spirit brings to mind. In their registration packets, attendees will be encouraged to pray “for safety in travel, the ability to hear God, and the ability to make wise decisions. Pray also that you will meet people who will help you on your journey, people you can connect with as peers, and people who need what you can offer them.”

The morning before the conference opens, a few of us will take a prayer walk around the conference grounds and through the facilities. And of course there’ll be plenty of planned and impromptu prayer times before the conference ends.

I was thinking of this, last Sunday morning at church, when the speaker reminded us of the fellowship time planned for after the service. I took a few seconds to ask the Lord to direct our conversations and steer me to people He would encourage. And He did.

Prayer coverage for Write! Canada and other special events makes a big difference. What do you think would happen if we prayed for our weekly worship gatherings, not just for our teachers and leaders but for the connections between Spirit and spirit, and from person to person?

Canadian Christian Writers and Editors

Today, Dec. 15 2009, has been set as a day of prayer for The Word Guild (TWG). TWG exists to connect, strengthen, encourage and promote Canadian Christians who write and/or edit, whether they work in the Christian or mainstream media.

If you’re a Canadian Christian writer or editor, or if you consider yourself a “friend” of Canadian Christians in these fields, or if you’re a reader of material they produce… this is your invitation to invest a few moments in prayer for TWG. Managing Director Denise Rumble has compiled a list of prayer focal points on her Just a Word blog.

You may not have known it, but I’m TWG’s prayer team coordinator and this is a project dear to my heart. This day of prayer isn’t a time of desperate pleading for help, it’s a time of praise and of desiring to place The Word Guild under God’s direction and empowerment. There are so many opportunities, but with finite resources of people and money we need clear leading on where to place our focus. God is doing something through TWG and we want to keep working right alongside Him.

Review: Because We Prayed, by Mary Haskett

Because We Prayed, by Mary Haskett

Because We Prayed: Ten Considerations for Effective Prayer, by Mary Haskett (Word Alive Press, 2009)

Our troubles don’t end when we become Christians. They may even get worse. But belonging to Jesus means we’re not alone. We can pray to a living and powerful God who loves us.

In Because We Prayed, Mary Haskett looks at ten considerations for effective prayer: faith, forgiveness, not judging, the Holy Spirit, the Enemy, spiritual warfare, hope, evidence, the value of prayer, and victory in Jesus. In her own gentle style she shares key truths learned through Scripture and personal experience.

Because We Prayed is a small book, easy to read yet offering solid teaching. I took a chapter at a time so I could digest it before moving on. Each chapter finishes with three application questions for personal reflection or group discussion, and with a prayer.

This isn’t a theology text, but it’s theologically sound. It’s meant for the average reader. New Christians, seasoned pastors, and everyone in between in a variety of denominations can benefit from these brief readings. Prayer is a work to which all Christians are called. It can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be elaborate. It’s our duty—and our privilege. If it’s boring, we’re doing it wrong. And prayer works.

Let Mary Haskett challenge and encourage you to deepen your prayer relationship with God. You won’t be sorry.

Mary is the author of two non-fiction books: Reverend Mother’s Daughter and Because We Prayed. Reverend Mother’s Daughter received the Bronze IPPY Award in the 2008 International Literary Competition and was a finalist in the Life Stories category, The Word Guild of Canada National Award, 2008. You can find her online at her website and her blog. It’s been my pleasure to work and pray with Mary in The Word Guild prayer team, and I truly appreciate her gracious spirit and her sincere faith.