Tag Archives: The Word Guild

How Many Canadian Christian Authors Can You Name?

There are more Canadian authors who are Christian than we know. Lots of times it’s because if we see their books in the stores, especially published by an American company, we assume they’re US authors. I always feel a bit of family-type pride when I see a Christian making it in the world of publishing, and if they’re Canadian it’s that much stronger.

Let me say clearly that I’m not claiming Canadians are better, nor am I saying my favourite authors are all Canadian. Neither statement would be true. But today I want to do a bit of flag-waving.

Of all the Canadian Christians who write, in book-length, short, poetic or lyrical form, many belong to The Word Guild and/or InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. A good number belong to American Christian Fiction Writers as well or instead.

If you’re in the vicinity of Toronto (Scarborough), Ontario, on Friday 20 November from 7-9pm, you’ll find a gathering of more than 30 Canadian Christian authors at Faith Family Books and Gifts’ Christian Writers’ Expo. For directions, click here.

Wherever you are, if you’re interested in discovering more about Canadian Christian authors, a good place to start is The Word Guild’s annual Readers’ Guide.

Review: Whispers that Delight, non-fiction by Andrew T. Hawkins

Whispers that Delight, by Andrew Hawkins

Whispers That Delight: Building a Listening-Centered Prayer Lifeby Andrew T. Hawkins (Word Alive Press, 2008)

“Does your prayer life seem like a one-way conversation? Do you have difficulty quieting yourself to listen to God?”

These questions from the back cover of Whispers That Delight may evoke quiet “yes” responses from many Christians. Andrew Hawkins knows better than to offer an instant fix. Instead, his PARE approach is a framework within which we can deepen our prayer like. And it can be used whether you have ten minutes or an hour.

It seems paradoxical to suggest the way to more intimate communion with God could come through a structured format, although the Old Testament Israelites wouldn’t have found it so. In Whispers That Delight the format is simply the means to a desirable end, and the author makes it clear that the Holy Spirit’s prompting must take precedence over externally-imposed structure.

The acronym PARE describes Rev. Hawkins’ pattern for prayer, and he reminds us that to pare is to cut or shave away thin layers. As we pare off “the superficial things which occupy our minds,” (p. viii) he promises we’ll discover more of God.

P is for preparation, when we refocus from ourselves to the goodness of God in praise and thanksgiving. This is also where we confess anything that’s inhibiting our communion with God and receive His forgiveness and restoration.

A is attentiveness, with our spirits fixed on God’s presence to hear what He may have to say. One person may “hear” words, another impressions or images, another through reading and meditating on Scripture.

R is our response: to love, to intercede or repent, to act. Rev. Hawkins says, “Although God gives specific guidance and even surprises us with supernatural directives, when we meet him in prayer he primarily empowers us to do what we already know to do.” (p. 95)

E is a fitting end: enjoyment. Instead of rushing off into the day with a “Thanks, God!” we need to take time to linger a few minutes in His presence, just for the experience of being with Him.

Not that we should stop praying then—the concept of prayer without ceasing, practicing His presence, is worth pursuit. But our intimate, one-on-One prayer session has ended for another day.

Whispers That Delight comes with three appendices, one of which I think would serve better at the beginning: “Tips on Reading Whispers That Delight”. Essentially, the tips are “Read with the heart, read small portions at a time, and to go deeper, study the quoted Scriptures.”

Reading in bite-sized chunks is definitely wise. This isn’t at all a hard read, but the subject itself requires careful consideration and prayerful pondering. To breeze through Whispers That Delight would be to “read” the words and miss their effect on our hearts. I’m glad I took it slowly.

Rev. Andrew T. Hawkins is a Canadian author, and pastor to St. Paul’s Congregational Church in Ontario. Whispers That Delight is a book for all denominations and levels of faith, and it received The Word Guild 2009 Writing Award in the Book—Biblical Studies category.

Review: The Shack, by William Paul Young

The ShackThe Shack, by William Paul Young (Windblown Media, 2007)

You know how sometimes a new tune or arrangement will make you stop and notice a familiar song’s lyrics? That’s how I feel about The Shack’s portrayal of God’s love. It’s definitely a different picture of God, yet it’s familiar.

I’ve heard lots about the book, both hostile and complimentary, and about the tragedy that drives the central character, Mack, into The Great Sadness. Consequently it languished in my “should read” pile for a long time.

It was the book’s effect on my friends that drew me to read it. People who knew the Lord… suddenly knew Him better, more intimately. These are people I trust, and so I chose to read the novel.

One thing none of them mentioned to me is the book’s humour. It’s subtle, but it adds a delightful thread to the mix.

Consider the chapter titled “God on the Dock,” where Mack and Jesus lie on a dock by a lake and watch stars: the chapter’s opening quote is from C.S. Lewis, author of God in the Dock (which I believe addresses some of the same issues Mack does). Or in the same chapter, when Papa (God the Father who has chosen to appear in female form because of Mack’s memories of his own father) has cooked a meal: Mack describes a delicious feast “spiced with who but God knew what.” (p. 105)

The novel’s premise is that Mack receives a note inviting him to meet God at the site where his younger daughter was presumed murdered. He goes to find out if this is real or some kind of sick joke… and ends up spending the weekend with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in human form.

Needless to say, Mack has a lot of baggage and some heavy-duty questions. The novel feels in places like one long dialogue (perhaps sermon?) but that’s realistic to the story. Mack’s hurt has no room for platitudes and pat answers. And I love how the various forms of God will explain something to him and then simplify if it goes over his head.

I’m thankful not to inhabit a Great Sadness, but like most people I have my moments of “lesser sadness.” The message I take from The Shack reminds me to anchor in God’s goodness and love instead of letting the sadness build.

William Paul Young sums it up well when he has the character of Jesus say, “To the degree that … fears [imagined and of the future, not rational ones] have a place in your life, you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you.” (p. 142)

The storytelling has a slightly distant feel, more like narration than the current style that would draw us into Mack’s heart and head. But with the trauma Mack’s been through, I don’t think we as readers could cope. Plus, Mack has had over three years to live with his loss before facing God with his questions. Readers experiencing it fresh wouldn’t be ready for that step.

It’s still a lot to chew on, and I expect I’ll read this book a few more times over the years to fully “get” parts of it. But I did get the basic message: God is especially fond of me… and you… and each individual on earth whether they pay attention to Him or not.

The Shack is Mr. Young’s first novel and has prompted a lot of discussions and debate. Among the recognition it has received is “Best Contemporary Novel” in The Word Guild 2008 writing awards. The author’s website says the book will soon be available in over 30 languages, plus as audio books.

Mr. Young is Canadian by birth and currently lives in the United States. Interviews and podcasts are available at the Windblown Media site.

You can read the opening pages of The Shack here. Be sure to read the Foreward – it’s part of the novel. If you’ve already read the novel and want to talk with other readers, visit The Shack online discussion forum.

It must be awards season…

A number of books you’ve seen on my free books page are up for awards these days:

Finalists for The Word Guild Christian Writing Awards (winners announced at The Word Guild Awards Gala, 17 June, 2009) include:

Cibou, by Susan Young de Biagi: in both Book—General Readership and Novel—Historical categories.

Vengeance, by Donna Dawson: in both Novel—Contemporary and Novel—Mystery/Suspense.

Stories from the anthology Hot Apple Cider are short-listed in seven categories: Article—General Readership (two), Article—Inspirational/Devotional (two), Article—Personal Experience, Article—Profile/Human Interest, and Short Story.

Finalists for the Daphne du Maurier contest (winners announced at the Romance Writers of America National Convention, 16 July, 2009) include:

Suspicious Minds, by Christy Barritt: Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense.

Finalists for the Faith, Hope and Love, RWA Chapter’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest (winners announced at the RWA Conference in July) include:

Shadows at the Window, by Linda Hall: Romantic Suspense

[This one hasn’t been one of my free book offers yet, but Shadows in the Mirror, previous book in the series was.]

Congratulations to these authors and to all the others who are up for these and/or other awards!

Writing Conferences in Canada

Write! Canada

  • Canada’s largest conference for Christian writers. This year’s conference marks 25 years of developing Christian writers.
  • “The conference features inspiring keynote speakers, in-depth continuing classes and wide-ranging workshops, as well as a host of other learning and promotional opportunities. Choose from classes for professional to beginner writers. Meet editors, publishers and agents from Canada and the U.S.”
  • Check out the website for program information, faculty and testimonials, and for online registration.
  • Sponsored by The Word Guild, a national association that connects, develops and promotes Canadian writers and editors who are Christian.
  • June 18-20, Guelph, Ontario.

Spring WorDshop

  • “Freelance, fiction, novels, creative non-fiction, poetry, journalists, whatever gets you to the page. This weekend is for you. “
  • Check out the website for faculty, schedule and registration.
  • Sponsored by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.
  • April 17-18, Calgary, Alberta.

Write! Saskatoon

  • “Learn about marketing your book, writing for newspapers and magazines, self-editing, fiction writing, poetry and more. This streamlined conference gets you into workshops and gets you the specific information you need to take your writing to the next level. Songwriters and poets have their own workshops.”
  • Check out the website for faculty, schedule and registration.
  • Sponsored by The Word Guild.
  • Saturday, May 9, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Creativity, Writing, Speaking Workshops in Ontario

“Me Speak? – But I’m a Writer!” Adele Simmons of Chestnut Lane Creative will be presenting a workshop at Whitby Baptist Church (in the Worship Centre), 411 Gilbert Street East, Whitby, Ontario on Saturday, February 7, 2009, 9:00am – 3:00pm. For those of you who are time-challenged, the workshop presents the bulk of the information in the morning, so you may dash away at noon, if required. (Rate adjusted accordingly). This workshop will include hands-on practicum with sound equipment, Impromptu Speaking, Humour in Speaking, Looking Good and Follow Up. Cost is $85 for members of The Word Guild, WCDR, POWE and WBC, and $95 for non-members. Email for more information.

Author and speaker N.J. Lindquist will be presenting two workshops in Sudbury, Ontario, February 27-28, 2009. “Release the Creative You” is an evening workshop about motivation and releasing your fears to allow your true creative self to develop and flourish. Pre-registration price is $20 or $25 at the door. Students (ID required) pay $10 or $15 at the door.

“Get to Know the Writer in You” is a full-day workshop for aspiring writers to get you started working with words. It will run from 8:30am – 4:30pm. Pre-registration price is $85 or $95 at the door. Students (ID required) pay $42 or $55 at the door.

Both Sudbury workshops will be held at and will be held at It will be held at Glad Tidings Auditorium, 1101 Regent St. South in Sudbury. Telephone 705-522-4523 for tickets. You can view the poster here.

I’ve had the privilege to attend workshops by each of these speakers, and have come away much the richer for it.

Writers’ Workshop in Barrie, Ontario

If you’re a writer or aspiring writer living in or near Barrie, Ontario, I highly recommend taking in author NJ Lindquist’s Recycle Your Personal Experiences workshop on Nov. 15 at Barrie Free Methodist Church.

Recycle Your Personal Experiences is an all-day workshop filled with warmth, encouragement and practical help for people who feel a desire or even a pressing need to write, but don’t know where to begin or how to market their work. The goal for this workshop is to bring like-minded people together in an environment that allows them to connect with each other, learn necessary skills, and formulate an action plan in order to achieve their goals. [from the promotional material]

I attended this workshop last month in Nova Scotia, and it was empowering. Attendees ranged from published writers through those trying to break into print to some who came wondering “Could I be a writer? Is this writing thing for me?”

nj-lindquistSpeaker NJ Lindquist ended each of the four sessions by breaking us into small groups to apply what we’d learned. By the end of the day, we had identified some ideas to write about, thought through why they held our interest and how we wanted to present them (article, devotional, story, poem etc), and identified potential markets to research for them. We’d also made some new friends.

I’d never been to a workshop that combined teaching and practical application this way, and I think it’s great. Too often we get inspired but then in the cold doubt of second thoughts once the event is over, we don’t know how to follow through.

Recycle Your Personal Experiences

Date: Nov. 15, 9:00 – 5:00

Location: Barrie Free Methodist Church

Cost: $85 (students and seniors, $60). Group rates for 10 or more.

Registration: Via TicketWindow or phone 519-886-4196.

Sponsored by: The Word Guild and That’s Life! Communications.

Creativity and Writing Workshops in Eastern Canada

I can’t believe I haven’t already posted this information!

If you live near Montreal or in Canada’s Maritime provinces, there are creativity and writing workshops coming your way (click on the workshop name to reach its website):

Release the Creative You is a 2 ½ hour evening workshop for teens and adults who want to explore their creativity, who have a dream they’re afraid might never come true, and who long to set their imagination free. The session will challenge, inspire, motivate and offer tools for attendees to find the courage to trust God and become the person He created them to be.  Tickets: $20 ($25 at the door) for adults, $10 ($15 at door) for high school/university students.

Friday, Oct. 17, Brossard, Quebec

Monday, Oct. 20, Sussex, New Brunswick

Tuesday, Oct. 21, Sackville, New Brunswick

Wednesday, Oct. 23, Charlottetown, PEI

Friday, Oct. 24, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Write! Montreal and Write! Maritimes are all-day sessions (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) that will help attendees identify which of their stories would be the best to begin writing; teach them a variety of ways to use their ideas; and offer tools to help with marketing. Tickets: $85 ($99 at the door) for adults, $60 ($75 at door) for seniors and students.

Saturday, Oct. 18, Brossard, Quebec

Saturday, Oct. 25, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Registration for all events is through TicketWindow.

Speaker NJ Lindquist is a Canadian author, and co-editor of the ground-breaking anthology of Canadian Christian writing, Hot Apple Cider. Here’s a brief intro from her website: “Her mysteries have been compared to the best of Agatha Christie. Her novels inspire teenage boys to read. Her wisdom and leadership have empowered thousands. Her journey from accidental conception in a tiny hamlet of the cold Canadian prairies to award-winning author and international speaker is truly inspirational.”

NJ blogs on life at What’s on My Mind? and on writing at Blue Collar Writer.

These workshops are sponsored by The Word Guild, in partnership with World Vision and That’s Life! Communications.

2008 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award

Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Dautrement of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, winner of this year’s Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for his historical novel, The Golden Conquest.

Although my contemporary novel manuscript, Praying for the Enemy, didn’t win, it was encouraging to hear that all of us short-listed were considered to have publishable manuscripts. So the hunt goes on! [Edited: Want to know what happened with Praying for the Enemy? In 2013, it became Heaven’s Prey, published first by Choose NOW Publishing, and re-issued as a second edition in 2014 by Janet Sketchley after the publisher closed its fiction line.]

I want to say a special thank you to Larry Willard of Castle Quay Books and to The Word Guild for working together to offer this contest each year. In a time when it’s hard for first-time authors to break into book-length print, an opportunity like this is invaluable. This is especially true in Canada, particularly for Christian fiction, because there aren’t a lot of publishing options. (Government subsidies for a faith-based publisher? Not likely to happen.)

So thank you to Castle Quay books for investing in the future of Canadian authors who are Christian, and congratulations to Dr. Kevin Dautrement for a well-deserved award.