Friday, July 3, 2015

Fresh From the Oven

I had another post scheduled for today but had to pre-empt it for some breaking news. My daughter just had her second child yesterday - a home birth with no trouble at all, just the way it's been happening for thousands of years. Here is mom and baby along with big sister about two hours after the fact. She looks pretty amazing to me for just having given birth! Congratulations to my beautiful daughter Priscilla and her husband Kurt, 'big sister' Evangeline, and welcome to the world to Brynja Sadie!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Birthday Canada

Canada is now 148 years old! A little flag waving is is order, folks! Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks. I'm still proud to be from this great nation. Here's to many more years in 'the true north strong and free'. 

Some pics from a local parade...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Into the Archives

School is out! Summer is here! And I've got an amazing post for you today!

Actually, this is a post I dug out of my archives from 2013 after an Inscribe conference where author Murray Pura was the speaker. I thought of it after I mentioned Murray in a post on The Word Guild's blog last Saturday.

Murray had some timely advice then that is still relevant today. Enjoy this blast from the past:

Words from the wise - Murray Pura style

Conference goers were treated to some encouraging and inspiring words from multi-published author Murray Pura at the annual Inscribe Writer's conference on September 27 and 28.  Several important themes surfaced during his sessions.

He talked at length about the need for perseverance and sited some personal examples where a couple of his own books took long and twisted roads to publication.  His advice? If you are genuinely excited about writing, then never give up! The writing life is not unlike the life of faith. There will be ups and downs; trials and disappointments. Writers throughout history have faced many obstacles. Even iconic writers have had to face rejection and criticism, so you are in good company. Persevere because the call to write is as powerful a ministry as that of a missionary, pastor, or evangelist. In fact, as writers, we can go places that we can’t go as 'other' people. As a writer you are like a ‘Christian Without Borders’.

God chose to give us His word in written form.  Do not belittle the ‘writing of words’ or let anyone else belittle that calling on your life.  In everything you do, including your writing, never lose sight of the fact that you are a child of God. In the end, remember that you are ultimately writing for Christ, so do all things, large or small, for Him.

Write Like an Artist
Another important thread running through the weekend was the idea that writers are artists. In fact, he says, “Dare to be an artist.”  There is a lot of formulaic writing out there, but there is a growing desire for something deeper.  People are getting tired of reading simple fare. This trend toward books that ‘transcend genre’ is appearing throughout the publishing industry, including within Christian circles. To transcend genre means to write so well that it resonates with the human heart. It will connect with people beyond their typical genre and even beyond the Christian market.  Strive for an entertaining story that also has a deep message. He advises: entertain, engage and enlighten.

To write eloquently does not necessarily mean you are ‘highbrow’. Write distinctly, write deeply, write well.  Be faithful to the creativity in you and stay true to your own voice and calling. Of course, you can be influenced and inspired but that is not the same as being an imitator. Be unique. Maintain your distinctive voice. We may learn from one another, but we aren’t looking for homogenized writing. Instead, celebrate differences. 

In an effort to heed my own advice (I did a workshop on blogging at the conference) I am going to save the next two items for next weeks post. As I told those that attended my workshop - keep your posts short! So next time you can look forward to some practical advice that Murray gave as well as his admonition to 'seize each opportunity!'  

Saturday, June 27, 2015

June's Links

Inscribe Writers Online: Suspended!

Helping Hands press blog: Keep the Joy Alive!

Canadian Writers Who Are Christian - When Opportunity Knocks 

Latest COLONY ZERO book now at amazon! Colony Zero Series 0 Legacy Renata's Story

And... last but not least, I was the guest on The G-Zone blogtalk radio on June 25, 2015 - part of the 'Thirsty thursday' broadcast. Listen in and leave a comment. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Featuring... A Christmas Story and A Children's Book

The Sleepytown Express represents a labour of love for me. It is an illustrated children's book based on a 1930s song my mother used to sing.

Soda pop pools, lemonade streams and many other tasty delights await when you hop on board the Sleepytown Express. Based on the beloved children's song penned by Haven Gillespie, author of 'Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town', the Sleepytown Express is a fun filled trip to the land of such childhood characters as Mother Hubbard, Cinderella, and the Sandman. Colorful illustrations make the lyrics come alive in this reintroduction of the classic song

Totally unrelated, but cool just the same, is a short Christmas story I wrote that was published by Helping Hands Press called 'The Best Blue Christmas'. The characters are fictitious, but there is definitely some truth to the story which came out of my years living in the Yukon.

A disgruntled insurance worker struggles to avoid the holidays. When she finds an unlikely sympathizer in her good looking neighbour, she finds out that Christmas doesn't have to be all bad...

I hope you have enjoyed reading these regular Friday 'features'. This will be the last in this series, but you may wish to check out the other featured books, plays, and devotionals.


And the Beat Goes On
My Mother the Man-Eater
Play it Again
Wind Over Marshdale
Lone Wolf
JAC Pub Plays
Colony Zero
More Stage Plays

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Little Mimick

Children love to imitate the adults around them. Here is a picture of my little granddaughter pretending to talk on a 'phone' while I was in conversation on my cell. (She may have been using a remote control.) 

I've heard it said that copying is the highest form of flattery. In the world of writing, it has its upside as well as its downside. Plagiarism - obviously - is a case in point. Not only is it one of the 'cardinal sins' of writing, it's actually against the law. 

However, modelling yourself after authors you admire makes sense. It's one reason why writers are encouraged to read widely. We intuitively grow in our own writing when we read the work of others. Hopefully, the growth comes because of all the outstanding elements, but we can even learn from things that jump out at us in a negative way. 

What is it about one person's writing that makes you want to read more? What things make them successful in their genre? Here is a simple exercise to get you thinking about what makes your favourites great.

1. Make a list of your favourite books/authors. (Five examples is optimal)
2. Write down what it is that you like about the book/author. (Crazy plot twists; quirky characters...)
3. Skim the books for an especially good example of what you love. 

Most of the time we don't stop to analyze why we love the books we do. Taking some time to actually think about it in a conscious way is one way to improve your own writing. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Take Control of Your Writing

For most of the writers I know, finding ideas to write about is not an issue. Finding the time to craft these ideas into something worthy of sharing is another thing altogether. It takes effort. It takes discipline. It takes a certain amount of dogged determination. Here are some pointers that I have found helpful:

1.     Just sit down and do it! Don’t wait until you are less tired, more inspired, or not as busy. These are excuses that we’ve all used from time to time, but in the end they are still excuses. Dust and dishes tend to regenerate… we’re all too busy… and that mystical muse gets far more credit than it should. Take control of your time and your muse. I have found that beginning is usually the biggest hurdle. Once I just sit down and start writing, fatigue, lack of inspiration, or anxiety about what else I need to do melts away.

2.     Make writing a habit. I like to set a daily word count for myself and/or a time allotment. This is a habit that I try to maintain at least five days a week. I also set monthly and yearly goals for myself that are specific and measurable. Note that when I say ‘writing’, I mean just that. Writing time is not the same as time on social media, editing, marketing, or other writing related activity. Writing for me means composing something new, be it a play, a novel, a short story, or even a blog post.

3.     Eliminate distractions. Turn off the TV. Shut the office door. Allow the answering machine to take messages. Close your facebook page. If you choose to write for one hour, let’s say, then give yourself sixty minutes without all the distractions. I’ve even heard some writers say they set a timer. I’ve tried this a few times and it actually works well. When the timer rings, chances are you’ll be inspired enough to continue writing.

Naturally, we all go through seasons of productivity, and that’s okay, too. However, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of inactivity that has its roots in our own excuses. Don’t do it! Take charge of your own writing life. It’s as easy as one-two-three.

This post originally appeared on Inscribe's professional blog in May of 2015.