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by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble forgiving myself. For some reason I expect a level of perfection from myself that I would never expect from someone else.

Because of this, I also struggle to accept God’s forgiveness.

Somewhere deep inside is the fear that God has finally reached the limit of His patience with me and with my constant sin and shortcomings. Just writing this makes me shake my head because it’s so far from the truth. But I’m sad to say it’s something I struggle with.

The result of this lack of forgiveness is that I carry a lot of baggage that I don’t need to. I’m weighed down with past sins that God has long since forgiven. I also carry the baggage of unconfessed sin because I’m fearful of returning to God over and over again asking forgiveness for the same thing.

At times, I add the baggage of my own refusal to forgive someone else. I hold on to the way they’ve hurt me and try to make it into some kind of armor against getting hurt again. But that’s not what it is. Unforgiveness is just more weight to carry.

That kind of weight can weigh a person down. 

Baggage is something I need to get rid of. I need to drop it at the feet of Jesus and leave it there.

Luggage, on the other hand, is something that equips us for our travels. My luggage consists of the things that God has blessed me with. It also includes the lessons I’ve learned through the struggles and the triumphs of walking with God.
  • It’s the Bible verses I’ve memorized.
  • The praise songs that run through my mind.
  • The stories I’ve heard about God’s faithfulness. 
Everyone needs some luggage to be equipped for the journey has God in store for us. The trick is to get rid of the baggage.

So today I ask you what I asked myself. Are you carrying baggage or luggage on your personal journey? 

TWEETABLES
Baggage or Luggage—Which Am I Carrying? @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)
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The Write Conversation by Edie Melson - 2d ago

by Beth Vogt @BethVogt

My friend, Sherrinda, recommended the book The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus. (I’m not going to comment on his wonderful middle name—Raphael—at this point. But I mean … really … Raphael.)

One thing Sherrinda said was how she was underlining the book like crazy.

So I bought the book … and I am doing the same thing. McManus’s book just breathes truth to my thirsty soul.

Today’s quote is one of those truths:

Our story is what we have to offer the world. 

McManus goes on to write:

“I wish I had a different story than the one I just lived through, but I am so grateful for the story that has made me who I am today.
Even the pain. Even the wound.
The sadness was real.
The brokeness deep.
The scars mine.
It’s my story.
It’s who I am.
It’s how I’m becoming.”

Today more than ever, I am embracing my story. Is it the beautiful fairy tale I longed for growing up? No. But it is my story … and as I allow God to soak it in his lavish grace—rather than steep it my efforts—it’s becoming something beautiful. Something worth sharing. 

Like McManus I can say:

The sadness was real.
The brokeness deep.
The scars mine.
It’s my story. 
And the healing is just as real. Just as deep.
Because God is real.

In Your Words: How are you embracing your story? How are you offering it to the world? 

TWEETABLESEmbracing my story - thoughts from @BethVogt on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Inspiring quotes for writers - @BethVogt on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Beth K. Vogt is a nonfiction author and editor who said she'd never write fiction. She's the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she'd never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She's a mom of four who said she'd never have kids. Now Beth believes God's best often waits behind the doors marked "Never." A women's fiction novelist, Beth's first novel for Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, releases May 2018.

Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. Her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2014. A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding series by Zondervan. Having authored nine contemporary romance novels or novellas, Beth believes there's more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us.

An established magazine writer and former editor of the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth blogs for Novel Rocket and also enjoys speaking to writers' groups and mentoring other writers. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Rob, who has adjusted to discussing the lives of imaginary people, and their youngest daughter, Christa, who loves to play volleyball and enjoys writing her own stories. Connect with Beth at  bethvogt.com.
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by Marcia Moston @MarciaMoston

I like to encourage people, to inspire them by sharing examples of others who have done something of interest. But today, I’m taking the “misery loves company” approach for those of you who may have returned from a conference high in hopes but are now scraping bottom, or those of you who can’t get even your mother to buy your book. Take heart. Here’s what a few giants who have trod that road before you have to say:

“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.”John Steinbeck 

When a book dealer returned over 700 copies of one of his books, Henry David Thoreau wrote, ‘I now have a library of nearly 900 volumes, over 700 of which I wrote myself.”

While visiting a zoo, award-winning journalist Paul Dickson noticed saw a sign over a poisonous snake exhibit that said every year in America 1906 people were bitten by a poisonous snake. Dickson quipped that he had written a “snakebite book” because fewer people had bought his book that year than had been bitten by a snake.

Okay, so maybe that didn’t help. Most of you know the reasons for those rejection notices and low sales (there’re plenty of posts on this blog that offer industry advice and encouragement), but I want to consider another angle: 

Your purpose. The one you are uniquely designed for. The one you are best at doing.What if your real gift is as a supporter, or a connector or a teacher? How can you use your writing to that purpose?

I know a woman who has attended nearly every Blue Ridge writing conference for the past eight years. She is diligent to learn the trade and pursue the recommended paths, yet I don’t know if she has published a single word. But what she does do with whole-hearted generosity is promote others. She links posts, shares the successes and news reportsof writers and puts her money where her mouth is by buying their books and writing reviews.  Her name may not be on the front cover butI’m certain it’s indelibly written on the back page of many an author’s life. 

I’m not saying she shouldn’t continue writing if that’s her heart’s desire, but she’s an example of someone who is using her diligently acquired connections, information and skill sets for the purpose she seems so suited to. 

Your purpose might not look like you want it to. This idea flies in the face of doing whatever makes us happy, but it’s worth considering.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously killed off Sherlock Holmes because Doyle wanted to write historical novels, which he considered to be “higher writing.” But he had created a character that wouldn’t die. The public mourned Sherlock’s death relentlessly, going so far as to wear black armbands and cancel magazine subscriptions. After several years, Doyle had to resuscitate his hero, living with him until his own death more than twenty years later.  

English evangelist, George Muller, known for his ministry to orphans, had fervently wanted to be a missionary, but every time he tried, God blocked his way. Eventually Muller embraced the work he knew God had purposed for him. Over the course of his life, Muller cared for over 10,000 orphans. Although a poor man, he left a legacy of giving hundreds of thousands of dollars —much of it to support missionaries on the fields he never got to go to himself.

You don’t know what God will do with even the most seemingly insignificant role.

Look up the story of Adolfo Kaminsky. Kaminsky was a Jewish teenager who worked at a dry cleaner. When his family needed forged papers to flee Hitler’s Europe, Kaminsky learned that the skills he’d acquired in stain-removal were valuable for making forged documents. Kaminsky stayed behind and applied his talents to forging papers that saved thousands of lives.

So what is your writing purpose?I am aware I have dragged an elephant into the room because the answer is beyond the scope of this post. Personality profiles, gift tests and life-coaching materials abound on the Internet. But here’s a start for examining your purpose:
  • Prayer—be confident that God is a rewarder of those who seek him. 
  • Passion—be specific about what interests you. For example, if you like to write, do you prefer to do it by informing, inspiring, entertaining, scaring? 
  • People—be generous in supporting others in your areas of influence.
And finally, 
  • Presence—be available behind the scenes and visible before them, because you never know what gets noticed, when, or by whom. You never know what higher purpose those seemingly insignificant efforts will be used for. I always get a chuckle when I think of Job’s words, “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!” (Job 19:23)
Hey Job—I’m happy to say they were and they’ve encouraged many a drooping soul— for about the past few thousand years or so. The purpose for your suffering has served others well. May it be so with the work of our own hands.

TWEETABLE


Marcia Moston—author of the award-winning Call of a Coward-The God of Moses and the Middle-class Housewife—has written columns and features for several magazines and newspapers. She has served on the faculty of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and currently teaches her true love—memoir and creative nonfiction—at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on the Furman campus in South Carolina.
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by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I love writing. And I love talking about writing.

Sitting around with other writers, discussing all things literary is one of my favorite things. It’s one of the reasons I love attending writing conferences.

But there are people we know who like talking about writing so much that’s all they do. They join writers groups, critique groups, even take classes. 

The one thing they don’t do is write.

Unfortunately, this problem of avoidance can happen to any of us.

Writing is hard work.  Avoiding it is often easier than just sitting in the chair and banging out words. There comes a time though, when we have to just quit procrastinating, sit in the chair and write.

Today I’m going to share some things I do when I’m tempted to do anything but write. 
  • Set a goal. I play games with my goals. Sometimes I’ll set a time goal—I’m going to write for an hour—no matter what. Sometimes I’ll set a word count goal—I’m not going to get up until I’ve written 1000 words.
  • Set a reward. I try to avoid food related goals, but truthfully, nothing helps the words flow like the promise of chocolate.
  • Break it into manageable pieces. Don’t tackle a hard goal all at once. Break it into small manageable bits. This will help you see the progress.
  • Turn on the music. For me, music (instrumental—no words) helps me get in the groove.
  • Change the scenery. When I hit a wall, it helps to go around it—literally. If I’m in my office, I may move to the dining room or even the back porch.
  • Turn off the Internet. Or at least log off your social media. It’s tempting to ask for support or commiseration on Facebook, but it can lead to conversation. And the only words you need are the ones that show up on the page.
  • Schedule a Write-in. Get a friend or two and hold each other accountable. If you can’t meet in person, get together online, through Skype or a Google Hangout.
  • Throw up on the page. NO, not literally. But I’ve found that sometimes I have to write junk before I can get to the good stuff. So go ahead and write crap, get it out of the way and keep going. Chances are there is something useable in it.
Now I’d like to hear from you. What tricks have you found to keep yourself in the chair banging out words when you'd rather be somewhere else?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie
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by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

Recently I attended a swim meet to watch some of the grandchildren. Chatting with a few friends between events, someone asked, “How do you find ideas to write about?”

“Well,” I said, “it’s kind of like all the world is a swimming pool full of ideas and at any time all we have to do it look around and pick one.”

“That may work for you,” my friend said. “But I can’t ever seem to find anything to write about.”

As another event for the six and under swimmers began, I said to her, “Look at this event. Some of the swimmers are just three years old. They aren’t quite ready to swim an entire lap without a lot of encouragement. In the lanes where the youngest swimmers are, a teenager is also in the water several feet in front of the swimmer coaxing him or her on to the finish. The encourager never touches the swimmer but keeps the swimmer striving to get where the encourager is.”

“That’s really sweet, but what does that have to do with finding ideas?”

I looked at my friend. “Think about all the things you could write about that spring from watching those teenagers helping the youngest swimmers. You could write articles about
  • The role of the swimmer needing help
  • The role of the encourager 
  • The importance of encouragement
  • Finding someone who is where you want to be and asking them to help you reach your goal
  • Ways you can help someone reach their goals
  • Mentoring others to help them improve
  • Mentoring is not just for adults

Those are just a few things that come to mind immediately.”

Ideas are all around us. Paying close attention everywhere you go will fill your notebook with thoughts to develop into articles. If you continue to make a list of ideas when they come to mind, you will never lack for anything to write about. (Just make sure to write down enough information to help you remember all the details.)

A few entries from my notebook include
  • “Dorm room robbed. Me waked up to pray at 5 a.m.”—a perfect start for an article on prayer and the importance of praying when you are prompted. 
  • “Melt down. B telling her to “shhhh!” I need a hug.”—reminds me to write an article on living with a special needs child and how all family members can be involved.
  • “Ninja Warrior”—watching a television show and realizing how all of us need to feel success and the hard work it takes to achieve it.

See how easy that is? If you have trouble making applications with “slice of life” scenarios, find someone who does it well. Look for a writing buddy or group who can help you brainstorm different ways to use the things you observe to teach valuable lessons through your articles. You can do this!

Start today by creating an idea notebook. Or an article idea file in your computer. It will save you time and help you bypass writer’s block and get right to writing every time you sit down at your computer.

TWEETABLES


Linda Gilden is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She loves to take one subject and create multiple articles from that information. Linda finds great joy (and lots of writing material) in time spend with her family. Her favorite activity is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing children.

To find out more about Linda, her writing, and her ministry, visit www.LindaGilden.com. You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
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by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

I’ve been writing seriously for the better part of fifteen years, and I still love to sit at the feet of those who are successful and pick their brains. They offer valuable guidance. When a new writer hands me a manuscript it’s easy to see their passion for the story. The concept is good, and they have an idea where the story should go, but as I begin to read, things start to fall apart.

It’s because there is more to writing a novel than just having a story idea. There are mechanics. Important mechanics and it’s very difficult to gently begin pointing out why this story isn’t ready for publication. After all, there’s a protagonist, love, there’s a hint of conflict, and a good ending. Why doesn’t it work?

Learning the basics is vital and listening to those who offer guidance is important as well. 

Beginning Basics to Get Your Novel on the Right Track

1. An inciting incident: This incident is not the hook that draws your reader into the story rather it’s the moment when the reader is yanked into the action of the story. If done well, the author will leave the reader with questions that propel them into the next page. It’s a great place to show readers how your protagonist will deal with hardship, define their goals, perhaps their strengths or values. The inciting incidents pushes your character through a door and closes it so they cannot go back. It literally “moves your story ahead.”

2. A goal or desire: Your protagonist must have a desire or goal, a reason to move ahead and readers need to see this in the opening chapter. None of us start the day without something that must be done – laundry, earning a paycheck. Perhaps your character’s motivation is to achieve and retain a place to live that will allow them to raise a child. Whatever you choose, your reader must see this goal or motivation.

3. A strong hook: I’ve seen books start out with beautifully written description and a normal day in the life of. . . However, all the well written words in the world will not hold a reader’s attention unless you provide them with a hook that makes them want to read on. A hook doesn’t always have to be major conflict, but that’s good if you choose to go that route. A hook needs to jolt the reader and force them to ask this question: “What on earth is going on here?” If you can force the reader to ask this question, you have successfully written a solid hook. You can’t always get the hook in the first line of your chapter and having it there is certainly not the only way to write your hook, but it needs to be in that first page, and for me, the closer to the top, the better. Only you can define your hook, but readers give authors about 3 pages and if you are not successful in grabbing them, they close the book.

4. Conflict:Without conflict a story is flat. I’m not sure what it says about us as readers, but we love to see the behind the scenes agony and struggle for the protagonist. The more angst you dump on your character, the harder they work to achieve their goal, and the richer the read becomes. Conflict moves the story ahead.

5. Avoid information dump: A wonderful author once critiqued the first few pages of a novel for me. His first response was, “Just start the story here!” HERE was two pages into the first chapter. He was right. The entire first two pages were nothing more than information I felt like the reader needed. When we meet someone new, they rarely pull us to the side and fill us in on the last four days prior to our meeting. Instead, we learn about our new friends, in small bites. The same is true in your novel. Just start the story where it begins and allow the reader the joy of discovering those things about the characters on their own—it small bites. That’s part of the fun of reading.

These are just a few things to help you develop your novel. Remember, the story is vitally important, but without the basics, the story falls flat. Reread, rework, rewrite. This is, after all, what we do to learn the craft.

TWEETABLES
Novels are Way More than Just #Writing a Story - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

5 Basics that will help get your novel back on track - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cindy Sproles is an award-winning author and popular speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions ministries and managing editor of Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.us and 
www.inspireafire.com. She teaches at writers conferences nationwide and directs The Asheville Christian Writers Conference - Writers Boot Camp. 

She is the author of two devotionals, He Said, She Said - Learning to Live a Life of Passion and New Sheets - Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. Cindy's debut novel, Mercy's Rain, is available at major retailers. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and book her for your next conference or ladies retreat. Also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
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by Edie Melson @EdieMelson


Today's post is short and sweet, but I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!

1. Thou shalt always promote others ahead of thyself.

2. Thou shalt not have a running self-promotion and/or commercial for thy newsfeed.

3. Thou shalt add substance and value—not trivia or irritation—to those who like and follow thee. 

4. Thou shalt not hog the stream of any social media network thou are a part of.

5. Thou shalt interact with those who comment upon and share thy updates.

6. Thou shalt not share thy location or the fact that thou is on vacation.

7. Thou shalt take time to edit thyself before posting (auto correct is not thy friend).

8. Thou shalt not plague others with auto responders when someone new follows thee.

9. Thou shalt ALWAYS use a recognizable headshot as thy avatar.

10. Thou shalt not add others to groups without permission. 

What commandment would you add to the list? I could think of several others but I was trying to stick with my theme! Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

TWEETABLES
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by Sarah Van Diest @SarahVanDiest

When the unexpected becomes the serendipitous we rejoice. We are glad and our hearts are grateful. When our spirits are fragile, the smallest of blessings can overrun us with their beauty and our sense of sentimentality boldly presents itself. Tears of gratitude are evidence of its effect on us. 

And we are undone. 

This is the beautiful thing that happens when Life touches us. The cords of death are discarded and forgotten in the midst of this passionate display of vibrance and vitality. Life in the face of death is equal to light in the darkness, hope in utter despair. 

Three years ago I clipped a blue hydrangea from my friend’s giant plant to take home and enjoy whilst it bloomed. It rooted while in the vase, so I planted it in soil, and now I have my own hydrangea plant with its own blooms. This was unexpected, and serendipitously so. 

The roots grew from a stem that looked fully dead. The flower itself had dried and all its leaves had fallen off. The roots, though, proved that life still remained. Hope was built in. 

There are times in our lives when all we see looks dead. There doesn’t appear to our hearts or our eyes to be any life at all. Hope feels lost, and without hope, we feel lost. Utterly so. 

The one thing my time in darkness has proven to me is that hope is never fully absent. Life is never obliterated or extinguished. Even in the face of death itself, there is still hope and there is still life. 

Our Jesus made this to be true. Our Father made this to be true. The end of this life is but an end, not the end. Serendipitously following the darkness of Jesus’ death was his beautiful resurrection. All hope was not lost, though every moment prior to his return to life felt hopeless. 

Today we live in a time not all that dissimilar to the three days before Jesus rose. We know our Savior will return, but when? We believe hope is not lost, but it can be so very hard to see. 

We pray for strength to believe in that distant hope, and to walk this present darkness in faith. We long for his return. We wait, sometimes patiently, sometimes restlessly, to see his face. 

I do believe we have hope built in, just like the hydrangea, but it gets buried as life is drained from us. We need the Spirit’s gentle whispers to remind us of the hope that lives within us. 

I hear these words echo in my soul just now as I write, “But those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31.

And these words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14:1-2. 

Our hope is not in what we see or even in what our hearts can perceive, but in the character of our Creator. Rest in the knowledge of his plan for you and his devotion to you. If hope has eluded you, and if life has felt more like death, I pray that today you will be serendipitously blessed and your hope will be restored, at least for a day. And then tomorrow, may the sun or the wind or the flowers in your view, remind you of the hope that lives in the midst of death. 

May each day and each face you see remind you of his love for you. May hope grow in the fecund soil of your heart. May your life become the serendipitous blessing of hope we all long for!

TWEETABLE

Educated as a teacher, Sarah taught school for nearly 20 years. As a young woman, she lived in China amid the rice paddies and water buffalo near Changsha, and then later taught English in Costa Rica for four years and raised her two sons.

Sarah is married for the second time, the mother of 2 boys and the step-mother to 3 more. She and her husband, David, work together in their agency The Van Diest Literary Agency. Her full name is Sarah Ruth Gerke Van Diest. She’s 5’5” and cuts her hair when stress overtakes her.

She is a freelance editor (including a New York Times and USA Today bestseller), blogger (The Write Conversation) and writer for hire. Her first book releases with NavPress in 2018. 

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By Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

I love watching the expressions on people’s faces when I tell them I’m a writer. Most people have heard of such people but have never knowingly met one. Usually there’s acknowledgement, sometimes they ask questions, and, occasionally, they will stop and say, “You know, I’ve thought about writing. How can I tell my story?”

We all have stories, either something we’ve done, somewhere we’ve been, or someone we knew, that we would like to share with others. Most of the time, we just carry them in our hearts, (Thank you, Mary.) but there are some stories that stand out to us.

So, how should I share my story?

We have many ways we can use to tell our stories.

Some, writing an article newspaper or magazine, or writing a blog post may take a few hours or days to write and it can be published in a few months. Although you want to do your best, there’s not necessarily a big learning curve or time investment. 

Not only does an article take much less time to write, a magazine will likely get many more readers than your book. A good book sells like 3000 copies, and most sell a lot less. Guidepost reaches 300,000 subscribers and some magazines have reach that measure into the millions. And you didn’t have to go to one signing.

Creating a blog or writing a book can take years and requires time and effort to maintain and promote. This can easily totally change your life. Is this something you want to take on? Can you take the time from your job and family?

Let’s look at some examples of how writers picked the medium they used.

My first example is my brother. He is very extroverted and recently took a drive around our state, South Carolina, staying off the highways and sticking to the back roads. He drove a ’49 pickup he had recently bought from a neighbor of our mother and originally belonged to an uncle who passed away many years ago. The truck had no power brakes, no power steering, no windshield wipers (a big oops), and, as they learned when they got on the road, a faulty gas gauge. With him rode his eighteen-year old nephew and they stopped at any roadside attractions (and gas stations) they found.

A great adventure, to be sure. But he wasn’t walking or driving across the nation nor does he have a big following (The Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins ).  He didn’t want to spend years learning the craft or business of writing and building a platform. He’d rather work on his truck. (I’d recommend getting a gas gauge.)

My recommendation to him was to look for a blog, magazine, or newspaper that wanted a local interest story. Maybe a car lover or travel magazine.

Linda Gilden has written several posts here about writing for magazines and newspapers. They are all different so find their guidelines or contact them before you submit.

Another example of someone sharing their story is Emily Colson, daughter of author and radio host Chuck Colson and a popular speaker who wrote Dancing With Max. This biography tells the story about living with her twenty-three year-old son with autism.  She covers both the highs and the lows, and how he touched those around him while shut up in his own world.

A book allowed her cover all the material she needed to share. She also had a public following willing to read her story.

Next time we’ll look at some more stories and explore why the writer chose that particular method.

Today, there are more ways than ever to share your story. If you have a story you really feel you need to share, maybe that you feel called to share, search for the best means for you. You never know whose life your story might touch.

TWEETABLESHow can I tell my story? Thoughts from @TimSuddeth on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

There many ways to tell your story, @TimSuddeth shares his thoughts on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Tim Suddeth has been published in Guideposts’ The Joy of Christmas and on www.christiandevotions.us. He’s working on his third manuscript and looks forward to seeing his name on a cover. He is a member of ACFW and Cross n Pens. Tim’s lives in Greenville, SC with his wife, Vickie, and his happy 19-year-old autistic son, Madison.  Visit Tim at www.TiminGreenville.com and on Facebook and Twitter. He can be also reached at timingreenville@gmail.com.
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by Cathy Baker @CathySBaker

Summertime offers a plethora of opportunities for us to explore, learn, and hone our writing skills. Intentionality is the key, unlocking the power of creativity to sizzle through our stories. 

It’s no secret that our brain re-engages when faced with new experiences, so today I’d like to encourage you to plan a day trip. The only caveat is that this destination must be a place you’ve never visited before. 

While on the trip, you must intentionally engage your five senses. This is where the sizzling begins. So, rev up the engine and let’s get started. 

Here are some ideas to consider:
  • Packing tip: Bring a journal, pen, camera and/or phone. 

So, rev up the engine and let’s get started. 
  • See: As you approach the new destination, take in its surroundings. Is the energy palpable or does it lend itself more to a sleepy town? Is it what you expected? What’s the first thing you notice? Is it the architectural designs? Or is it the height of nearby trees and the lush landscaping? Keep an eye out for details. Better yet, take a snapshot for future reference.
  • Hear: Determine before lunch to sit in a busy section. How else can you listen to a variety of conversations? (Let’s pretend this one time that eavesdropping is a good thing!) This is no time to choose an out-of-the-way seat. You’re here to engage the senses, not put them to sleep. Listen for unique phrasing and the sway of natural dialogue. Jot down your observations, not the conversations. 
  • Taste: Order at least one food you’ve never tried before. Eat slowly and savor the experience. Draw a comparison between your new food and something else you’ve eaten. How are they the same? How do they differ? Is this something your protagonist might enjoy or would he refuse to try it in the first place? 
  • Touch: Park your car and take a walk. It’s a great way to get a feel for any new setting (no pun intended.) What do your feet hit with each stride? Is it cobblestone, gravel, asphalt, or worn and weary sidewalks? Is there a lone flower emerging between the cracked sidewalk? Is it soft or prickly? What textures do you observe? Were the buildings constructed with antique bricks or sleek steel? Take time to touch and note what you’re feeling as descriptively as possible. Snap pictures. They just might come in handy for your work-in-progress. 
  • Smell: As you walk, breathe in deeply. Do you catch an intoxicating whiff of well-crafted coffee? Or do you, instead, inhale a hint of industrial fumes from a factory around the corner? Is there a distinct scent in the air? Try to describe it. Write down as many specifics as possible. The olfactory system is one of the strongest memory triggers, but unfortunately, it’s also camera shy. 
  • Bonus: When you return home, consider writing a blog post about the various senses you experienced. 

So, where will you go on your sensory-driven day trip?

TWEETABLES
Make your creative juices sizzle with a summer day trip - @CathySBaker on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

A sensory-driven day trip can jump start your #writing creativity - @CathySBaker on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cathy Baker is an award-winning writer and author of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach as well as Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains. As a twenty-five year veteran Bible instructor, she's led hundreds of studies and workshops. She's also contributed to numerous anthologies and publications, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. In addition, her poetry can be found in several popular anthologies.

She and her husband, Brian, live in the foothills of the Carolinas. Subscribe to Cathy’s blog at http://www.cathybaker.org and receive a free e-book, “Praying In Every Room of Your Home.”
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