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Showing posts from May, 2018

Running the writing race

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There is much variety in the style and scope of the writers of this blog and in the entire membership of the Association of Christian Writers.

Some are hobby writers, others journalists or full-time authors. Some write books, whether non-fiction or novels; others write short pieces including poems.

As in the case of runners, who may sprint 100 yards or finish a longer race – even a marathon – at a slower speed, practice and perseverance are important for writers.

The difference between runners and writers is that runners are competitive. They like to win races. Failing that they like to beat their personal best times. Writers, and especially Christian writers, should not be comparing themselves with others. Each of us is an individual. Each has a unique personality and set of interests. We have our personal experiences, which may overlap with those of other people, but in our lives we will have been to different places, met different people, had different trials and tribulations and perh…

GDPR

Getting irritated by all the reminders, the emails, the constant pop ups?

DON'T!

This new directive from the EU gives more protection from the abuse of your data, information that has been given freely by you and me and that companies use to make more money.

It stops them, for the most part, selling your details on to other third parties, sales that you would have no control over and could end up in you getting invites to various pages and 'useful' medications.

So far, John Lewis and Morrisons have stopped sending me 'helpful' hints about their products, while Tesco's asked my permission to continue. I declined.

None of this will stop crooks harvesting your details, but it will stop the irritating emails. Among other things.

DO NOT IGNORE THIS!





Being Thankful

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How often do you thank God for the gift of writing?  I admit I don’t do this as often as I should.  Writing is at one and the same time a pleasure and a pain, as anyone who has ever struggled to get the right words out will testify. 

But when your writing is going well, and you are enjoying the process of getting your story or non-fiction work down on paper or on to a screen, isn’t that a huge joy and something we should rejoice in?
Perhaps using the word “gift” is not quite right here.  What other gifts are there where we have to work hard, knowing we will experience rejection after rejection (and for what seems like forever), before, finally, our work “clicks” with someone and we find we have our first acceptance on our hands? 
Equally, having editing your book, had feedback etc, having proof-read your manuscript countless times, you have self-published and finally have your book in your hands.  Whether you go the traditional or self-publishing route (or both over time), this is a g…

'Hot, Clear Steam': Thinking about The Trinity in a simple song by Trevor Thorn

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Hot, Clear Steam - sing it to the tune of 'Hot Cross Buns’ (Score below) This might be helpful in thinking about the Trinity.
Hot, clear steam: hot, clear steam, When it cools it turns into a water stream. If it keeps on cooling, it will turn to ice. So as steam cools down and down, It changes twice.
Butterflies, flutter by: caterpillars, chrysalids until they fly. Eggs to caterpillars which in time pupate, then emerge with gorgeous wings  as they change state.
Toads and frogs, start as spawn, tadpoles soon, grow breathing gills as they change form . then as they develop, tails will disappear, legs grow strong to swim and jump  In pond or air.
Father, Son: Spirit come, never changing, Everlasting  Three-in-one. God our great Creator, Jesus, Lord and King loves to care for everyone and everything.



The Right Shoes by Tracy Williamson

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Yesterday I took delivery of a new pair of shoes that I'd ordered online.   Summer shoes for those wetter days when sandals don't quite work. Shoes that I can enjoy wearing both indoors and out.  Great reasons, yet I felt miserable, for the shoes looked overly sensible and fuddy duddy.  They made me feel a couple of decades older than my years and as someone who loves pretty, feminine things, I coveted dainty shoes with heels!

And yet when I tried them on, the shoes fitted me perfectly and were so comfortable that I could walk without fear of losing my balance. I have very poor balance because of being ill with Encephalitis as a child, so it was a joy to feel secure in these new shoes and to walk with ease.  And yet....I was still hankering after heels!  I wanted to look trendy! I wanted to be cool and look like a woman with clout.  Why did I have to go the sensible route when my heart was set on being powerfully pretty?
As I complained thus, the realisation came that in a si…

On goldfish, writing addiction and Ignatius of Loyola - by Eileen Padmore

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Hallo blog readers.  I felt bashful about volunteering for this vacancy, mindful of the skilled professional posts that pop up with scary regularity.  I could stretch the truth by claiming to be an award winning writer - for at the age of eight I was given first prize in a church story writing competition.  Hand written in faded pencil on scraps of lined exercise paper  (sewn together with cotton) - it was a true account of a deceased goldfish who jumped out of his bowl to be discovered on the kitchen floor next day.

My default position still seems to be writing about real events, despite an imagination that constantly plays host to a rich variety of flamboyant characters who get up to all sorts.  Somehow they resist capture onto the page.  Perhaps this is because a former life in health care required me to churn out evidence based stuff for various publications - where any urge to use words creatively had to be suppressed.

More recently, I have been drawn towards the 'new monast…

Separated by a common language?

Are you an Americanophile? Are you interested in the way language works? And are you prepared to have some ingrained prejudices challenged?
My guess is that, as a writer and a Christian, your answers will be yes to all three questions! As Christians we are not prone to harbour prejudices against other nations, and many of us welcome the spiritual leaders and movements that come to us from the United States. Plus we are readier than many unbelievers are for our ideas to be challenged. And, of course, language is the medium in which we work.
That’s why I’d like to recommend a new book on the relationship between British and American English: The Prodigal Tongue (now there’s a Biblical echo!) by Lynne Murphy (published by Oneworld). Unlike many commentators on the state of English and the role of America within it, Lynne knows what she’s talking about. She’s a professor of linguistics at the University of Sussex, and she’s done the empirical research to establish every statement she make…

All the colours combined - by Helen Murray

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A while ago I went 'prayer weaving'.

No, I hadn't heard of it before, either. There's a little loom which consists of a series of removable prongs in a wooden base (five, in our case - just weaving something small). You take a ball of wool, or strips of fabric, ribbons - whatever you can make into strands - and weave it in and out of the prongs across the loom and back again. Knot two pieces together to change wool or texture, and then when the loom becomes almost full, pull the prongs out, threading the attached piece of wool through your creation. You can do this several times in order to make a piece that's as long as you want.

By the end, my piece of woven fabric was about eight inches long and about four wide. After removing it from the loom for the last time, you cut the warp threads (the vertical ones) and tie them off, and there you have it.

It's supposed to be a prayer.

The idea is that you have a conversation with God as you weave. You choose your col…

A Word of Enjoyment

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One morning last week, I received an email from my editor. The evening before, she’d sent back her latest edit of my book, and that morning I’d responded with; ‘Thank you for this, I’ll get on with it shortly’. She immediately replied: ‘great - enjoy your day’.
A simple reply, but a reply that surprised me. She knew I’d be looking at my own work that day. And she’d said enjoy. Which is why I was surprised. Enjoy?My own work? Isn’t that a bit, well, not quite the done thing? I found myself recoiling from the idea.
Then a realisation of great irony hit me. The book we're editing includes a section on creation. God’s own work. Work which He looked at and said, ‘this is good.’ In other words, He enjoyed it. He took pleasure in what He’d done.
As I settled down at my computer, I determined to not only follow my editor’s advice on the manuscript (question an editor? Me? Never!) but to follow her ‘enjoy’ advice, too.  I often let criticism over-ride enjoyment when reading my work.Readin…

500 Words!

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Delight yourself in the Lord
and He will give you the 
desires of your heart
Psalm 37:4








*Each month as I write on this blog I rarely struggle with the content but do struggle with keeping to the recommended five hundred words.Recently I’ve been watching a TV series entitled ‘800 words’ where George, a columnist, after the unexpected death of his wife decides to start a new life and moves his family to a small town in New Zealand.It’s moral values are unfortunately questionable, but these days much on TV has that problem.
As the title infers George has decided the column he writes should always finish at exactly 800 words, and through each episode he reads part of it, and you see him finish precisely on target. It appears, unlike me, he doesn’t keepre-reading what he has written to get to that magic number.
Over the years in writing this blog each month it has become a source of opportunity, learning and practice to use one word instead of several, but it takes me several hours to accomp…

Inspiration Abounds by Annmarie Miles

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What a joy to be joining the blog team today; and on such a momentous weekend. Yesterday some of us will have marvelled at the splendour of the Royal Wedding, today we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost. I can’t imagine much trouble with writer’s block this weekend.

Although there are times I struggle to put words on paper (or screen), it’s usually more to do with how I’m feeling inside. On the outside there’s always plenty of inspiration if I take the time to look for it.

I went to a writing workshop a few years ago and the leader challenged us to write a story based on an incidental piece of writing; like a benign text message or a note to the milkman. I remembered I had a shopping list in my bag and used it as a basis for a story about someone struggling with money who had a secret benefactor buy them some groceries. It’s one of the tales I am most proud of, in my first collection. The exercise helped me to see the storyful potential of the smallest ideas.

Thi…

Know your Words' Worth, by Veronica Zundel

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When her husband Robert became Archbishop of Canterbury, the late Rosalind Runcie was quoted as saying, 'Too much religion makes me go off pop'. Leaving aside what Pop felt (groan!), at the time I thought rather disapprovingly, 'Oh dear, the Archbishop's wife isn't a Christian'. Nowadays I know exactly what she meant.

It's true, we disciples of The Word, especially those of us at the low (shallow?) end of the church pool, seem particularly enamoured of putting our faith into words... and more words...  As Ecclesiastes said, centuries before Christ, 'Of the making of books there is no end.' Were it not so, publishers couldn't  to make a living, let alone writers ,most of whom come nowhere near making one.

I'm finding these days, as I recover from a crisis in my life, that I can't take very much God talk any more. I don't mean theology (which literally means 'God talk') - I'm always happy to discuss that. I mean pious chat…

"When things go wrong, as they sometimes will..." - by Georgie Tennant

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The sentiments contained within the humble and understated verse referenced in the title of this post, first entered my life from the pen of a student P.E. teacher, who wrote them in my autograph book for me when she finished her placement and left my school for pastures new (alongside the scrawls of the 1989 Norwich City Football Team, for whom I was a ball girl with green and yellow ribbons in my hair in a perhaps-better-forgotten section of my childhood).
The words are attributed to an Edgar A. Guest, almost 100 years ago, although the poem has appeared, over the years, with a multitude of different names printed at the bottom, or none.Perhaps you are familiar with it.It continues, “…and the road that you’re trudging seems all uphill, when funds are low, and debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh, when care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must—but don't you quit.”It’s one of those poems that has stuck in my head (along with an inordinate number of st…

Meeting authors up close By Claire Musters

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I had the privilege of accompanying my son’s primary school class to the Barnes Children's Literature Festival last Friday, where 500 children crammed into a marquee on Barnes Green to listen to three authors talk about their background, their inspiration and the type of writing they do. I found it fascinating – and also really encouraging. 
The last author, SF Said, told the children that, in his day, no one got to meet writers – they remained mysterious and other worldly, locked away somewhere writing. That immediately resonated with me and I pondered whether I would have chosen a writing path earlier if I’d had the chance to interact with some writers in my childhood.
When we first arrived, we were whisked straight in and the first author, Caroline Lawrence, began her talk. I think all of us, teachers included, had expected a more interactive set up, and so we were concerned that the children wouldn’t sit still all day and engage. But the kids absolutely loved it all, and the …