Showing posts from April, 2015

Eight Podcasts for Writers

Today on the blog I welcome back writer and podcaster, Andrew Chamberlain as a guest blogger. Andrew is a successful podcaster and today he gives us an overview of eight top podcasts for writers. I already download two of these and I will certainly be looking for the others. 
Eight Podcasts for Writers

Podcasts are a great (and free) resource for writers who want to learn more about the craft, listen to some good writing, and pick up tips on how to present and market their own work. These podcasts all deliver on at least one of these objectives, and all of them can be accessed at the websites below, or from iTunes.

I should declare an interest at this point; number three on the list, The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt is the podcast that I present on a fortnightly basis. My aim with the podcast is to provide practical, accessible advice that writers can apply straight away to their own writing.

So my eight recommendations are:

1. Writing excuses

Four experience…

Are all our hungers satisfied … are we reaching hungry readers? by Clare Weiner

Time flies: I'm sitting here re-writing my blog post, since all references to Lent are now definitely old news. Alleluia!

A jumping-off point for a blog piece is always useful, and I'd used as a starting point a phrase from the Lent Book I read this year, which followed the Lord's Prayer, a different sentence each week. The phrase is from the section 'Give us this day our daily bread', in which we considered God's provision for human needs. The greatest human need, bought for us on Good Friday, is the gift of eternal life … and the writer, leading up to this, says that 'All our hungers are satisfied in Jesus…'

This is a theological statement, and a wide-ranging one. I had a think about it, and came up with Mary's song, where she states 'he has satisfied the poor, and the rich he has sent hungry away …' (Luke 1 vv. 46-55) and that other song, in the Old Testament, Hannah's song after the birth of her son, Samuel (1 Sam. 2 vv.1-3). In Han…

When Dreams Become Reality

Once upon a time a talented American musician called Byron, was spending some time with God, seeking to understand where the music industry was going. He saw a picture in his mind of a CD with a big bite taken out of it. He knew the music industry was headed into a new world, and he got the idea that there should be a company built for Christian artists where their music could be downloaded from the internet (this all happened in 1997, pre Napster, iTunes, etc). The vision of the CD with the bite out of it led to the name Eat-A-CD – but who would take this idea and run with it?

Fast forward a few years: Byron was chatting with his Scottish friend Gregor. Gregor was expressing his frustration at trying to find new Christian music, this was all the opening Byron needed to share his vision for Eat-A-CD and see if Gregor was interested in going for it. Gregor shared the idea with his brother and sister-in-law, Innes and Caroline, and the dream got that bit closer to reality.

Fast for…

Why a Bit of Polish Matters, by Lucy Mills

It doesn't matter how good the story. It doesn't matter how amazing the theme. Regardless of the strength of the plot or the depth of your characters, I may still stop reading.

Because if your book is badly edited and showing a need for a good proofread, I will struggle to get through it. When punctuation is missing or in the wrong place, it's like a hiccup inside my head. I'm no longer immersed in the story; I'm pulled back into the nuts and bolts of poor syntax, bad grammar and dysfunctional punctuation.

Polish matters. I'm talking about the basic stuff.  It's so easy, when you're proofreading something you've written and know so well, not to see the obvious. But when you're a reader, reading for the story's sake, a mistake will rise up and slap you in the face.

I'm a fast reader. The words tumble into my brain and a mistake will jar on me. The flow is interrupted. If that happens too many times, I just won't bother. It's awkward…

An Audience of One by Fiona Lloyd

I’m starting to feel old. Our eldest got married last year. Married! It feels like only five minutes since we brought him home from the hospital, wondering if we were up to job of caring for this tiny scrap of humanity with the lung capacity of a budding opera star.
I’m surprised our postman didn’t go off sick with a bad back. For the next couple of weeks we were inundated with cards and presents: cute little outfits (mostly in varying shades of blue), teddy bears twice the size of our son, rattles designed more with the fist of a sturdy two-year-old in mind.

Along with the piles of welcome goodies came reams of advice, some of it not so welcome. Make sure you put him down on his back / front. Establish a four-hourly feeding routine / let him feed on demand. Put him on the potty from day one (really?) or let him do things at his own pace.

There’s lots of advice on offer when it comes to my writing, too. One of the things I’ve appreciated about being part of the Association of Christian …

Where the characters lead

I am a writer.
Stop laughing! Yes, I know you know I’m a writer, but sometimes I need to remind myself.
Sometimes life gets in the way and I forget that I’m a writer. Or I don’t believe it.
When the words won’t come—or they come in the wrong order. When ideas tumble about in my mind and refuse to separate out into their individual stories. I suppose I could write about pint-sized pirates travelling about in old-fashioned caravans, but it wouldn’t have quite the same impact as pirates sailing to adventure on the high seas in one story and bards travelling in a painted caravan to solve a mystery in another. (See what just happened? They separated out! Excuse me while I make a note ...)

I am a writer.
Even when I don’t know what to say. When I think no one will be interested in my words.
I am a writer.
Because words won’t let go of me. Characters whisper in my ear—or shout at me, or pull my hair—until I listen and put the words down on paper (or more accurately, on screen). I see the…

A whisper from the enemy - by Helen Murray

I am working on my first novel.

Well, it would be more accurate to say that actually, I am not working on my first novel. My first novel, or what there is of it, is saved in a less than organised fashion as an assortment of documents on my hard drive (and several other places as well - best to be on the safe side) and also on my desk in a stack of notebooks and document wallets and on scraps of paper and post-it notes. 
I was going great guns until a few weeks ago, when an old enemy came to his senses and decided to get up, dust himself off and throw a few punches. I had knocked him over late last year and he's been a bit woozy lately, but I knew he'd be back at some point, and I was right. 
He only had to whisper a few words, but they were well-chosen ones, because he knows me. 
This is what he said: 'You really think you can write a novel?'  It wasn't just the words, it was the tone of his voice - sneering, amused, disbelieving, patronising. I crumbled. 
I have al…

A Sower went out to sow

This picture was taken in Dobrimirka Bulgaria in Jume 2014 - Daniella is in the yellow top I’ve just got back from High Leigh Conference Centre, a place I first visited when I was about nineteen.High Leigh ... the very name conjures up so many memories. Those mellow red brick walls and peaceful grounds seem soaked in prayer and encounters with God. And this time was no exception.
The Forum was scheduledfor the week after Easter 2015, to enable delegates to go on to the London Book Fair if they wished And some of them did. For others, everything was new – theirs were fledgling projects, made more difficult by the political situation in which they worked with little training and less money. But these young men and women, from all over Europe and beyond, overcame language and political barriers, and grasped the opportunity to share the joys and challenges of publishing for their own cultures with excellence.
I had no speaking or leading responsibilities, and was very much a ‘proud mama’ wa…

Ruth Johnson writes

Isaiah 30:21“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way walk in it.”
It’s now eleven days since my husband retired.And sixteen days to a General Election both I believe will bring changes to our lives.What is the Lord saying about my future, or our nation’s future?If we need to seek wisdom, He tells us to ask. Will voting for the right or left take us on God’s path?
The Lord drew my attention to Jeremiah 6:16 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’. In reading that in the context of Chapter 6, it could be describing the age in which we live.That caused me to ask, “Why wouldn’t everyone want to walk in His paths, and find rest for their souls?”
The Amplified Bible reads, “…ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is…” Isaiah 46:9 says “Reme…

In the wilderness

I've long felt an affinity with Elijah: not that I could ever approach his single-minded devotion to God's cause, or his self-denial. or even his energy. It's in his humanity I feel empathy with this great man of God, and especially when he seem to despair. We are told that despair is sinful and unChristian, because it is the antithesis of faith and trust in God, but I'm sure I'm not alone in having felt at times almost that level of abject discouragement. My acquaintance with Elijah comes not only from the story in Kings but also from having on several occasions sung in Mendelssohn's oratorio - more of an opera, I sometimes think, such is its high drama! There's that moment when Elijah, having done great works for God, is getting death threats from Jezebel. To solemn chords from the orchestra and a lone cello, he trudges wearily into a desert that is spiritual as well as geographical.  'Now take away my life,' he pleads. '...let me die, for my …

Love, hope and other four-letter words by Veronica Zundel

I love four-letter, Anglo-Saxon words. No, not that kind (although Jesus never said anything about what the Americans quaintly call ‘cussing’ - his prohibition was against swearing oaths to guarantee we are telling truth, which Christians, as truth-tellers at all times,  should not need). I’m talking about the good old simple words that came in with the Angles, Jutes and Saxons after the Romans left, and which persisted in everyday life after William the Conqueror arrived. Words like cow, sheep, swine (yes, I know they’re not four-letter) which those who reared them used, while the high-up Normans just ate the products and used Frenchified words like mutton, beef, pork.

Now I am the mother of a son who at about 10, when he was feeling ill and wondering whether he should go to school, announced ‘I’m experiencing a slight deterioration in my condition’ (any other child would have said ‘I’m feeling a bit worse’). But  in my writing, I refuse to follow his example. I learned recently that…

Seeing life whole by Joy Lenton

As we carefully select colours, adding nuances with deliberate shades and hues, we aim to sew a fine seam with our words. 

No loose ends. Neat and complete. Nice and tidy. Job done.

But it's those frayed fronds, snagged ends and tangled threads we long to snip away at which can make our word-weaving richer.

They add texture and character to our stories and authenticity to our testimonies.

Tangles, knots and snarls serve to make us stop a while for some necessary unpicking, yet they also provide a pausing place to see the picture differently.

The view from the back of a tapestry is a mess and muddle of line and shade criss-crossing one another. But to others? It's a beautifully wrought piece of work when seen from their perspective. 

Sometimes we imagine our lives should run smooth and fine, outwardly light and bright. And if we spend much of our time in testing and fiery trials, in deep dark places of the soul, hidden and unseen, we think our lives look like it too.

Maybe they do. Go…

Learning to enjoy the journey by Claire Musters

I am the type of person that wants to know what’s coming. I want to be able to plan everything ahead of time. I have been learning that this is often a characteristic of the way I deal with fresh revelation from God: He teaches me something but I immediately want to know everything to do with that and how it will pan out in my life over the coming months and years.
But often God deals with me gently by reminding me that this life is a journey – I may have just realised something new but that doesn’t mean I have it all wrapped up. He longs for me to explore, to delve deeper and just enjoy the whole experience of learning rather than having to be an instant expert.
I often have a similar experience with my writing. I have a sense of trepidation when I start tackling the planning stages of a new book or Bible study notes. I can procrastinate for a little while but then, when an idea starts to form, I can feel frustration that I don’t know how the whole concept will look like once finis…