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Showing posts from December, 2016

New Year's Eve by Susan Sanderson

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2016 is on its way out.  I wonder what 2017 will bring.
There are lots of traditions for New Year’s Eve.  Many campanologists will be busy ringing out the old year and ringing in the new.  In recent years fireworks at midnight have become popular with some people.  I am a lark rather than an owl and usually go to bed early even on New Year’s Eve.  Sometimes the fireworks wake me up, other times I sleep through them.
In my youth it was usual to go to the New Year’s Eve social at the church we attended as a family.  The ballroom and Latin-American dancing classes my sister and I had been sent to (and I had hated, probably being the oldest beginner and one of the worst dancers!) were totally irrelevant to these events.  The dances were either ‘old-time’ (which was different from modern ballroom) or country dances, which we were used to already.  We ended by singing Auld Lang Syne, although those Scottish words meant little to people in the south of England.  The song was (and still is) …

Writing with Depression

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For those of you that don't know, I suffer from depression. It makes life harder than it should be. Why? Almost everything becomes a chore and, if not difficult, certainly less appealing.

Getting out of a warm, comfortable bed is made more difficult becasue you ARE warm and comfortable. A situation you'll only rarely have when out of bed.

Likewise when writing. When you're in the flow, it's much easier, but getting into the flow is the hard part. For example, I'm writing this blog just after I've written another for my own blog, taking advantage of the flow. Yet I haven't written a 'blog' as such (Friday Fun doesn't count as it involves little if any writing) for over a month, even missing last months slot on the 30th. (Apologies Wendy)

Yet despite that, deadlines can be helpful for a depressive, providing they are not so far down in the pit of despair that all they see is the gloom not the light above.

It's also why I haven't progressed…

MAKING AN IMPRESSION

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I write flash fiction.  I love the brevity of the form, its genre flexibility (I’ve written humorous pieces, crime tales etc) and it is great for using “incidents” not long enough to form a standard short story.

I think the rise in popularity in flash fiction has been the ease of reading it on tablets, mobile phones and so on.  What has that to do with More than Writers?  The impact of flash is brief.  The impact of our lives is brief (especially from God’s perspective) but should we despair? No! 

If a short story captures a moment in time, a flash tale captures half a moment.  Flash fiction reminds me of the old saying about ships that pass in the night. Meet a person here, you may never meet them again, but you can make a tremendous difference to them. 

I remember years ago meeting a lovely Christian lady who taught me a great deal about how to lose gracefully (I needed to know!). I’ve not met her since.  I don’t know if she’s still alive but her gracious comments have stood me in go…

Could You Turn Your Hand to a Children’s Carol for 2017? by Trevor Thorn

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Still ten of the days of Christmas to go, so here’s a challenge to turn your hand to something a bit different whilst Christmas is still with us: or at least start you thinking.


For reasons I won’t go into here, I’ve been drawn into writing some songs suitable  for primary school children - and it’s proved a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
I, therefore, fell to wondering if through various networks of Christian writers, we could generate a new collection of children’s carols for 2017. Does that appeal to you?
We’d need some simple guidelines - so here goes: let’s have *Songs that celebrate the Bethlehem story from the Prophecies to the early childhood of Jesus *In language accessible to children up to ten years old  *With a score that would be usable in assemblies and all-age services *Not more than 24 lines long (although a chorus counts only once) * Original tunes OR tunes that are DEFINITELY out of copyright
We’ll see what happens - but they can at least be published on my blog, The Cross…

Leftovers, by Lucy Mills

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What do you do with your leftovers?
No, I'm not talking about Christmas leftovers (turkey curry/broth/sandwich anyone?).
What happens to your writing leftovers?

When I've finished a first draft it gets saved as a file under one name, and also saved again under another.

The first usually includes 'first draft' in the file name (what are the odds?!) and the other includes the word 'current' or 'master'.

Then I get to work on the new master copy. Some bits are cut straight away. They might be small things, not much of anything, and I simply delete them (they still exist in the first draft, remember, but nowhere else).

However, often I have sentences and paragraphs I hover over, trying to decide. Once I've made up my mind to get rid of them, I may not just delete them. I might choose to cut and paste them into a whole new document.

Sometimes this document is an assortment of all the bits I've cut out of the master copy. Recently I've begun to d…

The 80% rule – putting criticism in perspective

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by Fiona Veitch Smith
In August I wrote a piece for this blog entitled ‘Growing a Second Skin– dealing with book reviews’. Back then, I was wondering how, as a relatively newly published author, I was going to cope with the inevitable negative reviews that would come my way. I sought advice from other authors and was disheartened to hear that many of them – even bestselling ones – actually don’t cope. It still hurts them and they simply don’t read them anymore.
That is their coping mechanism. But I don’t know if it would be right for me. I still hope to be able to engage with critical reviews without it ruining my day. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but I have taken my own words, which I wrote at the end of the previous blog, to heart. For those of you who are too full of mince pies to muster up the energy to click through, I will reprint it here (you’re welcome, don’t mention it):
“Bad reviews are good for the soul. They expose your fears, insecurities and pride. So I suppose we should be gra…

What do you want for Christmas? by Fiona Lloyd

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I have a rhythm game I play with my pupils at this time of year: it’s a seasonal version of Old MacDonald. Instead of the usual words, we have:

Father Christmas had a sleigh.

Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!

And on that sleigh he had…

The children’s task is to supply ideas as to what Santa might be bringing with him, which then form the basis for rhythms they can play on their instruments. Puppies and games consoles tend to dominate the list, along with a selection of on-trend gifts I’ve never heard of. (Must be my age…) Occasionally, some more discerning child will brighten my day by saying they’re hoping for a book.



When it comes to my turn to choose, I stick to the same request every time. “When my children were little,” I tell them, “I always used to tell them I’d like a nice cup of tea.” This statement provokes a mixture of bewilderment and hilarity, as poor Miss has obviously gone completely loopy.


It’s fair to say, though, that I’m often clueless about what I’d really like for Christmas; mu…

Festival of Light

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When I think of the early 1970s I see in my mind a dirty dark brown colour, contrasting with the optimistic bright glow that memories of the 1960s give me. I remember those years as gloomy and dreary, suffused with a sense of dread about where history was heading. The Vietnam war transfixed America and led to the extraordinary outcome of a President being impeached and shamed. The vicious Arab–Israeli conflict led to a worldwide oil crisis. Violent guerrilla and terrorist movements sprang up on every continent.
And here in hitherto peaceful Britain we were taken unawares by a rapidly deepening conflict in Northern Ireland, which quickly bred shootings and bombings in both islands—a situation we were quite unprepared for. Additionally we plunged into a severe economic crisis and galloping inflation. There were crippling strikes, one of which led to the declaration of a state of emergency. Perhaps the lowest point was the notorious Three-Day Week in the winter of 1973, when power cuts b…

Come and worship - by Helen Murray

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I've always loved carol services. I love lots of things about Christmas, but carol services are one of the very best bits. In recent years, however, I've found myself so exhausted with December and all the Christmas preparations that by the time the carol services come round I've been tempted to skip it or trudged there with only a sense of duty. I remember with fondness the days when it was something to look forward to, not just another thing to cram into the pre-Christmas madness.

The other night I walked down the road in the rain to church and on the way I asked God if he'd please come with me. I was so weary that if I hadn't been reading one of the lessons I'd probably have run a bath and climbed into my PJs instead. It went something like this:

'Lord, I've been to countless carol services, and while they're nice and everything, I am so tired that this feels a bit like a chore. Same songs, same readings, same mince pies. I know what there is to …

When it's Not a Merry Christmas.

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Christmas is full of cheer - that's what people say. But for some of us, Christmas is hard, and knowing that Jesus came to earth for us is not enough to raise joy in our suffering. Whilst some More Than Writers readers are enjoying mince pies, mulled wine and family, others will be feeling forgotten by God and unable to lift themselves out of the pit enough to Hark the Herald Angels or See Amid the Winter's Snow.

This time last year I was not even remotely merry - I was in the midst of an episode of severe depression which felt like it had been there forever and would never stop. So I prayed a prayer, and God spoke words into my pen (a miracle in itself). To some people it will seem overly schmaltzy (I'm no poet), and the theology might be a bit iffy, but I felt called to share it, and hope and pray that it will speak to someone.

The Prayer:

"Lord, show me why I can't grasp your love for me."

The Answer:

"You don't think you're worth it.
But love is no…

CHRISTmas Reflections? ......................Ruth Johnson

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Christmas was a time to celebrate Jesus' birth because God had sent part of Himself to show His love and desire to take away the sin of the world.  But due to a growing secular society it is becoming more the pagan festival it was linked with centuries ago.
Only two disciples wrote about Jesus birth. Matthew’s account is very short and included the visit nearly two years later of the Magi, which history shows were from the East and astrologers who read the signs in the sky.They knew when an unusually bright star appeared the king of the Jews had been born and journeyed to worship Him and bring gifts.Luke wrote of the shepherds invited by the angels heralding Jesus birth to leave their flocks and go to Bethlehem to worship him. 
In AD 200 the first fictional novel was written about Jesus’ birth, and we in the West have too romanticized this e…
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WHAT CAN I DO?    by Sue Russell

Yesterday Veronica Zundel posted about the value of a retreat. I had intended to post something about the delights of Penhurst Christian Retreat Centre too, and I knew that Veronica went there a day or two after I left some weeks ago. I went with Claire Dunn, and we both planned to use the time writing and editing (our own and each other's) as well as taking a step back from normal life in this warm, welcoming place set in the rural heart of Sussex.
We were blessed with crisp winter weather: hard white frosts every morning and red skies every afternoon, and when we weren't working we were walking, encountering pheasants, rabbits and deer. The staff were as kind as ever, the other guests interesting people from varied backgrounds. We got a fair bit of work done, and enjoyed the meals we hadn't cooked, the log fire and huge sofa, and the deep peace. We attended some of the prayer sessions and I found it touching that one of the other guests pr…