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Showing posts from May, 2017

Keeping a diary - Susan Sanderson

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Samuel Pepys is arguably the most famous diarist ever.  His last entry was 31 May 1669. He created a record of social and political history as well as more personal entries for which he devised a code.
A regular childhood Christmas present from an honorary aunt was a diary. I always began with good intentions, but could never keep up with entering something every day for longer than a few weeks in January. The diary became a reproach to me, although I read and reread the pages printed with useful information. These diaries were variously for Brownies, Guides or connected to an interest I had. London Underground maps and other factual pages were usually included - just the sort of thing I could read early in the morning in summer, before anyone else was awake!
Later I managed to keep a sort of journal of holidays. This was useful when hubby’s photos finally arrived after processing. We could match the places to my notes if he hadn’t made his own records other than focal lengths and set…

Write What You Feel.

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As writers we have a requirement to express emotions through our characters. But, what do you do when you don't know how something feels?

As a depressive I can write about that aspect of life relatively easily, albeit painfully. But that's from a man's perspective. Is it the same for a woman? Judging by Sally Brompton's book, Shoot the Damn Dog, yes.

Is it true of all things? What about being an immigrant? Can any of us truly understand that experience?

Research will only cover so much, listening to others will uncover much more, but nothing will replace actual experience.

One example is from a friend of mine who wrote a fantasy book, sadly no longer available, in which there was a fair bit of swordfighting. Her descriptions of it were scintillating, mostly due to the fact that she had taken part in medieval sword fights while training as a knight. I kid you not. There are schools in Britain that will teach you jousting, sword fighting and a number of other medieval fi…

Simple Visual Aids - Allison Symes

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Image Credit:  Pixabay

Though Easter is behind us now, there was still one aspect I wanted to write about.

This will sound strange but my church doesn’t hold a Good Friday service.  We have Good Friday and Easter Sunday in one service on Sunday.   Funnily enough, it works well and is the only time where we have communion which isn't on the first Sunday of the month.  Years ago, one of our members ensured there were plenty of Easter eggs to go around too.  He is much missed by us but not just for that!

I suspect because my church is in a village with farms nearby, there may have been a practical reason for no Good Friday service, though this is an intelligent guess on my part.  Everyone would have gone to church on Sunday so it would’ve made sense to celebrate the whole of Easter in one special service.  Friday would be a working day in the fields etc.


I like to go to church on Good Friday so I pay an annual visit to a local Church of England church for their reflective family service…

Blogging can lead into interesting places! by Trevor Thorn

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This will be a shorter post than those I have recently contributed to the ACW site because the attached video clip illustrates what I want to say very well. Several of my recent posts have encouraged the idea of finding a ’niche’ in the blogosphere. Mine is ‘Faith and Science’’ and demonstrates how effective this can be.
This 2 - 3 minute clip from ‘That’s Cambridge TV’ arises almost directly from my regular blogging on this topic. It was taken at a celebratory day in Ely Cathedral last week when nine church primary schools, who had been encouraged to write songs on this very relevant topic presented them to be added to the collection I have built up over time.
It was a delightful day, and if you watch the clip, you will catch something of the sheer exuberance that the children (320 of them) brought to the day.
If you know any church leaders, RE/ Singing teachers or local church members going into help with school assemblies this might be of interest to them - and I’d be very grateful fo…

Apples of Gold, by Eve Lockett

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I have been looking back through my notebooks where from time to time I write down extracts and quotations that particularly speak to me. It’s very satisfying to copy someone else’s words, and I find it’s a rich resource for giving talks, creative ideas and wisdom. If you haven’t got such a collection on the go, can I recommend it? It’s also a great excuse to buy a gorgeous new notebook.
Here is a selection:
Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago. C.S. Lewis, in a letter to Arthur Greeves
I read somewhere of a shepherd who, when asked why he made, from within fairy rings, ritual observances to the moon to protect his flocks, replied: ‘I’d be a damn’ fool if I didn’t!’ These poems, with all their crudities, doubts, and confusions, are written for the love of Man and in praise of God, and I’d be a damn’ fool if they weren’t. Dylan Thomas, Note in his Collected Poems 1934-1952
If one turns aside from Chri…

What's that smell? by Fiona Lloyd

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To fully appreciate this post, you’ll need your “scratch-and-sniff” technology enabled.


Ready?


Right, then: what do you think of this?



For those of you who don’t recognise it, this is allium ursinum – or wild garlic – and its dainty white flowers and not-so-dainty aroma permeate British woodlands at this time of year.



To my mind, however, it’s not quite so pungent as its more widely recognised cousin, allium sativum, which is the usual garlic you find in the supermarket. Personally, I rather like the smell of both varieties, and use enough of the regular stuff in my cooking to send any level-headed vampire running for cover.




I’m pretty sure, though, that while a large number of you are now licking your lips and nodding in agreement, others will be grimacing and making a mental note not to sit too close to me in future. Garlic – like that well-known yeast-extract product – is one of those things that divides opinion.


But wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same? Some people like gar…

The Dark is Rising

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In Susan Cooper’s 1977 children’s novel Silver on the Tree, the hero, Will Stanton, encounters some boys from his school bullying a younger boy, Manny Singh, on the bank of a stream. They are taunting him for his ethnicity and his musical studies; the biggest bully, Richie Moore, snatches his music case and drops it in the water. Will’s grown-up brother Stephen comes on the scene, and, having tried to reason with Richie, finally drops him into the water to retrieve the music case.

Later, the bully’s father calls round at Will’s house. A discussion follows between Mr Moore on the one side and Stephen and Will’s father on the other. After Stephen has explained that he acted in response to Richie’s bullying Manny Singh, Mr Moore, addressing Will’s father, says: ‘Made a lot of fuss about nothing, that kid, I dare say. You know how they are, always on about something.’ Thinking he means children, Mr Stanton agrees. ‘Mine usually are,’ he says.

Mr Moore replies: ‘Oh no, no...I’m sure your bu…

Switch to technicolour - by Helen Murray

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In a couple of days I will have been a Christian for thirty years. Technically, I have been a Christian for thirty years.

I'm not sure that I was much use to God for many of those years, but by the same token I know that He can work through us when we look least likely to be any use to anyone, so I won't rule it out.

The fire was lit in 1987 when I first encountered Jesus in one of those, 'I'm talking to you. Yes, you,' moments.  I burned brightly for a few years, and then my light sort of dimmed to a faint glow for a long, long time. It nearly went out a few times. He kindled it afresh in the years following the loss of my Dad, when motherhood and near-despair knocked me over at the same time and I found myself unable to get up. This time, God breathed on the embers and there was a flame again.

Something happened. I woke up? I changed gear?  I grew up?  I don't know, but about in the last decade things have changed. It's the hardest thing to describe; thin…

The Gift of Perspective by Emily Owen

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On May 11th, the ‘On this Day’ part of my Facebook page was flooded with memories.It was exactly a year since the launch of my memoir, ‘Still Emily’, and there were lots of photos recalling the event. During the last year, a big thing that’s changed since the launch is, fairly obviously, that people have read the book.Some have been kind enough to leave a review on Amazon, or contact me directly to give feedback. What people often comment on is the final chapter. You see, my story, as many of our stories are, is one of happy times, sad times, ups and downs, easy times and struggles, knowing despair and then discovering hope again. My story also involves a diagnosis of a condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2), and the final chapter of Still Emily is a letter I write to NF2. Writing to, rather than about, a situation can be very powerful. Recently, I wrote an article from NF2's perspective and discovered that giving a situation a ‘voice’ can be powerful, too. Here is part of the…

Seize the day

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A time to be born 
and a time to die.
              Eccl.3:2







So many friends, family and church members have their birthdays this month.In counting back nine months I realised factories would close down their production lines for two weeks in August to give their staff the obligatory two weeks annual holiday, the rest is history!  Christmas has the same effect. My husband’s sister had three of her four children nine months on!However, my theory breaks down when my brother-in-law's birthday is 31st December, mine on 1st January, a great nephew 2nd January, and my-sister-in-law on the 3rd.
In a few decades there have been huge changes in when and how a woman can control conception.And for those previously unable to conceive there’s hope with IVF treatment. Yet despite this thousands of babies each year are condemned to death before they have a chance to live.
Man is now in control of the time to be born or not, and it appears is already working to be in control of when he dies.
But overa…

Fact and fiction

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One of the joys of writing fiction, so it seems to me, is doing the research so often necessitated by the subject. Even if you are writing about a time and place that are familiar, inevitably questions arise, and some answer must be found that will satisfy the most hawk-eyed editor and reader. These days the internet is a valuable resource - of  course not the only one, but still extremely handy for those very specific and often obscure questions which might otherwise take some time to answer.

My next novel has a medical background, something about which I am lamentably ignorant. I have always harboured an interest in medical matters even though I could never have pursued such a career: rubbish at science, clumsy, no good at sewing, and squeamish into the bargain. So researching it from a manageable distance is both engrossing and safe. My recent researches have taken me into worlds I could barely have imagined and I  am immersed and agog. One book I recently devoured was the extraord…

What must be said, by Veronica Zundel

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Love, as a well known 1970s book and film has it, means never having to say you're sorry. Except that it doesn't, of course - however much two people love each other, they will never have the gift of
telepathy, and will need to hear the words 'I'm sorry' many times to mend their relationship. Sometimes a rueful facial expression is not quite enough.

Does forgiveness, however, mean never speaking of the offence again? I've just been writing a guest blog for another Christian writer on forgiveness, and it's caused me to think again about what should be completely covered by forgiveness, and what perhaps shouldn't. Can I, for instance, forgive Hitler for what was done to my family in the Holocaust, leaving me with no extended family in my country of birth and precious little anywhere else? Or is it not my place, since the offence was against others? Perhaps more importantly, if I did decide I had forgiven (and the jury's still out on that one), would …

shadow: learning to savour seasons of small and stillness by Joy Lenton

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Such a small creature, a tiny little thing had been my daughter-in-law's constant companion while she toiled at unyielding, winter-hard ground. Pausing from her labours, she would smile to see him perched nearby, before attending to her garden again with renewed gusto.

As spring segues into summer, daylight lengthens and myriad feathered friends come to the bird feeder, this faithful little robin is still present, hopping to and fro with an inner felicity born of knowing his place in the scheme of things.

He doesn't seek attention or strive for prominence. He's just happily going about his own sweet thing: gathering, gleaning, feeding, singing and celebrating life. 

I wonder if we are so easily pleased with small, if we can celebrate seasons where God calls us to be still, to be small, labouring behind the scenes on our own (often challenging) plot—the fertile garden of the soul where few know we are secretly tending God-sized dreams within our hearts?

Maybe we long for signif…

Inspiration why are you so elusive? By Claire Musters

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I have recently had a bout of writer's block. It doesn't happen to me that often, and I found it particularly alarming as I had a looming deadline. I spent days researching, but nothing was grabbing my attention. I just couldn't reach that place of knowing what I was meant to be writing about; which angle I was to take.

After a few soul-destroying weeks, I decided to sit down and write about my frustration as a means of processing it. It seemed to help, so I thought I'd celebrate that fact by sharing what I wrote during that time. I'm hoping it might resonate - and possibly help others who may be going through difficulties with writing currently.

Inspiration why are you so elusive?
I have looked for you everywhere…
In the shower, where a song of joy and freedom often comes, leading into focus and clarity. But I keep emerging with the same sense of confusion…
In the cleaning – I usually ignore the state of the house until the weekends, but this time my mind has deci…